The secretary: "His words have been misrepresented". Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao is criticized for his pastoral letter dedicated above all to poverty. The initiative of the archbishop of Delhi. The alleged conspiracy against the government of Narendra Modi by the Vatican, Pope Francis and Sonia Gandhi.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The words of Msgr. Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, were "taken out of context. His pastoral letter is not against any particular political party”, stated Fr. Joaquim Loila Pereira, the bishop’s Secretary, in a televised appeal to calm the wave of hatred that has spread across news outlets.
Criticism has rained all over the country against the pastoral initiative of Msgr. Filipe Neri Ferrao, who invites the faithful of his diocese to work to alleviate poverty. Instead the words given greatest space in the local press are those related to the alleged danger that the Indian Constitution runs and the invitation to Catholics to become more involved in politics ahead of the general elections of 2019.
President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) Sajan K George, "expresses strong support for the pastoral letter of the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, who underlines the vision of Pope Francis not only for the Catholic community but also for the ecumenical vision of Church that is committed to [fighting] poverty ".
Since yesterday, the Archbishop has been invested by a wave of criticism from supporters of the BJP Hindu nationalist party in government (Bharatiya Janata Party). The offending sentences are contained in two paragraphs (out of a total of 15 pages), in which he states that "our Constitution is in danger", "human rights are under attack and democracy seems at risk", "minorities fear for their own safety ". Furthermore, Msgr. Ferrao highlights a climate of "mono-culturalism that demands uniformity in what one eats, wears, lives and even venerates".
Several leading figures expressed their discontent and contributed to a climate of intolerance against the bishop, Christians and, more generally, the Vatican and Pope Francis. Union Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said that "in India there is much more freedom than other countries and minorities and the Constitution are much more protected [...] We do not need anybody's suggestions".
Sunil Deodhar, a member of the BJP's national executive committee in Tripura, wrote on Twitter that "people [like Mgr. Ferrao] are engaged in manufacturing hate ". Bhupender Yadav, secretary general of the BJP in Gujarat, believes that the pastoral letter is "a political appeal by a religious leader that marks a new dangerous trend in Indian politics".
Shobha Karandlaje, secretary general of the BJP in Karnataka, goes so far as to hypothesize an alleged conspiracy "on the part of the Vatican to tarnish the Modi government". Another user named Archie, who calls himself "proud Indian, hyper nationalist", even claims the involvement of "Sonia Gandhi, friend of the Vatican" [for her Italian origins, ed.].
The campaign of hatred against Msgr. Ferrao was sparked by the bias coverage of Indian newspapers, who compared his initiative to another recent pastoral document that has given rise to wide debate.
This is the letter of Msgr. Anil JT Couto, the Archbishop of Delhi, who urged faithful to fast and pray for the general elections next year. The reference to the "turbulent political climate" in India, contained in the letter, provoked the irritated reaction of prominent BJP members, who invited the prelate to stay away from political issues.
Sajan K George reports that after the letter of Msgr. Couto some Hindu nationalists have demonstrated in front of the cathedral of Delhi throwing the image of the prelate and Pope Francis on the ground and trampling on them (see video). "All this - he concludes - hurts religious sentiment and intimidates the vulnerable Christian community".
(Collaborated by Nirmala Carvalho)