Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis on Saturday during his visit to Rome for the G-20 summit. PM Modi tweeted, “Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India. @Pontifex.” The meeting becomes extremely crucial in the context of the left-liberal ecosystem’s attempts to fuel discontent against the ruling BJP within the Christian community and the government’s attempts to resolve all misunderstandings created deliberately by the left-liberals.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 30, 2021
The Vatican stated, “Today, 30 October, the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Mr Narendra Modi.” It added, “During a brief conversation, the cordial relations between the Holy See and India were discussed.” Now, Pope Francis is the highest leader of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore PM Modi’s meeting with Pope has sent across a very pleasant message to Christians at home.
Pope Francis accepts the invitation to visit India:
According to sources, Prime Minister Modi was originally supposed to meet Pope Francis for only twenty minutes. However, the meeting continued for an hour. During their meeting, PM Modi and Pope Francis discussed several issues including fighting climate change and removing poverty.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla disclosed that in his own words, Pope Francis said, “You (PM Modi) have given me the greatest gift. I am looking forward to visiting India”. The last papal visit to India was way back in 1999 when Pope John Paul II visited the country.
Christian community is extremely happy:
The Christian community, which is electoral significant in the poll-bound states of Manipur and Goa as well as the politically crucial state of Kerala, seems elated by Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis.
Kevin Mathew Sunny from the Kerala Christian Forum described the meeting as a welcome sign. Speaking about the prospects of Pope’s India visit, the Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Gracias said, “I think it will result in greater communication and collaboration. I think it will be good for the Catholic Church, India and PM Modi himself.”
#EXCLUSIVE | "The Pope is very interested in India and he has often asked me and spoken about it. I think it will result in greater communication and collaboration. I think it will be good for the Catholic Church, India and PM Modi himself": Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Gracias pic.twitter.com/TgZCQVaqiJ
— Republic (@republic) October 30, 2021
The Kerala Catholics Bishops’ Council said “The Papal visit will also promote fraternity and co-operation among the polyphonic society of India.” Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and head of churches in Odisha John Barwa disclosed that Indian Christians are very glad that “our PM has met our Pope”. He added, “Surely, the relationship will grow. We have been looking forwards to this meeting for many years. We are happy and feel proud about it.”
Other prominent members of the Indian Christian community have welcomed PM Modi’s meeting with the Pope. Athlete Anju Bobby George tweeted, “It is wonderful to see our Honourable PM meeting with Reverend Pope.Indeed it’s another step towards building a new India, fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of a rising billion.”
It is wonderful to see our Honourable PM meeting with Reverend Pope.Indeed it's another step towards building a new India, fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of a rising billion https://t.co/LEE3Iu4V58
— Anju Bobby George (@anjubobbygeorg1) October 30, 2021
Prime Minister Modi’s message to the Christian community:
The meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Pope Francis is removing all ambiguities and misunderstandings. As per Indian Express, sources say that there have been a series of dialogues between the BJP and Christian clergy over the last few months. The top Christian clergy including some prominent Roman Catholics have expressed willingness to engage the BJP at the Centre and in Kerala. However, internal voices from the Christian community are said to be cautioning Church leaders trying to get closer to the BJP.
However, the BJP has been constantly trying to signal its goodwill towards the Christian community. In 2019, the ruling BJP introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to provide a pathway to citizenship for such persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who arrived in India before the end of December 2014. The list of persecuted religious minorities included the Christians.
The CAA was a big initiative that eased citizenship for Christians who were persecuted in India’s neighbouring countries and would have been rendered Stateless had it not been for India’s efforts. Now, PM Modi’s meeting with the Pope is just the right message that needed to be communicated to facilitate robust communication between the top Christian clergy and the ruling BJP.