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Concerned by the ‘ghar wapsi’ (‘reconversion’) programmes and attacks on minorities, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has sent out a “pastoral letter’’ to all its dioceses urging followers to be steadfast in their faith and continue to uphold the secular democratic nature of India. The letter is to be translated in all languages and read out in Catholic churches across the country.
In the letter, CBCI President Baselios Cleemis said: “We are not fighting against any political party but for sacred ideals of our nation like freedom of religion, freedom of consciences, fundamental rights, and democracy as guaranteed by our noble Constitution’’.
Listing a slew of measures to be adopted at the diocesan and parish level to help the laity keep faith in the face of such threats, the Cardinal urged the Prime Minister to “intervene urgently and take appropriate action to stop incidents that pose a big threat to the unity of this secular nation and put an end to the statements made by the responsible persons in the central ministry and of the party’’.
The letter points out that Christianity has its roots in India for almost 2000 years and asserts that the “recent controversies in the name of religious reconversions portray a negative image of India’’. The Cardinal has also sought to draw a distinction between “conversions of a religious nature’’ and ‘ghar wapsi’. While the former is an exercise of one’s free will and a fundamental right, ‘ghar wapsi’, according to him, is “a political process carried out by the powerful exponents of religious nationalism – much against the principle of secularism’’.
Anita Joshua, NEW DELHI, January 29, 2015