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PM on Saintly Vatican Trip

Modi will lead delegation of Christian leaders to witness Mother Teresa’s canonisation; visit may go a long way in building bridges with the minorities; govt to send official invite seeking the Pope’s visit to India

Published: 01st May 2016 06:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2016 06:57 AM   |  A+A-

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at an election rally in Siliguri on Thursday. | PTI

NEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to lead a delegation of Christian leaders to the Vatican to attend Mother Teresa’s canonisation in September, an event that is expected to draw global attention.

“Keen to send out a positive message to the international community, Modi has expressed his intention to take part in the ceremony,” office-bearers of the Catholics Bishops Council of India (CBCI)  said during a meeting last week.

“We requested the Prime Minister to lead the delegation. He told us that he was elated and honoured by the invite for an event being organised to pay tribute to a great soul,’’ said Fr Chinnayan, deputy secretary general of CBCI.

The PM had also told Fr Chinnayan that his government would send an official invite to the Vatican, seeking a visit by the Pope to India. “The PMO has told the Ministry of External Affairs to work out the details of the Vatican invite. Plans may be worked out soon after getting inputs from the Vatican,’’ said an official.

“The PM’s proposed trip to the Vatican has two implications on the political front. One, it will send out a positive global message that the PM cares for the minority communities in the country. It will also go a long way in bringing the Christian community closer to BJP, especially in Kerala,’’ said a former bureaucrat belonging to a minority community who mediates between the government and the minorities. This may be true at least in Kerala, where the saffron party is desperate to gain ground.

The bonhomie between BJP and the church has been quite visible of late. Despite the church’s declared policy of not to meddle in politics, it has kept its doors open to BJP leaders.

Modi charm sways catholics away

The Prime Minister personally taking the initiative to ensure the safety of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Keralite priest who was abducted by the Islamic State in Yemen, has delighted the Catholic community

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