[ Pisi Zauing ]
MIAO, 1 Nov: Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla separately met the two bishops in Arunachal Pradesh during his five-day visit to the state from 27 to 31 October.
The minister met Itanagar bishop John Thomas on 28 October in Naharlagun and bishop George Pallipparambil of the Miao diocese on 30 October in Miao.
During the meetings, both the bishops took up with Barla some crucial issues affecting the Christians in the state and in the country.
Expressing happiness over the minister’s visit to the state, bishop John Thomas said: “The visit of the minister for minority affairs to Arunachal is recognition of the presence of minorities in this state.”
The minister was apprised of the difficulties faced by the minorities, especially Christians, in various states in the country.
“We are happy that the minister gave us a patient hearing and assured us that all our concerns would be addressed,” bishop Thomas said.
Barla met bishop Pallipparambil on the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis at the Vatican.
“It is indeed a happy coincidence that minister Barla is here with us in Miao diocese when our prime minister is making his maiden visit to the holy father,” bishop Pallipparambil said, and thanked Barla for visiting and creating awareness on the various schemes available with the government for the minorities.
The only Catholic in the council of ministers, Barla spoke of his many years of active association with the churches as a catechist.
“I owe to god everything I am today. My life as a catechist in my village for four years has had a role in shaping my life. I promise to work for the minorities in the country and would do everything within my capacity to stand for the poor as I too come from a humble background and I can relate to their concerns better,” said the minister while interacting with the church leaders at the Miao bishop’s house.
The minister visited the Christ the Light shrine in Miao and lit candles and offered prayers for peace and prosperity of the country.