'Be Vocal About Minority Rights': Pope Francis' Ambassador to Indian Church

Apostolic Nuncio Leopold Girelli was addressing priests and the pious of the Catholic church in Bengaluru.

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'Be Vocal About Minority Rights': Pope Francis' Ambassador to Indian Church

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Apostolic Nuncio Leopold Girelli, who is Pope Francis’ ambassador to India, has said that at the local level, churches and their authorities should be vocal about rights of minorities. Girelli was speaking to a congregation of priests and members of the Catholic church in Bengaluru on Saturday, 23 April.

The apostolic nuncio is on a two-day official visit, which ends on 24 April, to Bengaluru. This is his first pastoral visit to Bengaluru. Archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado presided over the event, even as he did not comment about the troubles faced by the Catholic church in Karnataka.

Girelli said, “In this kind of struggle, if you want to call it that, we should remember that we are not standing up for just our rights as Catholics. We are standing for all minorities and the rights provided to minorities under the Indian constitution.”


'Situation Can Be Dealt With Locally, Nationally and Internationally'

Girelli was responding to a question from a priest in the congregation, who brought to his notice the recent attacks on Christians in Karnataka and India.

The priest, who did not reveal his name while addressing the nuncio said, “Christians are facing a lot of problems including attacks.” He asked whether Pope Francis would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to uphold the rights of Christians. “There is an acute problem with regard to religious minorities (in India),” he said.

While the nuncio hinted that his diplomatic position prevents him from elaborately discussing the matter, he said the problems faced by Christians can be dealt with at the local, national and international levels.

“At the local level, where the challenges are concrete, the local bishop could stand up and say this is not right or good. He could say that respect should be given to all,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the national level, bodies like the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) can convey to the local and central governments that all citizens should be considered equal as prescribed in the Indian constitution, he added.

'Pope Can Intervene Only After Considering All Aspects'

The nuncio assured that at the international level there can be “intervention” that includes the Pope as the head of the church.

“There are channels that can be opened to convey to the government our request and our points,” he added. The nuncio, however, did not clarify whether the recent meeting between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, covered any of the pressing matters raised by local churches in India.

In Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party government had passed an anti-conversion bill which was vehemently opposed by the archbishop of Bengaluru.

The government had also snooped on churches in the state, using three covert surveys.

Recently, Peter Machado extended solidarity to the Muslims, who have been facing threat and boycott in the state.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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