India Blocks Then Restores Foreign Funding for Mother Teresa’s Order

ROME — The Indian government has restored the Missionaries of Charity to its list of associations approved for receiving foreign funding after suspending the order’s license on Christmas.

Media reported on Christmas Day that the Ministry of Home Affairs had decided to revoke the order’s license to receive donations from abroad, citing “adverse inputs,” a decision that would have made it almost impossible for the group to continue working among the poor in India.

On Sunday, local media reported that the government has restored the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of the Missionaries of Charity, less than two weeks after it was revoked.

The Catholic religious congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was founded in India in 1950 by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a sainted nun who gave her life in serving the “poorest of the poor.” Under the government of Narendra Modi, however, closely aligned with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the order has come under pressure that some say borders on harassment.

A nun from Missionaries of Charity carries a chair inside a hall after taking part in a special prayer on the occasion of Peace Day to mark the death anniversary of Mother Teresa at the Mother House in Kolkata on September 5, 2021. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

In mid-December, the Missionaries of Charity were investigated for allegedly proselytizing Hindus, a crime under India’s “Freedom of Religion” laws in many parts of the country. A police report in the Makarpura district of Vadodara, Gujarat, said that the sisters had “lured” girls staying at the temporary shelter “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 is an attempted crime to force religious conversion upon the girls,” said Mayank Trivedi, a local District Social Defense officer who filed a complaint accusing the Missionaries of Charity of having “forced a Hindu girl to marry a Christian man according to Christian rituals.”

On January 3, India’s Defense Department evicted a group of Missionaries of Charity from a children’s home in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The defense department claimed the home was on government land with a 90-year lease that expired in 2019 and threatened the sisters with a fine of over $250,000.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Pope Francis declared her a saint in 2017, twenty years after her death.

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