Mother Teresa is a saint in the Catholic Church, but the Indian government is blocking foreign donations to a charity founded by the late nun in an action seen by many as a new crack down on groups run by religious minorities.
The government in Delhi on Dec. 27 “refused” to renew authorisation that is vital for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity to secure foreign funds, cutting off a key source it has relied on to run its programs for the impoverished, Reuters news agency reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government refused permission to the charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, a government statement said.
“While considering the MoC’s renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said without explaining the reasoning.
The charity has dedicated itself to serving “the poorest of the poor” for more than 70 years and runs soup kitchens and orphanages.
Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace laureate who died in 1997, founded the charity in 1950.
The charity has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children.
The news came around a tense Christmas time, when churches have been vandalized and celebrations interrupted by hundreds of right-wing Hindus across the country, The New York Times reported.
The rise in attacks on Christians is part of a broader shift in which religious minorities feel less safe, the Times reported.
It cited anti-Christian vigilantes sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshipers.
Attacks are not only on Christians and Hindu nationalists have confronted Muslims during Friday prayers in the northern state of Haryana in recent months.
Hardline Hindu groups affiliated to Modi’s party have accused the charity of leading religious conversion programs using the organization by offering poor Hindus and tribal communities food, medicine, money, free education and shelter, which the . Missionaries of Charity have rebuffed.
Police in Gujarat state had filed a case against the charity for supposedly trying to convert young girls at one of its shelters in Vadodara city.
The police also claimed that the charity’s work was “hurting Hindu religious sentiments.”
“The institution has been involved in activities to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus intentionally and with bitterness,” the case claims.
“The girls inside the Home for Girls are being lured to adopt Christianity by making them wear the cross around their neck and also placing the Bible on the table of the storeroom used by the girls, in order to compel them to read the Bible.”
It notes, It is an attempted crime to force religious conversion upon the girls.”
A spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity rejected the claims: “We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry into Christian faith,” Christian Today reported.
Christians make up around 2.3 percent of India’s more than one billiion people.