05/16/2018, 13.46
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Archbishop of Delhi calls for prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 elections

by Anil JT Couto*

Mgr Couto calls on the faithful in every parish to recite the prayer for a year as well as fast and perform the Eucharistic adoration. The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference urges believers to pray so that the country can be guided by pluralism and government wisdom in which the poor, tribals and Dalits are considered and respected with equal dignity. In Karnataka’s elections, surprisingly, the BJP does not get a majority.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) –  Mgr Anil JT Couto, archbishop of Delhi, issued a pastoral letter with a prayer to be recited in all parishes of the diocese, together with fasting and Eucharistic adoration, every Friday until the 2019 elections.

In his statement, the prelate expresses concern about India’s "turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.”

His letter is dated 8 May but was released on 12 May, eve of the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The archbishop emphasises the value of prayer and the importance of fasting as redemptive practices

In his view, what needs to be redeem is India’s political life in which Christian and Muslim religious minorities are increasingly targeted by Hindu nationalist radicals. Indeed, not only Christians but Muslims as well are victims of attacks.

Tensions have intensified following the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power in 21 out of 29 states. However, the Hindu nationalist party failed by a small margin to take the State of Karnataka in recent elections.

Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), welcomes Mgr Couto’s proposal. "It's a good initiative. Prayer is the main path. Praying is always a good thing. So, let us Christians pray for the country, so that political leaders can be prudent and enlightened." Mgr Couto’s letter and prayer follow.

Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.

It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the General Elections.

As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have [a] new Government, let us begin a Prayer Campaign for our country from May 13, 2018 which marks the Anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, consecrating ourselves and our nation to the Immaculate Heart.

I request that we observe a Day of Fast every Friday of the week by foregoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation.

Moreover, I earnestly request that we organize an hour of Eucharistic Adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institutions, specifically praying for our nation.

During this Adoration the enclosed Prayer may be recited.

With kind regards.

Prayer for our nation

Oh God of freedom and love, let your light of truth shine on our Nation, dispelling all darkness and untruth.

Let the dreams of our founding fathers and the values of our Constitution – Equality, Liberty and Fraternity – be always held in highest esteem.

Let the people of all castes and creeds, all denominations and persuasions live in harmony and peace steering far away from hatred and violence.

Protect our legislatures as a place of discerning minds. Raise our judiciary as the hallmark of integrity, prudence and justice. Keep our print, visual and social media as the channels of truth for edifying discourses. Protect our institutions from the infiltration of the evil forces.

Let the poor of our country be provided with the means of livelihood. Let the Dalits, tribals and the marginalised be brought into the mainstream of nation building. Let justice and integrity prevail in every sphere of our life.

May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders.

This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom.

Almighty Father, bless our nation with the revival of the Gospel values in the name of your Beloved Son Jesus Christ by sending forth your Holy Spirit.

Oh, Mary our Blessed Mother, who appeared at Fatima, give hope to the struggling nations and intercede for our beloved country. Amen.

*Archbishop of Delhi

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