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Skip pilgrimage on May 6, vote for those with secular credentials: Goa Cardinal

Train No. 17315 “Velankanni Express”, a once-a-week train that runs between Vasco da Gama and Velankanni in Tamil Nadu, leaves at 9am on Monday.

PANAJI: Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão on Tuesday asked people to avoid travelling to Vailankanni, a prominent Catholic pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu, on May 6 since it would mean missing out on the “moral obligation” of casting one’s vote.

“It is known that there is a regular train from Goa to Vailankanni every Monday, leaving Margao Station at 9.35 a.m. I earnestly appeal to our Catholics to refrain from taking that train journey on Monday, 6th May 2024, and, instead, to book their trip for any other Monday,” Ferrão, who is among the six Indian Cardinals of the Catholic Church, said in his message.

“In case a booking has already been made, it is certainly worth losing some money by way of cancellation charges for the sake of the greater good and the sacred duty of exercising one’s franchise on Election Day and thus being positively responsible towards the greater good of the nation,” he said in a circular.

The Cardinal’s message comes against the backdrop of several people expressing concern on social media that many Catholics may end up missing out on the opportunity to vote due to the election schedule.

Goa, which elects two Lok Sabha members, is scheduled to vote on May 7.

Train No. 17315 “Velankanni Express”, a once-a-week train that runs between Vasco da Gama and Velankanni in Tamil Nadu, leaves at 9am on Monday and arrives at Velankanni a little past noon on Tuesday.

In his circular, the Cardinal referred to the papal encyclical calling for civic participation and urged people to vote for those with “secular credentials”

“The growth of a nation is dependent on its citizens’ active participation and responsible behaviour. The Church’s obligation to participate in nation-building and in shaping the moral character of the society is a requirement of our faith; it is an all-important part of the mission we have received from Jesus Christ. It is in this spirit that all eligible Catholic voters need to exercise their franchise on the 7th of May, 2024, casting their vote for persons with secular credentials, who are truly committed to work for the good of all the people and to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution,” he added.

The Goa Archbishop, looked up to by Catholics who make up 25% of the state population, is known to articulate his views on the social and political issues. “We must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it... Today, our Constitution is in danger. It is a reason why most of the people live in insecurity,” the Archbishop said back in 2018.

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