Mumbai: Photographs Of Cardinal Oswald Gracias With Ujjwal Nikam Draws Flak From Community Members

Mumbai: Photographs Of Cardinal Oswald Gracias With Ujjwal Nikam Draws Flak From Community Members

Gracias met Ujjwal Nikam, the BJP candidate for Mumbai North Central constituency, at his office and residence at Archbishop's House, Colaba

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Friday, May 10, 2024, 11:19 AM IST
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Mumbai: Photographs of Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the head of the Archdiocese of Bombay meeting a BJP candidate for the Lok Sabha elections has led to accusations by some Catholics that the local head of the church was sending a 'mixed' message to his community members by meeting politicians from the Hindu right wing. Gracias met Ujjwal Nikam, the BJP candidate for Mumbai North Central constituency, at his office and residence at Archbishop's House, Colaba.

The office of the Archdiocese of Bombay said that the candidate had visited the archbishop. “The BJP candidate made a courtesy call on the archbishop. The cardinal meets all who come to meet with him. In no way does it imply a support of any candidate,” said Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for the archbishop. However, some members of the Catholic community felt that the meeting sent confusing messages to the community.

“Some senior priests have openly said that we should support secular candidates. We are confused: One time he (the Cardinal) sits next to saffron leaders for lunch on Christmas day and then he sends a prayer leaflet to all Catholics asking us to vote for a secular government,” said Melwyn Fernandes, all-India Secretary of the Association of Concerned Christians. “Politicians must realise such gimmicks do not work. Citizens and respective community members are intelligent enough and will vote with their conscience,” said Dolphy D'souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha.

Voter awareness programs

The Bombay Catholic Sabha, along with other civil society groups have been involved in voter awareness programmes. “We have also urged our communities to come out and vote 100% We have also under the banner of “Vote For Democracy” urged citizens to keep in mind amongst others, to vote judiciously and protect our Constitution. We have reminded them that their one vote has the power to elect the government we deserve,” added D'Souza. Other community members said that the Cardinal did the right thing by agreeing to meet the BJP candidate. “As a public figure and leader of Catholics in a secular country, the Cardinal's meeting with the BJP Lok Sabha candidate is quite ok, if the candidate sought such a visit,” said Virginia Saldanha, a writer and theologian and a writer

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