Catholics in India welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation for Pope Francis to visit the country, but some sectors have expressed caution.
“We are confident that this meeting will result in a better understanding and a deeper mutual respect between the Church and government,” read a statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Modi met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on October 30.
The Indian bishops noted that the two leaders had a “very pleasant and a warm meeting” where they exchanged “meaningful gifts.”
The bishops of Kerala, meanwhile, hailed the invitation to the pope and described it as “a matter of great joy for all Indians, especially Christians.”
The bishops said the papal visit will enhance brotherhood and cooperation in India’s multicultural society.
Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the weekly Indian Currents, warned that Modi’s “courtesy call” could be exploited for the electoral advantage of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in Goa and Manipur, among the five states where elections are due in early 2022.
Father Maria Stephen, public relations officer of the Archdiocese of Bhopal, also warned that the BJP can exploit the meeting.
John Dayal, spokesperson of the All India Catholic Union, expressed the hope that the papal visit “will materialize early next year.”
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