Advani calls for intensified inter-faith dialogue

via www.newindpress.com published on April 29, 2008


KOTTAYAM: LOK Sabha Opposition leader L K Advani has called for expanding and intensifying inter-faith dialogue in the country. He said that freedom of faith and cultural unity can co-exist.

Inaugurating the valedictory meet of the navathy celebrations of Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan Rev Dr Philipose Mar Chyrsostum here on Saturday, the veteran BJP leader said that accepting diversities and integrating it with the national culture was a unique quality of the country.

However, it is the bounden duty of all diverse sections of the society to continually strengthen India’s unity, he said.

Recalling his long association with the Mar Thoma Church, Advani said that he had taken note of some news reports referring to the opposition within the church for the invitation extended to him and said that he was not at all perturbed over it.

He pointed out that Mar Thoma Church was one of the religious organisations that had openly opposed the Emergency,which came to be known as the second freedom movement.

He recollected that he had spoken many a time of the bold stand taken by the Church and said that the Mar Thoma Church had a role in the country’s first freedom movement and in its victory in 1947 as well as in the second freedom movement in 1977.

Advani affirmed that the BJP is not anti-Christian or anti-Muslim, as is being made out by some quarters. For many many years the BJP and its leaders had been subject to such kinds of criticism as communal and anti-minorities.

”My party has faced all this. But ultimately, truth will prevail”, he said. ”It is not without significance that we were expelled from the Janata Party on the day of crucifixion of Christ, and that we experienced our political rebirth in the form of the BJP on the day of resurrection of Christ”, he added.

He also pointed out that when the BJP-led NDA government was in office, the first choice of the ruling combine for the post of the country’s president, which had fallen vacant then, was Dr P C Alexander.

When it didn’t materialize, the next choice was Dr Kalam, who was also a member from a minority community, he noted.

Showering praises on the humanitarian gesture of the Mar Thoma church to celebrate the navathy of its Valiya Metropolitan by building 2,050 homes for the poor in various parts of the country, at a cost of Rs 32 crore, Advani observed that no celebration could match such a venture.

In his presidential address, reigning Metropolitan Rev Dr Joseph Mar Thoma emphasised the relevance of religious pluralism and a harmonious living, based on proper understanding and cooperation.

The Valiya Metropolitan, in his reply, said that he was overwhelmed by the love and affection by all those in the church-fold and outside.

Orthodox church Catholicos-designate Paulose Mar Milithios, Jacobite church synod secretary Dr Joseph Mar Gregorios and Bishop Rev Dr Sam Mathew gave the felicitations.

Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan presented a report on the navathy project.Advani handed over the keys to three select beneficiaries.

Bishops Geevarghese Mar Athanasios, Geevarghese Mar Theodosius, Joseph Mar Barnabas, Thomas Mar Theemothios, Issac Mar Phelixonos and Abraham Mar Paulose and lay trustee Dr Jacob George were present.

Church secretary Rev K M Mammen welcomed the gathering and Rev T K Mathew proposed a vote of thanks. BJP leader O Rajagopal was a notable presence in the dais,while state president P K Krishnadas and a bevy of local and state leaders of the party were among the audience.

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