Bishops stand with imprisoned Indian Jesuit priest on his 84th birthday

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Four bishops from our International Affairs department express their prayerful support for Fr Stan Swamy SJ, who turns 84 today, and call for his immediate release from prison in India.

Fr Swamy is a Jesuit Priest who has spent his life defending the human rights of marginalised Dalit and Adivasi communities. He has been imprisoned for more than 200 days on unfounded terrorism charges, which have been condemned by the UN, the local church, and the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

There are serious concerns for Fr Stan’s wellbeing, particularly given the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. He has Parkinson’s among several other health conditions.

Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and Chair of the Bishops’ Conference International Affairs Department said:

“I would like to assure you of my prayers – you are remembered every day. Your work with the marginalised Dalit and Adivasi communities is an inspiration to all of us and a courageous stand for justice.

Poignantly, Bishop Lang also raised the urgent need for Fr Swamy to have access to his medicine for Parkinson’s. Himself a sufferer, he said:

“As someone who also suffers from Parkinson’s, I understand your need for medication – the absence of which makes life very difficult and can make one feel very vulnerable.”

Rt Rev John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and Chair of CAFOD, the Church’s internaitonal aid and development charity, said:

“Let us pray for Fr Stan Swamy – for his courage and strength in enduring such injustice… but let us also pray for his captors. We ask that they may begin to glimpse the wrong that they inflict on Fr Stan – help them to recognise the injustice in their actions and guide them to the truth.”

Rt Rev Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees said:

“For many, many years Fr Swamy has been campaigning on behalf of those who are denied justice, speaking for them, calling for their fair and just treatment under the law… It is now time for us to do what Fr Swamy has been doing for years and demand justice for him.”

Rt Rev Paul Swarbrick, Bishop of Lancaster, haing read a psalm from Scripture, said:

“I cannot recall Christ ever giving up on his care for the poor. Fr Stan is committed and determined to defend the rights of the indigenous people. He will not rest, he will not walk away or allow them to be robbed.

“Fr Stan I thank you for your faith and your determination.”


Read and watch the bishops’ messages in our Advocacy section.
You can find more about Fr Stan’s case and add your support by visiting the Jesuit Missions website