After initial attempts by the Church functionaries to play dumb, the cat now is finally out of the bag. Yesterday a letter surfaced which was written by the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Delhi, Anil Couto, to the Catholics in India. While the letter was titled “Prayer for our nation”, the body mentioned that they looked forward towards 2019 when a “new Government ” would come to power.
In recent times, the Church has been very active in Indian politics. Before the Gujrat elections, the Gandhinagar Archbishop sent a similar communique which urged the Christians to save the country from ‘nationalistic forces’. Before the Nagaland Assembly elections, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council had also urged the believers to choose between ‘Trishul and the Cross.’ Before the Goa elections, a Catholic magazine asked the voters in the state not to vote for the BJP and claimed that the country is facing a ‘constitutional holocaust’.
While some functionaries of the church tried to claim that this was a “routine letter”, Archbishop Couto while speaking to ANI stated that he has to talk about elections:
“Yes I have to talk, what else will I talk? 2022 elections or something like that? Elections concern us and therefore when we talk we have to talk about the elections. Because the Government concerns us”
He further added that they have to pray for a Government which cares for “freedom of the people, rights of the Christian community, the welfare of the Christian community”
With this statement, the Archbishop has made it clear that it is the Church’s intention that the next Government should be one which favours their community’s rights and welfare.
By saying so, is the Archbishop in violation of the Supreme Court ruling of 2017? The Supreme Court had laid down its verdict which tried to separate religion from electoral politics. It had said that either the candidate, or anyone on his behalf, should not demand votes based on religion, and this would be termed as a “corrupt practice”.
The Archbishop’s statement comes just days after a Goa AAP leader had admitted that the Church in Goa had for decades interfered with the politics of the state, by using sermons to favour certain candidates. He had also urged the Church to now come out in the open and overtly back candidates.