A delegation of bishops from Catholic churches of Uttar Pradesh met chief minister Yogi Adityanath here on Friday and requested him to ensure safety of their places of worship. The meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of a recent incident in which right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) activists brought a prayer service at a church in Dathauli area of Maharajganj district to a halt, alleging that the pastor was converting Hindus to Christianity.
The HYV, set up by CM Yogi Adityanath in 2002, had also filed a complaint against the pastor Yohannan Adam. “We requested the chief minister to ensure the safety and security of our places of worship, and the freedom to worship without fear,” said Fr Gerald John Mathias, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Lucknow, after the meeting.
Bishop Mathias said that certain issues related to schools and local administration were also taken up during the meeting, which lasted for about 15 minutes. “Our meeting with the CM was a courtesy call. It was a cordial meeting. We offered our hearty congratulations and best wishes on his elevation to the position of the chief minister of UP, and assured him of our prayers for the success of his service as the CM of the biggest state of the country,” he said.
Rev. Mathias claimed that the chief minister asked them to continue their services to the poor and the needy in various fields, including education, and practice their faith without fear. “The CM assured us of strict action against those who take law into their own hands,” he said.
Right wing organisations have been at loggerheads with Christian missionaries, accusing them of converting people to their faith through coercion and allurement. Several Hindu groups have conducted ‘ghar wapsi’ (return to Hinduism) of such people.
Earlier this year, HYV activists had attacked the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur, accusing its priests of religious conversion. The delegation also included Archbishop Albert D’Souza of Agra, Bishop Thomas T of Gorakhpur, Bishop John Vadakel of Bijnor, Bishop Raphy Manjaly of Allahabad, Bishop Ignatius D’Souza of Bareilly and Bishop Eugene Joseph of Varanasi.