The Catholic Church greeted Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday on his election as the 13th President of the country.
Mukherjee, 76, today was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of India Sarosh Homi Kapadia at a ceremony in the historic Central Hall of Parliament.
Greeting Mukherjee, the head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) Cardinal Oswald Gracias said the President has impressive political "leadership qualities" and a great "interest" in the good of the country.
The Cardinal called for renewed cooperation between the government and the Catholic Church in its service for the poor and marginalised.
"We welcome the election of Pranab Mukherjee as the 13th President of India and on behalf of the Church in India we offer him our warmest congratulations and we pray for God’s blessings on the President and on our beloved country," Cardinal Cracias said.
He assured the new President the commitment of the Catholic Church towards nation building.
"The Catholic Church in India has always addressed the causes of poverty throughout the country," he said.
He recalled the Church’s service particularly in the field of education and health care. Nearly 60% of the Catholic schools are situated in rural areas, he pointed out.
Cardinal Oswald reminded that the Church's social welfare mission promotes empowerment of women and girl child and youth to ensure that the poor and the marginalised lived a life of dignity.
Mukherjee, who began his career from the Indian National Congress, was today escorted to the presidential palace by the horse-borne President's Bodyguard.
Among those at the swearing-in ceremony was Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and a host of dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering in the Central Hall, Mukherjee said he was deeply moved by the high honour.
"The principal responsibility of this office is to function as the guardian of our Constitution. I will strive, as I said on oath, to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution not just in word but also in spirit," Mukherjee said in his acceptance speech.
The veteran Congress leader said he envisaged an India "where unity of purpose propels the common good" and "where Centre and State are driven by the single vision of good governance."
"Where every revolution is green; where democracy is not merely the right to vote once in five years but to speak always in the citizen's interest; where knowledge becomes wisdom; where the young pour their phenomenal energy and talent into the collective cause."
Mukherjee said in his view education was the "alchemy that can bring India its next golden age".
"Our oldest scriptures laid the framework of society around the pillars of knowledge; our challenge is to convert knowledge into a democratic force by taking it into every corner of our country. Our motto is unambiguous: All for knowledge, and knowledge for all," he said.
Mukherjee, who was the UPA's candidate for the presidential poll, won the presidential election comfortably with 69.31 per cent votes.
Catholic Church greets new President P Mukherjee
By: John Malhotra
Wednesday, 25 July 2012, 17:42 (IST)
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