DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     October 12, 1999     vol. 10, no. 194

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        NEW DELHI (CWNews.com) -- The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP - World Council of Hindus) declared in New Delhi on Saturday that it will spearhead a 15-day campaign demanding an "apology for forced conversions and atrocities committed against Hindus" from Pope John Paul II during his scheduled to visit New Delhi next month.

        VHP will commence its 15-day protest march from western Goa state on October 20 and will conclude in New Delhi on November 4, on the eve of the arrival of the Pope in New Delhi, said Acharya Giriraj Kishore, VHP vice-president.

        "(The Pope) should not take part in religious functions if he is coming as the head of a state. And, if he is visiting India specially for religious purposes, then the government should not treat him as a state guest," said the leader of the Hindu group that has been in the forefront of anti-Christian propaganda from Hindu extremist groups. The Holy Father will use the visit to formally release the final exhortation from the Synod for Asia held in Rome in April and May last year.

        The VHP leader said the Pope should tender an "unconditional apology" for atrocities committed under the name of conversion during his stay in the country as "Goans faced such acts by missionaries." It was in Goa that western missionaries first arrived in India in the 16th century led by Saint Francis Xavier, whose body is preserved in the Bom Jesus cathedral in old Goa. Christian leaders rejected the group's characterization of the activities of missionaries, holding that while there may be a few exceptions, the majority of conversions were voluntary.

        The Hindu extremist group has also declared that it will hold countrywide demonstrations on October 20 to create awareness about the activities of missionaries even as the march will be launched from Goa.

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.

October 12, 1999       volume 10, no. 194


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