CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Indian state called out for harassing Christians

Bhopal (UCAN): Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, called on the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, to intervene and stop the harassment of Christians after the state of Jharkhand ordered a probe into the funding of more than 80 Christian organisations.
 
Police were asked on July 19 to probe foreign donations received by non-government organisations managed by dioceses and religious congregations including the dioceses such of Ranchi and Gumla, the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Jesuits, the Ursuline Sisters and a Lutheran Church organisation among others. They are accused of diverting the money for religious conversion.
 
“This is another sign of how the Jharkhand government is harassing Christian institutions,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
 
“We appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep the state government under control. We hope that the prime minister will intervene and stop this harassment,” the bishop said.
 
Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has run Jharkhand’s government since 2014, has been accused hostility towards the Christian community, with police arresting religious sisters, priests and lay Christians on trumped-up charges.
 
The bishop said Christian groups are working for the welfare of the poor, educating them and taking care of their health needs. “Instead of working for the poor, the government is targeting those working for the poor,” he said.
 
Bishop Mascarenhas said the inquiries are unfair as the state and federal governments have financial details of all these organisations because overseas funds come through designated banks and accounts are compiled annually to comply with government regulations.
 
 
“If the government wants to be fair, let it start probing all non-government organisations. Why single out Christians?” he asked.

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