ROME – Pope Francis received Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Vatican on Saturday, the first meeting between the two leaders.
Extremely concise message The Holy See’s press office wrote that during the “short conversation, they discussed cordial relations between the Holy See and India.”
Modi is known as a staunch supporter of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party, which is closely linked to the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Since the rise of the BJP to power in 2014, Christians and other religious minorities have complained of increased violence, harassment and discrimination carried out with impunity.
Last July, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), a Christian oversight group, announced its half-yearly report, in which he recorded 145 recorded cases of anti-Christian persecution in India in the first half of 2021. These included pastor killings, attacks on Christian churches, physical violence, threats, and religiously motivated harassment and discrimination.
Widespread anti-Christian violence in India stems from an “environment of directed hatred” exacerbated by “the sense of impunity created by the Indian administrative apparatus,” the group claimed.
According to the report, the “most worrying development” was the expansion of anti-conversion laws, euphemistically known as the Laws on Freedom of Religion. These laws “seemingly punish forced or fraudulent religious conversion,” the report said. “But in practice, they are used to criminalize all conversions, especially in non-urban environments.”
Christians in India are increasingly victims of “myths” and “false narratives” spread by Hindu nationalist organizations such as the RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the report said.
“Christians are now in a state of shock and fear,” EFI said. “Despite their best efforts to seek police intervention, no help arrived.”
The main driver of anti-Christian persecution in India is Hinduism nationalism, closely related to the idea that you have to be a Hindu if you are a “real” Indian. On its annual list of World Nations, where it is most difficult to be a Christian, the door is open posted India was in tenth place in 2021, while less than a decade ago, India was in 31st place.
According to Open Doors, Indian Christians have encountered growing hostility every year since Modi came to power as prime minister in 2014.