- "Protect values of Constitution": Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao
- "First victim of development is the poor person," he said
- "A kind of mono-culturalism" emerging in India, he said
"In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we eat, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism. Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril," says the Archbishop in the letter addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. The letter marks the beginning of the Pastoral Year (June 1 to May 31).
"Today, our constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity. In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our constitution better and work harder to protect it," the Archbishop writes.
The Archbishop has called upon the people to strive to know the Constitution and to protect it with values like secularism, freedom of speech and freedom to practise one's religion.
"The first victim of development is the poor person. It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor because those who will raise their voice for them are very few," the Archbishop writes.
Father Ferrao also calls for the participation of Catholics and Church communities in politics and social causes.
The Archbishop also expresses concern about malnutrition among children.
His office said there is nothing unusual about the letter. "Somehow one or two statements of the letter have been taken out and I will say taken out of context and have been made to you know make an issue out of it," said the Archbishop's secretary Father Loiola Pereira.
Reacting to the letter, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "India has much more freedom compared to other countries and minorities and the constitution are much more protected. We are focused on protection of our democratic and constitutional values and for that we don't need anyone's suggestions."
Last month, Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto had set off a political controversy with a letter that referred to a "turbulent political atmosphere" threatening democracy and secularism and urged priests to "pray for the country" ahead of the national election.