Pope Francis has endorsed a Kerala social reformer’s 16-month ‘walk of hope’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir saying it would promote interfaith harmony and ensure “a strong and vibrant future for India.”
A statement from the social reformer and spiritual guide Sri M said the pontiff’s endorsement for the long walk came when he met the Pope during a meeting at the Vatican on Friday.
“Pope Francis mentioned in his Day’s Address that this is the year of mercy, and that every saint has a past and every sinner a future,” the statement quoted him as saying.
“The Pope has consistently spoken for the global cause of interfaith harmony and respect for everyone’s religion in the public sphere. He extended his full encouragement and support for the padayatra.”
Sri M is on a mission to promote peace, hope and harmony from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, walking 7,500km through 11 states with his followers.
“Through his endorsement, the Pope has joined the pantheon of Indian leaders and celebrities who have lent their weight behind the noble mission,” the statement said.
“Sri M has met President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers, besides leaders of various religious and social organisations.”
Flagged off by former federal minister Karan Singh on January 12 last year from Kanyakumari, the mission, launched by Manav Ekta Mission, intends to reach out to 10mn fellow Indians. The padayatra will conclude in Srinagar next month.
It has so far covered 6,450km in 458 days through 10 states and is currently in Pathankot, Punjab. It is expected to arrive in Jammu on April 19.
Accompanied by a diverse assembly of responsible citizens, the padayatra has now visited places of worship of Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Jews, Sikhs and Zoroastrians along the route.
En route, it is also organising Nirahar Satyagrahas - a proclamation against terrorism and communal violence and a call for interfaith dialogue, conflict resolution and prevention of religious clashes.
Born in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram as Mumtaz Ali Khan, Sri M was initiated into spiritualism under the tutelage of Maheshwarnath Baba in the Himalayas at the age 19.
His autobiography, Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master: A Yogi’s Autobiography, is a best-seller.
Spiritual guru Sri M meets the Pope at the Vatican.