The Catholic archdiocese of the Indian capital has launched a year-long campaign of prayer and fasting in view of next year general elections, saying India faces a turbulent political future that threatens the country's democracy, UCANEWS reported.
In a pastoral letter read out in all the parishes of Delhi Archdiocese on Sunday, May 13, Archbishop Anil Couto called on Catholics to start a campaign of prayer and fasting on Friday ahead of elections in April or May 2019.
"As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have a new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country" from May 13, on the anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima in Portugal, the pastoral letter said.
The five-year term of the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) ends in May 2019.
Christian leaders have accused the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of tacitly supporting Hindu groups working to establish a Hindu nation, ignoring the interests of religious and ethnic minorities.
According to Christian groups, attacks against Christians rose after Modi came to power and have spiraled in recent years.
There were 736 attacks recorded against Christians in 2017 against 348 in 2016, according to data from Persecution Relief, an ecumenical forum that records Christian persecution in India and helps victims.
Democratic principles endangered
"We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation," Archbishop Couto wrote in his pastoral letter.
"It is our hallowed practice to pray for the country and its political leaders, but all the more so when we approach general elections," the letter said.
Prayer for nation
The pastoral letter carried a special prayer composed for the nation. It also asked parishes, religious houses and Catholic institutions to organize Eucharistic adoration every Friday and recite the prayer for the nation.
Safeguarding constitutional values
Let the "ethos of true democracy envelop our elections" and "flames of honest patriotism rekindle our political leaders" in "these troubled times as we see clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom," the prayer said.
The nation holds in "high esteem" the values of the constitution — equality, liberty and fraternity, and for people of all castes and faith live in peace away from violence and hatred, it added
It also called for people to "bless the nation with the revival of Gospel values."
The move by Archbishop Couto has been welcomed by India’s Catholic and Christian leaders. (Source: UCANEWS)