Delhi Archbishop appeals for prayer campaign before 2019 polls

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New Delhi: The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto has set off a political controversy after his letter, written to all parish priests in the capital, refers to a “turbulent political atmosphere” threatening democracy and secularism and urges all priests to “pray for the country” ahead of the 2019 national election.

The Archbishop’s letter:

The Archbishop, Anil Couto, also asks in his letter for a prayer campaign and a day of fasting every week “for the nation”. The letter was sent with a prayer that he said must be read at masses on Sunday.

“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” the Archbishop says at the start of his letter.

“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections. As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new government let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from May 13…” the letter.

The Prayer

The attached prayer that all churches have been instructed to read out during mass, says: “May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders. This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom.”

The Matter is being politicised

The Archbishop’s office has denied any political motive in the prayer, calling it a standard practice before the election. Meanwhile, the Archbishop’s secretary, Father Robinson Rodrigues was reported saying that such prayer campaigns took place before every general election. However, he claimed this time the exercise was being politicised.

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