Cardinal Gracias speaks out against ban on homosexuality

Cardinal Gracias says criminalization is wrong.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Episcopal Conference of India, said that the Church has “never considered gay people criminals,” after the Supreme Court of India restored a law banning homosexual acts.

According to reports, Cardinal Gracias, a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on Curial reform, said “the Catholic Church has never been opposed to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals.”

“As Christians, we express our full respect for homosexuals. The Catholic Church is opposed to the legalisation of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse,” Cardinal Gracias said.

India’s Supreme Court overturned a decision taken by the High Court of Delhi in 2009, which had decriminalised homosexual acts. The court said it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue. According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

Source: Catholic Herald



Mumbai Cardinal begins Advent with slum poor



Cardinal Gracias launched the campaign to raise awareness of the needy living in the city.




Dharavi slum in Mumbai.


Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai has launched the Advent Campaign against hunger and disease with a pastoral visit to Dharavi, an area known as Asia’s biggest slum.

“Pope Francis has dedicated his pontificate to economic justice, equality and peace. During his visits to poor communities, he praised the courage of the poor, urging society to receive them with love and compassion,” the cardinal said launching the initiative.

With the theme “struggle for survival– bringing hope to the urban poor,” the campaign to create greater awareness in society towards the poor who live in large urban centres.

The cardinal visited the Dharavi on Nov. 22. The area created in 1880, under British colonialism, now houses some 1 million people of multi-religious and multi-ethnic population. The area enshrines many negative aspects of India: open sewers, piles of garbage everywhere, dirt and crumbling shacks.

Mumbai’s St. Antony’s parish covers Dharavi and within a radius of about 300 metres there are six chapels. Two Christian communities are particular to the parish: Tamils (about 5,000 people) and ethnic koli (about 1,000 people).

Cardinal Gracias visited the parish and six chapels, stopping to pray and to bless all the faithful he met on his journey.



Dharavi Slum ,Mumbai ,Cardinal Gracias ,Advent ,Slum Poor




Archbishop Oswald Gracias of the Bombay Dioces...

Archbishop Oswald Gracias of the Bombay Diocese, India. Image taken by me after the Christmas midnight mass. (Cropped) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Church to let go institutional approach



It was felt during the first convention of the small Christian communities.




(Photo: newsofgoa)


The Indian Church is considering a paradigm shift from an institutional approach to a Church of communion with people following the successful completion of the first national convention of the small Christian communities (SCC).

“This is the beauty of SCCs, as the church is experienced more as a communion than hierarchy. And that is the paradigm shift we want to make from an institution to church of communion,” said Fr. Anthony Fernandes, a Goa diocesan organizing team (GDOT) member.

The event held from Nov. 19 to 21 in Goa brought together the country’s cultural diversity in a unique bonding exercise over faith and other things when a 2,000 outstation delegates participated with about 5,000 local ones.

“Many of the bishops came back with a sense of joy after their personal encounters with people as a result of their visits to the parishes and even parishioners’ homes,” Fr. Fernandes said.

Taking stock of the three-day event, church leaders said the occasion and organization of event was a journey of growth and learning.

Fr Leonardo Souza, GDOT convener, said the presence of Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, CBCI president Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishops and bishops, hundreds of priests and sisters and over 7,000 active lay animators, affirm that SCCs now occupy a central place for a new way of being the Church and that the Church in India intends to promote SCCs as home and school of communion for the 21st century.

It was also a rich cultural interaction as the guests stayed with Goan families and enjoyed their hospitality.

Church leaders said an event of this magnitude with representatives from 140 dioceses from the length and breadth of the country was held for the first time.

“Goa had the privilege of hosting it and it is a big achievement in itself that we were up to the mark,” Fernandes said.

“We carry with us happy memories of gathering all over Goa, celebrating the Eucharist joyfully with people, visiting families, participating in the gospel sharing and exchange of experiences and partaking of a meal with them,” Fr. Souza said.

National services team (NST), which was responsible for the organization of the event, has expressed satisfaction after a post-event evaluation.

“We will have a similar program soon at the regional level,” said NST secretary Fr. Vijay Thomas.

Source: Times of India


Indian Church ,Small Christian Community ,Panaji , Institutional Approach 



English: Alcove with crucifix in Portuguese co...

English: Alcove with crucifix in Portuguese colonial church, Panaji (Panjim), Goa, India. July 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



SCCs can transform society: Cardinal Gracias

The SCCs have the power to transform the Church from an inward looking community to an outreaching Church, he said.

Old Goa:

Cardinal Oswald Gracias has said that living a life of love is an authentic living of Christian faith and small Christian communities leading a genuine life can bring about society’s transformation.

“The SCCs have the power to transform the Church from an inward looking community to an outreaching church through a life of love,” Cardinal Gracias said while delivering the homily during the Eucharistic celebration on Nov. 21 outside the Basilica of Bom Jesus.

The celebration also marked the conclusion of the first national convention of small Christian communities (SCCs).

The third-day program shifted back to Old Goa after 2,000 outstation delegates, including bishops, priests and the laity held a day-long interaction with local parishioners at the deanery and parish level in Goa.

The cardinal, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said SCCs are the primary locus and means of national integration, ushering in truth, honesty, justice, human rights and dignity, good governance, eco-care and eco-justice in society.

The event that brought to a close the Year of Faith for the Church in India saw the faithful from different parishes come in a rally and join the delegates during the closing function.

While acknowledging the Church’s contribution in the fields of education, healthcare and social service, Bishop Thomas Dabre, president of the National Service Team for SCC, challenged the faithful and the leadership to offer resources to the Church for the service of society.

Source: times of india

SCC , Small Christian Communities , Cardinal Oswald Gracias 


Indian politics and the princes of the Church: By John Dayal

Christians question the right of “politically naive” bishops to speak for them.

English: Indian National Congress Party Presid...

English: Indian National Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to her residence in New Delhi, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By John Dayal
New Delhi: 

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, head of India’s bishops’ conference [CBCI] and a member of the council of cardinals instituted by Pope Francis in April to advise him on Church reform and governance, this week met with Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi.

It is not the first time a Catholic archbishop has met the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance which rules India.

All four Indian cardinals have met her at one time or the other in courtesy calls, or to bring to her notice some Church issue they thought important enough for government action.

They of course also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ministers sometimes.

Other bishops routinely meet chief ministers such as J Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu or Sheila Dikshit of Delhi, again for mundane local issues, or to urge them to set right some irritant hindering the functioning of a school, or to press the cause of some aspirant to political or administrative office.

In some states, Christian ministers routinely call on bishops for support when elections come around. These are presumed to be natural functions of a Church head, or of a diocese in the service of the people.

Heads of other religions also call on Gandhi and Singh and meet the heads of other political parties in a similar vein, so there is nothing unusual in the ‘princes of the Church’ contacting rulers of the realm. In fact, some other religious heads are blatantly political, or are political functionaries themselves, unlike in Christian churches.

But what drew attention in Indian newspapers, political circles and social media regarding Gracias’ meeting was the CBCI note which said the cardinal “appreciated the key role played by Sonia Gandhi” in getting the Food Security Bill passed into law by parliament.

Cardinal Gracias also discussed certain clauses in the Right to Education Act and some sections of the proposed National Land Reform Policy. No details were given, but the CBCI quoted Gracias saying, that the “Catholic Church will wholeheartedly support all efforts of the government, aimed at the welfare of the poor and the downtrodden.”

With general elections due any time before May 2014, and several state legislatures up for grabs in November and December, election fever is slowly gripping the country.

There are some who interpret the cardinal’s visit and remarks as pledging support to the Congress Party. More so since the popular view is that Christians have always supported it.

This is not entirely a myth, for the Congress is seen by Christians as among the few political groups that swear by secularism and is not wedded to one religion.

The Communist parties are also secular, but Christian leaders have been suspicious of them ever since the 1950s when Kerala’s first Communist government sought to meddle in the management of Church-owned educational institutions.

The controversy comes when lay voices challenge the right of the bishops and heads of churches – of all denominations – to speak on behalf of Christians on issues which are entirely temporal, and in fact political, and therefore within the rights of lay men and women. And specially when their words seem entirely partisan and commit the entire Christian community to a course of political action which may not, be desirable in the long run.

It does not help that the religious leadership is also seen as being politically naive.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains an anathema to Christians and Muslims across the country – despite the fact that in Goa some Catholics voted the local BJP into power because they had tired of a very corrupt local Congress leadership.

In Gujarat and Delhi, some Christians are now warming up to the BJP, saying that the party could shed its Hindu-centric agenda once it is in power.

There are other political alternatives with a secular and pro-poor agenda. But while church leaders want to tell political parties that they represent and speak for their communities, hardly anyone has ever taken any steps to educate and train their laity in political processes, ideologies and grassroots mobilization.

The result is that barring a few states, Christians are almost absent from local political processes. There is gross under representation in village, block, district and state elected administrative structures.

Gandhi would perhaps be better served if she talks with ordinary Christians in villages and towns. Then she will be really aware of the plight of tribal women, the anger


Source: UCAN News


Card. Gracias meets Sonia Gandhi : Let’s work together to protect all Indians
by Nirmala Carvalho


The Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops’ Conference (CBCI ) , tells AsiaNews : “A meeting not to ask for special favors , but to discuss social justice for all .” Gandhi : “I appreciate the services rendered by the Catholic community to society.”


Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Religious freedom for all minorities, equal rights for Dalit Christians and Muslims, the controversial Food Security Bill : these are some of the themes that Card. Oswald Gracias , archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI ) , discussed in person with Sonia Gandhi , President of the United Progressive Alliance ( UPA ) , the ruling coalition in India. Speaking to AsiaNews, the prelate explained that the meeting which took place on 16 October, “was an opportunity not to ask for special favors, but only justice, equality and protection for all citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution of our country.”

The cardinal congratulated the President of UPA for the approval of the Food Security Bill, defining the decree – which provides for the distribution of low-cost food for 800 million poor people – as “a giant step towards the government’s care for the needy and the oppressed”. Gandhi assured the Archbishop that “the concerns raised will be seriously addressed” and said they appreciated “the services rendered by the Catholic community in many fields, particularly education and health care”.

The cardinal told AsiaNews that he would like to “meet all parties in the country,” demonstrating that “the Church does not seek privileges , but only wants to exercise our rights under the Constitution. India is the largest secular democracy in the world, the Constitution guarantees basic human rights to all peoples. As Christians we are an integral part of Indian society. ”

In the country the Christian community represents 2.3 % of the population. However, stresses the CBCI President, “for hundreds of years the Church has tirelessly dedicated itself to building this nation. It has made ​​a great contribution to the general welfare of society, without ever discriminating against caste or creed, and has never intervened in matters not concerning us.  Our only request is to be able to work and live freely, according to the rights enshrined in the Constitution. And these include the right to practice our religion. ”


Source: AsiaNews

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