Pope Lauds Indian growth but critical of anti constitutional legislation
19 May 2006
Vatican City (ICNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed India`s new ambassador Amitava Tripathi to the Holy See commenting on India`s economic growth and lauding its democracy and cultural pluralism.
"India`s ongoing efforts to build a democratic and free society are grounded in her conviction of the need to respect the variety of cultures, religions and ethnic groups," Pope said on May 18.
He was addressing the gathering at which he received the letters of credence of the new Indian ambassador. He also received such letters from new ambassadors of Australia, Chad, Cape Verde and Moldova to the Holy See.
He said Indians are "rightly proud of the stability" of their political institutions. But at the same time the nation has "formidable challenges" in promoting justice, he said.
These challenges include combating "all forms of violence and extremism" and establishing a climate of "serene and respectful dialogue, cooperation and goodwill between the different components of their vast and diverse society."
The Pontiff said India`s National Integration Council and the newly created Ministry for Minority Affairs are "practical means of upholding constitutionally guaranteed equality of all religions and social groups."
The Pope said the future of Indian democracy depends on respect for the religious freedom of its citizens.
"No citizen of India, especially the weak and the underprivileged, should ever have to experience discrimination for any reason, especially based on ethnic or religious background or social position," he said.
India "continues to enjoy significant economic growth." And, that should become an "inspiration" to form social policies that would help citizens share "this growth and to enjoy its benefits" among all, the Pope said.
"In this regard, I wish to assure you of the wish of India`s Catholic community to share fully in the life of the nation in a spirit of collaboration and concern for the common good," he said.
The Pope also noted the "disturbing signs of religious intolerance" that have troubled some regions" of the nation. Such incidents included the "reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom," he said.
These moves should be "firmly rejected as not only unconstitutional, but also as contrary to the highest ideals of India`s founding fathers, who believed in a nation of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance between different religions and ethnic groups," he said.