The Goa Church on Tuesday tried to tone down the sharp criticism of the political situation in India in Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao’s annual pastoral letter, with a senior official at the Bishop’s House insisting that “one or two statements” made by the top church functionary were taken out of context.
Secretary to the Bishop Father Joaquim Loiola Pereira told reporters here that the main theme of the pastoral letter was poverty and that reference to the Constitution being in danger was only a peripheral issue. Partially distancing Ferrao from the authorship of the letter, Pereira also said that the letter was written over a period of time after seeking inputs from a cross-section of the society.
“One thing has to be clarified here that the pastoral letter is signed by the Bishop, but it is not a product of one mind. The writing of the pastoral letter starts about six months before. People from different categories are consulted on what to write. What are the problems that are seen in the Church in Goa. There was a consultation at different levels,” Pereira said.
Referring to the mention of the Constitution being in danger in the pastoral letter, Pereira said: “It is not one of the main statements. The pastoral letter is about poverty. That statement (reference to Constitution in danger) has come there as a peripheral statement.”
“One or two statements of the Bishop have been taken out and I will say taken out of context and made an issue out of. My thing is this, we do not make any further comments and explanations of the letter,” Pereira told reporters here.
The pastoral letter, formally released by Ferrao on Sunday, said the Indian Constitution was in danger and that a “new trend” of mono-culturalism, which demands uniformity in what and how one eats, dresses, lives and even worships, was putting human rights at risk.
“At the time of elections, the candidates confuse the minds of many people by making false promises. And the people, on their part, often sell their precious vote for selfish, petty gains. In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it,” he said.
“Today, our Constitution is in danger, (it is a) reason why most of the people live in insecurity,” Ferrao said in his pastoral letter for 2018-19 which was formally released on Sunday but circulated only on Monday. The pastoral letter is an annual letter written in June by Archbishops to Church parishes across the state.