BISHOP JOSEPH D’SOUZA MEETS INDIAN HOME MINISTER RAJNATH SING, EXPRESSES SUPPORT FROM CHRISTIANS FOR PRIME MINISTER MODI’S DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES
Over 1,000 Christian leaders gathered in New Delhi with the home minister, one of the largest interdenominational meetings in India
NEW DELHI, INDIA — The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza, president of the All India Christian Council and moderating bishop of the Good Shepherd Church, welcomed Home Minister Rajnath Sing to the National Christian Leaders Conference, held Oct. 14. The interdenominational gathering, which consisted of over 1,000 Christian leaders from India, also welcomed Dr. Udit Raj, member of India’s Parliament, and served as a hallmark of Christian cooperation and friendship with the Indian government.
“Our home minister has been a friend ever since this government has come to power. Every time we have reached to him, he has responded. He has opened a direct line of communication with the Christian community,” said Dr. D’Souza to the gathered clergy. “One of my common refrains with the home minister is that that Christians and Hindus are friends, not enemies. We work together, and we have been living together for 2,000 years in this nation.”
Rev. Dr. D’Souza, a humanitarian who has fought for the rights of oppressed minorities in India, especially Dalits, also voiced that India’s Christians support the government’s work toward economic development.
“At this point I want to say that the Christian community fully supports Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives for development. We are fully cooperating and walking with [the] local and central government to make the dreams of our prime minister come true and to see India become a fully developed, prosperous nation, for all Indians,” Dr. D’Souza said.
“I want to call upon the Christian church across India to walk in cooperation with the government. The Bible calls us to pray for those in power to pray for those who govern us so that India will continue to progress.”
Dr. D’Souza also thanked Minister Sing for a bill introduced to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act. If passed, the bill will prioritize the naturalization of ethnic and religious minorities – including persecuted Christians – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
In his closing remarks, Dr. D’Souza assured the minister that for Christians serving and loving their nation is part of their faith.
“All that we want to do is have the freedom to be Christians, to practice our faith ..and to carry on our task of contributing to the building of this country,” Dr. D’souza said.
Home Minister Sing echoed Dr. D’Souza’s remarks when he later said that, “Tolerance is essential for peaceful existence. People from all religions live peacefully in India and practise their religion without any fear of discrimination. That is why India is a university of tolerance.”
The Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries, a church movement of over 3,500 congregations lead by Dr. D’Souza, has championed the empowerment of low-caste individuals in India. Through its economic development projects, Good Shepherd Church has particularly assisted more than 30,000 Dalit women. The grants allow Dalit women, who often face discrimination and are denied equal employment opportunities, to begin sustainable business ventures. In addition, vocational training centers have been established throughout India, where more than 7,000 women have been educated in a trade, like tailoring, and have graduated, receiving a certificate of completion.
“At the heart of the gospel is the restoration of human dignity and freedom,” Rev. Dr. D’Souza said. “There is no Christianity without social work and justice. Spiritual restoration goes hand in hand with physical restoration. This is why, as Christians, we support the prime minister’s economic development initiatives. It is our duty to not only seek the good of our churches but also of our whole nation.”
Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza is the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the President of the All India Christian Council. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a human rights activist. He is also the founder and International President of the Dalit Freedom Network. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional biographical information is available here.