Bishops of India Meet With New President Ram Nath Kovind

Published 01 September 2017  |  
CBCI delegation with the new President of India.

A group of Catholic bishops Aug. 24 met India's new president who appreciated the work of Christians for the poor and the oppressed.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the president of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) led the delegation to make a courtesy visit to the Honourable President of the Republic of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind.

Christians occupy a small percent of the country's population, exactly less than 2.5 percent, yet they have always served and will continue to serve the nation in the field of health, education and other areas, especially helping the poor and the downtrodden, said Cleemis, according to Vatican Radio.

Kovind appreciated the work of the Church and appealed to the Bishops to continue to spiritually develop the country.

Cleemis, in his address, said India was a Democratic Secular Republic and Indians live by the sacred book of the country – the Indian Constitution.

"We pray God may bless you that you may continue to serve the Country through your ministry," said Cleemis.

Kovind was nominated to the office by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.

Since the BJP came to power in 2014, incidents of violence against Christians have spiked, with various Christians being detained or arrested for "attempted conversion," and places of worship being vandalized.

In 2009, Kovind opposed the Ranganath Mishra commission (National Religious and Linguistic Minorities Commission) that had recommended to include Dalit Christians and Muslims in the Scheduled Caste category.

While addressing a press conference in March 2010, he had said, "Islam and Christianity are alien" to India and, therefore, the recommendation would make Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims "eligible to contest elections on reserved seats under backward class reservation."

He said including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional.


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