New Delhi, May 22: The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, has come out with a circular that refers to a “turbulent political atmosphere”, urging Christians to offer prayers and observe a day of fast for the country ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The letter, dated May 8 and addressed to all churches in the national capital, doesn’t really advocate any candidate or party.
The circular, as published in an AsiaNews article, calls upon all Catholics for prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 elections.
Read here full text of the letter:
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,
We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.
It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the General Elections.
As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have [a] new Government, let us begin a Prayer Campaign for our country from May 13, 2018 which marks the Anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, consecrating ourselves and our nation to the Immaculate Heart.
I request that we observe a Day of Fast every Friday of the week by foregoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation.
Moreover, I earnestly request that we organize an hour of Eucharistic Adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institutions, specifically praying for our nation.
During this Adoration the enclosed Prayer may be recited.
With kind regards.
*Archbishop of Delhi
However, the Archbishop’s office has denied any political motive in the prayer, describing the letter as a standard practice before elections.
Reacting to this, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters on Tuesday “I have not seen the Archbishop’s letter, but I want to say India is one of those countries where minorities are safe and no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste and religion”.
In the meantime, BJP leader Giriraj Singh told media “Every action has a reaction. I won’t take a step that disrupts communal harmony. But if church asks people to pray so that Modi govt isn’t formed, the country will have to think that people from other religions will do kirtan pooja”.
After inviting flak, later in a day, Couto clarified saying every government should protect the country’s people and the constitution.
“We pray for our own renewal and that of the country. Keeping in mind all that is happening in our country we said that we look forward to next election and next government. Every government should protect people and the constitution,” the Archbishop told ANI.
“What else will I talk? Elections and government concern us. We have to have such government that cares for the freedom of people, their rights and welfare. I cannot say that we should be completely apart from the government”, he added.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said “We respect all communities, castes & Archbishops across the country, including that of Kolkata. I think whatever they said, they correctly said. It’s a fact”.