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

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