Towards a Pastoral Plan for the Church in India
Karnataka, February 04, 2013: With a project of “Pastoral Plan for the Church in India”, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), which is the Episcopal Body of the Roman Catholic Latin Rite Church in India, is gearing up for a meaningful celebration of 25 years of its establishment from 5-10 February, 2013. It was established on 22nd April 1988 following the directive of the letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of India on 28th May 1987. The fourth largest Episcopal Body in the world, the CCBI is the largest Episcopal Conference in Asia, put in charge of the Faithful of the Latin Church.
The silver turns even gold because the celebrations have been planned together with the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the declaration of the Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni as a Minor Basilica in 1963. The celebrations acquire importance as the Pope, Benedict the XVI is sending an emissary in the person of Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples. The Silver Jubilee of the CCBI and the Golden Jubilee of the Vailankanni Basilica are to be soleminised at the same solemn Concelebration together with all the Bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio for India Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, on Sunday 10th of February 2013.
The CCBI wishes that the celebration would not only be a historical and a grand type of event but it is an opportune time for aggiornamento with a pastoral plan for the Church in India, which has diverse needs and challenges but also some commonalities. Thus, the 120 shepherds expected, would deliberate on the need of a pastoral plan with priorities and concrete Action plan for a decade or so. It would bring about a Catholic renaissance in the Church in India for the cause of ‘New Evangelization’. The plan is hoped for deepening the faith of the practicing Catholics, inviting the lapsed and proclaiming good news to the non-Christians. It is a great hope in the Year of Faith for the Latin Church in India. And the three sui juris Churches would share their faith, programs of faith and projects of service to make a better India promoting God’s reign in this rich religious land of India.
- fr udumala bala
Andhra Pradesh, April 10, 2012: The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has failed to establish communal harmony in the state as communal violence is taking place at regular interval, said Popular Front of India on Tuesday and alleged that the government seems to have lost control on the police as in most cases of communal violence the police were just mute spectators.
PFI Andhra Pradesh president, Mohammed Arif Ahmed was addressing press conference here along with Social Democratic Party of India’s Andhra president Mr. Reddy Mushtaq Ahmed. They strongly criticized the Congress led Andhra Pradesh State Government.
Fascist communal forces are gradually being strengthened in the state, they said adding: From the serial communal riots of Siddipet (Medak district), Adoni (Kurnool district), Karim Nagar, Sanga Reddy and now Hyderabad we have witnessed two common facts; one is that the police act as mere spectators during the violence and the other is that all the riots were pre planned by the communal fascist forces.
They also alleged that communal riots have erupted after the new DGP assuming office last year. “All these riots took place since Mr. V. Dinesh Reddy became the chief of the State police department. The State government has lost control over the state police department,” they said and expressed their deep concern and anguish at the extensive influence exercised by communal and fascist elements on the police.
The PFI and SDPI leaders put five demands before the state government:
- Necessary measure to establish communal harmony in the state.
- Firm action against the culprits according to the rule of law.
- Clean the state police department from the influence of fascist communal forces.
- Close watch on the activities of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Vahini to stop further communalization of the society.
- Present and pass Communal Targeted Violence Bill, 2011 in the Parliament and implement it immediately.
Mangalore Ursulines complete 125 years
Ursuline Franciscan Sister are celebrating 125 years of their foundation today.
The Mangalore-centric congregation was founded on Easter day on April 10, 1887 by Jesuit Father Urban Stein.
The sisters were early forerunners and pioneers of women empowerment in southern India.
Based on the motto of “‘For the love of God,” the congregation is engaged in multi-ministries, runs educational and vocational centers, orphanages, hostels, homes for the elderly and provides medical support.
Their founder wanted the nuns to educate and care for families and children, especially girls.
The Ursuline now have four provinces across India, a central cell and houses in Europe and Africa.
They run over 128 institutions for education, empowerment of women, care of children and youth, homes for the aged, orphanages, farms and other related services.
Early in his tenure at Rosario Cathedral in Mangalore, Fr Stein had the insight to harness cultured local young womenwho had no serious occupation.
Not long after Fr Stein took charge as the parish priest, he organized a dozen better educated women and motivated them to work among children and women and so in 1887, the “Company of St.Ursula” was founded.
St. Ursula was an early martyr.
Fr. Stein died on October 21, 1888 and the responsibility to carry on the congregation’s work fell upon Mother Nymphaa.
She acquired a piece of land just behind the cathedral and constructed a tile structure in 1901 that is still intact and is known as the Ursuline Franciscan Congregation – Foundation House.
It serves as a meditation and prayer house.
The congregation passed difficult times during the world wars, recession and political turmoil but through prayers and hard work, the nuns survived and grew rapidly.
Karnataka, April 04, 2012: Kindly join us in RUN FOR JESUS organised by Aradana TV Christian Channel on Sat Apr 7th at 7am from Trinity church to St. Marks Church via St. Andrews Church.
Dalits to protest over Ambedkar’s derogatory cartoon
Dalits in Maharashtra have threatened to launch an agitation over depicting B. R. Ambedkar in a “derogatory” manner in one of the school textbooks.
Ramdan Athawale of the Republican Party of India demanded the withdrawal of the political science book of the class XI graders where Ambedkar is shown in a cartoon.
He also demanded resignation of federal Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal under whose aegis the book was cleared.
The textbook is published by National Council of Education Research & Training (NCERT), under the human resources development ministry.
The cartoon, credited to Shankar’s Children’s Book Trust, appears in chapter I, titled “Indian Constitution at Work” in the political science subject.
The chapter in the NCERT book discussed about making of the Indian Constitution after Indian gained independence in 1947.
It also carries a small box item, which according to Athawale, “lampoons” B.R. Ambedkar astride a snail with reins in hand and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru standing behind brandishing a whip.
“Even the content describing the making of constitution is also quite biased. It tries to project B.R. Ambedkar as a mere critic and that the drafts were prepared by several committees formed at the time,” Athawale alleged.
He said that his party has complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sibal but received no reply from them.
“We have never claimed that the entire Constitution was written by Ambedkar, but the fact remains that the final draft was not only cleared by him but also envisaged by him,” he added.
Madhya Pradesh, March 24, 2012: Rashtriya Secular Forum (RSF), held two days meeting at NITTTR Mani Memorial Hall, Bhopal, which roped in forty two Non- Governmental organizations working for Dalits, Women and Minorities. They have decided to fight violence let out against the weaker sections. Isai Mahasangh and People’s Research are the main partners which collaborated with RSF to organize the meeting.
Forum Convener L S Herdenia said, “In the recent times incidents of rapes, violence against Women, Minorities and Dalits have increased in Madhya Pradesh. We have decided to make a core team to take up issues related to them. We have created a helpline to extend support to people who are facing troubles.”
The meeting was addressed by former senior Government officers including Director General of Police SK Dillan, Man Daima IPS, Bageerath Prasad IAS, M N Buch IAS and secular activists, Ram Puniyani, Irfan Engineer, John Antony, Yogesh Diwan, Deepak Butt, representing faith based organization, Fr. Anand Muttungal and Dr. Mubarak presented their views along with them Dalit Rights Activist Adv. Milind, women right activists Sandhya Shaily, Dr. NB Ruhi, Safiya Akhtar etc too spoke on the occasion.
Fr. Anand Muttungal said, “Isai Mahasangh has asked the RSF to organize a state wide conference on the issue of religious conversion and the accusation of forced conversion, we will also be inviting the fundamental organizations too. We will definitely expose the political agenda of these organizations. In Madhya Pradesh fundamental organizations are hand-in-glove with the police to tarnish the image of the Christian community of forced conversion. It is to be noted that they disrupt the prayer meeting and arrest people accusing attempt to convert people into Christianity.”
The organizers said that we have decided to launch a state core committee to monitor and help the organizations working for the rights of minorities, women and Dalits. We have brought them together under one platform. We will also associating many organizations in the coming days.
We will talk to political parties with secular ideologies to come together to face the communal political organizations and their allied organizations. We will also be launching a state wide campaign to make the Central Government to bring the Communal Violence Controlling Bill which was promised in the 2004 elections by the Congress Party. The meeting also decided to hold meetings in all divisional head quarters and district head quarters.
One of the main organizers Deepak Butt said, “Like previous times as the election comes near more violence will be taking place in Madhya Pradesh. We are getting ready to make people aware of the evil designs of communal forces which is against women, dalits and minorities.
It is the first time the secular organizations are coming together under one platform.
- john anthony
Glorious Easter Concerts Services
Glorious is a 65 member choir operating in and around Bangalore for the last 21 years. They have presented over 1000 concerts and have performed all over South India and also by invitation at the National Centre for Performing Arts –Tata Theatre, Mumbai. More than 1000 members have passed through the doors of Glorious who are now scattered across the globe. Glorious is privileged to announce
THE 2012 GLORIOUS EASTER CONCERTS
The Potter’s hand
Holy Saturday, 7th April, 2012, 6.30pm
In St Joseph’s Girls’ High School Hall, St John’s Road, Bangalore
Lead Me To The Rock
Easter Sunday, 8st April, 2012, 6.00pm
In Koramangala Methodist Church
1. A Housing Colony for the NRIs: Belgaum with its salubrious climate and evergreen environment has beautiful landscapes to offer for Christian businessmen wanting to invest in real estate. The lands are still affordable and being on the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka (politics apart!), you can still have best of both states.
2. A housing colony for the poor: Something in line with the corporate social responsibility. I am looking forward someone to help me in a housing colony for the poor in Belgaum. As the city is growing and private space is shrinking, many of the Catholics in Belgaum city are sandwiched in chawls and rented places. On the outskirts lands are still available with accessible routs to the city where I could plan out a colony for the poor.
3. Old vehicles to be used as school buses: As I am a firm believer that all developments comes with good education, we do have good educational institutions in the different towns of our Diocese in Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri etc. But transport and eventual accessibility of these schools to the villagers and rural folks is difficult, unless we have some sort of school bus service. I cannot afford new buses. But if any of our Christian companies are getting rid of their old ones, our Diocese would be a good place for them to find a better purpose.
Bishop of Belgaum
Mangalore diocese hailed for its yeoman contributions to faith and society *Shining edifice of growing faith
Karnataka, February 13, 2012: Nearly 50,000 people, including 25 prelates and 300 priests, took part in the centenary silver jubilee celebrations of Mangalore diocese, known as the Vatican of the east.
Addressing a sea of humanity at the Nehru Maidan Sunday evening, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), lauded the efforts of the diocese for taking up many novel projects.
The cardinal, who is also the Archbishop of Bombay, said that the nation as well as the universe is proud of Mangalore diocese.
Presiding over the programme, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio praised its efforts in starting medical and engineering colleges, educational institutions and other projects for welfare of the needy.
Earlier, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary for Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, a special guest from the Vatican, said that he could testify that Jesus is amidst the huge crowd of people.
Terming the 125 years celebrations as a huge ‘success,’ he said “success is a journey and it’s not a destination.”
Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the state government would provide a sum of 500 million rupees for the welfare of the Christians and promised more later.
Paying rich tributes, Union Minister M Veerappa Moily said “Wherever I go, be it North India or South India, I find a priest working for the poor.”
Earlier, a concelebrated Mass was held.
Archbishop Hon Tai-Fai felicitated 24 bishops and archbishops who had come from different parts of the country to take part in the celebrations. They included Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi who hails from Mangalore.
The diocese has produced 42 bishops and nearly 4,000 priests and religious since its institution.
‘Chaithanyodaya,’ a dance, drama was performed by 300 artistes which introduced the rich history of the diocese to mark the close of the centennial silver jubilee celebrations.
- deccan herald
Shining edifice of growing faith
Karnataka, February 11, 2012: The 125-year old Mangalore diocese is rich in history and faith
From battling legendary emperor Tipu Sultan’s allegations of supporting British colonials in the 18th century to present-day proselytization charges, the Mangalore diocese has weathered many a storm in its 125 years of existence.
Over the years, the diocese has also ushered in many generational changes. As an acknowledgment of its achievements, Vatican officials will be present during the concluding celebrations of its centennial jubilee on Feb 11-12.
The diocese boasts of having sent more than 4,000 laborers into the Lord’s vineyard.
“According to recent diocese survey, more than 4000 priests and nuns of Mangalorean origin serve various dioceses and religious congregations,” said Father Onil D’Souza, director of NGO Canara Organisation of Development and Peace.
Till now 42 of its prelates have served different dioceses in India and abroad.
Present nuncio of Ivory Coast, Archbishop Ambroze Madtha hails from Mangalore’s Belthangady village. Retired nuncio of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Peter Paul Prabhu Pinto as well as Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore-Pakistan hail from Mangalore.
“On September 1, 1886, Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy by virtue of which Mangalore became an independent diocese with Italian Jesuit Maria Pagani being its first bishop,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore Diocese.
“The new diocese brought in the feeling of ‘our own church’ amidst the Catholics giving openings to multilevel growth and opportunities. Priests and nuns established number of primary schools in remote villages,” he added.
In 1982, the diocese adopted Bidar missions near Hyderabad around 900 km from Mangalore. After 23 years , an independent diocese of Gulbarga was also set up.
“St Joseph’s Inter-diocesan Seminary of Mangalore established in 1879 has so far formed 1998 priests,” said Fr Joseph Martis, the Rector.
Four religious congregations for women were originated in Mangalore. The Apostolic Carmel (1870), the 125-year- old Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS), Bethany Sisters (B.S.) (1921) and Helpers of Mount Rosary (1990).
According to Kranti Farias, a socio-historian, St Agnes College established by the AC nuns in 1921 was the first Catholic college exclusively for women.
The diocese of Mangalore runs 35 orphanages, houses for poor children, old age homes, leprosy asylums, dispensaries and the like.
The diocesan NGO has implemented watershed and water harvesting programs besides many others and has been playing the role of a social transforming agent since last 35 years, said Fr D’Souza.
To mark the centenial jubilee celebration, the diocese would sponsor education of poor Christian boys and girls up to the pre-university level, he said.
While the church of Mangalore has been attacked continuously by pro-Hindu fundamentalist groups since 2008, it has also experienced harassment at hands of Muslim emperor Tippu Sultan in 1784.
His soldiers on Ash Wednesday that year held Christians captive in Srirangapattanam, around 270 km from Mangalore.
“The available records point to the history of around 35,000 Christians being taken into captivity,” according to a researcher and historian Fr. Pius Fidelis Pinto.
“Our forefathers have passed through the challenge of captivity and lately we too faced anti-Christian violence. Over the years we have grown in our faith and religious practice. Now the lay people have become co-workers with the priests and the religious in many spheres,” said Sushil Noronha, a Catholic lay leader.
- francis rodrigues
Karnataka, February 08, 2012: Plenary ends with vow to do more for poor, marginalized, environment. Catholic bishops wrapped up their biennial plenary today by pledging to become advocates of the poor and the marginalized.
“The Church will strive to be a voice of the voiceless,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said in a statement at the end of the week-long event held at St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, in Bangalore.
Some 161 bishops and 20 CBCI officials attended the gathering with its theme: “the Church’s role for a better India.”
The bishops said they sensed “in our hearts” the country’s unfulfilled yearning for a better India where globalization had failed millions of “our countrymen” despite bringing “tremendous” economic and technological progress.
They have seen “a betrayal of the poor and marginalized” and have not been able to make the Church “sufficiently sensitive” to human rights violations and atrocities against women, tribal people, dalits and other groups who live in “dehumanizing and oppressive poverty.”
They will encourage their people to resist “unbridled consumerism” by adopting a simpler lifestyle.
The prelates also resolved to “eradicate any vestiges of discrimination and corruption in the Church” to make it more transparent and accountable.
They resolved to make the Church’s network of educational institutions agents of social transformation and create citizens who will serve the country with honesty and integrity.
“To strive for a better India, she herself must become a better India,” the statement read.
The bishops said the plenary has convinced them of the need to protest “not only when our interests are infringed upon, but also when the rights of others are trampled upon.”
They resolved to make the Church’s network of educational institutions agents of social transformation and create a “critical citizenry” that would demand political transparency and good governance.
The Catholic leaders said the Church remains undaunted by recent attacks on its workers and institutions and would continue its work among the poor by enlisting the help of more doctors, lawyers and experts.
It would also engage with like-minded groups and individuals to help the poor benefit from various government welfare schemes.
The bishops said they would also take the lead to resist deforestation, displacement of people and polluting natural resources.
News from Darjeeling Sikkim cri unit
The Diocese of Darjeeling-Sikkim is celebrating its Golden Jubilee Year and various programs are lined up for all round renewal of the Clergy, Religious and Laity. The fist program in this New Year was to celebrate the WORLD DAY FOR CONSECRATED LIFE. The celebration began on 1st February with our first CRI meeting of the New Year attended by 165 Religious Priests, Brothers and Sisters from 5 Men’s and 13 Women’s Congregations at Kenny Hall, St. Joseph’s Convent, Kalimpong. In the meeting we decided each Congregation will choose one of the social evils that beset our society in the hills, namely, Child Labour, Human Trafficking, Migration for work and drug/alcohol abuse. We will evaluate our ministry in these areas in the coming CRI meeting to be held on 8th Sept. at Don Bosco Joti, Kalimpong. In the previous meeting the Bishop had expressed his desire that we take up catechesis in the Diocese. Accordingly representatives from various Congregations were elected to make a Committee which will make an Action Plan within three months and execute it with the help of the Bishop and the catechetical Commission of the Diocese. This will be our Golden Jubilee Gift to the Diocese.
After the lunch, Fr. Jerry Rosario SJ of Madurai Province took over. Jerry is a barefoot theologian, social activist, pastor and writer. From 1.00 P.M. to 6.45 P.M. he kept us spellbound with the theme ‘How Religious can make a difference in the lives of people and be a protestant within the Church. ‘The topic was serious one but he put it across so humorously and with real gusto that all of us were fired up with his zeal and courage. His life was an example par excellence!
The next day, Feb. 2nd, a Power Point Presentation was given regarding all the Congregations working in the Diocese followed by the Blessing of the candles and Mass celebrated by our Bishop Stephen Lepcha along with 56 Religious and Diocesan priests. Lay people from various Parishes too participated in it. After this the Bishop presented each Religious with a memento and 26 Religious Sisters and Fathers were felicitated for their dedicated service to the Diocese.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, Sr. Anna, the Provincial, Sr. Sujan, Vice Provincial, Sr. Francesca, the Convent Superior were our generous and kind hosts who saw to our food and accommodation and also the wonderful decoration of the Hall with the help of Fr. David and Bro. Gabriel from Jesuit Novitiate, Srs. Charlotte and Christina SJC and the beautiful choir comprising of the novices of Cluny and Jesuits Novitiates and Minor Seminarians of John the XXIII, Kalimpong under the guidance of Fr. Joachim Lepcha and Sr. Leonie Lepcha SJC.
- jagdish parmar sj
Karnataka, February 8, 2012: Church’s single largest resource for fulfilling her mission. They need to be empowered for more effectiveness to bring about change. The concerns of the Conference of Religious of India (CRI) were presented by, National Secretary CRI to 160 bishops and 20 CBCI officials attending the February 1-8 plenary in Bangalore that has chosen for its theme: “The Church’s role for a better India”.
Bro. Mani said, “It may be worth noting that there are more than one lakh and twentyfive thousand religious in the country of whom 80% are Sisters.
Recently this relatively silent majority of Sisters have been more and more recognized as the real face of the Indian Church and has come to be appreciated by the Holy Father and other universal church leaders on many occasions.
These women religious break their lives among the poor of this land and have become more and more daring beyond the security of traditional convent life. Respecting their dignity and assuring justice in the context of their commitment is a matter of priority for all church leaders.
The CRI interactions across the country indicate the need to empower a large section of women religious for greater effectiveness in their life and mission. As of now they form the single largest resource of the Church for fulfilling her mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and contribute to a better India.
As we all know, the modern world is powered by the younger generation. Last year the CRI brought together more than 1000 representatives of the young religious of 30-35 years age group, in 12 regions of the country to prepare an agenda and take leadership initiatives for “Consecrated Life 2020”. Consecrated life will be upheld as relevant and dynamic, by these young people, who have decided to create future in spite of the global melt down of vocations.
As we are aware, education is the most visible presence of the Indian Church and as per statistics 80% of these are managed by the religious. The CRI units across the country worked with the CBCI education policy in order to make our presence more effective. The RTE is an opportunity to work with the Government for an inclusive response to the needs of the poor and work on a national agenda in spite of some related problems.
The health sector with about 90% being managed by the women religious is the greatest contribution of the Indian Church.
A silent revolution has been taking place and I would like to reveal some data in this regard. A recent survey carried out by the Secretariat indicates that a total of 39,275 religious, which is 1/3 of the 1,25,000 religious in the country, have moved to the socio-economic sector which is bound to change the face of the Church in due course. It is also worth noting that 1/3 of these, that is 12,142, are professionally qualified, including 434 PHDs and 825 LLBs. The process is also getting strengthened with new structures in the form of institutions and NGOs.
The approach to Social Work has shifted from Charity model to developmental programmes and Right based initiatives. The CRI is in the process of a series of training programmes to speed up the shift to right based involvement among the marginalized. The new organization is called CRISEC. This shift is an opportunity as well as a challenge for leaders of the Congregations.
This year the National CRI has gone in for a national level Consultation on “Good Governance in Religious Congregations”. We are convinced that it is a matter of great priority for the congregations, the Church, as well as society. “A Charter of Good Governance” is being drawn up and the process includes nationwide consultations which are in progress by a national Team.
The CRI-CBCI jointly made a study of Indian Missionaries to other countries which have made India one of the main mission sending countries during the last 30 years. The statistical report indicates the presence of Indian Missionaries in 166 countries. The significant event was carried not only by the Catholic world press but also the national secular press. The national Times of India titled it as “God’s Word, Outsourced from India.”
In addition to a data website, the CRI launched a news website code named CRIB with about 10 thousand email connectivity, in partnership with UCANews. This news website is a small but successful attempt to articulate and communicate the marvels the Lord is doing amidst us. We have been gradually learning the process of gathering and communicating news during the last two years which included training of reporters. Considered as one of the best Catholic electronic services today and looked forward to by many for its weekly mail, the CRI has completely taken over the management from UCAN with effect from December 2011.
The CRI is convinced of the need of the Church to be present effectively in the wider opinion making media. Concrete proposal to initiate a national T.V. Channel for news and current affairs has received the approval and applause of CBCI and CRI, as well as other leaders in the Church.
Our participation in the anti-corruption movement has been specific. We have been promoting a “Corruption Free India Pledge” through all our institutions. There has been good response to the initiative and we are committed to the national movement in this regard. The corruption within the Church has been raised on many occasions but it was always felt that commitment from the top is essential to make it a success.
The Gender issues have been a matter of focus for the CRI since 6 years. In spite of a Gender Policy, tangible results are yet to be found. The CRI has integrated it into the formation of religious. If we succeed a very large number of women religious can become more effective apostles of Christ.
Another important area the CRI has been addressing is the Environmental concern. At the national level initiatives we brought together about 5000 religious and priests across the country in order to create awareness. In addition the regional and local efforts have been bearing fruits. Greening Christian campuses and enriching consecrated life with dimensions of eco-spirituality have been efforts that bore some results.
According to one assessment India has become more Christian in more than one sense. At least the Hindutva groups have taken note of it in that perspective.
As leaders we are aware that Christianity has to be mainstreamed in our country. It may be an opportune time to go beyond the minority complexes and take on the majority with courage and confidence that we can truly become the “conscience of the nation.” Leadership and media are essential dimensions of this thrust.”
Karnataka, February 01, 2012: Call on church leaders to work together for a better future. Cardinal Oswald Gracias today called the Church “the conscience of the nation” during his presidential speech at the opening of the 30th general body meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in Bangalore.
During his speech, he called for the Church as a whole to meditate on what it has done for good and where it has failed. Noting that the CBCI is committed to the welfare of the nation and its people, Cardinal Gracias said “we will dedicate all our energies towards that goal.”
The cardinal, who is also the archbishop of Mumbai, said the growing gap between the rich and poor was one of the biggest challenges facing the nation. He regretted that the opportunities offered in the country were limited to the rich and the prosperous.
Cardinal Gracias expressed the hope that the biennial meeting, which had as its theme “The church’s role for a better India,” will generate enthusiasm and hope among the Christian community. A record 170 bishops and church leaders from different dioceses of the country are attendeding the February 1-8 meeting in Bangalore, called the Vatican of the East.
The proceedings began with Mass of the Holy Spirit led by Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio. He urged the Christian community in the country to work with “single-heartedness” and without expecting honor or profit for a better future for all. In his keynote address, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, called the Christian leaders to be “trustworthy in the household of God and to themselves.”
He reminded the leaders that God has entrusted the people into their hands and it was the responsibility of the leaders not to abuse that trust. Archbishop Albert D’Souza, secretary general of the CBCI, presented the bishops’ report for the year 2010-2011 during the inaugural meeting. The CBCI is an umbrella organization of all the Catholic bishops of India, belonging to the Latin, the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara Rites.
Bishops challenged to offer hope to disillusioned Indians
Karnataka, February 02, 2012: A Jesuit social scientist has challenged Catholic bishops in India to review and revise the Church’s works to help create a better India.
“We need a renewal of our vision and mission to inspire an agenda for action,” Father Rudolf C. Heredia told the 30th biennial meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
Around 170 bishops from India’s 164 dioceses are attending the February 1-8 plenary meeting to address the theme, “The Church’s role for a better India.”
Father Heredia, the keynote speaker, urged the prelates to discern what Christ would do in modern world instead of just repeating what he did in his time.
“A slavish repetition of what was done centuries ago can only mean a dead one,” he warned.
The challenge in India now is to offer hope to millions who seem disillusioned with democracy’s failure to bring justice to the poor and the marginalized.
“A just society no longer seems to be the first priority of our ruling elites, who have been the principal beneficiaries of our first freedom struggle,” said Father Heredia.
According to him, the current social unrest and corruption in India are the outcome of the rulers pursuing in the name of good governance a “hidden agenda of growth” that only benefited them.
So much so, those excluded see no difference between present democracy and the old colonial rule, the Jesuit priest remarked.
Vote-bank politics that encourage exclusive cultural and religious identities now threaten India’s multi-cultural , and pluri-religious society, he warned.
For him, slums, poverty, destitution and farmers’ suicide amid opulence and while venture capitalism prospers are “disgraceful, despairing other side of the slogan “India shining.”
In this context, the Church should give “prophetic witnessing” not individually but through its vast network of institutions as shown by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata and her Missionaries of Charity nuns.
Father Heredia noted that the saintly nun is the second most recognized name after Mahatma Gandhi in India because people of all religions could see hope in what she did for the poor.
He urged the prelates to bring the Church from out of its current positions on the margins to the mainstream and create critical citizenry that would demand justice from the government.
He noted that better organized groups have taken advantage of popular movements in independent India.
The Jesuit social scientist questioned if the bishops are serious about their commitment to integral development of all people or just satisfied with “partisan gains for our institutions and people.”
A 300 strong group of religious came together in Bangalore to proclaim the joy of evangelization which begins with the proclamation of good news to the poor of our country.
A society of love, peace and justice with transcendent communion with God is a situation for which we need to magnify the Lord of the Universe. The Assisi experience of communion in prayer under the leadership of the recent Popes have broken the barriers of religious divide and created a new perception for mankind.
If all Christians see all other people as Jesus saw them Christianity is a reality to be lived than one to be realized.
A vision for the Church of Today and Tomorrow is a relevant topic today and the CRI Bangalore Unit, reflected on the “Joy of Evangelization”
And we came to realize that we need to become a dynamic church be it in our prayer life or in our apostolic life.
We need to move from being pious to spiritual beings; from focusing on professionalism to being missionaries to affirm and uphold the value of human beings as children of God.
We need to rise above being workers in the institutions to being efficiently committed and God experienced religious upholding the values of justice, peace and harmony through enculturation.
Fr. Ronald Cardoza, the Secretary Regional Commission for Proclamation & Evanglization enlightened the Bangalore CRI members as to how they can be catalysts in the evangelizing mission of families.
The testimony of his personal journey and his dynamic presentation increased the zeal, enthusiasm and spirit in Religious on our calling to be the extension of Christ in the given global situation across the world.
He reflected on the two types of evangelization firstly Look Good News/ Look Jesus in every person we are sent to work with: either in the field of health care, education, social and pastoral apostolates. They all yearn and thirst to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Secondly evangelization is not only through our personal encounter but also by our profession of faith that Jesus is Lord in Rm. 10:9-10, that we are saved.
Family being the place of origin of any human being must become the power house to carry out the values of Christ. Therefore it is not enough to be occupied with hundreds of administrative works and say we have no time for people and for family visits. Let Christ become the centre of our being and doing in the missions.
Sr. Clare dsp and her team working at the Archdiocesan Catholic Enquiry Centre, made a creative presentation of joyful evangelization in the form of dance and personal testimonies. She said, lay faithful are giving up their high profile jobs and are coming to be partners in the mission to proclaim Christ to the World.
Ms. Parimala Selvaraj working with Sr. Clare and Ms. Judith Anthony, an engineering Student from the Jesus Youth Movement challenged the religious of our very vocation in following Christ along the way of the Evangelical Counsels. They exhorted the need of the hour to work in collaboration with the evangelizing mission of the church.
Bro. Paulose sg in his presentation exhorted the participants to broaden their vision from merely being Church workers to working for the Kingdom of God. He felt that our narrow agenda often hindered the larger goal of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ for mankind.
He also challenged the religious to see how we can break the barriers between religions after the example of St. Paul who went beyond the Jews, Greeks, Gentiles and even Christians of his time and made a new people. Conversion has acquired a negative connotation and we need to recapture the spirit of it in the newness of the Gospel.
Fr. Dominic Jacob ofm, who is into direct procalmation spoke of the 4 pillars of evangelization – love, trust, faith and faithfulness.
The meeting was held on 11th December 2011 at St. Euphrasias School Hall, Good Shepherd Convent from 9.00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.