Church should not be afraid of speaking against violence, injustice and oppression : Archbishop Couto
IC: What prompted you to send a pastoral letter requesting your priests, religious and laity to pray for the nation in preparation for the general election 2019?
Archbishop Anil Couto: It was not a “pastoral letter” but just a brief circular inviting the people of the Archdiocese of Delhi to begin a year’s Prayer Campaign for the nation from May 2018-May 2019. The purpose of the campaign is to pray that our elections be free and fair and that our political leaders be always blessed with the wisdom and enlightenment of God to lead our nation in the right direction by respecting the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution. I was only responding to the requests that came from many quarters of the laity, religious and clergy of our Archdiocese.
IC: Do you think that news channels are manufacturing controversy in their bid to win more viewership and competition with other channels?
I fully agree with you. I couldn’t understand why they made such a hue and cry over a non –issue and why some were vying with each other for bytes when there are more serious issues affecting our country. Nevertheless I thank those electronic and print media that clarified the deliberately created one sided murky atmosphere and stood for the truth.
IC: Given the present experience, what is your advice to fellow bishops and priests on how to express oneself on social issues without being accused of taking a political position? Shouldn't the Catholic bishops and priests speak against violence, injustice, oppression perpetuated by political ideologies?
The leaders of the Church should not be afraid of speaking boldly against violence, injustice, oppression and other evils perpetrated by extreme political ideologies. They should stand rooted in the Gospel, not in any political position and put their trust in the Lord. Of course, they should be ready to suffer reprisals and even to die for the truth. Their conscience should be their guide.
IC: Jesus and John the Baptist confronted political authorities. Why certain sections of Christian leadership are afraid to confront the rulers for their failures in governance?
I don’t want to sit in judgment over any one, rather I would like to judge myself and accuse myself of often seeking my safety and security – what we call the comfort zone; but the Life, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Pentecost are the foundations of our vision and mission.(Published on 04th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 22)