The Church in Goa has appealed to the central government to listen to the voice of millions of citizens and immediately unconditionally revoke the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and desist from implementing the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In his message, issued through the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao has said that the ongoing expressions of widespread discontent and open protest taking place throughout the country, and even abroad, with regard to the recently passed CAA as well as the proposed NRC and the intended NPR are causing great concern and anguish to millions of Indians spread throughout the globe.
The Archbishop said that the protests demanding that the CAA be revoked immediately and that the countrywide NRC and NPR be desisted from are on the increase. “Eminent citizens, including top intellectuals and legal luminaries have taken a studied and unequivocal stand against them. Here in Goa too we have witnessed several protests, which transcended the confines of religious and caste affiliation and have brought people from all walks of life together, on one united platform,” he said.
“It is observed, sadly, that these initiatives issuing
forth from the government are forecasting a systematic erosion of the values,
principles and rights, which have been guaranteed to all citizens in our
Constitution and which the citizens are
called to protect and promote. The Christians in India have always been a peace-loving community and deeply committed to the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution of India. We have always taken great pride that our beloved country is a secular, sovereign, socialist, pluralistic and democratic republic,” the Archbishop said.
He further said that the very fact that the CAA uses religion goes against the secular fabric of the country. “It goes against the spirit and heritage of our land which, since times immemorial, has been a welcoming home to all, founded on the belief that the whole world is one big family. With regard to the NRC and the NPR, there is a serious concern that such exercises will result in a direct victimisation of the underprivileged classes, particularly the Dalits, the Adivasis, the migrant labourers, the nomadic communities and the countless undocumented people, who, after having been recognised as worthy citizens and voters for more than seventy years in this great nation, will suddenly run the risk of becoming stateless and candidates for detention camps in their teeming millions,” he said.
The Archbishop further said that Christianity is an inclusive religion based on compassion, justice, equality and peace. “Jesus teaches us that no one, particularly the poor and the marginalised, the minorities and other vulnerable groups, should be excluded in any way. Every human being is created in the image of God and is endowed with dignity, equality and other rights, which belong to all citizens. These are universal values, which clearly resonate in almost every religion as well as in the Constitution of India. The CAA, NRC and NPR are divisive and discriminatory and will certainly have a negative and damaging effect on a multi-cultural democracy like ours,” the Archbishop said.
He, along with the Catholic community of Goa, has appealed to the government to listen to the voice of millions in the country and stop quashing the right to dissent.