INDIA: Catholic prelates and priests denied entry visas

This is interesting, from Outlook India:

Catholic Priests From Vatican Denied Indian Visa
This comes in the wake of growing attacks on churches in the national capital.

The Indian Government this week denied entry into the country to two Catholic priests from the Vatican. Archbishop Arthur Roche [From the Congregation for Divine Worship] and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa [He’s the one who did the translation in Kinyambo for me.] had been assigned by the Vatican to attend a conference on ‘Liturgy and Life’ being held in Bangalore between February 3 and 9.

But on the inaugural day of the conference – which is organized by CCBI (Conference of Catholic Bishops of India) – the congregation was informed that the Indian Government had denied visa to the priests who had applied for it in mid-December. The congregation, according to information reaching from Bangalore, was informed that even intervention by the Vatican’s Secretary of State failed to move Indian officials. These two apparently are not the only Vatican officials or Catholic priests denied entry into the country.

The denial of visa to officials of the Vatican comes in the wake of growing attacks on churches in the national capital and reports in the media that the government plans to crack down on NGOs funded by the Catholic Church among others.

Unfortunately the Government does not seem to harbour any interest in putting its cards on the table. No reason is cited for denial of visas and one can safely assume that no reason will be cited if and when there is a crack down.

According to unconfirmed reports when a delegation of Christian Bishops called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year and sought his intervention to stop vandals from ransacking churches in Delhi, he apparently said nothing to reassure them. He certainly did not utter any word of reassurance in public.

Christians constitute less than two per cent of the Indian population and are unevenly spread out. In Delhi itself their number is unlikely to exceed a few hundred thousand people. Therefore they do not pose any kind of threat but if Christian churches are still being targeted, they are again unlikely to be a mere coincidence.

There are 225 churches in New Delhi and in the last two months five of them have been vandalized in Dilshad Garden, Jasola, Rohini, Vikaspuri and in Vasant Kunj this week. The Home Ministry has twice prodded Delhi Police for action and sought a report on this week’s vandalism in Vasant Kunj. But the police has brushed aside complaints by saying that they were incidents involving burglary, theft and short-circuits. And the only case in which the vandals have been apprehended is because of a CCTV camera that worked. What next?

It is worth recalling that the paranoid Indian Government had long back disallowed foreign missionaries from teaching, researching or preaching in the country. Every single Indian who has studied in missionary and Jesuit schools and colleges would possibly vouch how these scholar priests are missed.
One such Catholic priest Fr Camille Bulcke is not only recognized as the foremost authority on Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas but is also credited with the most authentic Hindi-English dictionary. Similarly Fr Hoffman and Fr Ponnette are credited with the monumental 16-volume Encyclopedia Britannica. Such examples can be extended to show how these scholars enriched our language and culture.

Hey… wait a minute.

In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, didn’t Pres. Obama – even while drawing a moral equivalence between ISIS and Christianity – praise India…?  Let’s see the text (VIDEO):

(@ 1:23:47…) Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion,  (@ 1:24:39…) been targeted by other peoples of faith, [He stumbles around a bit, probably because he remembered that Christians aren’t attacking anyone in India.] simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Nicholas says:

    A country that has forced sterilisations is hostile to Catholicism. I’m not exactly shocked.

  2. Muv says:

    Interesting to see him leave out a massive chunk of history. It wasn’t just a question of Gandhi “liberating” India. The whole process necessitated the creation of a separate state for Muslims. I’m looking forward to Mr. O’s potted discourse on the part played by religious intolerance in the partition of India.

  3. mburn16 says:

    Politics afoot. Modi is trying to re-establish India as a global power (operating under the assumption the country has been overlooked in international affairs), and a big part of that centers on Hindu faith as a common, nationalist element. This is, after all, the same PM who used one of the elephant-headed dieties as proof that genetic science and costmetic surgery existed in ancient India.

  4. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    Pagan Greece and Rome couldn’t stand the light of Christ.

    India (and EVERYWHERE else, both on and off Earth) Will Be no different.

    I harbor zero animosity to Hindus. I actually find their religion fascinating, and I have never met a Hindu I didn’t like (Most are the ones who have made it to the states, so there is selection bias there.). But if I thought Hinduism was True, I would’ve converted to Hinduism, and not Catholicism.

    I don’t think any of the Apostles who saw Our Lord hanging on the Cross 2,000 years ago would have thought that the pagan city of Rome would one day be the head of the Church. I think the Indian subcontinent will one day in the future make an excellent stronghold for the Faith.

  5. Fr Francis says:

    The Indian Government’s refusal to allow foreign missionaries to enter India has perhaps had unintended consequences – and to the benefit of the Catholic Church.

    According to the Catholic Hierarchy website there are 17,005,000 Catholics in India and 19,946 priests – a ratio of one priest for every 852 Catholics – which compares very favourably with most other countries in the world.

    Most Latin American counties have a very poor priest: people ratio – often only about one priest for 10,000 Catholics. (Many African counties in fact have a much better ratio than Latin America.)

    The USA has a ratio of one priest for every 1,429 Catholics.

    Excluding the Vatican City (which I think we can agree to be a special case!) I had always assumed that the highest ratio of priests to Catholics would be in Malta – which has one priest for every 397 Catholics. But I was surprised to discover that two other countries have higher ratios.

    Although Japan has a relatively small Catholic population of 509,000, it has 1,589 priests. So it has a ratio of one priest for every 320 Catholics. I wonder, though, how many of these are Japanese.

    But the highest ratio by far is in Nepal with 7,000 Catholics and 149 priests – giving an amazing ratio of one priest for every 149 Catholics. However I have heard that few of these are Nepalese – most are from India.

  6. Matt Robare says:

    A Hindu nationalist party wins the general election and suddenly violence against Christians and Muslims increase, visas for visiting bishops are denied and vandals attacking churches are getting away scot-free. Hmmm.

    India and Tibet have been subject to the same kind of thing that the Middle East and the Far East have. They attract these Western people who project their fantasies of the exotic east on these countries and wouldn’t you know it, suddenly there’s a multimillion dollar cottage industry of “ancient wisdom from the East” distorting everyone’s ideas. It’s a load of hooey — the world is populated by humans, who are just as subject to sin and death in Tibet as they are in Massachusetts.

  7. Imrahil says:

    I think the Indian subcontinent will one day in the future make an excellent stronghold for the Faith.

    I think if we go by the fact that India at this present day is sending priests to Old Europe to help the native priests in their pastoral work, I think we can say it, in a sense, does so already.

  8. magistercaesar says:

    What’s interesting to note is Kerala, the province where the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches are based, has the highest literary rate in the country. Hopefully the highly educated of India (demographically mostly Catholic) rise up and show their government the light

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Father, this denial of visas is happening in Europe as well. I know of two situations where a priest did not get a visa to work in one country of the EU, and a nun who cannot join her order’s convent in Rome from another EU country as the prioress wanted the transfer. The former Mother General of Tyburn told me two years ago that movement between convents was becoming more and more difficult if not impossible.

    Movements of missionaries are being restricted world-wide. This tragic situation in India is one of many examples.

    Since 2012, Great Britain has not allowed dioceses to let in seminarians from some African nations, in order to help the priest shortage, unless the young men already had family in GB. I was told this by an eminent vocations director in December of 2012. Also, some men from outside the EU who are members of the Carmelites have been refused long-term visas in order to stay with their own order, as one told me in Ireland in 2013.

    This is all being done on purpose to stop evangelization from the Catholic Church and to starve parishes of priests, nuns, brothers. I know of other examples, than those mentioned.

  10. jacobi says:


    India is a country I know fairly well. It is not, unlike Pakistan now, inherently anti-Christian. But of course there is general anti-Christian feeling spreading in so many parts of the world, including in our Western Democracies.

    I am not a U S of A citizen so it is not up to me to comment in detail on what your President has recently said, or rather how he said what he did, about the Crusades and the Inquisition . It was simplistic and predictably one sided, and would not have helped India’s 24+ million Christians.

    I do not think the Mahatma Gandhi would have approved of his speech.

  11. Tony Phillips says:

    The Brits didn’t do very much to Christianise the place when they ran things, that’s for sure. They do drive on the left, though.

  12. jmj_telcontar says:

    As an Indian Catholic, I thank you for posting this Fr. Z.

    I have to agree with Matt Robare concerning our present situation.
    “A Hindu nationalist party wins the general election and suddenly violence against Christians and Muslims increase, visas for visiting bishops are denied and vandals attacking churches are getting away scot-free. Hmmm.”

    When I lived in North India a few years ago, our church was vandalized and a statue of Our Lady was damaged. Once during a sermon, a man came with a stick and stood at the door of the church shouting at our priest. He ran away when others went to stop him. Those are incidents I cannot forget though they are almost nothing compared to the incidents in Delhi.

    If this is our situation, I can only wonder what our Christian brothers in Pakistan face. I pray for them and for all persecuted Christians in the world.

    It seems the Government has apologized IMO after ‘international’ reactions.

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