After Archbishop of Goa and Daman Father Filipe Neri Ferrao said that the Constitution was in danger, his office suggested that he was expressing "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 the statement out of context and make it look as if the letter was against political parties."First of all, there was no mention of any political party or any government. The letter was 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 Archbishop, in a letter, addressed to Christians in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman issued on Sunday, said, "Our Constitution is in danger (and that is) the reason why most of the people are living in insecurity." He also said that the constitution should be understood better as general elections were drawing closer.
"The fact is that he (Archbishop) has said there is a danger to the Constitution, but if you read what he has elaborated, you can make out that it is not all the danger," Pereira said."Even if it was a small danger, I am asking you, does the Bishop not have the right to express his anxiety to his own people?"
The archbishop had also said that human rights were under attack and the democracy appeared to be in danger.
Notably, Ferrao's letter came weeks after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto's similar letter which said that the "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 said."It should not be seen that the church in 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.
"People are thinking that this is the trend. There is no trend," he explained.
"We have to look at this letter as a letter of the pastor to his people. The focus of the letter was on poverty. The peripheral statements have been taken out of proportion by the press and everybody is talking about the statements as if the pastoral letter is on politics and about going against the powers," Pereira said.
He said the pastoral letter was written by the church head to its members."The Archbishop wrote the letter to the members of his church in Goa. It was the 15th pastoral letter that he has written," he added.
In the letter, the Archbishop has given an orientation for the year, he said."The pastoral year begins in June and ends in May. So every year in June, he issues a letter on different topics," Pereira said.