Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao has written a letter to Christians, saying that the Indian Constitution is in danger and many people are living in an atmosphere of insecurity, PTI reported on Tuesday. “In this context, particularly as the [2019] General Elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it,” he said, according to NDTV.

“In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we eat, dress, live and even worship: a kind of mono-culturalism,” he added in his letter on June 1. “Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.”

Ferrao claimed that people were being “uprooted” from their land and homes in the name of development, PTI reported. “The first victim of development is the poor person,” the archbishop said quoting Pope Francis. “It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor, because those who will raise their voice for them are very few.”

The archbishop said that faithful Christians should be politically active, but follow their conscience while doing so and shun “sycophantic politics”. “They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration,” he added.

In May, Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto had asked parish priests to launch a prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, as a “turbulent political atmosphere” was prevailing in the country.

‘Statement taken out of context’

The archbishop’s secretary Joaquim Loila Pereira later on Tuesday clarified that Ferrao had made statements about governance and not about any party. Pereira said the church is not interested in indulging in partisan politics, but were interested in getting the right people elected, ANI reported.

“One or two statements of the bishop have been taken out and I will say taken out of the context and made an issue of,” he said, according to The Hindu. “We will not make any further comments or give explanations of the letter. If you want, you read the pastoral letter online and try to understand the context of why it is being said, what is said.”