NEW DELHI: Days after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto expressed concern about the country’s secular fabric, the president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Oswald Gracias, spoke on Thursday about minorities feeling anxious in the country.
“I am not saying that the minorities are scared, but there is anxiety among minorities due to the incidents that have taken place in the country. The Delhi Archbishop has every right to share his views with his people,” said Cardinal Oswald when asked to respond to the controversy over Couto’s statement.
The CBCI is the apex decision-making body of the Indian Catholic Church. Cardinal Oswald said incidents like the one in MP, where a group of carol singers were accused of forced conversion, had shaken people’s faith in the system. “It is important that the prime minister, home minister or even chief ministers, in certain cases, speak out and condemn violence against minorities,” said the cardinal.
Cardinal Oswald met the prime minister soon after taking over as president of CBCI recently. “I shared my concerns with him and I presume he agreed,” he said. He said the letter written by Archbishop Couto had been misunderstood and it was unfair to expect religious leaders to completely keep away from politics.
The deputy secretary of CBCI, father Joseph Chinnai, added that Couto’s statement should be seen as made in his personal capacity. “We are an apolitical organisation,” said father Chinnai.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that minority rights were safer in India than in any other part of the world.