Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Delhi archbishop Anil Couto opens up about his controversial letter

India does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion or sect Rajnath Singh Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a BSF event in New Delhi on Tuesday. | IANS
Elijah Vega | 22 May, 2018, 21:41

The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, in a letter addressed to all churches of the national capital, has asked them to start a campaign of fasting and prayers ahead of the 2019 general elections, citing the "turbulent political atmosphere" threatening democracy and secularism in country thereby kicking starting a political controversy.

"This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom", read one of the lines in the prayer.

As for the prayer Archbishop Couto has suggested be read out by Delhi's parish priests, it seems to be one which citizens of all religious and political inclinations could join: "Let the poor of our country be provided with the means of livelihood". Criticising the Delhi Archbishop, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked him to "think with a progressive mindset".

The letter and prayer have earned criticism from many right-wingers as most of the states in India are ruled by the BJP.

The Archbishop's office, according to NDTV, has denied any political motive in the prayer, calling it a standard practice before elections.

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Naqvi said that Modi was "breaking barriers of religion and castes" and his government was also committed towards the growth of minorities, reported Hindustan Times.

"I will request him, if we sit together I can tell him how fast has been the development of minorities in the country in the last four years", he said.

"The use of "new government" in the letter is being misinterpreted. Moreover, I earnestly request that we organise an hour of Eucharistic adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institution specifically praying for our nation". "Prayer for country is always there and it is a very private matter".

Hindutva organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad, however, labelled the archbishop's statements "a direct attack by the [Roman Catholic] Church on India's secularism". Elections & govt concerns us.

He said the government will protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India.

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