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Poles upset with Pope's remarks on India

Many Polish Indophiles, most of them Catholics, are upset over Pope's complaint to the Indian ambassador about the treatment of Christians in India.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 20:11 IST

Many Polish Indophiles, most of them Catholics, are upset over Pope Benedict XVI's complaint to the Indian ambassador about the treatment of Christians in India.

Krzysztof Mrozwicz, a leading journalist and a former Polish ambassador to India, said he was surprised and shocked the Pope had made uncharitable remarks about Indian society.

"The fact of the matter is India is the most secular country in Asia if not in the world. It seems that the Pope has been wrongly briefed by his advisors. The Pope should have realised what he was talking about and in which context he was raising his concern.

"An Italian born and a Catholic by birth, Sonia Gandhi is leading the century-old Congress party and guiding the nation these days. What else he could have expected from an Indian polity to show its record of tolerance and freedom of practising one's own religion there?"

Mrozwicz added: "During my term first as an ambassador from 1996 to 2001 and earlier as a correspondent of the Polish Press Agency from 1983 to 1990 I never could file any dispatch to my government that the Indian Christians were facing any discrimination."

Stanslaw Tokarski, head of Indian Studies at the Polish Academy of Science, told INEP agency: "The Pope's unnecessary complaint has left a bad taste. He is visiting Poland and I don't feel like listening to his homilies during his visit.

"When an Afghan wanted to live as a Christian in his country and he was not allowed to live there, the Holy See remained quiet and did not protest. Now suddenly they are making complaints against a country whose record of freedom of religion has been great."

According to Anna Bem, an Indophile married to an Indian professor and who lived in New Delhi in the early 1980s, "It seems there is a hidden agenda to make life difficult for 26 million Christians in India by some vested interests by raising false alarms. It is high time that the Vatican issued a statement to withdraw its uncharitable remarks.

"My son was baptised there and during our many visits to India we never felt any restrictions to go to church or temple anywhere in India. It is disgusting that the new Pope has raised this issue.

"Our Polish born John Paul II, when he was the Pope, never raised this kind of issues with any ambassador or during his two visits to India in his life time."