ASIA/INDIA - Archbishop of Goa: "The Indian Constitution is in danger"

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 religious freedom   freedom of conscience   culture   pluralism   politics   poverty  

Goa (Agenzia Fides) - "The Indian Constitution is in danger and many people live with a feeling of insecurity. It is urgent to protect the values of the Constitution, including the freedom to practice one's own religion": this is what the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, said in a letter sent to the faithful of his Archdiocese and sent to Agenzia Fides. "In this context, especially with the approaching of the general elections, we must strive to better understand our Constitution and do more to protect it", writes the Archbishop in a letter sent last June 4 to a territory, that of Goa, where Catholics represent 26% of the population, out of 1.5 million inhabitants.
"Lately we have seen a new trend that is emerging in our country: one wants to impose a kind of uniformity on what and how to eat, dress, live and even on the God to be worshiped. It is a kind of mono-culturalism: human rights are under attack and democracy seems to be in danger". The prelate states that religious minorities fear for their safety and that people are deprived of their land and their homes in the name of development. "The first victims are the poorest: it is easier to trample on the rights of the poor because very few will raise their voices for them", writes Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao.
The Archbishop's letter comes after another letter written in recent weeks by the Archbishop of Delhi, Mgr. Anil Couto, who sparked a public controversy, talking about "turbulent political atmosphere" which, according to the Archbishop, threatens democracy and the secular state. Mgr. Couto invited all priests to "pray for the country" in view of the national elections of 2019. Religious minorities in India today express concern over the growing attacks of Hindu extremists, a trend that has been strengthened over the four-year rule by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Baratiya Janata Party (BJP). Hindu nationalists criticized Mgr. Couto saying that he helps to polarize the country. Christians represent only 2% of the Indian population (a total of 1.3 billion inhabitants), which is predominantly Hindu (80%) but has a considerable Muslim minority (14%). (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 6/6/2018)