CBCI urges Catholics to exercise franchise

Day-long special prayers to be held on April 4 for peaceful elections

While the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme is striving to create awareness on compulsory voting, Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has sent a circular to all parishes across the country to pray for free, fair and peaceful elections. Besides, it has also urged all Catholics to exercise their voting rights on the D-Day.

Fr K A William, Parish Priest, St Philomena’s Church, quoting the circular, said: “Pray that the ensuing General Elections may be free, fair and peaceful and that the Government of the Lord’s choice is installed”.

Following the direction, a day-long special prayer has been organised in all churches across Mysore Diocese on March 30. Simultaneously, prayers will be held nation-wide on April 4, he said.

The circular from CBCI president Oswald Cardinal Gracias reads: “This is an important moment for us, since the direction that our country takes and much of our everyday lives depend largely on the leaders we elect to our Parliament”.

However, the circular is clear in not identifying itself with any political party. It said: “We wish to make it clear to all, that the Catholic Church does not identify herself with any political party. We must be convinced that every vote counts. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our country, not to let go of this opportunity to get involved in bettering the history, culture and destiny of our nation”.

William said, on Sundays, after the mass, announcements will be made to parishioners to impress on their obligation in this regard and it will be continued for a few more weeks.Guidelines

The circular states how an ideal leader should be. 

“Catholic Church hopes that the General Elections will give us leaders who understand the anxieties of the people and respond to their needs. We need leaders who will uphold the secular character of our nation and promote communal harmony and a spirit of inter-religious dialogue and understanding; care for the minorities and weaker sections of the society, protect their rights and work for their uplift and safeguard the rights of tribals over land, water and forests; and Grant equal rights to Dalit Christians, equal to those given to other Dalits”, the circular adds.

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