Goa government, Church officials one on inviting pope

July 5, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

The BJP leadership has asked the Goa diocese to route the invitation through the central government.

St. Francis XavierNew Delhi, June 30, 2013: Goa’s BJP government and the Church officials here seem to be one on the issue of inviting Pope Francis to make a “historic” visit to the state next year for the “exposition” of the mortal remains of Jesuit St Francis Xavier.

“We have earnestly requested his Holiness to visit the country for the exposition and have the active support of Goa’s ruling party in this endeavour. We hope that the Pope says yes,” said a priest with the Goa Archdiocese on the basis of anonymity.

The state is ruled by pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to the priest, the BJP leadership has asked the diocese to route the invitation through the central government as the state government, by itself, cannot invite the Pope as he happens to be a head of state.

St Francis Xavier was a priest who heralded Christianity in Goa in early 1500.

He is said to have played a part in the brutal acquisition of Goa in the 1540s, when Christianity was imposed using force and violence on the people.

The Catholic Church arranges for its devotees to see the saint’s relics in a glass-topped silver casket once a decade, an event which is known as the “exposition”.

On its part, the saffron party is not keen on remembering the forced conversion issues associated with the evangelist.

“St Francis is an icon for Goan Catholics. We would be proud to have the Pope in our land for the exposition. We are coordinating with the Church to make it happen,” said a BJP leader belonging to the Catholic community, who has been assigned the task of dealing with the church on the matter.

“The visit may take place after the 2014 elections. However, the very fact that the Pope is visiting a BJP-ruled state will send good vibes to the minority Christian community,” he added.

When asked whether the Church is worried about the BJP extracting political mileage from the papal visit, the coordinating priest said that it has an open policy towards all political parties.

Incidentally, this ‘openness’ between the Catholic Church and the BJP is not a standalone development, but part of a strategy to work in tandem.

The BJP, it is learnt, has been consistently working on rebuilding its relationship with the Church and has even deputed a Kerala-based party sympathizer to arrange meetings with various Christian leaders.

– new indian express

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