Violence against Christians continues to rise in India
A group of Catholic clergy and laity in India has said that “the complete silence” of India’s bishops despite a rise in attacks on Christians and other minorities is “shocking” and urged the Catholic Bishops Conference of India to speak out.
The Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace wrote a letter to CBCI President Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai calling for Indian bishops to do more to advocate for religious minorities facing a rising trend of persecution in India at the hands of Hindu extremism, Crux reports.
“In the year 2021, there were 486 incidents of violence against the Christian community in India, according to the United Christian Front. What shocks us is the complete silence on the part of the official Church, the CBCI,” the letter reads.
The letter specifically cited seven “well-planned attacks on Christian institutions” between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2021. It was sent weeks after a United Christian Front report that showed 2021 was the “most violent year” for Christians in the country’s history.
“The violent acts against the Christian community and Muslim community or any other minority group are in complete violation of the law of the land and the Indian Constitution,” the letter states. “If we do not respond to such acts, the secular fabric of India will be lost causing irreparable damage to the people of India, and an inclusive, democratic and pluralistic India as envisioned in the preamble of the Indian Constitution could be lost forever.”
In its report, the United Christian Front noted that in nearly all cases reported nationwide, “vigilante mobs composed of religious extremists have been seen to either barge into a prayer gathering or round up individuals that they believe are involved in forcible religious conversions.”
The organization attributed the high incidence of Christian persecution to “impunity,” saying “such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.”
The Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace contends that Catholic leaders “cannot remain silent spectators when the drama of violent attacks against the minorities is unfolding before us.” The forum argues that India’s Catholic leaders need “to act and fulfill our prophetic role before it is too late.”
The forum calls on the bishops conference to send a letter to President Narendra Modi, urging him to call on governments in states where such attacks are occurring to prevent attacks in the future and hold those responsible accountable. The forum also wants the national bishops’ conference to urge regional conferences to send memorandums to government leaders in their states urging them to protect Christians from attacks and open cases against perpetrators.