New Delhi, Aug. 26: Reacting to reports of conversion of Sikh families into Christianity in Bhopal, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India today said it condemns any conversion by “force or unworthy means”, reports our correspondent.
In a letter to the National Commission for Minorities, conference vice-president Vincent M. Concessao said: “The Catholic church condemns any conversion by force or unworthy means. We affirm the official teaching of the Church on this matter... If anybody indulges in such practices, I assume the law of the land has provisions to deal with such persons.” Following reports of the conversions, the chairman of the minority body, Tarlochan Singh, had written to Christian leaders in the country “to desist from this activity to avoid tension between two minority communities”.
Rejecting that Christians “are threat to anyone”, Concessao said: “The Church doesn’t receive anybody into the church unless the person knows the Christian faith and freely commits himself and herself to it without any pressure from any quarter. If there is force there is no conversion. If there is no conviction of faith, conversion is not possible, no matter what external ritual one undergoes.”
Stating that he would gather more information on the reports, Concessao said the community wanted inter-religious harmony, which could not be achieved at the cost of an individual citizen’s freedom of conscience, which every other citizen has to respect.