Friday, February 14, 2014

Catholic Bishops Conference pledges to fight for poor

Catholic Bishops Conference pledges to fight for poorThe Catholic Bishops Conference of India has vowed to fight against injustice and for the marginalised in society. 

At its 31st Plenary Assembly in Palai in the southern state of Kerala, it said, "The Church, following in the footsteps of Christ, cannot close its eyes to the suffering and injustice that penalize the poor, marginalized and excluded."

Inaugurating the 9-day meet on February 4, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio stressed the importance of the renewal of the Church as "a sure path towards greater fidelity to Christ and the Gospel". 

Citing Pope Francis, the Nuncio said, "Renewal of the Church cannot be postponed. Every renewal leads the Church to recognize and rediscover its missionary vocation".

CBCI president Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay said that Vatican Council II was, “the source for renewal of the Church and society in India", and in this process, "we must remain faithful to Christ". The Cardinal quoted Pope John XXIII’s exhortation at the Vatican Council, "Be holy in what you do, so that you can lead the faithful to holiness".

Archbishop D'Souza presented CBCI’s biennial report focusing on Interreligious Dialogue in favour of the poor. "Interreligious dialogue is essential to achieve the evangelizing mission of the Church. Christ is asking us to open our hearts to others and walk with them as fellow travellers," he said.

Challenges the church in India faces – the role of women in the Church and society, equal opportunities and access to education, preferential option for poor, Church’s presence and witness in society and politics – will be discussed during the meeting that ends on February 12.

CBCI Secretary-General Archbishop Albert D'Souza of Agra said that 185 prelates, including archbishops, bishops and directors of national centres of the Episcopal Conference were participating, making it the largest plenary in the history of the Indian episcopate that includes bishops of the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites. 

With 167 dioceses, India is the fourth largest Conference of Bishops in size.