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18th February 2015
(Apostolic Visit: News from the dailies)
PM Modi meets Syrian Orthodox Church Supreme Head
Modi assures full freedom of faith; meets Christian leaders
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:31.
New Delhi: Coming out unequivocally for the first time against recent attacks on churches and controversial utterances by right-wing fringe elements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his government will ensure complete freedom of faith and will not allow any religious group to incite hatred against others "overtly or covertly".
Addressing Christian leaders at a function here, the prime minister said he strongly condemned violence against any religion. "My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence. My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly," he said.
"Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions," Modi said, breaking his long silence on the subject. "We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard," he added. Modi met the supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, who is currently on a visit to India, called on the prime minister. He was accompanied by a nine-member delegation, comprising senior members of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church.
Addressing a function to mark the 'National Celebration of the Elevation to Sainthood of Kuriakose EliaChavara and Mother Euphrasia', he said his government stands by "every word" of the Universal Declarationand of freedom of religion or belief.
"India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian. We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard," Modi said. He also appealed to all religious groups "to act with restraint, mutual respect, and tolerance in the true spirit of this ancient nation which is manifest in our Constitution and is in line with the Hague Declaration".
Modi said that to realize his vision of a modern India and to ensure development, unity is an essential ingredient. "Unity strengthens us. Division weakens us. I sincerely request all Indians, and all of you present here to support me in this huge task," he said. Lauding the two saints for dedicating their lives to the service of God and fellow beings, he described the lives and deeds of Saint Chavara and Saint Euphresia as "inspiration" to humanity.
Christian leaders immediately welcomed Modi's remarks and hoped they would translate into action. Father Savarimuthu Sankar, of the Catholic Church, told "The general feeling is that everyone is happy that finally he has spoken. Although it's late because we wanted him to speak before Christmas last year. We hope his words are translated into action." In the most recent attack, the Holy Child Auxilium school in south Delhi was ransacked by unidentified people Feb 13. It was the sixth incident of attack on churches and a school in Delhi over a period of two months.
Modi had summoned Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi asking him to speed up investigation in the incidents of vandalism and bring the guilty to book.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi referred to PM Modi's statement: Church leader
NEW DELHI: A top Church leader today said President Pranab Mukherjee and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were "happy" that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a statement against religious violence.
The supreme head of Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, told reporters that the President and the Congress chief, whom he met here today, insisted that the attack on churches in the last few weeks was "not the way India behaves".
"...President and Sonia Gandhi mentioned the statement of the Prime Minister and they all affirmed that what happened during the last few weeks and months to Christian churches is not the way Indian behaves, this is not an Indian way of treating the people in this beloved country.
The visiting church leader met President and Gandhi a day after he called on Prime Minister and discussed the issues confronting the community including all the attacks. "I believe it was very positive from all of them, from the Prime Minister, from Sonia Gandhi and from the President. They (Mukherjee and Gandhi) were all happy that that statement was also made (by the Prime Minister)," he told reporters in response to a query on the issue.
He said he has urged political leaders to "please make sure and do all that they can to keep the spirit, the Indian spirit of tolerance, peaceful coexistence of all and do their best to keep away this ideologies of extremism and fanaticism."
The Prime Minister had said his government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.
Modi has been under attack from opposition and Christian groups of turning a blind eye to a string of recent attacks on five churches and a Christian school in Delhi, "My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions," he had said at a function yesterday.
News from Malayala Manorama
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Click the below links for the 'Apostolic Visit' News from various dailies
1. 20 Feb 2015
2. 19 Feb 2015
3. 18 Feb 2015
4. 17 Feb 2015
5. 16 Feb 2015
6. 15 Feb 2015
7. 14 Feb 2015
8. 13 Feb 2015
9. 12 Feb 2015
10. 11 Feb 2015
11. 10 Feb 2015
12. 9 Feb 2015
13. 8 Feb 2015
14. Pre-visit days of His Holiness
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