Mumbai Catholic Groups Urge Special Prayers For EVM Integrity Amid Election Concerns

Mumbai Catholic Groups Urge Special Prayers For EVM Integrity Amid Election Concerns

The office of the Archbishop of Bombay said the messages should not be given any importance as they are not from the church authorities.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2024, 10:05 AM IST
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Electronic Voting Machine | File Photo

As concerns persist about the accuracy of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Catholic groups are asking members to say special prayers for divine help in recalibrating devices that could have been tampered with to suit certain political dispensations. The office of the Archbishop of Bombay, however, said the messages should not be given any importance as they are not from the church authorities.

Messages circulating on social media have asked church members to pray till June 4 when the counting of votes polled during the long-drawn seven-phase general elections will be announced. The Supreme Court recently endorsed the use of EVMs, but with the addition of extra safety procedures to ensure that the process is transparent.

One message doing the rounds reads: 'Our lord is capable of recalibrating the EVMs that have been manipulated'. Another message states: 'Kindly say this small prayer in faith and thank our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, believing that God Almighty already decides the mentioned result and it's going to be announced on the 4th June, and send this prayer to people you feel will also pray, thank and share it. Do not stop saying 'thank you Lord' in faith until the final results are declared please.'

One message, sent out by Father Frazer Mascarenhas, former principal of St Xavier's College, Mumbai, has asked church members to pray for the safety of democracy and the Indian Constitution as they wait for the election results. Mascarenhas' prayer asks for a 'sense of equanimity and balance' to accept what happens on June 4 and to respond most positively and constructively.

"We acknowledge that we have woken up very late, allowing other parties to weaken the democratic structures of our country during the last 10 years. Yet we trust in your mercy and providence, that you will help us to make up for these lapses and to continue in the task of building up a free and prosperous India for all Indians, irrespective of caste or religion, or ethnicity," the prayer says. "Our efforts during these elections have been honest and strenuous. Help us now to be detached from the results, to be indifferent to what happens, knowing that you can bring good out of the most difficult situation for those who trust you. We have worked hard during these months, but we leave the fruits of this labour in your loving hands, knowing that you will see us through every eventuality."

The prayer added that there is work to be done after the election process is over, including the 're-establishment of secularism and socialism'. Help us to continue to work together with people of all faiths, languages and social standing, as we did during these elections so that we treat every human being as sister and brother.

Mascarenhas said that there was a reason why the Christian community was worried about the election results. "I think it is quite clear that people of all communities are worried about the election process, especially the minority communities, because we have seen funny things happen. There has been no action against serious contraventions of the (election) code. Names have been excluded from the voters' list. People who voted last time could not vote," said Mascarenhas. 'With this kind of experience and also the same delay in announcing the percentage of voter turnout, there are apprehensions about the integrity of the election process. We have done everything to be vigilant. We are now praying for a fair result".

Community groups voiced similar concerns. Melwyn Fernandes, all-India Secretary of the Association of Concerned Christians, said, "The social media is full of comments about the tampering of EVMs," said Fernandes.

The office of the Archbishop of Bombay said that they have not issued any official statement on the prayers. About the prayers for the recalibration of the EVMs, Father Nigel Barret, spokesperson for the Archbishop, said, "This is not a message from the church or church authorities. This is part of the WhatsApp university and should not be given any importance."

Father Anthony Charanghat, editor of the Catholic newsweekly, Examiner, said, "There are some community groups that attack the church for not taking a political stand. We pray for free and fair elections, but we are not supposed to hold partisan views. That is acting against religion."

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