India’s Modi invitations pope to go to after 2017 plan collapsed


ROME (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invited Pope Francis to go to the nation, extending an official…

ROME (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invited Pope Francis to go to the nation, extending an official opening after plans for a 2017 papal go to fell aside.

“I want to see you in India,” Modi advised Francis as he bade him farewell after an unusually lengthy, 55-minute viewers on the Vatican. “On my half, it might be an honor to obtain you there.”

Indian Overseas Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi mentioned the invitation was to come back go to “at an early date” and “was accepted with pleasure.”

Modi is in Rome for the Group of 20 summit, and his go to to the Vatican marked the primary time in additional than 20 years that an Indian chief has met a pope.

India is residence to the second largest Catholic inhabitants in Asia after the Philippines, however the roughly 18 million Catholics characterize a small minority within the largely Hindu nation of 1.3 billion. Non secular tensions have continued to flare after Modi’s hard-line, Hindu nationalist authorities was returned to energy for a second time period in 2019, with assaults in opposition to Muslims and Christians.

The Vatican’s official communique made no point out of the invitation or the content material of Modi’s assembly with the pontiff. It mentioned solely that Modi’s go to with the Vatican’s secretary of state was transient and that “the cordial relations between the Holy See and India have been mentioned.”

Francis had hoped to go to India and Bangladesh in 2017. After negotiations with the Indian authorities dragged on, Francis went as a substitute to Bangladesh and Myanmar. Upon his return to Rome from that journey, Francis acknowledged he had needed to go to India however that “procedures grew to become protracted, and time was urgent.”

However he mentioned it was really “providential” as a result of “visiting India requires one journey: you need to go to the south, to the middle, to the east, to the west, to the north for the varied cultures of India.”

He mentioned on the time that he hoped to go in 2018 “if I’m nonetheless alive!”

There was by no means an official rationalization given for why the journey fell aside. However spiritual tensions have intensified because the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Celebration swept nationwide elections in 2014 and elected Modi because the nation’s prime minister. The nation’s minorities, significantly Muslims who roughly make up 14 p.c of the inhabitants, have been focused by Hindu teams tied to Modi’s get together. Christians have additionally been attacked and church buildings focused.

Modi’s assembly Saturday with Francis — which the Vatican closed to unbiased media, citing coronavirus restrictions — appeared heat based mostly on Vatican images Modi tweeted exhibiting the 2 males embracing on a number of events.

“Thanks very a lot in your go to,” Francis mentioned to Modi in English, holding his arms, in accordance with Vatican video of the encounter. “I’m joyful.”

Throughout the encounter, Modi gave Francis a silver candelabra and a e-book, “The Local weather Climb: India’s technique, actions and achievements.” Francis gave Modi a group of his predominant educating paperwork and a bronze medallion that includes a tree and the phrases in Italian “The desert will develop into a backyard.”


Hussain reported from Srinagar, India.

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