Indian Catholic News

Government asked to invite Pope to India

Kodikunnil Suresh argues that allowing the first papal visit in 20 years would promote peace and tranquility.

 
UCAN file photo
New Delhi: 

The Indian government should invite Pope Francis to come to the populous nation as vast numbers of people were anxiously hoping for such a visit, according to an Opposition Congress Party Member of Parliament.

Kodikunnil Suresh told the lower house that a papal visit would enhance the nation’s reputation for honoring individuals who enhance communal tolerance and understanding.

It was not just Catholics, but rather a broad cross-section of Indians who wished to see Pope Francis visit, argued the parliamentarian from the nation's south.

Suresh, himself a Hindu, added that the presence of the leader of the Catholic Church would encourage acts of mercy and charity as well as the elimination of social evils.

No pope has visited India since Pope St. John Paul II in November 1999.

However, Suresh told ucanews.com that Francis, since his election as pope in 2013, had on several occasions expressed a personal desire to come.

And Catholic Church leaders in India during the past six years have publicly appealed to the government to issue an official papal invitation.

In March last year, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias directly asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do so.

"The prime minister reacted positively to this desire of the whole Catholic community," Cardinal Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said after meeting with Modi.

Suresh noted that Pope Francis has already visited other nations in the Middle East and Asia with November visits scheduled to Thailand (yet to be confirmed) and Japan (confirmed).

Some commentators believe that Modi fears a backlash among Hindu voters if Pope Francis is officially invited to India. Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, CBCI vice-president, expressed appreciation to MP Suresh for pursuing the issue.

Source: UCAN

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