Delhi Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto recently created a controversy by issuing a letter which reeked of politics. The letter was full of fabrications and based on lies but what hurt more was probably the fact that a religious leader abused his position. It might have worked in the West but this is not how the Indian democracy works. Anil Couto and the contents of his letter were widely condemned all throughout India, even followers of Couto chose to side with the Indian way of life rather than meeting the demands made by a politically motivated religious leader. Recent events have shown us that Anil Couto is not the only Christian leader to take an active part in shaping up modern day India as suited to his needs. Barely a week after the Couto controversy had died down, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Father Filipe Neri Ferrao has issued a letter voicing more or less the same opinions as that of Anil Couto.
Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Father Filipe Neri Ferrao’s issued a letter in the beginning of the pastoral year which extends from June 1st to May 31st. The letter addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman speaks about how the Constitution is in danger and how many people are living their lives in fear and insecurity. He appeals to his followers to learn more about the Constitution so that they can protect values like secularism, freedom of speech and to practice one’s religion. A portion of the letter reads, “Today, our Constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity. In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our constitution better and work harder to protect it,” it goes on to say, “In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we eat, dress, live and even worship: a kind of monoculturalism. Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril”.
Father Felipe is perhaps wary of the FCRA Act which has put a break on the conversion rates. The central government has put to good use to expose and limit the NGOs which carried out mass conversions all throughout India in the name of charity. With their nefarious activities put on a hold, the church leaders and their bosses sitting in the West have lost their cool. They seem to be ready to go to any lengths to get the freedom of converting, which they so badly desire. ‘Minorities fearing for their safety’ card is a sham for not being able to convert as freely as they could under the earlier Congress rule. It became evident from the protests which took place against the anti-conversion bill which was passed in Jharkhand in 2017 by the incumbent BJP government.
The letter by Father Felipe further says that, “Our parishes and small Christian communities ought to be immersed in this mission of the Church. They should be open to the problems of the world. This social concern should not only remain within the confines of the parish community but should reach out to the whole state and country at large”. He probably has mistaken India for his adopted Western homeland where the religion plays an important role in deciding the leaders for the country. Father Felipe needs to be shown the number of non-Christian Prime Ministers and Presidents in Italy (the seat of Roman Catholic Church) to understand how India functions.
India will always be welcoming to every religion and mindset unless it begins to attack the Indian way of life. A Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh from the same region looks, acts and behaves as differently as brothers in a household. From rescuing a Christian Priest and nun stuck in war torn middle east, to BJP MP Sushma Swaraj attending a ceremony of Teresa at the Vatican, BJP has done all it can to support the Christian community. What it has not done is bow down to the wishes of the rich priests and Archbishop’s who otherwise want to carry on their nefarious activities in the country, something which is despicable for any democratically chosen government. Especially in a country like India which prides itself on being a secular nation. Father Felipe fears the imposition of uniformity, perhaps it is too difficult for his biblical mind to understand India’s motto of ‘unity in diversity’ which India and the central government cherishes wholeheartedly.