Archbishop Thomas Macwan of the Gandhinagar Archdiocese on Friday said that his call to Christians to pray for the victory of “humane leaders faithful to the Indian Constitution” in the state Assembly elections was not a partisan appeal.

“My appeal is not against any party or in favour of any party,” Macwan told ANI. “I have just asked people to vote according to their conscience and vote for those who are more open to secularism and constitutional values.”

In a letter to the clergy dated November 21, Macwan had called for prayers to “save our country from nationalist forces”, The Telegraph reported. “The results of this election are significant and it will have its repercussion and reverberation throughout our beloved nation,” Macwan wrote. “We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake.”

“Constitutional rights are being trampled. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, faithful or institutions,” Macwan said, adding that there was a growing sense of insecurity among minorities. “Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country,” he added. “The election results of Gujarat State Assembly can make a difference.”

Citing examples from history, he said that powerful prayers can overcome tyrannical forces. Prayers to Mary had helped a fleet of Catholic states defeat the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, and led to the overthrowing of the Communist government in Poland in 1989, he said, according to The Indian Express.