2019 Polls: 'Turbulent atmosphere', let's pray for India, says Delhi Archbishop
The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto has written a letter to all parish priests asking for a prayer campaign to be launched and also appealed for fasting on Fridays ahead of the 2019 general elections.
"We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation," the archbishop said while urging the Christians to pray for the political leaders of the country as the general elections are nearing.
"As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new government let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from May 13, 2018 which marks the anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, consecrating ourselves and our nation to the Immaculate Heart," the circular read.
"I request that we observe a day of fast every Friday of the week by forgoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation."
"Moreover, I earnestly request that we organise an hour of Eucharistic adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institution specifically praying for our nation.
The Archbishop's office has denied any political motive in the prayer, calling it a standard practice before elections.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Rakesh Sinha termed the move as a "direct attack on Indian secularism and democracy".
"This is a direct attack by the Church on Indian secularism and democracy, and this is a direct intervention by the Vatican as these Bishops are appointed by the Pope. Their accountability is not to India but to Pope," Sinha told ANI.
"Another big reason for this is after the formation of the Prime Minister Modi's government, church-oriented NGOs, received less money due to stricter laws. The Church organisations used to take this money for a variety of cause but in reality, utilise this only for religious conversions. They want a government to be made so that their conversion business flourishes," Sinha added.
Bharatiya Janata Party's Shaina NC also criticised the Archbishop's circular, saying, "Wrong to try and instigate castes or communities. You can tell them to vote for the right candidate or party but to suggest to vote for one party and not another and term yourself as secular is unfortunate."