(From left) Acharya Vivek Muni, president of the International Mahavir Jain Mission; Ranjit Singh, head priest of the Sikh faith’s Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi; Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj, national president of the Indian Parliament of Religions; Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organization; Kalidas Swami Krishnanand; and Swami Shantatmananda, who heads the Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi meet the press during the inter-faith meeting held at Delhi’s Press Club of India on November 22. (Photo by Rita Joseph)
Nov 29 2021
Religious leaders in India have started preparations for the possible visit of Pope Francis to the country after the pontiff accepted an invitation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.
Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi led a gathering of religious leaders on November 22 in Delhi to start formal preparations for the pope’s visit.
The papal trip is viewed as an opportunity for a turnaround in India’s relations with the Vatican following the failure of negotiations for a papal trip to the predominantly Hindu nation in 2017.
Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj, national president of the Indian Parliament of Religions, said religious leaders have been preparing for the pope’s visit since 2014, adding that it would send out “a strong message for people to respect each other’s faith.”
“People of India should take this extraordinary and timely effort of the prime minister to promote brotherhood in our nation,” said Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organization.
“I thank the pontiff for accepting the invitation to visit our country,” he said.
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