By : Saramma Emmanuel
Bhopal: Catholic Church in India began to seriously ponder over revitalizing Catholic families after separate studies found only a “minority of people support the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage” in the 29th plenary assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) which began in the city of lake – Bhopal – on Tuesday.
This is the first time Bhopal, the capital of the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh hosts this important Church meet which is expected to lay down measures to restore family values and morality in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church to keep its flock together.
Currently, according to the CCBI office bearers more than 130 bishops from 132 Latin dioceses in the country are attending the week long plenary assembly which will conclude on February 8.
During the gathering the bishops will focus on the theme – Promoting the Joy of Love in Our Families – extensively. The participants also will hear the experience of living together from Catholic couples besides sharing their experience about dilution of family values in the changed global scenario.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the main celebrant of the inaugural Eucharistic celebration along with other con-celebrants Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo, bishops and priests invoked the Holy Spirit to lead them in their attempt to help the families to protect and uphold the family values for a joyful life.
Cardinal in his homely stressed the need for improving family life saying, “we need to turn good families into better families and holy families to holier families”.
The prelate said, “revitalizing the families is one of the most urgent needs for the Church.” “A family is sacred and so we must protect it. There are many ideologies around us which destroy family values. So we must reach the message of love to the families without any exclusion.”
The families worldwide”, he said “are in crisis on account of economic disparities, cultural differences, religious and linguistic differences, greed, individualism among a host of other issues”.
According to the prelate, presence of healing touch of Jesus in families is the answer to all their problems and urged Catholic families to deepen their faith in Jesus and imbibe the value system of the Catholic Church for a happy family life.
The prelate also urged the people to be optimistic, work hard and take risk for a better and life.
The prelate had to abandon his homily apparently midway following some uneasiness. The bishops on the alter helped the prelate to sit on his chair and offered him water after some time he continued the Eucharistic celebration at Assumption Church, Asha Niketan campus, a Catholic center.
After the Eucharistic celebration, a special inaugural gathering was organized at St. Joseph Co-Ed School auditorium in which Archbishop of Bhopal, Leo Cornelio, the host, welcomed everyone and wished a pleasant stay.
Cardinal Oswal Gracias who is also the president of the CCBI, said in his address, “mercy is not an option but it is the culture of Christianity. Nobody is excluded from God’s mercy. Mother Theresa is an embodiment of this Mercy”, he said.
Msgr. Henryk Jagodzinski, the official representative of Nunciature and Father Stephen Alathara deputy secretary general of CCBI lit the traditional lamp and officially inaugurated 29th plenary session of bishops.
Msgr Jagodzinski also read out the messages from Pope Francis and the newly appointed nuncio to India and Nepal who is yet to take charge.
The chairman of CCBI commission for family bishop Lawrence Pius Dorairaj, briefly shared his findings on “Experience and Challenges of Indian Families” based on different studies carried out by Church agencies at different levels.
The prelate said, families suffered multiple problems from within and outside losing the joy of living together.
The shift in the social values, poverty, unemployment, lack of basic amenities for a quality life, trafficking, domestic violence, male hegemony , infidelity, caste issues, honor killing, rejection of elderly are few among a host of other issues destroy take the steam out of a happiness in family life.
The prelate also expressed concern over the changing morality among the youth who never bother about the teachings of Church on moral values. Almost 74 per cent of the youth follow their personal goals when it comes to morality, he stressed.
Two couples from tribal communities also shared about their family life. Father Somy Jacob who works among the poor tribals in Jabalpur diocese of Madhya Pradesh also shared his experience of working with the poorest of the poor who even do not have two square meal a day.