03/02/2020, 13.09
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Vasai: 320 adults ask for baptism, this is ‘religious freedom’

Archbishop Felix Machado celebrated the rite of Christian initiation. The catechumens include many tribals, young people and people with a high level of education. Many false charges of proselytising are made against the Catholic Church. In the diocese, another 50 adults will be baptised on Easter night.


Vasai (AsiaNews) - Yesterday, the first Sunday of Lent, Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado of Vasai celebrated the rite of Christian initiation of adults for 320 people who specifically requested baptism.

The ceremony took place at the Talasari mission, which is part of the Diocese of Vasai, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai, Maharashtra).

"In the presence of their godfathers and godmothers and their families, these 320 people publicly expressed their desire to receive the baptism and I testified to their signature of the Affidavit,” said the prelate.

“I wanted this to happen in Talasari,” he added, “where most people are tribal. The future baptised include many tribals, but also others. Most of them have a high level of education and are young adults.”

In India, conversion to Christianity is viewed with suspicion by the government, which accuses the Churches of proselytising. The bishops have often asked for evidence that manipulation is taking place, but it has never been provided. Yet, because of charges of proselytising many religious and believers have been subjected to violence and arrests.

“These catechumens have been preparing for many years,” explained Mgr Machado, “and by now are ready to receive the baptism. They were drawn to Jesus Christ.

“I asked them if someone had forced them to become Christians,” and told them that “they had to be free and tell me right away. In accordance with the rite, they all shouted loudly: I want it!”

“For us, no one can be forced into such a deed; yet people have many suspicions. Here instead, everyone was able to hear. I wanted to celebrate this event solemnly so that the 320 adults would be able to acknowledge their faith in Jesus in a public and open way. Now nobody can stop them. This is true religious freedom.”

Mgr Machado went on to day that in the Diocese of Vasai, in addition to the 320 in Talasari, 50 other adults will be baptised on Easter night. “I am proud of my nation. This is religious freedom,” he said in concluding.

Almost four million people live within the limits of the Diocese of Vasai, about 150,000 of them Catholics.

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