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Catholic prelate hopes for new approach from India's Hindu-nationalist leaders

May 22, 2014

An electoral victory by India’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) has escalated tensions among the country’s Christians. But a leading Catholic prelate voiced cautious optimism in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need.

"The first utterances by the prime minister-designate Narendra Modi give me reason to feel optimistic,” Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar told the international charitable group. The archbishop referred to statements in which Modi said that he would seek to involve minority groups in the country’s decision-making process.

Archbishop Barwa’s archdiocese is located in the state of Odisha (Orissa), where Hindu mobs drove 50,000 Christians from their homes in 2011, while the state government, dominated by the BJP, stood by. "At that time the experience with BJP representatives was not particularly positive. The statements about minorities were not very friendly,” the archbishop noted. He said that he hoped for a change in approach under Modi’s leadership.


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