2006-05-20 15:25:01

India Government On Pope's Comments On India’s Freedom Of Conscience and Religion

The Indian government on Friday responded to comments made by Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday on laws that allegedly restrict religious freedom in India. In a statement India reiterated its constitutional "freedom of conscience" and the citizen's right to freely "profess, practise and propagate" a religion of choice.
The Holy Father on Thursday accepted the letters of credence of India's new ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Amitava Tripathi, and noted the "disturbing signs of religious intolerance" that have "troubled some regions" of India. Such incidents included the "reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom," the Pope said. These moves should be "firmly rejected as not only unconstitutional, but also as contrary to the highest ideals of India's founding fathers, who believed in a nation of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance between different religions and ethnic groups," the Holy Father had said. In response, India’s Foreign ministry posted a statement on it website saying: "It is acknowledged universally that India is a secular and democratic country in which adherents of all religious faiths enjoy equal rights. The Constitution of India states that “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion”.

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