In the face of rising persecution against Christians in India, a group composed of Catholic laity and clergy have urged bishops to act on the issue that has been instigated by Hindu nationalists.

Christian News Now reported that The Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace have written Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) to raise that the CBCI has been silent despite 2021 being the "most violent year" for local Christians.

In the letter, the Forum cited seven attacks of Hindu nationalists groups against India's Christian institutions included in the 486 incidents of violence recorded for 2021. The attacks included those that occurred in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

"What shocks us is the complete silence on the part of the official Church, the CBCI. The violent acts against the Christian community and Muslim community or any other minority group are in complete violation of the law of the land and the Indian Constitution," the Forum said.

"If we do not respond to such acts, the secular fabric of India will be lost causing irreparable damage to the people of India, and an inclusive, democratic and pluralistic India as envisioned in the preamble of the Indian Constitution could be lost forever," they added.

"We are of the view that we Catholics cannot remain silent spectators when the drama of violent attacks against the minorities is unfolding before us. We need to act and fulfill our prophetic role before it is too late," they reiterated.

The Forum urged Gracias to write Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ministry of Home Affairs Minister Shri Amit Shah to address the persecution being done against Christians.

In addition, the Forum suggested several actions that could support Modi's and Shah's future actions for Christians. These actions include imploring the CBCI to respond immediately whenever Christian institutions are attacked, for the CBCI to provide legal assistance to those attacked and for CBCI to implore government leaders to protect Indian Christians within their respective jurisdictions.

The Forum also suggested that "united action" be organized by CBCI such as a day of fasting and the closure of Christian educational institutions as a means of protest against the violence. The forum also requested Gracias to "guide the Catholic Community of India to respond to the increasing hate speech and violence against Muslims and Christians."

Crux Now said the Bharatiya Janata Party that has ruled in India since 2014 is linked with the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which often accuse Christians of "using force and surreptitious tactics" to convert Indian villagers. These attacks are said to be part of Modi's "saffronization" of India where Hindu values and identity are imposed on rivaling faiths.

Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace member Sr. Dorothy Fernandes revealed the intent behind sending the letter to Gracias was to call on local church leaders to "wake up" since people are wondering "why are we silent?" Fernandes also pointed out the "doable actions" they suggested in part of the church's "prophetic calling" for all of India's citizens.

"We have also suggested a number of doable actions which is inclusive and will sustain the secular fabric of our beautiful nation. We would believe that our inclusiveness will reach out to the Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, Tribals, women and children. This is our prophetic calling, and we can no longer afford to sit on the fence and wait till they come for us. We shall not remain silent but will pursue the matter till we move the hierarchical Church to become action oriented," Fernandes stressed.