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ASIA/INDIA – Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis and invites him to visit India

ASIA/INDIA – Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis and invites him to visit India
ASIA/INDIA – Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis and invites him to visit India

 


ASIA/INDIA – Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis and invites him to visit India

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) – “I met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. I admire his commitment to serving people and improving our planet. I also invited him to visit India,” declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently elected for his third consecutive term, through his official communication channels. Modi had already met Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2021 and this new meeting, immortalized by the media, also found a strong echo in the Indian media and public opinion.
Indian newspapers and television channels reported on Pope Francis' speech at the G7 summit, highlighting how the pope called on leaders of democracies and developed countries to prioritize human dignity in development and use. of artificial intelligence – an issue that also concerns India.
Reactions to the new face-to-face meeting between the Pope and Modi were mixed: representatives of the Indian Catholic community expressed optimism and hope that after the meeting the chances of a papal visit to India would increase, and hoped that the meeting would have a positive impact on relations between India and the Holy See.
However, as some newspapers reported, some Hindu politicians from Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were not happy with Modi shaking hands with the head of the Catholic Church and even kissing the pope. Eleven Indian states, most of which are ruled by the BJP, have “anti-conversion laws”, provisions that subject a person's ability to convert religiously to judicial review and infringe on freedom of conscience. These laws aim above all to counter, mainly, the activities of Christians, considered as “proselytism”.
Other opposition politicians recalled that Narendra Modi had recently exploited the religious factor by using religious rhetoric and presenting himself to voters as a “messenger of God”, and therefore questioned Modi's sincerity in embracing Pope.
Indian Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash emphasizes in this regard: “We must understand and prove with facts that this is not a hypocritical attitude. Modi and his party have made India's Muslim and Christian minorities suffer during these years of rule. be proven through concrete political actions that the government respects the Constitution and the principles of citizenship for citizens of all religious beliefs.”
Furthermore, continues the Jesuit, “the verbal invitation addressed to the Pope, which is certainly welcome – his presence would be a source of pride for all of us – must be transformed into a real and official invitation: we expect our government to he presents it to the Holy See as soon as possible, although it was said (then not formalized) that this should take place as early as 2021. If the Pope comes to India, he will surely be able to highlight the plight of the poor, of the weakest. and who suffer, the fishermen and farmers, the indigenous peoples: his presence among us would be a blessing. We therefore urge Prime Minister Modi to take concrete and real steps now to invite Pope Francis.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 06/17/2024)


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