Foreign funding curbs behind Church’s ‘oust Modi’ pitch?

Archbishop of the Roman Cathoilic Archdiocese of Delhi Reverend Anil Joseph Thomas Couto has issued a pastoral letter in which he makes scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government.

He states: “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. It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the General Elections.”

The church has been making a concerted effort to build up a narrative before the general elections in 2019. In the run-up to the Gujarat elections, the church came up with a pastoral letter calling for ‘defeat of the nationalists’. The Archbishop states: “As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have [a] 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 Archbishop, a rabid communalist, who raised a false alarm on Church attacks in Delhi, tells believers: “I request that we observe a Day of Fast every Friday of the week by foregoing 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 organize an hour of Eucharistic Adoration every Friday at a convenient time in all our parishes, religious houses and institutions, specifically praying for our nation. During this Adoration the enclosed Prayer may be recited.”

This is the prayer the Archbishop wants the Roman Catholics to recite: “Oh God of freedom and love, let your light of truth shine on our Nation, dispelling all darkness and untruth. Let the dreams of our founding fathers and the values of our Constitution – Equality, Liberty and Fraternity – be always held in highest esteem. Let the people of all castes and creeds, all denominations and persuasions live in harmony and peace steering far away from hatred and violence.

Protect our legislatures as a place of discerning minds. Raise our judiciary as the hallmark of integrity, prudence and justice. Keep our print, visual and social media as the channels of truth for edifying discourses. Protect our institutions from the infiltration of the evil forces.

Let the poor of our country be provided with the means of livelihood. Let the Dalits, tribals and the marginalised be brought into the mainstream of nation building. Let justice and integrity prevail in every sphere of our life. May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders. This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom.

Almighty Father, bless our nation with the revival of the Gospel values in the name of your Beloved Son Jesus Christ by sending forth your Holy Spirit. Oh, Mary our Blessed Mother, who appeared at Fatima, give hope to the struggling nations and intercede for our beloved country. Amen.”

But the question is why the Church wants to launch a war cry on the government? The Church-run NGOs and evangelists have been annoyed with the Modi government for bringing restrictions on foreign funding which was used for fraudulent conversions. A Kerala-based Christian denomination which has been the highest beneficiary of foreign funding is finding it difficult to rake in money of late. It operations have come to a grinding halt. The assets it had amassed over the last couple of decades are on the verge of extinction.

The Syro Malabar Church Archbishop is facing court cases over fraudulent property deals in which black money was involved. The deal though started before demonetisation could not be taken to its logical conclusion owing to demonitization.

Although the Church exerts a lot of pressure on believers, it has been found that in North Eastern states the laity has ignored the advice of the Church to vote against BJP.