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Church mourns 'friendly' minister

Rare politician who 'understood how to use administrative and political power'

Church mourns 'friendly' minister
Bishop of Satna Mathew Vaniakizhakkel laying a wreath for Arjun Singh reporter, Jabalpur

March 8, 2011

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Church leaders in a central Indian state are mourning the death of a former federal minister who befriended religious minority groups. “The Church has lost one of its strongest supporters with the death of Arjun Singh,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who heads the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, said yesterday. Singh died on March 4 in New Delhi from natural causes. He was 81. In the previous federal cabinet he served as human resources development minister. “Singh was one of those rare politicians who understood how to use administrative and political power to bring about positive changes for the poor,” Archbishop Cornelio said in his condolence message. Churches in Madhya Pradesh offered special prayers during recent Sunday Masses and observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect for the former minister. The prelate later attended a meeting of condolence organized by the ecumenical Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh in the state capital Bhopal on March 6. Archbishop Cornelio described Singh as “a trusted friend of minorities, especially Christians.” He appreciated Christian social services especially amongst the downtrodden in small villages, the prelate added. Meanwhile, Bishop Mathew Vaniakizhakkel of Satna joined thousands of mourners at Singh’s funeral on March 6 in his hometown in Rewa district. The prelate laid a wreath on behalf of the bishops in Madhya Pradesh. Singh always worked for the advancement and freedom of the poor in what is a caste ridden society, the prelate said, adding that the Church will always remember him as a “great friend” whose loss cannot be compensated. IC13557.1644
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