Goa Archbishop: People Being Oppressed, Constitution in Danger

“The candidates confuse people with false promises and people sell their vote for petty gain,” the father wrote.

3 min read
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Archbishop of Goa and Daman Father Filipe Neri Ferrao has said that the Constitution is in danger and many people are living in an atmosphere of insecurity.

In a letter addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, he said that the constitution should be understood better as general elections are drawing closer.

People are being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development. Pope Francis says, “The first victim of development is the poor person.” It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor, because those who will raise their voice for them are very few.
Excerpt from Father Filipe Neri Ferrao’s letter

‘People Being Misled for Votes’

At the time of elections, the candidates confuse the minds of many people by making false promises. And the people, on their part, often sell their precious vote for selfish, petty gain.
Excerpt from Father Filipe Neri Ferrao’s letter

The archbishop also said that human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.

The letter, issued in the beginning of Pastoral Year that lasts from 1 June to 31 May, is addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.

"Today, our Constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity," the archbishop said.

"In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our constitution better and work harder to protect it," the letter stated.

Rights of Minorities in Danger

The archbishop said that "in recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we eat, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism."

He added that people were being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development.

“Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril,” Ferrao said, adding that “various minorities fear for their safety. In short, respect for law is frankly on the decline in this country.”

On the topic of Rohingya refugees, and the continued caste-based oppression in the country, the religious leader said:

Migrants, people dwelling in huts and living on the streets are ostracised and treated with harsh words. Again, due to caste discrimination, some people live their entire life in humiliation  
Excerpt from Father Filipe Neri Ferrao’s letter

The archbishop called for the participation of Catholics and Church communities in politics and social causes.

Our parishes and small Christian communities ought to be immersed in this mission of the Church. They should be open to the problems of the world. This social concern should not only remain within the confines of the parish community but should reach out to the whole state and country at large.
An excerpt from Father Ferrao’s letter

He said that it was advisable that the faithful play an active role in the political field.

They should, however, follow the dictates of their conscience while doing so and shun "sycophantic" politics, he added.

"They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration," he said.

Poverty and Malnutrition

The archbishop also expressed concern about malnutrition among children in the country.

"According to global multi dimensional poverty index, 30 per cent of the global population of children living in poverty reside in India," he said.

“Why India is struck by extreme poverty? 73 per cent of our countrys resources are controlled by 10 per cent of the population. The existing extreme poverty is therefore the result of rampant social injustice prevailing in the country,” the archbishop said.

Notably, Delhi archbishop Anil Couto had last month stated in a letter that a "turbulent political atmosphere" posed a threat to India's democratic principles and secular fabric.

In his letter to all parish priests and religious institutions in Delhi archdiocese, Couto had also appealed to the followers of his faith to launch a "prayer campaign" ahead of the 2019 general elections.

(With inputs from PTI)

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