Bangalore: The Catholic bishops in India want to overcome divisions among the churches and promote mutual relations, friendships and collaborations.
In a March 9 statement issued at the end of the 32nd plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) the 178 bishops acknowledged the Second Vatican Council’s stand that “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns.”
Quoting a Vatican document as saying that, “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only…However, many Christians …differ in mind and go their different ways,” the CBCI called for taking initiatives to foster better cooperation and dialogue and common ecumenical initiatives.”
The assembly has recommended creation of ecumenical bodies such as inter-Church councils and united Christian groups at regional and national levels.
It also wants dialogues with ecumenical groups on issues affecting the people and efforts for training seminarians, priests and lay people in ecumenism, which it termed as “the need of the hour.”
The bishops also proposed reaching out and initiating conversations with fundamentalist groups and sects, and promoting spiritual ecumenism through common prayers, common ecumenical bibles and sharing of spiritual resources.
On the subject of interreligious dialogue, the CBCI assembly expressed the view that formation programs on this “urgent priority’’ must be introduced in seminaries and formation houses, and also as a subject in school catechism classes.
It was also recommended to promote the dialogue though Small Christian Communities spread across the country.
Office for dialogue and desk for ecumenism are part of the 14 offices (formerly commissions) of the CBCI, based in New Delhi.
Addressing a press conference on the last day of the eight-day assembly, Monsignor Joseph Chinnayan, deputy secretary general of the CBCI, said the assembly has decided to add one more commission which will look into concerns of tribals.
He also mentioned that in the coming years all the dioceses in India will have special programs focusing on the poor.
Referring to the issue of environmental protection, the CBCI assembly called on the dioceses and parishes in India to draw up a green policy for implementation.
Among the practical guidelines suggested by the Church body are use of solar energy, bio-gas plants and promotion of rain water harvesting, organic farming and non-use of pesticides and plastics.