Govt has weakened secular fabric of society: Bishops

Govt has weakened secular fabric of society: Bishops

Govt has weakened secular fabric of society: Bishops

The Catholic bishops of India on Wednesday said the Union government, driven by fundamentalist ideology, had weakened the secular fabric of society.

Presenting the biennial report at the 32nd general body meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Archbishop Albert D’Souza, secretary-general, CBCI, said certain factions posed a threat to the religious minorities in the country.

Without naming any right-wing Hindu organisation and the Bhratiya Janata Party, he said, “There have been instances of a series of attacks on sacred places and churches. Similar factions of people are also engaged in a militant form of ‘Ghar Wapsi’, which involved forcing religious minorities to join the majority religion under the explicit call for a ‘Hindu nation’.”

The “inhuman acts” on an elderly nun in Ranaghat (West Bengal) and a nun in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) have been alarming, just as other cases of attacks on women and minors. False allegations to the extent of implicating a priest of a school in the Diocese of Ambikapur have baffled us. A priest of Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) was in similar way accused and imprisoned, the report said and added that certain states did face the effects of the ‘anti-conversion’ Bill.

Archbishop D’Souza also raised suspicion over the new Education Policy and the trends of ‘saffronisation’ of education. The Child Adoption Policy of the government caused, especially the Missionaries of Charity, a concern, he said. The Church hails the Bills on Harassment of Women in workplace and the Child Protection Policy (Pocso Act), which are meant to maintain moral order in society, he added.

Earlier, Pope’s ambassador to India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, in his inaugural address urged the bishops to show active commitment and concern for the poor, particularly the dalits, and their situations.

Besides, he asked the CBCI Plenary to consider it opportune to prepare a pastoral care programme for the estranged families so that they may better respond to the emerging challenges.

Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl said India’s character was evident from the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. “These great people are the gifts of India to the world.” CBCI president Baselios Cardinal Cleemis also spoke on the occasion.

The plenary, which is held at the St John’s Medical College campus in the City, will conclude on March 9. As many as 180 bishops from different dioceses across the country are attending the meet.

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