By the Most Rev. Thomas Roberts, S.j.
Archbishop of Bombay Alas for the dreamer if he loves his dream
For God alone can dream And have it so.
THAT is the refrain that runs through some of the finest essays of Fr. Tom Gavan Duffy (R.I.P.), famous missionary of South India.
The words are his, the thought is that of every missionary from the Apostle (Paul's title to that name will never be challenged) to the missionary who at this moment is watching the work of a century in China going up (apparently) in smoke.
The dream of Francis Xavier for a Christian East contained a Portuguese king to send him to India, a Portuguese ship to take him there, Portuguese viceroys and governors to Christianise (as part of that. to civilise), Portuguese money for churches, Bishops, priests, schools, hospitals, Portuguese force to support the Inquisition.
A great part of his dream came true; he sees it come alive in millions of his children whose minds and hearts are gripped by Christ as too few are in Europe.
In part, his dream was shattered in his own lifetime by Portuguese colonists whose lives mocked their professed religion.
More radically, Portugal herself shattered the dream when, persecuting the Church it home. she held on to her privileged position as Protector of the Christian East simply as a matter of political prestige. Henceforward, her claims became and were for long a serious menace, sometimes (as in Bombay) a source of fearful scandal and schism.
UNTIL a few weeks ago the Holy See still recognised such rights of Portugal in India as the nomination of Portuguese subjects to the See of Bombay, in spite of Indian independence and nearly three centuries of British occupation.
Now a new chapter has opened, an Indian prelate has been Archbishop in all except name for over four years; within three years five Bombay priests have become Bishops in different parts of India. Portugal played a very noble part in evangelising India in a period when no other methods were practicable; Spain did much the same for the West, with much the same privileges, to the point of a veto claimed even in this century in Papal elections; so France in her colonies; so Italy in hers, with ambitions that might have left her rivals far behind had Mussolini been able to exploit religion in the measure of his hopes.
All this is ended, and Paul's dream for all Gentile nations bound equally in one loyalty to one Person for His own sake comes nearest to God's dream.
"MISSION countries " as a term has taken on a new meaning.
The term " Irish Mission to
France" might be offensive if French priests did not regularly speak of their own as a " mission country." Tor reasons all too obvious.
The Goan Christian who does not " practise " is at least as rare in India as the European Latin (man) who does. India is much better off relatively in numbers of priests and nuns than Brazil or Venezuela.
Even in the United States one half
of the total sum for the propagation of the Faith raised in the Catholic regions is kept for American dio*ceses of South or Middle West, where Catholics are relatively fewer than in India or China.
Not so long ago, Catholicism in
Bombay was supported almost entirely by European money. Today, the archdiocese gets no grant at all from the Propagation of the Faith but gives to it with a generosity that makes an acute problem for its own missionary development.
Rome was astounded by the extent of sacrifices made by Bombay children, mostly Catholic, but many pagan. for the Pope's fund for European starving children.
Mission Sunday reveals us to our
selves among millions of Catholics of every colour, nation and condition, journeying with the Wise Men to the crib. May Wisdom guide our going and our giving.