OL of FATIMA Shrine, Karjat; in International Media;

Our Lady of Fatima shrine in India serves disadvantaged tribes
Pilgrims queue up to pray at Our Lady of Fatima shrine in Karjat, India. Credit: Antonio Gonsalves/CNA.

Pilgrims queue up to pray at Our Lady of Fatima shrine in Karjat, India. Credit: Antonio Gonsalves/CNA.
By Antonio Anup Gonsalves

.– A parish and         shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima in the Archdiocese of Bombay draws         thousands of pilgrims regularly, and serves the scheduled tribes who live in Raigad district of India, outside of Mumbai.

“The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima – Karjat stands as a beacon of unity and peace, where springs a spiritual oasis through Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, novenas, and the rosary,” Fr. Calistus Fernandes, rector of the shrine, told CNA Nov. 5.

The shrine is located in the city of Karjat, located nearly 40 miles southeast of Mumbai in Maharashtra state. It’s district is home to several scheduled tribes – historically disadvantage peoples in India, like the scheduled castes, or dalits – including the Katkari, Mahadev, Koli, and Thakur.

It now largely serves the Katkari, a vulnerable, nomadic tribal group. The parish has 45 indigenous families, and has social development programs and capacity building, focused on education in partnership with religious congregations in the area.

Fr. Fernandes underlined that indigenization and inculturation of liturgy, and the message of Fatima communicated in vernacular languages, has “fostered participation and faith building.”

“Our Lady of Fatima Church at Karjat was the first to be named and dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, not only in India, but in all of Asia,” Fr. Fernandes said.

It is home to a statue of the apparition which was brought from Portugal in 1920, even before it was granted formal recognition by the Holy See in 1930.

The statue was first venerated at the Railways Station Masters office, but in 1935 a small church was built to house it.
The shrine concluded its 79th annual pilgrimage Oct. 19, the Sunday following Our Lady of Fatima’s feast, focusing on “Mary, Woman of the Eucharist.”

The theme resonated with the Bombay archdiocese’s year of the Eucharist, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of a Eucharistic congress which was attended by Bl. Paul VI.

Explaining the importance of the theme, Fr. Fernandes said Mary’s pondering on the message of St. Gabriel was a “pondering on the Eucharist” that enabled her to become the first tabernacle.

“Secondly, Mary lived the Eucharist and she shared the Eucharist,” Fr. Fernandes added. “So after our celebration of Mass … we have to live and share the Eucharist.”

Despite the shrine’s relative remoteness, people flock in large numbers to venerate and honor Our Lady of Fatima, which raises queries among locals of other religions: “Why and what attracts people to this small shrine,  with miracles and votive thanksgiving?”

“This creates an opportunity for interreligious dialogue,” Fr. Fernandes said, “and clearing ideas of relativism, or falling into traps of syncretism and false propaganda.”

In Maharashtra, 82 percent of the population is Hindu, and 13 percent is Muslim. Catholics in the Archdiocese of Bombay are less than three percent of the total population.

The parish is gearing up for the upcoming centenary celebrations of the Fatima apparition, which will occur in 2017.

With the influx of pilgrim visits and the number of graces received, the Bombay   archdiocese is considering raising the parish’s status to that of archdiocesan shrine.

   Tags: Mumbai, Archdiocese of Bombay, Scheduled tribes


Pope Francis reveals he sacked Church official for selling annulments


Says rulings on annulments should be easier, quicker and cheaper.

Vatican City:Pope Francis revealed Wednesday that he had sacked a church court official who had been caught offering to facilitate marriage annulments for cash.

The revelation came in candid remarks to students attending a course at the Roman Rota tribunal, the equivalent of the Supreme Court for canon law, the body of Church rules.

Telling his audience that he wanted decisions on annulments to be easier, quicker and cheaper to obtain for ordinary people, the pontiff made it clear he regards the current system as deeply flawed.

“We have to be very careful that the procedure does not become a kind of business — and I am not talking about something we know nothing about,” the 78-year-old pope said.

“There have been public scandals. Some time ago, I had to dismiss from a tribunal someone who was saying ‘for 10,000 dollars I will do both the civil and the ecclesiastical procedure’.”

Francis did not provide any further details of the episode, but a Vatican spokesman said told AFP that he understood the pontiff to have been referring to an episode which occurred prior to him becoming pope last year.

The conditions under which a marriage can be annulled — effectively declared to have never existed — have been a vexed issue for the Church for centuries.

Most notably, the question triggered the 16th Century clash with King Henry VIII that led to the English reformation and the creation of the Church of England.

In recent times, many critics have voiced concern that annulment appears to be more readily available to the wealthy — a view likely to be reinforced by Francis’s remarks on Wednesday.

Calls for the process to be streamlined were discussed at a recent Vatican synod of bishops on the family and Francis said he supported reform on the grounds of “justice and also charity”.

Citing his home city of Buenos Aires as an example, he said it was not right that parishioners had to take unpaid days off work and travel up to 240 kilometers to attend church court hearings, and then wait years before getting an answer to requests for annulment.

“The mother Church has enough generosity to provide justice freely, as we have been freely justified by Jesus Christ,” he said. “The Church must be able to say, ‘Yes, your marriage is void, or ‘No, it is valid.”

As things stand, most annulment requests are dealt with by lower church courts with the consent of two hearings required for an annulment to be granted.

The Roman Rota rules in cases where the two courts disagree or are unable to reach a decision and is charged with ensuring that decision-making on the issue is subject to coherent jurisprudence across the world.

Francis has made a crackdown on corruption within the church one of the dominant themes of his papacy, initiating a shake-up of both the Vatican bureaucracy and its bank in a bid to stem the damage caused by a string of scandals in recent years.

Source: AFP/UCAN

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