Pope criticises anti-conversion laws in India

Pope John Paul II today decried new anti-conversion laws in some Indian states and urged the church in India to ‘‘courageously’’ proclaim the gospel.

‘‘This is not an easy task, especially in areas where people experience animosity, discrimination and even violence because of their religious convictions or tribal affiliation,’’ the Pontiff, who met a group of Indian bishops, said.

‘‘These difficulties are exacerbated by the increased activity of a few Hindu fundamentalist groups which are creating suspicion of the church and other religions,’’ John Paul said.

‘‘Unfortunately, in some regions the state authorities have yielded to the pressures of these extremists and have passed unjust conversion laws, prohibiting free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom, or withdrawing state support for those in the scheduled castes who have chosen to christianity,’’ the Pontiff said.