Opposition Against Anti-Conversion Ordinance Grows in India

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NEW DELHI, India, OCT. 14, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Catholic bishops' conference of India has sided with prelates in Tamil Nadu, who oppose an anti-conversion ordinance promulgated by that state's government Oct. 5.



"The Tamil Nadu government seems to overlook the fact that religious conversion can never be forced," Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios said in statements published by SAR News.

He appealed to the state government to repeal the ordinance immediately, "to avoid undesirable and unnecessary reactions from the general public and the Christians in particular."

On Oct. 7, Archbishop Arul Das James of Madras-Mylapore, president of the Tamil Nadu Catholic Bishops' Council, strongly protested against the ordinance and described it as "distressing and disappointing."

He contended the ordinance was an attempt to harass minorities in the name of some unfounded reports and the "forced-conversion phobia."

"While the Catholics are serving the people through their educational institutions, hospitals and social service societies, irrespective of caste or religion, this ordinance is offending their good will, casting unwarranted aspersions among the peace-loving fraternity of Tamil Nadu," he said in a statement.

He added that the "ordinance militates against the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution, indirectly threatening the religious freedom enshrined in it."