Indian church leaders pay tribute to Sushma Swaraj

Published 08 August 2019  |  

Remembering the role Sushma Swaraj played in releasing the abducted Catholic priests, Indian church leaders pay tribute to the woman who loved Christians.

President of the Indian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, shared, "She brought a human touch to all decisions of the ministry. As foreign minister, she was our best ambassador and projected a great image of the country in international circles."

He recalled Swaraj's personal assistance and interest in releasing Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, who was abducted by Islamic State militants in Aden, Yemen in 2016.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary general of the bishops' conference at the time, said Swaraj had worked hard for the priest's release and had given a human face to the ministry. She even communicated to people through social media and actively listened to their concerns. "She had a motherly way to attend to issues," he said.

Swaraj also played a prominent role in the release of Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by suspected Taliban militants in Afghanistan in 2014.

In 2015, an official from the ministry of external affairs said that the matter of his release has been pursued by Indian leadership, including at the highest levels by Prime Minister Modi and minister Swaraj.

According to Bishop Mascarenhas, Swaraj had special concern for the Christian community. "She loved the Catholic Church. She was hurt whenever the Church was hurt," he said.

Following the canonization ceremony, Swaraj had met Pope Francis. "The Holy Father later remarked, 'The Indian foreign minister is a very spiritual person,'" recalled Cardinal Gracias. He also said that Swaraj had a special devotion for Mother Teresa.

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