Baha'i News -- India snubs Pope on eve of visit
India snubs Pope on eve of visit
Suzanne Goldenberg in New Delhi
Saturday October 30, 1999
The Indian government yesterday snubbed an invitation from the Pope to attend a multi-faith gathering to be held during his
visit next week.
The vice-president, Krishan Kant, declined to preside over the Pope's meeting on November 6 with Hindu,
Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Bahai and Jewish leaders, because that would violate India's secular creed, the
foreign ministry said.
Yesterday, the All-India Catholic Union said it was "unhappy, but not surprised" that Mr Kant was
His refusal follows a campaign against the Papal visit by Hindu fundamentalist groups allied to the
Bharatiya Janata party, which heads India's governing coalition.
During the last two weeks, Hindu fundamentalists have
burnt effigies of the Pope and embarked on a long march from Goa, the former Portuguese colony, to demand an apology for
horrors visited on Hindus during the Inquisition.
Hindu hardliners accuse Catholic and Protestant missionaries of paying
poor Hindus to convert to Christianity.
The fundamentalists fear that Hinduism could in this way be destroyed in India
The issue of "forcible conversions" has been cited as an excuse for a wave of vicious attacks on Christians
- more than 120 in the last year, according to official statistics. Nuns have been sexually attacked, priests have been
murdered and church schools have been burnt down.
Church leaders are confident that the government will provide adequate
security for the Pope. But there is mounting concern about the security of India's 23m Christians following the Pope's visit.
©Copyright 1999, Guardian (UK)
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