Updated: June 6, 2018 7:17:16 am
Days after Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao advised Catholics to play an “active role” in politics while warning that the “Indian Constitution is in danger” and that “a kind of monoculturalism” has gripped the country, the Church on Tuesday said that the emphasis of the pastoral letter was on poverty, and that the Archbishop’s words had been taken out of context in media reports.
Secretary to the Bishop Fr. Joaquim Loiola Pereira told reporters in Panaji that the whole emphasis of the letter was on various forms of poverty which needed to be addressed urgently. He said the letter urged the community to give power to the voice of the poor as they have little representation.
“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… we do not make any further comments and explanations of the letter. If you want, you read the (pastoral) letter online and try to understand the context why it is being said, what is said,” said Pereira.
“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,” Pereira added.
Ferrao’s letter comes weeks after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto wrote in a letter that India is “witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere” and the community should begin a “prayer campaign” ahead of the elections.
The BJP reacted sharply to Ferrao’s letter, saying such appeals marked a “dangerous trend” in Indian politics. BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav in a series of tweets said the “distance between a religious institution & politics should be maintained”.
According to Yadav, the fact that the Archbishop could express his criticism was “the best evidence of the free speech”.
The BJP brass confirmed that they would meet Church officials and bishops and brief them on the NDA government’s performance. The party added that they would be extending these visits to all religious heads in the state.—With inputs from New Delhi
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.