By: Mattersindia Reporter
Bhopal: The Catholic Church has endorsed an Indian Supreme Court (SC) order that invalidated Church courts or ecclesiastic tribunals annulling marriage of a Catholic couple here on January 30.
The president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) Cardinal Oswald Gracias said, “there is no contradiction in the SC order as we have been following it even before”.
The prelate said it during a press conference organized at Pastoral Centre, Asha Niketan campus on the eve of the 29th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI to be held in Bhopal, Central Indian capital of Madhya Pradesh state.
The week long assembly will conclude on February 8 with the election of new office bearers to head the Church body consisting 132 dioceses with 182 Bishops.
The prelate also made it clear that the annulment of the marriages by the church courts does not violate any civil law and hence, make no offence.
The SC in its January 19 order declared the divorce granted by the ecclesiastical tribunal under the Christian personal law as invalid as it cannot override the laws of the land while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) that sought direction to legalize the marriage annulment by the church courts.
The vice president of the CCBI, Bishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, secretary general of the CCBI, Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal, Archbishop of Bhopal Leo Cornelio and vice secretary general of the CCBI Father Stephen Alatara also joined the cardinal to address the media to shed light on the assembly of bishops in the Central Indian capital.
The bishops, the cardinal said, would chalk out the action plan to revitalize the family apostolate in the Church in view the theme of the gathering – Promoting the Joy of Love in Our Families.
Elaborating on the theme further, Archbishop Cornelio said, “we are not focusing only on Catholic families alone”.
The Church always focused on the welfare and happiness of everyone irrespective one’s religious or linguistic difference, he asserted.
“The thrust areas of our discussion” he explained, “will revolve around helping the young couples to cope up with the difficulties of family life and leading an exemplary life, upbringing of children, loss of trust among families, nuclear families among other things”.
When asked whether the Church found difficulty in working in the current environment where it faces constant accusation of involving in religious conversion, the prelate said, “it is nothing new every time such allegations are made against us”.
“We are here to spread the message of love and peace and not religious conversion”, he asserted.
“We cannot and never force anyone to convert, we want everyone to follow their religion with full vigor”, added the bishop.
“If we were converting why the Christian population in the country is just below three per cent”, wondered the prelate.
On insecurity among Christians, Bishop Cornelio said, “fringe groups attack and threaten us and the lethargy on the part of the law enforcing agencies is a cause of concern for us”.
The Assembly will begin on January 31, with a solemn Eucharistic celebration at Assumption Church, Asha Niketan campus.