(AsiaNews) - Religious freedom for all minorities, equal rights for Dalit
Christians and Muslims, the controversial Food Security Bill : these are some
of the themes that Card. Oswald
Gracias , archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops' Conference of
India (CBCI ) , discussed in person with Sonia Gandhi , President of the United
Progressive Alliance ( UPA ) , the ruling coalition in India. Speaking
to AsiaNews, the prelate explained
that the meeting which took place on 16 October, "was an opportunity not
to ask for special favors, but only justice, equality and protection for all
citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution of our country."
The cardinal congratulated the President of UPA for the approval of the Food Security Bill, defining the decree - which provides for the distribution of low-cost food for 800 million poor people - as "a giant step towards the government's care for the needy and the oppressed". Gandhi assured the Archbishop that "the concerns raised will be seriously addressed" and said they appreciated "the services rendered by the Catholic community in many fields, particularly education and health care".
The cardinal told AsiaNews that he would like to "meet all parties in the country," demonstrating that "the Church does not seek privileges , but only wants to exercise our rights under the Constitution. India is the largest secular democracy in the world, the Constitution guarantees basic human rights to all peoples. As Christians we are an integral part of Indian society. "
In the country the Christian community represents 2.3 % of the population. However, stresses the CBCI President, "for hundreds of years the Church has tirelessly dedicated itself to building this nation. It has made a great contribution to the general welfare of society, without ever discriminating against caste or creed, and has never intervened in matters not concerning us. Our only request is to be able to work and live freely, according to the rights enshrined in the Constitution. And these include the right to practice our religion. "