Was PM's Delhi Xmas Party An Open Dialogue? Mixed Responses Among Mumbai Christians Over ‘Not in My Name’ Signature Campaign

Was PM's Delhi Xmas Party An Open Dialogue? Mixed Responses Among Mumbai Christians Over ‘Not in My Name’ Signature Campaign

"The general opinion is that some mention of Manipur should have been made,” said D'Souza

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, January 08, 2024, 06:18 PM IST
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Was PM's Delhi Xmas Party An Open Dialogue? Mixed Responses Among Mumbai Christians Over ‘Not in My Name’ Signature Campaign | Twitter

Opinion is divided in Mumbai about ‘Not in My Name’ signature campaign against the failure of Church and its community leaders to raise the issue of attacks on Christian churches during their visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s house on Christmas Day.

Was the PM's Christmas party in Delhi an ‘open dialogue’?

There are voices both for and against the signature campaign. While there have been appeals from members of the clergy to colleagues, asking them to sign the petition, other voices criticised the failure of the meeting to have dialogue over contemporary issues affecting the community. One letter from a senior clergy member to the Conference of Religious India, a body of 115,000 religious leaders from across the country, appealed to the community not to support the signature campaign.

In replies to this appeal, those with differing opinions have questioned the opinion that the Prime Minister’s Christmas party in Delhi was an ‘open dialogue’.

Many members of the community said that the delegates had failed to convey their concerns about attacks on church institutions and the use of anti-conversion laws to incarcerate pastors, especially in states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

A statement from the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, Dr. Peter Machado, said that while Christmas Celebration 2023 was special for Christians in India as the Prime Minister had invited representatives of the Christian community to his house on Christmas Day – perhaps the first Prime Minister to do so - but the 'majority' of the Christian community is unhappy because the Prime Minister failed to address their concerns about attacks on their institutions.

"How could he tolerate the rising attack on Christians?"

"Many in the community feel that, while he (the PM) is genuine in his appreciation of Christians, how could he tolerate the rising attack on the Christians, and on their places of worship and institutions..?" the statement said.

Advocate Vivian D’Souza said that while he received a copy of the signature campaign, he did not sign it. "Many people have their reservations about the meeting, and the general opinion is that some mention of Manipur should have been made,” said D'Souza, who added that it is possible that the guests, including the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, must have talked about the issue in a private conversation.

“These are sensitive issues, and the issue of the Prime Minister not visiting Manipur must have been taken up. 

"The people of the country must know how they feel about the anguish of the people"

Dolphy D’Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, the largest lay group in Mumbai, said that he has signed the letter. “The religious leaders who met Modi have moral authority. They should have exercised it,” said D’Souza who added that the meeting in Delhi was a public occasion where the issues should have been brought up.

“There are occasions when one can politely bring it up and ask for intervention. There is a perception and an image, and the people of the country must know how they feel about the anguish of the people. It can be done privately, but when there is a public opportunity, it can be used to articulate the sentiments of the community,” said D’Souza. 

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