After Archbishop of Goa and Daman Father Filipe Neri Ferrao said that the Constitution was in danger, his office on Tuesday suggested that he was expressing his “anxiety to his own people” but insisted that the remarks were not against any political party or government.
Ferrao’s secretary Fr Joaquim Loila Pereira said the people should read the entire 15-page letter and not “take this statement or that statement out of context and make it look as if the letter is against political parties.”
The Archbishop, in a letter issued on Sunday and addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, said, “Today, our Constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity.”
In the letter, generally issued in the beginning of pastoral year that lasts from June 1 to May 31, he said the Constitution should be understood better as general elections are drawing closer.
“First of all, there is no name of any political party, there is no name of any government. There is a commentary on what is happening in India and in Goa,” said the Archbishop’s secretary.
He said the Goa Archbishop’s letter was not a political commentary on what was happening in the country.
“The fact is that he (Archbishop) has said there is danger to the Constitution, but if you read what he has elaborated, you can make out that it is not all the danger,” Pereira maintained.
He went on to add, “The word danger is there but if you read the letter, it is not all the great a danger that is mentioned in it.
“Even if it was a small danger, I am asking you, doesn’t the Bishop have the right to think that way and express his anxiety to his own people?”
The archbishop also had said that human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.
Notably, Ferrao’s letter came weeks after Delhi archbishop Anil Couto’s similar letter which said that a “turbulent political atmosphere” posed a threat to India’s democratic principles and secular fabric.
Pereira insisted that there was no link between the letters of Ferrao and Couto.
“There is no connection of this to what the Archbishop in Delhi had said or what the Archbishop of Gandhinagar had said (last year),” he maintained.
“People are thinking that this is the trend. There is no trend,” he explained.
“It should not be seen that the church is India is up in arms against the government. This letter always comes in June. It happened that it came one month after the Delhi Bishop’s circular,” he added.
Pereira claimed some peripheral statements from the 15-page letter were taken out of proportion by the press.
“We have to look at this pastoral letter as a letter of the pastor to his people. The focus of the letter is about poverty. There are some peripheral statements that have been taken out of proportion by press and now everybody is talking about those statements as if the pastoral letter is about politics and about going against the powers,” Pereira said.
He said the pastoral letter is written by the church head to its members.
“In this (letter), the Archbishop has written this to the members of his church in Goa. This is the 15th pastoral letter that he has written,” he added.
In the letter, the Archbishop has given some orientation for full year, he said.
“The pastoral year begins in June and ends in May. So always in the month of June, he issues the letter on different topics,” Pereira said.