By C V Joseph
Bengaluru, April 24, 2019: Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore on April 24 asked a Bharatiya Janata Party leader to withdraw his anti-Christian remarks and offer an unconditional apology to the community.
The uncalled for remarks of K S Eshwarappa are condemnable and highly deplorable, the archbishop said in a statement.
The BJP leader’s statement has done great harm to Christians and discredited their community’s credibility. So, he should withdraw his statement and tender an unconditional apology to the Christian community, asserted the archbishop, who is president of the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council.
Eshwarappa, a former deputy chief minister of Karnataka, on April 9 told press reporters on his election campaign trail at Bagalkot that his party intentionally avoided giving tickets to Christians.
“The Christians like the Muslims were not given party tickets because Christians are not loyal to the country and not honest too,” the BJP leader added.
Bagalkot, or Bagalakote, is the headquarters of Bagalkote district, about 480 km northwest of Bengaluru, the state capital.
The archbishop said he was shocked to learn from the media that the senior leader of the BJP had made such a controversial public statement against Christians.
The prelate, who is also the president of the ecumenical All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, said he did not react publicly earlier as he did not want to vitiate the atmosphere when the state was in the process of electing its members to parliament.
“Moreover, the general public would have interpreted the statement differently and might have given a political coloring to it,” he added.
Eshwarappa’s statement, Archbishop Machado said, has hurt the sentiments, not only of the Christians in the Karnataka state, but also the entire Christian community in India, added the prelate, who is
The archbishop pointed out that everyone knows that Christians render selfless services in various fields, offering genuine care and concern for all without any discrimination. “The community outreaches God’s love to the needy, the underprivileged and the marginalized and helps them to live with human dignity,” he added.
The Church leader asserted that Christians are proud citizens of the country and cherish patriotic spirit and promote it at all levels.
“Also, it is a well-known reality that many Christians have laid down their lives for the country and at present, thousands of Christians serve in all the three defense forces with utmost devotion and dedication,” he pointed out.
Such being the case, passing such defamatory and baseless remarks by a leader of high repute is condemnable, Archbishop Machado said.
On April 13 hundreds of Christians gathered at Gandhinagar in Bengaluru to protest the BJP leader’s controversial statement.
Harry D’Souza, president of Karnataka Christian Social Welfare Association who led the protests, demanded that the BJP leader withdraw his statement. “No one can point a finger at Christians when it comes Honesty, Integrity and Patriotism,” added D’Souza.