ASIA/INDIA - Missionaries of Charity accused of proselytizing: for Catholics it is pure defamation

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 conversion   religious freedom   missionary institutes   nuns  

Vadodara (Agenzia Fides) - "The Missionaries of Charity are targeted by Hindu nationalists. It is pure defamation; they want to defame and slander Christian nuns and institutions". This is what Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the Catholic weekly "Indian Currents" says to Fides, commenting on the accusation of "religious conversion" made against the Missionaries of Charity who work in the state of Gujarat, in western India. The nuns have been charged under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, in force since 2003.
According to the complaint, filed with the police in Makarpura on December 12, the nuns allegedly "hurt Hindu religious feelings" and "attract the young women to Christianity" in a home they run in the city of Vadodara. Earlier, the district social services official, Mayank Trivedi, visited the home for girls run by the Missionaries of Charity, saying that "the girls in the home are forced to read Christian religious texts and participate in prayers of the Christian faith, with the intention of leading them to Christianity". "They are made to wear a cross around their necks and the Bible is placed on the table in the living room to force them to read it. It is a criminal attempt to force girls to religious conversion", reads the report delivered to the police.
The Missionaries of Charity, a congregation founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, deny all the accusations. "We are not involved in any religious conversion activities. We welcome 24 girls who live with us and follow our life practice. We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry according to a Christian rite", said a spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity. According to the complaint of the "Child Welfare Committee", the nuns also forced a Hindu girl to marry a Christian family, according to the Christian rite. Vadodara Police Commissioner Shamsher Singh said that the police will continue to investigate the matter. Gujarat is governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In Gujarat, and in seven other Indian states, special "anti-conversion laws" are in force that subject personal religious beliefs to be examined by a magistrate and punish religious conversion by fraudulent means. In 2018, the Missionaries of Charity nuns in the Indian state of harkhand were accused of proselytizing and child trafficking, and a nun was detained by the police for some time. In India about 5,200 Missionaries of Charity run 277 houses and institutes with social and charitable activities. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 15/12/2021)