Intellectual Giant Passes
Archbishop Angelo Fernandes
first met the then Fr. Paul Varghese at Tambaram, Madras,
in 1968 when AIACHE (All India Association for Christian Higher
Education) was founded. I witnessed his quick grasp of the significance
of the new challenge and his openness and expectant faith to march into
the unknown future to which the Lord was inviting us.
A few years later,
in February 1970 at Delhi,
we were associated in the All India Christian Consultation of
Development, inaugurated by President V. V. Giri. In his choice remarks
at the opening session, Fr. Varghese revealed his original and creative
mind. To make a more significant contribution to development in our
times, he called for "de
of our Christian schools, hospitals and institutions for the
With a big broad
sweep he included in this, orientation programmes for youth, women,
laymen and the parish activities of the Churches. He called for full
participation and understanding in what is going on in the country and
of relating it to our Christian obedience. That was a recurring decimal
with him to bring everything into creative confrontation with the Word
of God. On that same occasion, he confessed that he had a penchant for
intellectual clarification. In the interests of true development he
subjected to scrutiny both the concept "secular'
and Nehru's "socialistic
pattern of society.'
He went on to ask the still burning and crucial question, as to whether "the
little economic amelioration with we have achieved in our country has
really touched the tissue of our people.'
The question is very relevant for our ChristianChurches
today as they struggle towards building communion and solidarity in the
context of globalisation.
By the same token,
Dr. Varghese was always critical of the ""soft,
bourgeoisie, comfort - seeking''
products of today's
colleges and universities who do not bear comparison, he said, with the
toughness ofpeople of the previous generation. It was therefore his
contention that it is in this area of Gospel"Values'
have to render their greatest single service to the country.
Dr. Gregorios and I
met on many occasions. When the Syrian Orthodox Church invited His
Holiness Patriarch Pimen of Moscow to India,
Bishop Gregorios asked me to join him in according a fitting ecumenical
reception to the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church. I gladly obliged.
current trends of thought in all the major endeavours of life, his
expertise in Scripture, theology and the social sciences was seen to
full advantage in the beautiful, elaborate Prayer for Peace which he
addressed to the Lord of the Universe at the concluding session of the
Second World conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) at Louvain, Belgium
in 1974. Even more so did this come through in the deep, challenging
Keynote Address he delivered at the First International Ecumenical
Assembly of Associations of Christian Colleges and Universities on the
Humankind for the New Millennium through Ecumenical Partnership in
Together at its
launching in 1968, we were once again united in January 1995 in giving
AIACHE a fillip anda fresh elan as it goes into the future to prosper "Global
at the dawn of the third millennium.
Hopefully some at
least of our Christian University World will emulate Dr. Gregorios in
bringing the light of Christ into the halls of learning and their
outreach to our suffering people. Thefuture beckons to disciples of the
Master to give a soul to society, to rise beyond the influences of today's
society, to nurture the spirit and strive to bring it to bear on the
conduct of human affairs in the country and in our only One Earth.
News Letter, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, February 1997)
Archbishop Angelo Fernandes: Late
Archbishop Emeritus of Delhi.