India’s president praises Church for assistance to the poor

New Delhi, India, Aug 25, 2017 / 03:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).– A group of bishops from across India met with the country’s new president and vice-president on Thursday, with both leaders voicing their support of the Church’s work in spiritual development and assistance to the poor. President Ram Nath Kovind, elected at the end of July, told the bishops Aug. 24 that he appreciated, in particular, the work the Church does for the poor and downtrodden in the country. He also said, as summarized in a statement from the bishops’ conference, that while the whole world speaks of development, spirituality is also an important aspect of development, urging the bishops to continue to promote it. Led by Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Syro-Malankara Major Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Trivandrum and president of the Indian bishops’ conference, the bishops also included Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai; Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi; and Archbishop Filipe Neri do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Daman. Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur, Archbishop Albert D’Souza of Agra, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi, were also part of the delegation. Bishop Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Indian bishops’ conference, also accompanied eight representatives of the Archdiocese of Delhi in a meeting with the new vice-president of India, Venkaiah Naidu, Aug. 24. In the hour-long meeting, arranged by the Archdiocese of Delhi, Naidu said he appreciated the selfless work of the Church, adding that the Christian community in India was a peaceful community which had contributed a lot to the growth of the country. He also said he remembered with affection his joyful association with the late Archbishop Samineni Arulappa, who died in 2005 after leading the Archdiocese of Hyderabad for almost 30 years.