The country’s top Catholic body has said that the country was being divided on the basis of religious beliefs, and that the Christian community was losing confidence in the government, The Indian Express reported on Friday. The remarks came a week after one Catholic priest and six others were arrested in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna town for allegedly trying to convert villagers to Christianity.

“This whole incident of attack on priests and seminaries in Satna and the state government’s move to file cases against the priests, arresting the poor and the innocent instead of finding the culprits, do not help us to keep our confidence in the government,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis (pictured above), president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India told The Indian Express.

He said dividing people on the basis of religious beliefs is not good for a democratic country. “I want my country to be united in a secular fabric. But now, this country is being polarised due to religious affiliations. We should fight against it.”

A delegation of the CBCI on Wednesday met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the Satna incident. Union minister KJ Alphons and Rajya Sabha Vice Chairman PJ Kurien were also present at the meeting. Cleemis said the home minister had assured them of immediate action.

“We pointed out that there was no FIR lodged in relation to what happened to the priests and seminarians, while the arrest [of the priest] was undertaken on the basis of a false complaint,” Cleemis had said, according to The Hindu.

On December 14, a group of seminarians and two priests were allegedly detained in Satna while they were conducting a routine Christmas carol singing programme. Some priests had claimed that Bajrang Dal activists had manhandled them and set their car on fire while they were inside the police station. A Bajrang Dal activist was also arrested.