Bengaluru: 'No harm in government backtracking on CAA,’ says Cardinal Gracias

From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network

Bengaluru, Feb 12: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and Archbishop of Bombay, reiterated his stand that the Central government should hold dialogue with those opposing the controversial Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) and come to an arrangement on finding a way forward with justice, equity and fairness.

“There is no harm in backtracking and changing the course if it is necessary for the good of the country and our people," he said.

Addressing a news conference on the eve of the week-long 34th Biennial Plenary session of the CBCI at the St John’s Academy of Medical Sciences from February 13 to 19 on the theme of 'Dialogue: The Path to Truth and Charity', Cardinal Gracias mentioned that he had expressed his opinion on the need for a dialogue soon after the Christmas.

Answering a wide range of questions along with Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, CBCI Vice President and Interim Secretary General, he said the Catholic Church in India was committed to the idea of dialogue and believes that dialogue with diverse groups in society, different religions, ethic and cultural entities including all civic bodies, governmental and non-governmental organisations was necessary for creating a peaceful and harmonious environment for all to live as true citizens.

Cardinal Gracias felt dialogue was the only way to resolve the present impasse on CAA in national interest.

He mentioned that the CAA has not been listed as a subject for discussion at the Plenary session. However, there is no bar against discussion and the concerned doctrinal commission may discuss the issue and take it to the plenary session.

Pope’s visit to India

Cardinal Gracias said Pope Francis was very keen on visiting India. “I have discussed the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past and he has agreed. However, a lot of preparatory work needs to be done before things could move ahead.’’

“I am hopeful that it will happen soon," he said.

To a pointed question on the recent statement of the Catholic Bishops’ of Kerala made by the Synod of the Bishops of Syro Malabar Church that Christian girls and women were lured through the `Love Jihad’ and the Central government’s statement in parliament that there were no instances of Love Jihad, CBCI Vice President Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios of the Syro Malankara Church, preferred to sidestep the issue by asserting that all citizens have a right to choose their partners.

However, forcing a person to change their faith was not correct, he said and asserted that all have a right to choose their partners and their faith.

`Church considered probing Bishop Franco Mulakkal’

When asked about the allegations of rape against Bishop Franco Mulakkallevelled by a nun and the investigations by the Kottayam police in the case, Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios explained that the Bishop has been divested of his duties and another Bishop has been asked to officiate.

“We want the police investigations to be completed and are awaiting the decisions of the court," he said.

Cardinal Gracias disclosed that the Church ‘did consider instituting its own internal inquiry’. But, he said as the police investigation and court case was in progress, a conscious decision against holding a parallel inquiry was dropped.

“We want truth to emerge and justice must be done both to the victim as well as the accused," he said pointing out that the “Church is neutral on the issue. It hates sin but loves the sinner.’’

Asked about the disciplinary action taken by the Church against the nuns for staging dharna and holding protests, Cardinal Gracias said it was a matter to be dealt by the Congregation concerned. “But I understand that the internal regulations were flouted and necessary action was taken," he said.

The Cardinal also indicated that a sister, who was not identified, had contacted him with a request to meet him and he had agreed that she could come to meet him. The meeting, however, did not materialise, he said.

“The Church is totally against abortion. We certainly oppose the recent Cabinet decision permitting termination of abortion up to 24 weeks,’’ the CBCI President said in response to another question, adding: ``We cannot remain silent."

Cardinal Gracias said writer and former BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni was one of the speakers.

To a question on whether he had been approached by the RSS to address them as the organisation had invited former President Pranab Mukherjee and other apolitical leaders, Cardinal Gracias said he has not been approached. However, he said he had been meeting some leaders informally on and off. In fact, former RSS Chief K S Sudarshan had met him in the past. “I see nothing wrong. We want to hold dialogue with all and our Pope is very keen on the idea of dialogue with diverse sections of people," he said.

The CBCI is made up of 174 Ecclesiastical jurisdictions with over 200 active Bishops and 64 retired Bishops and the Catholic Church in Indi has over 60,000 priests and 90,000 sisters. The Catholic Church in India has over 54,000 educational institutions imparting education to over 6 crore children and youth and over 20,000 hospitals, clinics, dispensaries and other health centres.



Comment on this article

  • francis, Mangalore

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Has he forgotten about the persecution of christians in Pakistan?

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • John Tauro, M'lore

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Being a man of religion, we first expect his stand on persecution of minorities in our neighbouring countries. Then he may issue his statements on political issues like CAA or NCR.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • darrel, mangalore

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    In western countries religion heads don't interfere in politics , same way bishops and priests should not involve in politics.

    DisAgree Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shankar, Mangaluru

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    In India they can do anything!!!!

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sachidananda Shetty, Mundkur/Dubai

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Dear Cardinal…. For God sake, pls do not enter politics or talk about politics…. Your main task is to preach those Politicians who come for prayer for betterment of people & do the needful which is always in the best interest of Nation irrespective of cast, religion or sect!!!

    DisAgree [6] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath, Mlore/ Blore

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Shetre… kindly suggest some ways in which the voice of the poor common man be made to be heard by the Government.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Manu, Mangalore

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Better let him elect PM, President, CMs and we will just listen what he says !!!!

    DisAgree [6] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Agnello, Mangaluru

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Cardinal Gracias has taken a pragmatic view on CAA about having discussions with protesting parties and if necessary in greater good of nation withdraw CAA if necessary.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chetan, Udupi

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    If the government wishes the good of the citizens, then it must backtrack. The more it delays, the more it loses credibility. Better backtrack before the SC declares it unconstitutional.

    DisAgree [16] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse

  • swati, mang/dxb

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    first, read what is CAA. Its not related to any Indian citizens. it's about giving citizenship to minorities of neighboring countries whose life has been made hell in those countries. In whole world, there is only one Hindu majority nation. For other religions there are many.

    DisAgree [24] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    To Err is Human ...

    DisAgree [10] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shankar, Mangaluru

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    should be forgiven????

    DisAgree [15] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • G Veer S, Nagpur

    Thu, Feb 13 2020

    Dialogue, tolerance and secularism are main pillars of democracy which are carved in our constitution but BJP is bitterly against those values. BJP doesn't even recognize our constitution.

    DisAgree [25] Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse


Title : Bengaluru: 'No harm in government backtracking on CAA,’ says Cardinal Gracias


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