Respected Cardinal Gracias,
I refer to a report in the Hindustan Times dt 22/10/13 captioned “Its congress over BJP for Jamiat Leader, Cardinal”. The news report refers to you as one of the Pope’s chosen 8 advisors.
The report states that you recently met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and praised her policies, signs that minorities still view the grand old party favourably” The report further states that you “met Sonia Gandhi” and appreciated the key role played by her in caring for the poor and downtrodden. He pledged support for the Congress -led UPA Government’s welfare programmes”.
This is a very disturbing report as you are the CBCI President, and in the Pope’s inner circle. I do not know why you called on Sonia Gandhi and whether what is reported is correct. If the report is correct then you have erred grievously in a politically surcharged atmosphere, by pledging the Catholic community’s support to a particular political party. This is not the business of religious leaders. If the report is correct then you owe an apology to the community. If, however , the report is incorrect then you need to issue an urgent clarification denying the newsreport.
As past National President of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) I wish to state that politics is the specific sphere of the laity, as clearly expressed in Vatican II documents. The CBCI should actively support the AICU and its affiliated Catholic Associations, instead of trying to don all hats itself.
We are only too well aware that most political parties seek the support of caste and religious groupings, some blatantly and others covertly. Unfortunately your meeting with a political party chief, in a highly charged political atmosphere, that is assuming larger communal overtones, is not helping the cause of secularism in India. The newsreport in question has already clubbed you with a Muslim religious leader. This is just what the BJP is working for to cry “Foul”.
I therefore humbly request you, as CBCI President, to please refrain from political statements, and leave political affairs to the laity.
PRESIDENT KANPUR CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION
Former National President, AICU