Indian Archbishop Urges Prayer and Vigilance Amidst Concerns Over Democracy and Religious Freedom

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore has expressed deep concerns about the state of affairs in India, highlighting issues of poverty, economic inequality, unemployment, and erosion of democratic values. These concerns come ahead of the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and Harmony in India, organized by the country’s bishops on March 22. Additionally, the timing of these prayers coincides with the upcoming general elections for the lower house of India’s parliament, scheduled between April 19 and June 1.

The political landscape of India is marked by a fierce contest between the Congress party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress party has accused the BJP-led government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of resorting to tactics such as freezing the party’s bank accounts and issuing tax notices dating back several years, which they perceive as attempts to undermine democracy. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi condemned these actions, alleging them to be a deliberate assault on democratic principles.

Archbishop Machado underscores the challenging circumstances prevailing in India despite its advancements in various sectors. He points to growing economic disparity, monopolization by select capitalists, escalating unemployment among educated youth, and large-scale migration of rural poor as alarming trends. He also highlights the proliferation of hate speech, systematic attempts to deprive citizens of their rights, and erosion of pluralistic and secular values enshrined in the constitution. According to him, India’s political sphere is plagued by populism, polarization, and the cult of personality, rendering democracy hollow.

Minority communities in India, particularly non-Hindu faiths, have voiced concerns over increased oppression since the BJP came to power. Archbishop Machado, who serves as the President of the Karnataka Regional Bishops’ Conference and Chairman of the All-Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, emphasizes the significance of prayer and fasting in combating falsehood, violence, and division while advocating for truth, non-violence, and justice.

Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, echoes similar sentiments, urging parishioners to pray continuously for 12 hours to intercede for the nation, especially during the upcoming elections. He expresses apprehensions about religious polarization and fundamentalist movements, which pose a threat to India’s pluralistic ethos and constitutional rights.

In an interview with Crux, Archbishop Machado emphasizes the bishops’ call for prayer and fasting during the Lenten season to promote peace and harmony, particularly amidst the fervor of the upcoming elections. He urges citizens to exercise their voting rights judiciously, emphasizing the importance of selecting leaders who uphold secular values and respect the constitution. According to him, it is imperative for every citizen to participate in the electoral process responsibly, ensuring the choice of candidates who embody moral values and principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Related Stories