OCTOBER 30, 2021
Christian community leaders across India appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s meeting with Catholic church head Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday. In their first-ever meeting, the leaders discussed a wide array of issues including Covid-19, general global perspectives, and maintaining peace and tranquility.
Kevin Mathew Sunny from the Kerala Christian Forum said the meeting was a welcome sign. On being asked what message it would send out in terms of communal harmony and peace if the Pope came to India, Sunny said it would be a very positive one; that India is welcome to all communities and religion, aligning with the country’s value of secularism. Indulekha Joseph, Church Act activist, said she welcomed the meeting as Pope Francis’ attitude was ‘absolutely progressive’.
PM Narendra Modi on Saturday met Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church at the Vatican, in a first-ever one-to-one meeting.
PM invites Pope Francis to India.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 30, 2021
The Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Gracias said the Pope is very interested in India and had often asked him and spoken about it. “I think it will result in greater communication and collaboration. I think it will be good for the Catholic Church, India and PM Modi himself,” he said, Republic TV reported.
Gracias told Republic TV that “the significance of the meeting between PM Modi and Pope Francis will show the necessity and the utility of collaboration.”
The Kerala Catholics Bishops’ Council said the Papal visit would smoothen the path of dialogue between Christianity and other religious groups in India. “The Papal visit will also promote fraternity and co-operation among the polyphonic society of India,” they said.
Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and head of churches in Odisha John Barwa said Indian Christians are very glad that “our PM has met our Pope”. “Surely, the relationship will grow. We were looking forwards to this meeting for many years. We are happy and feel proud about it,” news agency ANI quoted Barwa as saying.
Father S. Shankar, Spokesperson, Delhi Catholic Archdiocese called the meeting “great news” not just for Christians but for every Indian. “We wanted the Pope to visit India. We hope that Pope’s visit will come as an opportunity to further the inter-faith harmony,” he said, according to ANI.
Meanwhile, athletes across India also reacted positively to Modi’s meeting with the Pope. Indian Long Jumper Anju Bobby George said it was wonderful to see PM Modi meeting with the Reverend Pope. “Indeed it’s another step towards building a new India, fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of a rising billion,” she said in a tweet.
Indian Cricketer Robin Aiyuda Uthappa called the meeting “a great step forward towards peace, harmony and inter-faith dialogue.”
Across the political spectrum, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma also expressed happiness over the meeting. “This is a historic moment of great significance to Christians across India and the globe. May God bless them,” he said in a tweet.
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) October 30, 2021
BJP spokesperson Tom Vadakkan called the meeting a “momentous confluence of paramount representatives of democratic spirit and Christian faith.”