DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     October 19, 1999     vol. 10, no. 199

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Hindu Fundamentalists Plan Protest March During Papal Visit

        NEW DELHI, OCT 17 (ZENIT).- Archbishop Alan de Lastic of New Delhi, replied to the attacks of Hindu fundamentalist groups -- which have been escalating given the imminence of the papal visit, and requested the Indian government to insure that "nothing will ruin the country's good name" during the visit.

        "Some Hindu leaders have chosen this occasion to launch deceitful and systematic propaganda of half truths, lies and misinformation," the Archbishop said. He denied that the missionaries obtain "forced conversions" from Hindus -- the most frequent accusation made by the fundamentalists against the Church, and said that the Human Rights Commission, which has investigated the accusations, "has not found a single case of forced conversion."

        In regard to the RSS, the most powerful fundamentalist organization in India, and its request that the Pope refrain from stating that Christianity is the only road to salvation, Archbishop De Lastic said that such a demand "violates religious liberty." "The Pope proposes what he believes -- he does not impose it." The fundamentalist organizations have also asked the Pope to request "forgiveness" for the atrocities committed in the south of India by the Inquisition, active in Goa in the 16th century. "How far back must we go in history? the Archbishop asked. "We pray every day for forgiveness of our sins... What more do you want?"

        Referring to the protest march organized by the fundamentalists of the World Council of Hindus, Archbishop De Lastic said that India "is a democratic country and anyone can march according to what he believes." Speaking about the schedule of the Pope's visit, the Archbishop said that he will be received with the honors of a head of State, and will have a meeting with President Kocheril Rahman Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

        In addition, John Paul II will visit and pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial and will formally close the Synod of Bishops for Asia. The Pope will also celebrate Mass in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and meet with representatives of other religions. ZE99101703

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 19, 1999       volume 10, no. 199


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