Indian Catholic News

Bishops mourn death of "Christians' friend" Parrikar

Parrikar, 63 died from pancreatic cancer on March 17.

 
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar during the Budget Session of the state Assembly on February 22, 2018.(IANS)
New Delhi: 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has expressed “profound sorrow” at the death of Manohar Parrikar, the chief minister of Goa and former federal Minister for Defence.

Parrikar, 63 died from pancreatic cancer on March 17.

“We can truly say that Goa and India have lost a great leader and the Christian community has lost a sincere and honest friend,” said a condolence statement from the CBCI.

The bishops saluted the “courage and determination” of the leader who till his last breath battled against his disease. Parrikar’s recent public appearances “manifested his daunting fortitude,” it said.

In late January despite his advanced disease, he opened the Mandovi bridge and a few days later participated in the Goa Assembly Session.

“We were happy that the Goa Chief Minister looked in high spirits not scared of his physical sufferings and undeterred by the tubes inserted inside his nasal cavity,” the statement said.

Parrikar was born in Mapusa and studied at Loyola High School, Margao. He graduated in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1978.

The Church is happy to contribute to the education “of such a prominent, dedicated and committed leader,” the statement said.

The leader was sensitive to the needs of the Christian Community, it added.

When Good Friday holiday was cancelled in Goa in 2012, he admitted it was an error and restored the holiday.

As Defence Minister of India he had also shown keen interest in inviting Pope Francis to India. In one meeting with the CBCI Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, he had promised to personally follow it up.

“We feel sad that the visit did not take place in his life time. But the Church in India will remain ever grateful to him for his kindness towards the Christian community, despite occasional disagreements which were always sorted out through dialogue,” the statement said.

The Goan politician, member of pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) proposed the Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate before the 2013 BJP parliamentary elections convention in Goa.

After BJP and Modi won the 2014 general election, he become the Defence Minister, and continued in the post till 2017 when the party named him chief minister of Goa.

He was also a former member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh.

The CBCI statement also conveyed the personal condolences of CBCI president Cardinal Oswald Gracias and added that cardinal “enjoyed a very sincere and special relationship” with the Goan politician.

The cardinal remembers that each meeting with Parrikar “was enriching and full of warmth.”

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