Pope's blessing for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Archbishop of Hyderabad diocese returned from Rome with the Pope's blessing for the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh and its Chief Minister, Rajasekhar Reddy. The Archbishop discussed the situation of the Church in India with Benedict XVI.


New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Mgr Marampudi Joji, Archbishop of Hyderabad diocese who was received by the Pope on 7 November, returned yesterday to India and delivered the blessing of Benedict XVI to Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Chief Minister of the Indian state of Anhra Pradesh.

"In the Vatican, I prayed especially for the prosperity of Andhra Pradesh state and for our country," said the bishop. "At my request, the Pope gave his blessing to our Chief Minister, who is a Christian Protestant. Rajasekhar Reddy appreciated the blessing very much, and he was overwhelmed by joy and happiness when he learned that the Holy Father had also blessed the State of Andhra Pradesh."

The Archbishop first went on a visit to Traunstein, the Pope's birthplace, where he visited the Pontiff's deceased parents and met his older brother, Fr George Ratzinger.

In an interview with AsiaNews, the Archbishop said: "Pope Benedict prays for our State of Andhra Pradesh and for our peace and prosperity." He added that the "Holy Father enquired whether the Church in our state faced any difficulty in carrying out her mission. I told him that in Andhra Pradesh, the Church faces no persecution, and we carry out their ministry without much difficulty. But in States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, like Rajasthan and Orissa, there are many cases of violence against Christians.

"The Pope is keenly aware of the rising trends of evangelical sects and he asked me about the Catholic Church's relationship with other churches." The Archbishop reassured the Pope that the "ecumenical relationship shared with other Churches is very good". He explained that in his diocese of Hyderabad, there are 100,000 Catholics, 600,000 Protestants, and four Protestant bishops, and they all consider him to be their Patriarch and Archbishop. He said "there is a visible sign of a community of Christian faith in the diocese". However, he expressed his "concern about the increasing number of Pentecostal churches."

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