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Stating that “the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake”, Archdiocese of Gandhinagar Archbishop Thomas Macwan has urged Christians across India to “pray” for the victory of the “humane” leaders who “remain faithful to the Indian Constitution”, in the Assembly elections, to “save” India “from nationalist forces”.
The official communique, signed by Archbishop Macwan and dated November 21, terms the Gujarat election as “significant” for the future “course of our country”. Neither mentioning any political party nor making any direct vote appeal, the letter, addressed to “Your Eminences, Graces and Lordships”, stated, “The dates of the Gujarat state Assembly (polls) have been declared.
The results of this election are significant and it will have its repercussion and reverberation throughout our beloved nation. It will influence the course of our country. We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake. Human Rights are being violated. The constitutional rights are being trampled. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, faithful or institutions. There is a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, OBCs, BCs, poor and so on. Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country. The election results of Gujarat State Assembly can make a difference.”
The letter urged the churches in Gujarat to hold prayers to seek divine intervention for selection of “humane” candidates. “The Bishops of Gujarat state request you to organise prayer services in your parishes and convents so that people, who would remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any discrimination, are elected in the Gujarat state Assembly,” it states.
The letter cited examples from history where powerful prayers to Mother Mary helped topple tyrannical rulers ? the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, which saw the victory of the Catholic maritime states over the Ottoman Empire, to the overturning of the Communist governments in Poland in the 19th Century.
“The recitation of the Holy Rosary at individual, community, family and parish-levels will be of great help. It saved Europe from being taken over by the people of other faith. Communist governments and dictators in a number of countries have been tumbled in the past through the protecting hand of our beloved Mother Mary. It has brought the level of abortion incidents in Poland from 30% to 4%. It will save our country from nationalist forces too. Even the Lord, while he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane (where Jesus Christ prayed the night before his crucifixion), had asked his disciple to watch and pray. Let us take his advice seriously. Let us trust our Lord Jesus and ask for His help,” the letter added.
According to the 2011 Census, the total population of Christians in Gujarat is 0.52 per cent. According to Macwan the letter is an appeal to all individuals to pray for good leaders. “We come together to pray together. We have a devotion in Mother Mary, the Holy Rosary. We ask for her intervention for a good result in this election,” he said Macwan added that this is the first time that the Catholic Archdiocese has issued a letter like this. The letter, according to Macwan, has been issued to
Catholics across India to join in the prayers and has no “malicious” intention. “The letter has only been sent to the Christian community. I have given it to the Bishops across India to pray. We can always pray for good humans to be elected as leaders. Where do we Christians stand in Gujarat, at a bare 0.5 per cent of population? It has not been issued with any bad intention. If anyone uses the letter to divide the society or polarise voters, it will be unfortunate,” Macwan said.