In Gujarat, a house run by the Missionaries of Charity is under investigation on charges of "converting" young girls. The sisters: "False accusations. Many non-Christians are also praying for us". Msgr Machado: "Has this country already forgotten how much the Mother of the Poor has done for India?".
Vadodara (AsiaNews) - The escalating accusations and attacks by Hindu fundamentalists against Indian Christians is targeting the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa's nuns, in the Indian state of Gujarat - the very state from which the political rise of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi began.
In the city of Vadodara a complaint has been filed for "forced conversions" against a home for orphaned girls or girls taken away from child labor that the Missionaries of Charity manage in the Makarpura area.
It stems from an inspection carried out on December 9 in the structure by the district manager of social services Mayank Trivedi, together with the president of the Committee for the Defense of Children. According to the complaint, the two found that the girls in the home were being "forced" to wear the cross, read Christian religious texts and participate in Christian prayers with the intention of "turning them to Christianity". It is also said that the women religious are engaged in "activities that intentionally and rancorously offend the religious feelings of Hindus."
Although the Missionaries of Charity have denied these accusations, the police have launched an investigation on the basis of the notorious anti-conversion law, which has been in force in Gujarat since 2003.
Sister Clarissa, speaking to AsiaNews from the house in Vadodara, says: "We are in shock, what they say is not true at all and the investigations are ongoing . Sister Prema (the superior of the Missionaries of Charity, ed.) has called us to express her closeness and is praying for us. Everyone is praying for us and consoling us, including many people of other religions. Please keep praying for us."
Archbishop of Vasai, Msgr. Felix Machado, secretary general of the Indian Bishops' Conference (Cbci), adds to AsiaNews, "I am deeply distressed by this news. We believe in the laws of this country, the police have the right to investigate. But let us not forget the scenes of Mother Teresa's funeral with full state honors, or the Bharat Ratna, the highest honor of the country awarded to her in 1980. Can her story be erased together with all that she did for India?"
"Serving the poor - continues Msgr. Machado - is an integral part of our Christian faith, standing by the last, the orphans, the forgotten. Where will this country end up if we deny respect for all religions and continue to propagate suspicion towards others? We know the universalism of the Rig Vedas and the Upanishads and we compare it with what is happening today: it is time for a serious reflection, to return to the glorious traditions of India, not to political exploitation".