Bishops-Shah meeting: Priest editor voices caution
By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: Chief editor of a leading Christian weekly wants the Church leaders in India to take other minority groups into confidence in their dialogue with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that heads the federal coalition government.
“Given the current political scenario, the bishops should take other minorities too into confidence,” Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the Indian Currents, said on June 3, a day after some Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders in Kerala met with BJP president Amit Shah.
Shah met the Church leaders at Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital, on the second day of his three-day visit to the southern Indian state. The 52-year-old political leader, who masterminded the BJP’s emergence as India’s top political party, was scheduled to meet more Church leaders on June 3 at the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.
After Shah’s first meeting with the Church leaders, Father Jimmy Poochakkattu, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church, told media that there was nothing political in the event.
However, the Indian Currents editor cautions the bishops that any attempt to align with the BJP will show the Church in poor light. “Let (Church leaders) stand erect and tell Shah that the central government under the leadership of his party is threatening the secular fabric of the nation,” Father Mathew told Matters India on June 3.
The Catholic priest wants the church leaders to demand that the BJP protect the rights and privileges the Indian Constitution guarantees to the country’s citizens and minorities.
“What the bishops need to realize is that the people are more intelligent than them. Laity cannot be seen as their exclusive vote bank. They should not bargain for positions and privileges showing the numerical strength of the Christians in Kerala,” Father Mathew asserts.
The priest also posted an open letter to the bishops in his Facebook page where he commends the prelates for raising the issue of Father Tom Uzhunnalil’s safe return. The Indian Salesian priest was abducted by Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen on March 4, 2016.
Father Mathew’s post says the Church weekly “wants to caution the shepherds on the intentions of the BJP. The party with blood of innocent Muslims on its hands wants to draw political mileage by appeasing Christian bishops.”
The priest wants Christians to become pray to Sangh Parivar’s “dishonest” designs to set up a Hindu nation in India
According to Father Mathew, the federal government’s recent notification on cattle slaughter “trumps reason and violates the Constitution” that gives states exclusive powers to legislate on preservation of cattle.
“By encroaching on the states’ domain, the Modi Government has put the axe to the very federal structure of the country,” alleges the editor who bemoans that the government has ignored hundreds of thousands of people who depend on trades based on cattle slaughter. “We know well the target of the ruling dispensation,” he adds.