Catholic Union condemns notice to Gujarat archbishop

The Election Commission had pulled up Archbishop Macwan for cautioning against communal forces

By Matters India Reporter

Tiruchirapalli: The All India Catholic Union, the largest lay group in the country, on November 2 condemned state and non-state actors harassing Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar, who had sought prayers to maintain the country’s secular credentials.

“While the Election Commission of India has served him a notice, fundamentalist and religious nationalist groups have launched a media campaign against the bishop and against the Catholic community,” says statement issued by Lancy D’Cunha, the national president of the 98-year-old union.

The Christian community in India is “aghast” at such developments, the union stated at a press conference held after its Working Committee meeting in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu.

Archbishop Thomas Macwan has replied to the election commission notice. “AICU, however, wants to know if the Election Commission gave similar notices on prominent priests of various other religions in Gujarat. Some head priests have directly told people to vote for the ruling party and the Prime Minister,” the AICU statement says.

It also says the Catholic Union has consistently decried the growing misuse of religion, religious symbols and places in the political discourse. It wants religious heads to educate their communities and others on strengthening the democratic traditions, including religious freedom and human rights, participation in the electoral.

“Religion must infuse Truth, Morality, Ethics, in the body politic, and not be divisive, incite violence or polarize people,” the statement asserts.

The Catholic union also questioned the government on why Pope Francis was not invited to visit India during his south Asia tour that ended on December 2. The Pope last year had expressed his desire to visit and the Church leaders had requested the government to invite the pontiff.

The AICU expressed its concern at the government’s failure to condemn and contain the threats to freedom of expression in the country. “The ugly controversy over films and the open threats to kill the artistes and director of the period drama film Padmawati, writer Prof Kancha Iailiah, and social media threats to activists Kavita Krishnan, Kavita Srivastava and others, reflect a speedy breakdown in the rule of law,” the statement warns.

The Catholic union also found fault with federal Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanatham, who had stated that no Christian was persecuted in the Modi regime. “Ministers have their compulsions. He will have to answer his own conscience,” says the AICU statement and noted routine attacks on Christians and Muslims in most states, “with the police and political elements complicit in the crime.”

Observing that complaints have also been filed with the National Commission of Minorities, and the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Catholic Union urged the government and the National Crime Records Bureau to publish the data on attacks on religious minorities and not minimize it by registering targeted and communal violence under “other” heads.

The Catholic Union terms tax imposed on coffins, crosses and rosaries as the government’s “indifference to the sentiments of religious minorities.”

“We demand the GST (Goods and Services Tax) be removed on all religious artifacts” and items of women’s personal hygiene.

John Dayal, AICU spokesperson and a former national president, also attended the press conference.

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12 thoughts on “Catholic Union condemns notice to Gujarat archbishop

  1. Let me congratulate AICU for giving a fitting response to the unnecessary hue and cry raised by the Election Commission and a section of Media on Archbishop’s letter circulated to the Catholic community to pray for electing the leaders in the forthcoming elections. He has emphasized the need to uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution of India. Let me wish that more number of our leaders speak out boldly the values of equality, brotherhood, freedom, unity in diversity, enshrined in the Constitution of India that unites all Indians from different religions, cultures, languages and so on. Let me also salute the Archbishop of Gandhinagar for his prophetic courage.

  2. AICU could be the effective body to enlighten the election commission. Commission. What is so objectionable in Archbishop’s letter. Babas and others who spit venom against Christians and others go scot free. So we need to work for true equality and secularism

  3. Highly appreciate AICU statement. It is time we raise our voice fearlessly and loudly.Lancy. D Cuna and Dr John Dayal have raised very pertinent points. In the current political scenario we have to educate masses .Also more important. Our Chsrstian point of vire must be made known in the regional languages particularly in Hindi. Joseph Anthony Gathia New Delhi Hindi journalist and writer

  4. Thanks to the AICU for expressing its concern at the government’s failure to condemn and contain the threats to freedom of expression in the country.

    When the people fear the government,
    tyranny has found its victory.
    In a democratic country as ours
    Government is its servant not its master.

    Let’s stand united for the rights guaranted
    In the constitution.

  5. It’s time the AICU took the matter up directly with the election commission and not let it get away with such bullying tactics

  6. The Catholic Union should pursue the question– whether all who asked the devotees to vote for a particular party were also issued notices ? —
    Every rule will be applied to hurt minorities. But no rules to those who favour them !

  7. I am a Staunch Catholic. The arch bishop has invited trouble not only
    for himself but to all Christians by his indulgence into politics.He is afraid
    to speak the truth and expose the party or individuals who have tried to use him and our religion for gains.
    WE CHRISTIANS,and SIKHS BUDDHIST, JAINS,MUSLIMS PARSIS etc have lived peacefully in
    this country of ours INDIA.There have been unfair deals but overall our lives have progressed.I am suprised the bishop recommends the so called faithfuls to support
    the anti-nationals instead of the nationalistic.
    If the same was said by a miniority even in a christian country the consequence
    would have been drastic.
    Dont invite harrassment please.Apoligise and get over the stupidity done.

    1. Since independence, under all other administrations other than the current one, there was no need for the Bishops to write a letter to the believers to pray for having a political party to rule them so that the Christians could worship in peace.

      When Sri. Vajpaye was the PM of India, his party tried very hard to bring a national anti-conversion law through brainwashing him that forced conversion is taking place, specifically targeting the Christians. His reply was ” conversion is a personal choice, nobody can enforce conversion in India”. When Sri. Vajpayee came to Chicago, a big petition was submitted to him, signed by over 200000 people. I got signature from several thousand people from the local U.S. Congregations.

      The attacks against the Christian minority in India have greatly increased which is an open fact, that news is around the world. The News medias are openly telling that in the foreign lands. Well known News Papers like Wall St. Journal-Washington Post-New York Times-Los Angeles Times-Christian Science Monitor etc on the one hand, and Christian religious publications on the other hand are publishing about the emerged minority persecution in India. Also the Fox news and the Catholic TV Station are exposing this news.

      The Hindu population of the U.S. is 0.7%, they are the first-second -3rd-4th generation of the migrated people to a Christian dominated democratic country. Nobody will dare to bother them. Very rarely, some street goons may try to bother them. but the culprits are caught and severely punished. But now in India, the Central Government is giving all the indirect motivation to persecute the minorities; thus the 3% Christian population of India with a long history of 2000 years is in jeopardy. If we don’t speak for ourselves, if the Bishops are afraid to speak for our freedom, who will do that?

  8. The Catholic Union should r party the question ” Have notices been issued to some religious heads or priests asking devotees to vote for a particular party ?”
    Here is the discrimination and special harassment

  9. Congratulations to the Catholic Union of India that they have come up to the situation and responded rightly. I have been wondering over the silence of the CBCI and other Christian organizations as a Bishop was cornered for his right actions.
    Minister Alphonse Kannamthanam needs to be condemned with more severe words for his opportunistic utterings of lies. I find it shameful to call him a Christian and an educated Keralite.He has forgotten all his ranks and backgrounds.

  10. The Bishop had all the rights to appeal to the believers of his own congregation to pray for the election so that a political party which will not oppress the Christian minority will come into power.

    The BJP/RSS/VHP etc leaders repeatedly promising huge reward for beheading their opposition party leaders, but it seems like they have that fundamental right.

    The Catholic Church and the Christian community of India have to raise to the occasion to show their fear and strong will under the current Government of India that the Government of India shouldn’t try to intimidate the minority Christians living there for the last 2000 years, also part of the 2.3 billion Christians of the world.

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