By Stephen Alathara
Chennai, Jan 12, 2019: Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Daman was elected as the new President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI) by the 31st Plenary Assembly of the National Episcopal Conference of India, at Joe Animation Centre, Mahabalipurm, Chennai, Tamil Naud.
He will replace Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay who served the Conference as its President for three terms of two years each from 2013 to 2019.
Archbishop George Antonysamy of Chennai-Mylapore and Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi were re-elected CCBI Vice president and Secretary General respectively.
Archbishop Neri, 65, was the former Vice President of the CCBI from 2011 to 2017. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman at the age of 40, on 20 December, 1993. He was installed as the Archbishop on 21 March, 2004. He also served the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India as its Vice President. He is presently the Chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Office of Education and Faith Formation (OEFF).
Archbishop Antonysamy, 66, held various responsibilities of the Catholic Church in the past, viz. Pope’s Ambassador to Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone; charge d’Affaires of the Vatican Embassy in Jordan. In 2012 he was appointed the sixth Archbishop of Chennai-Mylapore Archdiocese.
The re-elected Secretary General of the CCBI Archbishop Couto (64) held this office: he was the Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi, and Bishop of Jullundur. At present he is the Archbishop of Delhi since 2012.
The Assembly deliberated the theme “The Joy of the Gospel” and it will chalk out detailed programmes and action plans to revitalize the ministry of love and compassion for the Church at the diocesan and parish levels.
The Secretaries of the 14 Commissions and the three Departments of the CCBI presented their biennial reports of the activities for the year 2017 and 2018.
The Bishops evaluated the programmes of the CCBI Commissions of Bible, Catechetics, Canon Law and Other Legislative Texts, Ecumenism, Family, Laity, Liturgy, Migration, Proclamation, Theology and Doctrine, Vocations, Women and Youth and the Departments of Pontifical Mission Organisations (PMO), Conference of Diocesan Priests of India (CDPI) and the Association of Rectors of Major Seminaries (ARMS).
A one day recollection for the member Bishops, directed by the well-known theologian, Father Anil Dev, IMS from Varanasi was also conducted.
The 31st Plenary Assembly of the CCBI will conclude on 14 January. Some 143 Bishops from 132 Dioceses are attending the meeting.
The CCBI is canonically the National Episcopal Conference for the Latin rite Catholics. It is the largest Bishops Conference in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. It consists of 132 dioceses with 189 bishops.