Pope decries Indian anti-conversion laws
Pope John Paul II has decried new anti-conversion laws in some Indian states and urged the church in India to ëëcourageouslyíí proclaim the gospel.
His statement comes after the state Freedom of Religion Act which seeks to prevent conversions.
"There is resentment among tribals against conversions," Minister of State for Home Amit Shah recently claimed.
The Indian situation is complex with many religious groups attempting to convert one another, whilst at the same time attempting to prevent conversions from amongst their own ranks.
The Vishwa Boudh Sangh (VBS) is planning to organise a mass conversion on June 15, announcing that many will embrace Buddhism that day.
But it has also organised a meeting in Sarvar Teti village of Kaprada taluka in south Gujarat district of Valsad to protest against alleged conversions by missionaries.
"This is not an easy task, especially in areas where people experience animosity, discrimination and even violence because of their religious convictions or tribal affiliation," the Pontiff, who met a group of Indian bishops, said.
"These difficulties are exacerbated by the increased activity of a few Hindu fundamentalist groups which are creating suspicion of the church and other religions".
"Unfortunately, in some regions the state authorities have yielded to the pressures of these extremists and have passed unjust conversion laws, prohibiting free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom, or withdrawing state support for those in the scheduled castes who have chosen to Christianity," the Pope said.