Oct.9, 2008, New Delhi: Finding no way out of the continuing violence in Orissa and attacks on Christians in other parts of the country Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao agreed to meet and talk with the senior BJP leader Mr. L. K. Advani along with a delegation when he was approached by Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Rishikesh.
The meeting with the leader of the opposition in the parliament and BJP’s future Prime Minister candidate was held in a cordial atmosphere at his residence. The meeting lasted for more than two hours and a joint statement signed by all was issued to the press immediately.
A report of the meeting held in May 2006 by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and World Council of Churches which was hailed by Mr. Advani as in full agreement with their view on religious conversion was also reiterated by the Christian delegation. The report clearly states, “We affirm that while everyone has a right to invite others to an understanding of their faith, it should not be exercised by violating other’s rights and religious sensibilities. At the same time, all should heal themselves from the obsession of converting others”, and “Freedom of religion enjoins upon all of us the equally non-negotiable responsibility to respect faiths other than our own, and never to denigrate, vilify or misrepresent them for the purpose of affirming superiority of our faith”.
Emphasizing the views on conversion mentioned in the report, Archbishop Concessao reminded Mr. Advani that this was the stated position of the Church for more than forty years now and that the all Christians neither believe nor practice forceful conversion and in fact is denounced by the Christians. He also demanded that the forceful conversion or re-conversion, as now going on of Christians in Orissa must be stopped immediately.
Issued By: Father Dominic Emmanuel
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations