Pope Benedict last night triggered off a major diplomatic row by condemning Hindu nationalists in India for their attempts to ban conversion in the country. In unusually strong language, the Pontiff told India’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Amitava Tripathi, that efforts in some States to outlaw conversions were unconstitutional and should be rejected.
“The disturbing signs of religious intolerance which have troubled some regions of the nation, including the reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom, must be firmly rejected,” Benedict said. “Anti-conversion laws are “unconstitutional (and) contrary to the highest ideals of India’s founding fathers.”
Questions: Is the Pope right or wrong? Should untrammelled conversions be allowed or can the “State” poke its nose in the personal religious choices of its citizens? Is it any business of the Pope’s to decide what India should or shouldn’t do? Will statements like these only end up as cannon-fodder for the BJP/VHP/Bajrang Dal who are ever fearful of Hindus losing their majority status? Should India protest to Vatican? Will it? Tell.