10/03/2017, 12.52
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Remembering Gandhi in Bhopal at Interfaith prayer for 'Unity in Diversity'

The Commission for Dialogue and Ecumenism is behind the initiative, which drew about 500 people. In addition to Archbishop Cornelio, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Protestant leaders attended the event. The goal was to stress harmony and peace despite the climate of intolerance against Christians.

Bhopal (AsiaNews) – The Archdiocese of Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) held an interreligious prayer yesterday with leaders and believers of other religions on the Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The goal was to send a clear message of unity within diversity.

The event was organised by the diocese’s Commission for dialogue and ecumenism, and comes at a crucial time for Christians in Madhya Pradesh, especially after recent episodes of intolerance against them due to accusations of forced conversions.

Mgr Leo Cornelio, archbishop of Bhopal, called on everyone to "raise all our hearts and minds together to build a nation, burying the caste system. [...] we need to become aware of our origin and the purpose of our existence [is] to promote peace and harmony in our country."

The meeting began with a moment of silence, followed by a procession that went from the Church of the Assumption to the pastoral centre where representatives of various religions offered a floral tribute to the Mahatma.

Archbishop Cornelio represented Catholics, Haji Mohd Haroon represented Muslims, Sardar Dileep Singh represented Sikhs, Acharya Krishna Kumar Dubey represented Hindus, Rev C.P. Singh represented Protestants, and Bhante Rahul Putra represented Buddhists.

An anti-conversion law has existed in Madhya Pradesh since 1968. In September the state government decided to close a Catholic college that offered free accommodations to poor students.

In June, Sister Bina Joseph, a member of the Carmelite congregation of St Theresa (CSST), was arrested and charged with kidnapping minors and forced conversions because she was just travelling with four tribal girls.

In May, more Christians were detained and charged with trying to forcibly convert a group of children, when in fact all they were doing was taking them to a summer camp with the consent of their parents.

Those who attended the prayer meeting offered prayers for harmony between religions, national unity, the prime minister and his government, the judiciary, the president of India, women’s security, the spiritual and social uplifting of children and young people, peace in families, better conditions for the poor, and the end of terrorism. (NC)

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