ASIA/INDIA - The Bishops: confidence in the new government and secular pluralism of India

Friday, 16 May 2014

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Official figures of the Indian elections, which sees the clear victory of the “Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP), does not worry the Church in India, which is confident about the future. After an election which saw 814 million voters and a very high turnout (66.3 %), the BJP and its coalition, led by the 63-year-old leader Narendra Modi will get an absolute majority of seats (272 out of 543) and therefore will not need alliances to govern the country. Even the Congress Party, of the outgoing government, has conceded defeat, overwhelmed by corruption scandals and unable to give a new impetus to the economy.
His Exc. Mgr. Albert D'Souza, Archbishop of Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and General Secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference, expresses, in an interview with Fides Agency, his point of view with regards to the Episcopate: "We are happy that the elections were a great test of democracy for the nation. The result highlights a strong government that will lead India into a new phase of economic development and progress, observing and ensuring democratic and constitutional values. It is true that sometimes small groups of fanatics can give us concern, but the Church will continue in its mission to pray for the new government and contribute to the common good of the nation, supporting democracy, respect for pluralism, the rights of all and a secular concept in the political agenda".
Speaking to Fides, His Exc. Mgr. Anthony Chirayath, Bishop of Sagar, in the state of Madhya Paradesh, by some called the "laboratory of Hindu extremism", says: "India is a country with a heritage of ancient cultures, traditions, religions that no government can damage. Christians are part of all this and are proud. It is true that small extremist groups sometimes use violence against Christians: but are deviations which do not alter the reality of a nation that is democratic and tolerant and has a long tradition of harmony between different, ethnic, cultural and religious components. I believe that the Catholic Church will have nothing to fear from the new government. For example, in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP govern, we have good relations with local political leaders, there is no animosity, but only friendship. In my diocese, many Hindu children attend Catholic schools. We hope and we are confident that the new government, having overcome the disputes of the election campaign, will act for the good of the nation".
Also His Exc. Mgr. Stanley Roman, Bishop of Quilon, in the state of Kerala, the cradle of Christianity in India, says to Fides: "Minorities, such as Christians and Muslims are an integral part of the nation and of the social fabric of Indian society. Minorities are protected by the Constitution, I believe that the new government cannot and will not want to go against the Constitution. As Christians we are confident". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/05/2014)