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NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 19, 2001: A statement last Saturday by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the conversion motive of Christians has the Catholic community up in arms. "I am questioning the welfare activities being carried out by some Christian missionaries in the country's backward areas, and it was not proper though conversion was permissible under law," said the Prime Minister. The Chairman of the Northern Region Catholic Council, Vincent Concessao, fears that what he termed a "hate campaign" against Christian priests, nuns, and religious workers will be fueled by the Prime Minister's remarks. Reminding Vajpayee that his government's constitution guarantees religious freedom, Catholic leaders have appealed to the Prime Minister to uphold the law. These same leaders state that, "Christian doctrine always denounced fraudulent and forcible conversions." The article fails to mention the Pope's explicit statements to the Indian Catholics in Delhi a year ago that "evangelization must be your absolute priority," "Catholic schools play an important role in evangelization" and "I pray to the Lord to send many more committed laborers to reap the harvest of souls which I see as ready and plentiful [in Asia]."