Cardinal Gracias Hopeful of Pope’s Visit to India Soon


The Catholic Church in India, at the start of a new decade is surely but steadily moving forward to dialogue with all groups in society, be it Civic bodies, government and non-governmental organisations, thereby creating a peaceful and a harmonious environment for all to live as true citizens of the great land India.


By Verghese V Joseph –

Bengaluru: The Holy Father, Pope Francis, is expected to visit India shortly. This was stated by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) at its 34th Plenary Assembly press conference at St. John’s Medical College in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

To a question posed by Indian Catholic Matters, Cardinal Gracias further stated that they were in discussions with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and had even met the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi on a couple of occasions. The Prime Minister has responded favourably to the suggestion of the Indian Church on inviting the Holy Father. However, the Cardinal declined to give a timeframe as he said this involved quite a bit of protocol between two countries. Nevertheless, he said he was hopeful of the Pope visiting India soon.

During Cardinal Gracia’s visit to Rome last year for the Synod, the Holy Father too had expressed his desire to visit India and had conveyed his greetings to the church in India.

Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) flanked by Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore (left) and Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Vice President -1 and Interim Secretary General, CBCI.

On the recent issues that the church has been facing, the Cardinal said despite being small in percentage with regard to the overall population size in India, “the Catholic church in India is made up of 174 Ecclesiastical jurisdictions, with over 200 active bishops and 64 retired bishops. The church in India believes and is actively involved in nation building.”

“Today the church runs over 54,000 educational institutions which impart education to nearly 6 crore children and youth; and over 20,000 hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, and other healthcare centres. It is also involved in disaster and calamity relief as well as social service work and assistance to poor in the very remote areas of the country through the services of over 60,000 priests; 90,000 sisters and thousands of laymen and women,” he added.

The Catholic Church in India, at the start of a new decade is surely but steadily moving forward to dialogue with all groups in society, be it Civic bodies, government and non-governmental organisations, thereby creating a peaceful and a harmonious environment for all to live as true citizens of the great land India.

In this context, Cardinal Gracias said as people of God, “We are called to the light of the word and be the salt of the earth.”

Speaking about the Plenary Session, Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Vice President -1 and Interim Secretary General, CBCI said, “The week-long deliberations will dwell on building bridges with dialogue, first by understanding the other person and then walking along with him/her, irrespective of caste, creed or colour”. The theme of the conference is Dialogues: The Path to Truth and Charity.

Assuring all citizens of India, Bishop Joshua said, “The Catholic Church in India continues to live the gospel values of peace, joy and harmony and work for the whole human fraternity”.

Also present at the Presser were Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, and Member of the CBCI Standing Committee and Rev Monsignor S Jayanathan and Fr Jervis D’Souza, Deputy Secretary General, CBCI.

On the question of CAA, Archbishop Peter mentioned that church had been voicing its concern whenever the need arose. He also mentioned that in this context, Goan Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao too had recently spoken on the current situation in India due to CAA, NRC and NPR issues.

In this context, Cardinal also highlighted that “Christianity is an inclusive religion based on compassion, justice, equality and peace; Jesus teaches us that no one, particularly the poor and the marginalised, the minorities and other vulnerable groups, should be excluded in any way. Every human being is created in the image of God and is endowed with dignity, equality and other rights which belong to all citizens. These are universal values which clearly resonate in almost every religion as well as in the Constitution of India.”

Indian Catholic Matters

Pope’s message for the World Day of Social Communications


Great meaningful message from Pope Francis for the Communicators of the world !

Fr. Cedric Prakash


“That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) Life becomes history

I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together. Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.

1. Weaving stories

Human beings are storytellers. From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not always realize it. Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own. Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.

We are not just the only beings who need clothing to cover our vulnerability (cf. Gen 3: 21); we are also the only ones who need to be “clothed” with stories to protect our lives. We weave not only clothing, but also stories: indeed, the human capacity to “weave” (Latin texere) gives us not only the word textile but also text. The stories of different ages all have a common “loom”: the thread of their narrative involves “heroes”, including everyday heroes, who in following a dream confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous, the force of love. By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.

Human beings are storytellers because we are engaged in a process of constant growth, discovering ourselves and becoming enriched in the tapestry of the days of our life. Yet since the very beginning, our story has been threatened: evil snakes its way through history.

2. Not all stories are good stories

“When you eat of it … you will be like God” (cf. Gen 3:4): the temptation of the serpent introduces into the fabric of history a knot difficult to undo. “If you possess, you will become, you will achieve…” This is the message whispered by those who even today use storytelling for purposes of exploitation. How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume. We may not even realize how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming. Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society. By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity.

But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.

In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.

3. The Story of stories

Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories. How many events, peoples and individuals it sets before us! It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator. Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence (cf. Gen 1). As narrator, God calls things into life, culminating in the creation of man and woman as his free dialogue partners, who make history alongside him. In one of the Psalms, the creature tells the creator: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made

… My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (139:13-15). We are not born complete, but need to be constantly “woven”, “knitted together”. Life is given to us as an invitation to continue to weave the “wonderful” mystery that we are.

The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity. At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God. Henceforth, in every generation, men and women are called to recount and commit to memory the most significant episodes of this Story of stories, those that best communicate its meaning.

The title of this year’s Message is drawn from the Book of Exodus, a primordial biblical story in which God intervenes in the history of his people. When the enslaved children of Israel cry out to Him, God listens and remembers: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew” (Ex 2: 24-25). God’s memory brings liberation from oppression through a series of signs and wonders. The Lord then reveals to Moses the meaning of all these signs: “that you may tell in the hearing of your children and grandchildren… what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:2). The Exodus experience teaches us that knowledge of the Lord is handed down from generation to generation mainly by telling the story of how he continues to make himself present. The God of life communicates with us through the story of life.

Jesus spoke of God not with abstract concepts, but with parables, brief stories taken from everyday life. At this point life becomes story and then, for the listener, story becomes life: the story becomes part of the life of those who listen to it, and it changes them.

The Gospels are also stories, and not by chance. While they tell us about Jesus, they are “performative”[1]; they conform us to Jesus. The Gospel asks the reader to share in the same faith in order to share in the same life. The Gospel of John tells us that the quintessential storyteller – the Word – himself becomes the story: “God’s only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (Jn 1: 18). The original verb, exegésato, can be translated both as “revealed” and “recounted”. God has become personally woven into our humanity, and so has given us a new way of weaving our stories.

4. An ever renewed story

The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry. Since God became story, every human story is, in a certain sense, a divine story. In the history of every person, the Father sees again the story of his Son who came down to earth. Every human story has an irrepressible dignity. Consequently, humanity deserves stories that are worthy of it, worthy of that dizzying and fascinating height to which Jesus elevated it.

“You” – Saint Paul wrote – “are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3). The Holy Spirit, the love of God, writes within us. And as he writes within us, he establishes goodness in us and constantly reminds us of it. Indeed, to “re-mind” means to bring to mind, to “write” on the heart. By the power of the Holy Spirit, every story, even the most forgotten one, even the one that seems to be written with the most crooked lines, can become inspired, can be reborn as a masterpiece, and become an appendix to the Gospel. Like the Confessions of Augustine. Like A Pilgrim’s Journey of Ignatius. Like The Story of a Soul of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Like The Betrothed, like The Brothers Karamazov. Like countless other stories, which have admirably scripted the encounter between God’s freedom and that of man. Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium.

5. A story that renews us

Our own story becomes part of every great story. As we read the Scriptures, the stories of the saints, and also those texts that have shed light on the human heart and its beauty, the Holy Spirit is free to write in our hearts, reviving our memory of what we are in God’s eyes. When we remember the love that created and saved us, when we make love a part of our daily stories, when we weave the tapestry of our days with mercy, we are turning another page. We no longer remain tied to regrets and sadness, bound to an unhealthy memory that burdens our hearts; rather, by opening ourselves to others, we open ourselves to the same vision of the great storyteller. Telling God our story is never useless: even if the record of events remains the same, the meaning and perspective are always changing. To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives. With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears. How much we, all of us, need to do exactly this!

With the gaze of the great storyteller – the only one who has the ultimate point of view – we can then approach the other characters, our brothers and sisters, who are with us as actors in today’s story. For no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change. Even when we tell of evil, we can learn to leave room for redemption; in the midst of evil, we can also recognize the working of goodness and give it space.

So it is not a matter of simply telling stories as such, or of advertising ourselves, but rather of remembering who and what we are in God’s eyes, bearing witness to what the Spirit writes in our hearts and revealing to everyone that his or her story contains marvellous things. In order to do this, let us entrust ourselves to a woman who knit together in her womb the humanity of God and, the Gospel tells us, wove together the events of her life. For the Virgin Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2: 19). Let us ask for help from her, who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love:

O Mary, woman and mother, you wove the divine Word in your womb, you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God. Listen to our stories, hold them in your heart and make your own the stories that no one wants to hear. Teach us to recognize the good thread that runs through history. Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyze our memory. By your gentle hands, every knot can be untied. Woman of the Spirit, mother of trust, inspire us too. Help us build stories of peace, stories that point to the future. And show us the way to live them together.

Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2020, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales



Courtesy: Rome Reports

Hindu opposition stalls India’s tallest Christ statue

Hindu groups say donated hilltop land is their god’s abode and Christians cannot use it.

Hindu opposition stalls India's tallest Christ statueThe Christ the King statue in western Poland is the tallest statue of Jesus in the world. (Photo: Pixabay)

ucanews reporter, Karnataka
January 8, 2020

Opposition from Hindu groups has forced the Archdiocese of Bangalore to halt a project to erect what is billed as India’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ on a hilltop in Karnataka state.
The southern state’s government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked for work to be suspended until a government probe establishes the ownership of the land, church officials told ucanews on Jan. 7.
The problem began after Hindu groups challenged the archdiocese’s ownership of the 10-acre land plot on the Kapalabetta hilltop in Ramanagara district, where work began last week on the gigantic 30-meter statue.
Former state minister and Congress party leader D.K. Shivakumar donated the land to a Catholic trust working under the archdiocese last month, said Father Cyril Victor Joseph, chairman of the archdiocesan media commission.
Shivakumar, a Hindu, also inaugurated on Dec. 25 the work to erect what he called India’s tallest Jesus statue on the land he donated.
The world’s tallest Christ statue, the Christ the King statue completed in 2010, stands 33 meters high in western Poland.
Hindu groups began to oppose the Karnataka project, saying the hilltop was the abode of their deity Kapali Betta and Christians could not install the statue there.
Girish Bharadwaj, a social activist, also petitioned district authorities to probe how the politician owned the land. The petition said land records available online show it as grazing land belonging to the state.
Father Joseph said the state government agreed to intervene after Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore met Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Jan. 5 seeking his help.
The government has asked officials to study the issue and submit a report to clear up the ownership confusion. “Until then, we are asked to wait,” the priest said.
Father Joseph said it was an unnecessary controversy because the hilltop was in the possession of the Church for decades.
“We used the same land for decades and conducted the Way of the Cross during Good Fridays,” said Father Joseph. “A cross was there, and we wanted to replace it with a statue of Jesus after the land was donated to us.”
Father Joseph said Christians have been living in the area since 1906 when French missionaries of the Paris Foreign Missions Society began work.
Harobele village in the foothills of Kapalabetta is now considered a Christian stronghold, the priest said.
Misleading media coverage had led to the current dispute, he added.

Pope defends migrants, calls for global peace

In his Christmas Day message, Francis says change starts in hearts
of individuals; singles out religious persecution


Pope Francis waves during his Christmas Day message

Pope Francis urged the world to let the light of Christmas pierce the “darkness in human hearts” that leads to religious persecution, social injustice, armed conflicts and fear of migrants.
In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message, the 83-year-old pope called for peace in the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine and several African
countries caught up in conflicts.
The common thread of his address to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square and millions watching or listening around the world was that change starts in the hearts of individuals.
“There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still,” Francis said, as he marked the seventh Christmas of his pontificate.
“There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ,” he
Francis singled out the persecution of Christians by militant groups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, asking God to console those who suffer for their faith.
On December 1, at least 14 people were shot dead in an attack on a church in eastern Burkina Faso, where an Islamist insurgency has ignited ethnic and religious tensions.


Francis, who has been scorned by populist politicians because of his defence of refugees and migrants, dedicated a section of his address to their plight. “It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas
that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps,” Francis said.
This month, Francis called for the closing of migrant detention camps in Libya. “It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference,” he said.
Francis said that while there were many huge problems in the world, people did not have to look far to correct injustices. They could make a difference in their own communities as a start to healing all the
“suffering members of our human family”.

“May (God) soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love. May
he bring his smile, through our poor faces, to all the children of the world: to those who are abandoned
and those who suffer violence,” Francis said.


12/26/2019 Pope defends migrants, calls for global peace – Mumbai Mirror, 12/26/2019



December 20, 2019 at 1:39 pm | By NICOLE WINFIELD


Vatican tribunal now overwhelmed by clergy abuse cases


VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints saw a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year — and still some regions that haven’t reported any allegations at all.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is today overwhelmed, struggling with a skeleton staff that hasn’t grown at pace to meet the four-fold increase in the number of cases arriving in 2019 compared to a decade ago.

“We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” said Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the congregation’s discipline section, which processes the cases.

He was referring to allegations of abuse that occurred for the most part years or decades ago. Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland have joined the U.S. among the countries with the most cases arriving at the congregation, known as the CDF.

Kennedy spoke to The Associated Press and allowed an AP photographer and video journalists into the CDF’s inner chambers — the first time in the tribunal’s history that visual news media have been given access. Even the Vatican’s most secretive institution now feels the need to show some transparency as the church hierarchy seeks to rebuild trust with rank-and-file Catholics who have grown disillusioned with decades of clergy abuse and cover-up.

Pope Francis took his own step toward greater transparency with his decision this week to abolish the so-called “pontifical secret” that governs abuse cases. In making the announcement, the Vatican said the reform would facilitate cooperation with civil law enforcement.

The Vatican’s explanation was striking, given that it amounted to an explicit admission that bishops had used the pontifical secret in the past as an excuse to refuse cooperation with criminal subpoenas and civil litigation.

But the CDF’s struggles remain, and are emblematic of the overall dysfunction of the church’s in-house legal system, which relies on bishops and religious superiors, some with no legal experience or qualified canon lawyers on staff.

As a result, the Vatican finds itself still struggling to reckon with a scourge that first erupted publicly in Ireland and Australia in the 1990s, the U.S. in 2002, parts of Europe beginning in 2010 and Latin America last year.

The CDF serves as the central processing center for abuse cases as well as an appeals court for accused priests under the church’s canon law, a parallel legal system that dispenses ecclesial justice.

In the past, when the CDF was known as the Holy Office or the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition, such church punishments involved burnings at the stake for heretics and publishing lists of banned books.

Today, CDF justice tends more toward ordering errant priests to prayer, penance and prohibition from celebrating Mass in public. In fact the worst punishment handed down by the church’s canon law, even for serial child rapists, is essentially being fired, or dismissed from the clerical state.

The CDF under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) persuaded St. John Paul II to centralize the process in 2001, given bishops were failing to punish predator priests and were instead moving them around from parish to parish, where they could abuse again.

The 2001 revision calls for bishops and religious superiors who receive an allegation to conduct a preliminary investigation, which in the U.S. is often done with the help of a lay review board.

If the bishop finds the claim has a semblance of truth, he sends the documentation to the CDF, which tells him how to proceed: via a full-blown canonical trial, a more expedited “administrative” procedure, or something else, including having the CDF itself take over the investigation.

Eventually the bishop or superior reaches a verdict and a sanction, up to and including dismissal from the clerical state, or laicization.

If the priest accepts the penalty, the case ends there. If he appeals, the case comes to the CDF.

The trial appeals are decided in an ivory damask-walled conference room on the first floor of the Palazzo Sant’Uffizio, the CDF headquarters a stones’ throw from St. Peter’s Square.

The room is dominated by a massive wooden crucifix on the wall that faces the square, and, in each corner of the room, a closed-circuit TV camera peering down on CDF staff.

The cameras record the debates on DVDs for the CDF’s own archives and in case the pope ever wants to see what transpired.

It is wretched work, reading through case files filled with text messages of priests grooming their victims, psychological evaluations of pedophiles, and heart-numbing letters from men and women who were violated as children.

The CDF has processed 6,000 abuse cases since 2001, and at one point Francis lamented that it had a backlog of 2,000. But the CDF now must cope with the globalization of the scandal that in 2001 seemed to be largely confined to the English-speaking world.

Today, the CDF counts just 17 officials, with occasional help from other CDF staff, plus top managers. Kennedy said he was planning to bring in Brazilian, Polish and bilingual American canonists to help offset expected departures of current CDF staff and to process cases from countries that are only now beginning to reckon with abuse.

But there are still countries the CDF has never heard from — a scenario that suggests “either that they’re all saints or we don’t know about them yet,” Kennedy told AP.

The implication is that victims are still cowed, and bishops and religious superiors are still covering up. A new Vatican law mandates all abuse and cover-up be reported to church officials, but there is no automatic penalty for failure to comply. And there has never been a review of compliance with the original 2001 law requiring cases be sent to the CDF.

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