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NEW DELHI (AP) — The archbishop of New Delhi has waded into Indian politics, urging Catholics to pray for democracy and marginalized people ahead of national elections next year, bringing a quick rebuke from the ruling party.

India is “witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” Archbishop Anil Couto wrote in his May 8 letter, which was sent to all the city’s churches. He included a prayer to be read during Masses that asked “May the ethos of true democracy envelope our elections with dignity.”

The prayer also called for marginalized people to be “brought into the mainstream of nation-building.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Tuesday that he had not seen the letter, but that “India is one of those countries where minorities are safe,” NDTV television reported.

Christians make up just 2 percent of India’s population, which is overwhelmingly Hindu but has a sizable Muslim minority.

Church leaders normally avoid getting too deeply involved in politics, but attacks on minorities have risen since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power in a landslide election victory in 2014.

Modi and his party are hoping for re-election in the 2019 vote.