03/19/2024, 10.50
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Indian bishops invoke day of fasting and prayer on 22 March ahead of vote

by Nirmala Carvalho

"Let us offer our supplications for the purification of the Church and the good of the nation". The initiative was decided during the Assembly of the Bishops' Conference, concerned about the 'unprecedented religious polarisation that is damaging social harmony and endangering democracy itself'. From 19 April to 1 June, almost one billion voters will be called to vote.

Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has announced a Day of prayer and fasting for Friday 22 March to be observed in all the Catholic communities of the country, in view of the upcoming general elections in India and in light of the growing persecution against Christians in the country.

A letter signed by Msgr. Anil Couto, archbishop of Delhi and general secretary of the CBCI, urges the faithful "to unite in prayer for a continuous period of 12 hours to intercede for our nation, particularly for the upcoming general elections this year." With these prayers - continues the prelate - "we align our hearts with the will of God and offer our supplications for the purification of the Church and the good of our nation".

In the letter Msgr. Couto asks Catholics to celebrate Holy Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the rosary and other liturgical moments as part of the special day. “May this day represent a moment of profound spiritual reflection, penance and renewal for the entire Indian Church. We offer our sacrifices and our invocations with a heart open to the will of God, trusting in his mercy and providence."

This national day of prayer and fasting is an initiative decided by the Episcopal Conference in its last assembly in February. A statement released at the end of the meeting that brought together all the bishops in Bangalore observed: “There is an unprecedented religious polarization that is damaging the cherished social harmony in our country and endangering democracy itself. There are fears that divisive attitudes, hate speech and fundamentalist movements are eroding the pluralist ethos that has always characterized our country and its Constitution. Fundamental rights and minority rights guaranteed by the Constitution should never be endangered."

The Indian general elections will be held in seven different rounds depending on the different areas of the country from 19 April to 1 June to elect the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament). Almost 1 billion voters are called to vote. The results will be announced all together on June 4th. Census statistics reveal that India's population is 79.8% Hindu, 14.2% Muslim and 2.3% Christian.

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