New Delhi: The Indian unit of the Apostolic Union of Clergy (AUC), the oldest Vatican approved international association for Catholic priests, will take up issues related to priestly ministry at its national assembly, an official says.
The August 1-4 meet at Jalandhar in Punjab has chosen the “Life and Mission of the AUC in India: Facts and Possibilities” as its main theme.
However, the meeting will address everything related to priests and priestly ministry, including the difficulties of priests, says Father Donald De Souza, national president of the union. “Nothing is beyond the scope of the AUC, except of course the legal implications of any court cases, for which there are lawyers and other institutions to deal with it,” the Lucknow diocesan priest told Matters India on July 27.
The AUC was founded about 150 years ago by a few diocesan priests in Italy, France, Belgium and Germany who came together for mutual support and sanctification through their ministry. It has now members in more than 90 countries of the world.
The Indian unit was started at the Papal Seminary, in Sri Lanka’s Kandy town. It came to Pune some 70 years ago when the seminary was shifted to the cultural capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Jesuit priests fostered guided it in the past seven decades, Father De Souza explained.
The national president said many alumni of the Papal Seminary are among its scores of members in India. At present it has members in 66 dioceses of India and is spreading in more dioceses, Father De Souza said.
The AUC at the diocesan level is called the ‘diocesan union’ and its animator the diocesan director.
AUC international president Monsignor Giuseppe Magrin will deliver the keynote address at the assembly to held at the Holy Trinity Regional Major Seminary, Jalandhar. Its Indian patron Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who was international treasurer once, will attend the assembly to animate the priests.
The national secretary is Father Antony Thuruthiyil of Jalandhar diocese.
Father De Souza says AUC is different from the Conference of Diocesan Priests of India (CDPI). It was started for the diocesan priests of the Latin Rite by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.
The AUC is a supra-ritual association with members from all three Catholic rites in India.
“Even though the AUC was started in Europe, when it started spreading in the various dioceses and seminaries in Asia and Africa, it was meant for all the diocesan priests of whatever the Rite,” Father De Souza said.
India has another association for diocesan priests – the Conference of Catholic Priests of India. However, it is not officially recognized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India as a Catholic organization.
The AUC is recognized both by the Clergy Congregation in Rome as well as by the CBCI in India.
Father De Souza says AUC aims to help the diocesan priests to become selfless workers of the Gospel, in parishes and institutions.
“The bishops have the CBCI, the Religious have the CRI (Conference of Religious India), so the diocesan priests have the AUC.”
The AUC is meant primarily for the diocesan priests, but it is always open for collaboration with the Religious in the context of a diocese.