Cardinal Baselios Cleemis has said there is no need for a new law to check forcible conversions and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently intervene to address people’s concerns over such “forcible conversions”.
In a statement yesterday, Cardinal Cleemis, a member of the National Integration Council, said the move for a new law was “pre-planned and a violation of rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The cardinal, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said he was concerned about conversion events being held under the label of ‘Ghar Wapsi’. “A secular society cannot encourage conversions either by force or inducement,” he said.
Shocking reports emerged from parts of the country, especially Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Chepad and Anchal in Kerala. The hate campaign and divisiveness in the name of conversions would destroy “our secular values”.
Concerted efforts to destroy secular values were a matter of concern. Churches had never supported forcible conversions. The Government should take steps to stop coercive conversions under stringent provisions of the existing law.
“Putting an end to such dangerous tendencies is inevitable for the growth and progress of the nation. India’s secularism, diversity and pluralism have been part of our culture for centuries.
The Government must protect and ensure rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the freedom of religion and worship”, said the Cardinal.
This was an occasion for the country to shed all differences and strive united to face challenges of religious fundamentalism and terrorism.
India had notched prestigious achievements in science and IT but incidents in the name of religious conversions “make us look ridiculous” before the world.
“The UGC circular to universities to observe good governance day on Christmas day is unfortunate and must be immediately withdrawn as it pains not only believers but all the people of this secular country, who have been celebrating the day with joy and oneness for centuries”, the Cardinal said.