Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto has triggered a controversy by defending his letter he wrote to all churches in the national capital calling for prayers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Couto said that his letter sent on 8 May had nothing to do with the Centre’s Narendra Modi government. His letter had called for a prayer campaign beginning 13 May in the face of “turbulent political atmosphere threatening democracy and secularism” before general elections next year.
Archbishop Couto said, “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.”
The letter also called for a special prayer to be read at Sunday masses. The letter said, “I request that we observe a day of fast every Friday of the week by forgoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation…. Moreover, I earnestly request that we organise an hour of Eucharistic adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institution specifically praying for our nation.”
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that his government was working towards inclusive growth. “The Prime Minister is working towards inclusive growth without discriminating while breaking barriers of religion and caste. We can only ask them to think with progressive mindset,” Naqvi was quoted by News18.
The Archbishop’s office, according to NDTV, has denied any political motive in the prayer, calling it a standard practice before elections.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters, “I have not seen the Archbishop’s 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.”