The newly elected President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Oswald Cardinal Gracias, met Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, at PM’s Office in Parliament House today.
Oswald Cardinal Gracias, who is also the Bombay Archbishop, recalled the Church’s longstanding contributions to nation building and his work for the well-being of people of India, especially in the field of education, healthcare and social uplift. The CBCI president said that Christian community is aware of the great challenges that the country is facing, and so the church wants to be fully part of the national building.
The Cardinal also discussed with Prime Minister Modi the possibility of a visit by Pope Francis to India. Pope Francis is the leader of the Universal Church acclaimed worldwide, appreciated by people of all beliefs and his visit could bring long-term benefits to our country, the Cardinal said. The Prime Minister reacted positively to the request from the whole Catholic Community.
The Cardinal also drew the Prime Minister's attention to the rising anxiety among certain sections of the Christian Community regarding sporadic attacks on minority institutions and personnel in different parts of the country.
"Prime Minister Modi said that he is the Prime Minister of all Indians, irrespective of caste and creed, and added that if there is any issue, it should be brought to his attention. The Prime Minister assured that he will always be available and willing to look into it," Cardinal Oswald added.
The meeting was held four months after the Pope visited neighboring countries Bangladesh and Myanmar. A section of media had reported that the CBCI, the apex body of Catholic bishops, which oversees all the churches in India, had approached the Union government last November for permission for the official papal visit to the country. However, the government reportedly had not considered the request.