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Catholic bishops’ biennial plenary to review “worrying” national scenario 

By Jose Kavi

New Delhi: About 200 Catholic bishops from all over India will gather in Bengaluru in early February to review the Church’s works of mercy and witnessing of Christian faith in current situation in the country.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has chosen “I am with you always, even to the end of the ages” (Mat.28:20) United in diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness” for its 33rd general body meeting to be held at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka state.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro will lead the opening Mass on February 2. The chief guest at the opening session is Cardinal Charles Bo from Myanmar. The plenary will end on February 9.

The biennial plenary is taking place at a time when the Church in India is facing “immense challenges to serve and witness,” says a press release from CBCI headquarters.

“The Church has been one of the greatest promoters of unity in diversity. But groups and organizations wishing to promote cultural and religious nationalism are becoming bolder,” notes the press statement from CBCI secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas

The bishops say incidents of mob lynching on the pretext of cow smuggling, cow slaughter or beef eating have created a fear psychosis in certain sections of the population. “Killing of dissenting journalists, the recent mob attacks including an assault on a school bus full of children in protest against a movie are disturbing signs in our traditionally secular and largely peaceful society.”

The conference which represents more than 20 million Catholics spread over 174 dioceses in the country also cites violence against Christians such as attacks on carolers in Satna town of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and attempts by rightwing groups to storm a Catholic college in Vidisha, another town in the state to forcibly perform Hindu prayers “in the name of pseudo nationalism.”

These incidents have left the bishops worried and upset, says the press release.

At the same, the bishops say support from government authorities both at New Delhi and Madhya Pradesh has helped in keeping the situation under control. “However, the way the poison of communal, caste, and religious bigotism and hatred is being spread in the country is troubling and disquieting,” it adds.

At the same time, the Church reiterates it steadfast faith in the promise of Christ that he would be with his people. “The theme in its first part bases itself on Jesus’ assurance that he will accompany his Church at all times and in all circumstances. This is what gives it strength and courage in its mission of service and witness to all humankind.”

The bishops will discuss how the Church can be the leaven in the dough so that all men and women of good will, cutting across religious, social and political lines can unite to preserve the secular fabric of the country and uphold the constitutional values, the press statement says.

The bishops will also deliberate on how the Church can continue to witness the love of Jesus Christ and selflessly serve the nation. Reflections will veer around finding new ways of partnering the governments at the state and central level in nation building and developmental projects with a special concern for the dalits, tribals and the marginalized. The Church wishes to actively involve itself in open and full dialogue with followers of all religions and ideologies so that together we can promote peace and harmonious living.

The plenary is expected to elected the president and two vice presidents of the bishops’ conference for a two-year term. The current president is Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, head of the Syro-Malankara Church. The post of president rotates among the three rites in India — Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara. The plenary is expected to elect a Latin prelate to head of the Catholic Church in India for the next two years.

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6 Responses to Catholic bishops’ biennial plenary to review “worrying” national scenario

  1. A. S. Mathew

    Dear Friend, You may not remember the Vimochana Samaram of Kerala to remove the first democratically elected communist Government under EMS in the world. The agitation was led by the head of the NSS, Sri. Mannathu Padbhanaphan Nair. I was in the 9th standard at that time. One day, the local communists made a march and one rowdy student threw some stones at them. What a turn of events? The marching people took stones and entered the school to destroy the property, we the students were terrorized. The RSS street goons are terrorizing the minorities of India now. It may not be visible in Kerala, but in the northern States like Maharastra, they are afraid.

    EMS wanted to nationalize all the private schools mainly operated by the Christians, then NSS, SNDP and Muslims. Through nationalization, they can teach communist ideology to the growing generation to brainwash them to be communist followers.

    It is very visible that the current RSS rulers wanted to impose their religious ideology upon India, and specifically targeting the defenseless Christians of India.

    Modi came into power through mere false economic miracle promises. How he could give such Himalayan promises? How many trillions of dollars it cost to undertake the economic miracles as delivered? 31 % blinded believed in his rhetoric and the whole nation is suffering.

    Now his aims are national Yoga training-making the holistic Ayurvedic medical system superior to other systems-Hinduism as the national religion-Hindi as the national language-Vegetarianism as the nation diet etc. None of them have any economical leverage upon the economy, but to please his blind followers.

    If the minority Christians are looking at this deadly detour of the nation as mere onlookers, then the Christians will be crying like the Christians had to cry under Hitler in Germany. At the Vimochana Samaram, the Christians and their religious hierarchy got greatly involved for preserving their rights and assets.

     
  2. A. S. Mathew

    The Catholic Church of India with her 20 million believers as the leading Christian denomination has to play the key role in leading the other Christian denominations to take a united front in evangelism-humanitarian service, and to face the attack deviously operated by the totally anti-Christian RSS Government of India. The sales agent to undertake the devious strategy to swallow the Christians of India recruited by Modi, Kannamthanam must get proper warning from the Catholic Church at first that the Christians of India are not gullible believers.

    The Churches will have to break the shell of antiquated man-made traditions, and open the Bible and learn, how the Church was in the first Century. The Book of James, written by the Bishop of Jerusalem, and the first book of the New Testament written must be studied in detail to have guidance to adopt the new format for the Church. When we do likewise, GOD’s divine hand will lead the Church into supernatural miracles to shake the Government in their anti-Christian spirit.

     
  3. chhotebhai

    Very recently the archbishop of Gandhinagar committed a huge blunder by referring to “nationalists”. The CBCI statement is using the same term!! When will we learn from past mistakes?

    Most of these CBCI jamborees are “all gas no go” in the words of late Bp Patrick Nair of Meerut. The bishops must also invite enlightened and competent lay leaders as observers to their meetings and seek to learn from them..

     
  4. Vincent

    Very well said, brother George. I agree with your views. Rituals have become more important than following Christ.

     
  5. Sebastian Vattamattam

    “The Church has been one of the greatest promoters of unity in diversity. But groups and organizations wishing to promote cultural and religious nationalism are becoming bolder.”
    Yes, the Church itself is a model of ‘unity in diversity.’ Its supreme authority is the Pope, who is the ruler of a secular entity called Vatican State. This Roman Pontiff, never elected by the people, has absolute power over the whole Church and even over secular rulers, as evident from Canon 1060(1). Below him are the bishops who, never elected democratically, rule over the entire Church, in communion with the Pope. The laymen form a large majority of the Catholic community, who have absolutely no say even in secular matters like financial management of the Church. Of course, there are many more diverse groups of people in the Church. Their ‘unity in diversity’ is maintained by Canon Law, which is the most outdated and authoritarian set of rules governing a human community. In fact Hindutva is trying to imitate the Catholic Church to bring about their version of ‘unity in diversity.’
    The need of the hour is a restructuring of the Church administration on democratic principles.

     
  6. George

    There is a dangerous trend of attributing individual centered importance in the celebrations, than attributing importance to Christ and his message .The clergy forgets the fundamentals of their roll as witnesses. Celeberating the liturgy is not, or participating in tje liturgy is not unfotunately the criterion.Alas to notice that 95 % of the clergy embarks on the comfort culture whether bishops, priests or religious for that matter.The growing tendency to ascribe undue importance to the rituals and ritual celebrations need to be examined. Many of the liturgical celebration assume a show rather than a medium of God’s intervention and Blessing. The artificial touch that is accompanied in most of the liturgical celebrations tends to be less prayerful and subsequently become devoid of Spiritual spring. The pomp and splendors displayed in our liturgical celebrations need to be balanced in order that the believers experience a natural atmosphere to get into the cave of their being. Liturgy fundamentally is a prayer and discretion should be employed to avoid a theatrical touch to the celebrations .Cut short the pomps and celebrations including the preachings and be doers..