Pope Francis has agreed to visit India for the first time since 1999

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Following the failure of discussions for a papal visit to the predominantly Hindu nation in 2017, Pope Francis has accepted an offer from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signalling a turnaround in relations with the Vatican. India’s Roman Catholic population is estimated to be over 20 million, or roughly 1.5 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people. However, Hinduism is practised by around 80% of India’s population.
In 2016, Pope Francis stated that he was “almost certain” of visiting India and Bangladesh.
However, Catholic Church leaders in India could not persuade Mr Modi, who leads a nationalist government, to invite him. Pope John Paul II, the last pontiff to visit India, flew to New Delhi in 1999 to publish a papal declaration on the Church in Asia.
“I had a wonderful encounter with Pope Francis. I got the opportunity to speak with him about a variety of topics and also urged him to visit India “On Saturday, Mr Modi made a statement on Twitter (Oct 30).
The invitation was for the Pope to “visit India at an early date, which was accepted with joy,” according to the Indian Foreign Ministry. The meeting between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Modi, the first between a pope and an Indian prime minister in more than two decades, was not detailed in a Vatican statement. Mr Modi is in Rome for the Group of 20 (G-20) meeting of the world’s wealthiest nations.

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