Religious Forum questions Catholic Church’s ‘silence’ on targeted violence against Christians

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The official Catholic Church's stance on the continuous targeted violence against Christians and other minorities in India has left the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace in shock.

On the 10th of January, a letter signed by Father Antony Thekkiniyath Capuchian, the forum's national secretary, and Sister Dorothy Fernandes, the forum's national convener, was sent to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, expressing the forum's shock at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India's (CBCI) silence.

They urged the CBCI to raise the issue of Christian persecution with state governments and to request that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah take urgent action against those who commit hate crimes against minorities in the country.

“During the two days, December 24-25, the media reported seven well-planned attacks on Christian institutions across the country,” while “in the year 2021, there were 486 incidents of violence against the Christian community in India, according to the United Christian Front,” the Forum said.

“What shocks us is the complete silence on the part of the official Church, the CBCI.”

According to the forum’s letter, both state and non-state actors are violating Indian citizens' constitutional rights.

“If we do not respond to such acts, the secular fabric of India will be lost, causing irreparable damage to the people of India, and an inclusive, democratic and pluralistic India as envisioned in the preamble of the Indian constitution could be lost forever,” it said.

The Forum members expressed their outrage over CBCI's silence at the grave violations of human rights. The letter reminded the Church head that the Christian community looked to him for guidance as they face threat and live in fear.

“We request you to guide the Catholic community in India to respond to the increasing hate speech and violence against Muslims and Christians,” the letter added.

While the atrocities towards minority groups developed, Catholics cannot be silent observers, the Forum pointed.

The Forum members appealed to Cardinal Gracias that “The evangelical churches, pastors and the faithful are mostly the vulnerable victims of persecution. As the leader of the Catholic Church, the largest denomination in India, we suggest that you play an important and necessary role of being a bridge between different denominations and towards building Christian solidarity.”

It also requested Cardinal Gracias to instruct the CBCI spokesperson to publicly denounce such attacks and to establish a professional legal unit for the purpose of providing legal and other assistance to persecuted people.

In addition to various forms of protest, the Forum asked for at least one day of fasting.

“Let there be united action against the attacks by way of protest rallies, closure of Christian educational institutes, common prayers, etc. We look forward to hearing from you,” it said.