Yogi Adityanath assures bishops freedom to practice faith
By Matters India Reporter
Lucknow: The Catholic bishops of Uttar Pradesh on April 21 called on Yogi Adiyanath, the new chief minister of the northern Indian state.
“It was primarily a courtesy visit,” Father Donald de Souza, spokesperson of Lucknow diocese, told Matters India.
Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu ascetic, became chief minister of India’s most populous state on March 19 after the Bharatiya Janatya Party won the state assembly elections.
Father Donald said the bishops used the occasion to seek an assurance from the chief minister that Christians have the full freedom and protection to practice their faith. The delegation comprised bishops of Agra, Allahabad, Bareily, Bijnor, Gorakhpur, Lucknow and Varanasi
The prelates, led by Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow, also expressed their concern about the difficulties faced by educational institutions at times because of interference by local administration in many places.
The chief minister assured the Christian community that no one will be allowed to take law in their own hands and that the community need not fear in the practice of their faith, said Father de Souza, who was involved in the preparation of the bishop’s meet.
Father de Souza, who is also the chancellor of Lucknow diocese, had met the chief minister a few days ago with a few people led by the outgoing Eurasian member of the state legislative assembly.
The chief minister was born Ajay Singh Bisht on June 5, 1972. He renounced his family at the age of 21 and came under the influence of Mahant Avaidyanath then the head priest of Gorakhnath Math. He became his disciple and subsequently was given the name ‘Yogi Adityanath.’
He was promoted to the rank of Mahant of Guru Gorakhnath Temple, following the death of his guru on September 12, 2014.
He has been the Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur for five consecutive terms. He was the start campaigner for his party at the last assembly elections. He is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a youth organization.
Christians in Uttar Pradesh are a tiny minority comprising mostly Catholics and Protestants who belong to the Church of North India.
Christianity was introduced to Uttar Pradesh during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605). Akbar sought out educated Jesuit priests from Goa and gave them permission to propagate their religion in his land.
Christians manage several reputed educational and healthcare institutions in the state.