DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     July 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 141

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Local Church Sources Fear Government Will Not Authorize Visit

          DELHI, JUL 28 (ZENIT).- Catholics in India hope Pope John Paul II will visit their country during his trip to Asia, projected for the end of this year. As with previous continental Synods, the Pope is expected to conclude the April-May 1998 Synod for Asia by presenting the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation in that continent. Nonetheless, local Church sources express doubts as to whether the government will allow such a visit.

          Divine Word Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman for the Indian Catholic Bishops Conference, told SAR News that the Church fears the visit will not be allowed by the coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The government may give the border dispute between Pakistan and India and the proximity of the September elections, as reasons to reject the plan for a papal visit.

          The Holy Father's visit would fill Catholics with pride, and help soothe wounds caused by the BJP during this electoral year, Fr. Emmanuel explained. Although the Council of Ministers must approve the papal visit, BJP ministers are expected to oppose it.

          The visit of the head of the Catholic Church would not augur well for the Party, after the many attacks against Christians, including missionaries. In 1998 alone, following the BJP's rise to power, there were 100 attacks on Christian individuals and institutions. Out of a total population of 955,220,000, there are 17,211,000 Catholics in India, and about one million Christians of other denominations. India has had two papal visits: Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 1986. ZE99072805

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 141


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