India's largest circulated Catholic publication, Sathyadeepam, has launched a scathing attack on its patron and the head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, for claiming Christians in the country were safe under the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.
In its latest editorial titled 'Vicharadhara or Vachanadhara?', Sathyadeepam has criticised Cardinal Alencherry for his controversial remarks on Easter.
In an interview given to a daily, Cardinal Alencherry claimed the BJP was gaining acceptance in Kerala. Even as the cardinal acknowledged that Christians in the country have always been targetted by the right-wing, Sathyadeepam has highlighted that the statement felt like trivialising the continuing attacks on minorities.
Sathyadeepam has warned the church leadership that 'history will not forgive' if, 'for petty gains' it refrained from the responsibility of opening up on the dangers that threaten India's secularism and democracy.
Cardinal and a 'responsible archbishop'
Sathyadeepam has reminded Cardinal Alencherry that his remarks come at a time when a 'responsible archbishop of the Catholic church of India' has waged a legal battle to protect the rights of minorities.
The editorial was referring to a petition filed by Peter Machado, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, before the Supreme Court, on the rise in atrocities against Christians in the country.
In Chhattisgarh alone, 600 attacks took place, Archbishop Machado said in his petition, points out Sathyadeepam. Machado had also said the anti-conversion Act passed by the Karnataka government this year was a violation of Article 25 of the Constitution that assures 'Freedom to practise and propagate religion'.
"The Nehruvian period that stopped India from becoming a religious state and rebuilt a secular one has been ignored. Instead, the Modi era is projecting construction of temples as a nation-building exercise," Sathyadeepam writes.
Relevance of Golwalkar’s Ideology
Sathyadeepam says former RSS sarsanghchalak MS Golwalkar's 'vicharadhara' (bunch of thoughts) that refers to Christians, Muslims and Communists as the internal enemies of India, continues to be professed even today. "... the faithful wonder what has prompted the church leadership to alter its 'vicharadhara' (mindset)."
Politics of Easter visits
Sathyadeepam says 'secular Kerala' could easily understand the politics behind BJP members visiting church heads and Christian homes on Easter even as the party denied political motives behind it.
"The bishops showed their 'political decency' by not asking their guests about how Stan Swamy was killed or why justice continues to be denied at Kandhamal (scores of Christians were killed and hundreds of churches razed in the 2008 violence at Kandhamal in Odisha).
"The prime minister has not condemned the growing violence against Christians throughout the country. He remains gravely silent on the vigilantism, and by playing him hymns at the Delhi cathedral on Easter, the church leadership has become a mute partner in the crime," Sathyadeepam says.