04/26/2016, 13.36
INDIA
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Bishops meet Prime Minister Modi in Delhi, ask him to invite Pope Francis to India

by Nirmala Carvalho

The leaders of the Indian Catholic Church asked the prime minister to lead a government delegation to Rome for the canonisation of Mother Teresa. The bishops praised the government's involvement in trying to get the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Yemen. Modi pledged support for Ranchi hospital for the poor and Tribals, an initiative of local Catholics.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Leaders of the Catholic Church met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him to invite Pope Francis to India. They made their request at a meeting last night in the prime minister’s office in parliament, in New Delhi.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), met with Modi. He was accompanied by Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, the CBCI secretary general, and Fr Joseph Chinnayyan, CBCI deputy secretary general.

The bishops thanked the prime minister for his government’s involvement in trying to get the release of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian who is still held hostage in Yemen. They also invited him to travel to Rome on 4 September for the canonisation of Mother Teresa.

Prime Minister Modi told the prelates that he would vet their invitation to lead a government delegation to Rome and discuss with his aides the best way to plan a papal trip to India.

"It was a cordial meeting,” Mgr Mascarenhas, archbishop of Ranchi (in the State of Jharkhand), told AsiaNews. “The prime minister mentioned the Catholic Church’s good services in Baroda* in the field of education and assured his support for the construction of the hospital in Ranchi."

The CBCI secretary general is the main backer of the hospital in the Archdiocese of Ranchi, which will offer medical care to the poor and Tribals.

The archbishop of Ranchi spoke at lengths with AsiaNews about this "monument of mercy" under construction, which still requires a lot of money.

The delegation of bishops praised the Indian government for improving the living conditions of millions of farmers in rural areas.

Lastly, the prelates offered their support and "full cooperation and participation in all of the government initiatives to build a better India".

* Baroda, now called Vadodara, is located in the State of Gujarat, where Prime Minister Modi served as chief minister from 2001 to 2014.

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