New Delhi (AsiaNews) - "The Church in India is hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will collaborate with the mission of the Catholic Church to promote and work for social and economic justice as well as individual liberty and fundamental rights," said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India-Latin Rite. He spoke with AsiaNews on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony for India's new prime minister and cabinet.
Thousands of people came to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, for the ceremony with some 7,000 police officers providing security.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, respectively president and vice-president of the Congress Party, and the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were also present.
"We assure our Prime Minister and the Government and its leaders of our prayers," Card Gracias said. "May God bless them with wisdom, courage and selflessness to work for the well-being and peace of our people especially the poor, the marginalised, the minorities and the weaker sections of society."
All 44 cabinet ministers took their oath of office after Modi.
In the morning, Modi visited the Raj Ghat, the Gandhi monument in New Delhi to pay homage to the Mahatma.
All leaders of the seven South Asian countries attended the ceremony. The presence of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, who accepted Modi's invitation, was a significant historic moment in the history of the two countries.
It is in fact the first time that a Pakistani prime minister participates in the swearing-in ceremony of his Indian counterpart.
This morning, just before he left Islamabad, Sharif said that he was carrying a message of peace to India and that talks are the only solution to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries.
The Pakistani prime minister will meet Narendra Modi in private tomorrow.
The new cabinet includes full ministers, ministers of state and junior ministers. Most of the former come from the ranks of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, and close allies, like figures Uma Bharti, a well-known ultra-nationalist Hindu leader who took part in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.