Panaji/ Kolkata: Archbishop of Calcutta Reverend (Rev) Thomas D’Souza has endorsed the views of his Delhi and Goa counterparts who had stated in their letters that the “Constitution was under threat” in context to alleged attacks on minorities in the country, which created ripples across the national political scape.
“To talk about the letters, I think it’s absolutely right. There are various aspects of Constitution which are not being practiced. From that point I have taken my own step. As a chairman of the education commission of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), we have made it mandatory for our schools to teach the constitution. Communal harmony is part of our life. If we pass it to educational institutions, they will be its ideal custodians,” Rev Thomas D’Souza told GT.
The Archbishop was speaking on the sidelines of ‘Sambandh Conclave’, dedicated to future of Indian truck drivers held in Kolkata.
When asked about the need for writing such letters by the Archbishops raising issues regarding secularism in India, the Archbishop of Calcutta said, “The feelings of a community are expressed by the leaders. Whenever there is any important national occasion or a disaster, we hold prayers and contribute. So, letters to the community are sent to keep people aware. This helps the clouds of uncertainty to disappear.”
Citing example, he said that too much violence is taking place in different parts of the country. “Hate speech given by people is leading to disputes. We as Archbishops feel that communication is important,” he said.
Informing about the role Archbishops play in galvanising Christian community towards nation building, Rev Thomas D’Souza said that the responsibility of an Archbishop is to give leadership through their service by inspiring people, animating them according to the tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church.
“We are also responsible to make people realise that they are the good citizens of our country and for all the loss of our country, we need to spread patriotism,” he said.
It may be recollected that in a letter addressed to all parish priests in the capital, Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto called for a year-long prayer campaign to “save India” from the “turbulent political atmosphere”, which has “threatened the democratic principles of the Constitution and secular
Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao in his pastoral letter stated, “Constitution is in danger, reason why most of the people are living in insecurity. As the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it.”
His Archbishop’s office however later issued a statement stating that his letter was quoted out of context.
When asked about allegations from certain quarters that the Churches are conspiring with Vatican to destabilize India through such statements and showing undue interest in Indian politics, the Archbishop hit back saying that as a citizen of India, he has a right to be interested in politics.
“Is it wrong? No. But that doesn’t mean Vatican is involved. We as Indian citizens have our political right and also want to direct our people. We have our concern for people and not just our own community,” he said.