In a controversial letter addressed to all the churches in Delhi, the Archbishop of Delhi has said there is a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country which “threatens” democracy and secularism.
“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” Archbishop Couto says in his letter. Archbishop Anil Couto, in his letter dated May 8, has also urged all the priests in Delhi to “pray for the country” ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The letter has triggered a sharp response and outrage from the ruling BJP. Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he has not seen the latter yet, but assured the minorities in India of their safety.
“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time, but all the more so when we approach the general elections. As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have a new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from May 13,” the letter says.
“May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders. This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice, and freedom,” says the prayer.
“Let the poor of our country be provided with the means of livelihood. Let the tribals, Dalits and marginalised be brought into the mainstream of nation-building. Protect our legislature as a place of discerning minds; raise our judiciary as the hallmark of integrity, prudence, and justice. Keep our print, visual and social media as the channels of truth for edifying discourse. Protect our institutions from the infiltrations of the evil forces.”
“I have not seen the letter, but I want to say India is one of those countries where minorities are safe and no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste and religion,” Rajnath Singh said.
“Every action has a reaction. I won’t take a step that disrupts communal harmony. But if the church asks people to pray so that the Modi government isn’t formed, the country will have to think that people from other religions will do ‘kirtan pooja’,” Singh.