03/20/2019, 11.03
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Electoral Commission rejects the bishops' request: the vote will be held on Holy Thursday

On 18 April, 13 Indian states will vote. In India the Catholic community is composed of 20 million faithful. The only two Christian celebrations recognized as public holidays are Christmas and Good Friday.

Chennai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Indian Electoral Commission has rejected the request of the Catholic bishops of Tamil Nadu who had launched an appeal not to hold the general elections on the feast of Holy Thursday. The petition was presented by Msgr. Antony Pappusamy, archbishop of Madurai, on behalf of the Council of Bishops of Tamil Nadu, one of the regional bodies of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI).

On 18 April, Holy Thursday several Indian states will vote: Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Throughout the country, the Catholic community is made up of 20 million faithful. The discontent is great since the voting schedule was announced, as it is set during Holy Week. For his part, Msgr. Pappusamy explained to the Commission that there are about five million Catholics in Tamil Nadu and 2,800 schools run by the Church that will be the seat of the polls.

The initiative of Tamil Nadu Catholics was also supported by Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the CBCI. In an appeal to the Commission, he pointed out that the request "has no religious purpose, it only wanted to express the logistical difficulties" connected to the date of the vote. For the Christians of India, where Holy Thursday is not a public holiday, "it is already very difficult to be able to participate in prayers, asking for days off work or permits to leave the offices early". Added to this is the moral obligation to serve the country, both attending the polling stations and voting at the polls. Respecting both religious and civic duties, "will be very difficult," the secretary added.

Meanwhile, Church leaders continue to invite the entire population, including Catholics, to express the right to vote. According to Card Oswald Gracias, president of the CBCI, "voting is a sacred obligation". Addressing the faithful, he urged: "Do it wisely. Every single vote counts. We owe it to ourselves, to our children and to our country, to exercise this sacred duty and to involve ourselves in improving our nation's leadership "

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