Pope’s envoy stresses harmony among India’s religions
Published: 1:40 am, February 6, 2014 Story By: mattersindia.com reporter
Palai: The biennial plenary of India’s Catholic bishops began with Pope Francis’ representative highlighting the Church’s role in fostering harmony among the country’s various religions.
As many as182 bishops representing 167 dioceses and officers of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) have gathered in Palai, Kerala, for the February 4-12 meeting to seek ways how a renewed Church could help renew society in the country.
Opening the 31st CBCI plenary at St. Thomas College grounds on Wednesday, Vatican’s envoy to India Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio said it was important that in a country where people professing different faiths live together in harmony the Church should foster dialogue among various communities.
The apostolic nuncio, who is based in New Delhi, said the Catholic Church in India should play key role in strengthening inter-faith and inter-Church dialogues and stressed the need to ensure that all sections of society benefited from the Church’s ministry.
He recalled that the welfare of the rejected and marginalized was an important mission as enjoined by the Second Vatican Council. The Church should direct its evangelization and apostolic works toward social welfare, he added.
The nuncio also said the Universal Church is calling for profound renewal of individuals as well as the Church.
The entire Church in India should collectively discuss how it has responded to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in the past 50 years, he said.
CBCI president Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop Bombay, who presided over the opening session, agreed that the Church should go to the poor and marginalized when it celebrates the golden jubilee of the spirit of renewal ushered by the Second Vatican Council started by Pope John XXIII.
The prelate, who is among eight cardinals Pope Francis has chosen to advise him on the renewal of the Church, stressed the need for more discussion on the role women in the Church. He also urged Church leaders to adopt simple and inspiring lifestyle.
Kerala’s Finance Minister K M Mani, a Catholic who attended the opening session, said the presence of all bishops from India is a historical moment for Palai, a predominantly Catholic area in India. Missionaries from Palai are found all over the world.
The plenary attended by cardinals, archbishops and bishops from three Indian Catholic rites — Latin, Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara — began with a special Mass led by the nuncio at the college grounds.
In the coming days, the meet would discuss organizational, spiritual and social issues concerning the church and the society at large.
“Renewed Church for a Renewed Society” – Responding to the Call of Vatican II,” is the theme of the plenary assembly. The session will assess critically the influence of Vatican Council in the renewal of the Church. The reports of central offices of CBCI and the reports of different provincial bishops’ councils will also be presented in the meetings. The plenary will also elect new office bearers.