Kochi: The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), a body of Catholic Bishops in the State, on Saturday welcomed the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis by saying the decision to invite the pontiff to India was a historic one.

The Prime Minister, who is in Italy to attend the G20 Summit, invited the head of the Roman Catholic church to visit India at an early date.

“Inviting Pope Francis to India was a historic decision and this will raise the stature of the country among the nations of the world. His visit will help to strengthen the diplomatic relation between both countries. It will also help to nurture the relationship between various sects of Christianity and other religions,” KCBC said in a release.

Cardinal Mar George Alenchery, the president of the KCBC, said all Indians, especially Christians, are glad to learn about the invitation extended by Modi.

“We hope the Pope will visit India soon. The Pope’s visit will pave the way for fostering brotherhood and co-operation in a pluralistic India,” Alenchery said.

The KCBC appreciated Modi for extending the invitation.

This was the first meeting between an Indian Prime Minister and the Pope in more than two decades. In June 2000, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had last visited the Vatican and met the then Pope, His Holiness John Paul II.

India and The Holy See have friendly relations dating back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948. India is home to the second-largest Catholic population in Asia.

The last Papal Visit happened in 1999 when Vajpayee (now deceased) was the Prime Minister.

Also read | Vatican sends message of interreligious solidarity on Diwali


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