All India Press Release
Ref: I-a-5/CCBI-PR/01 2 February 2015
The 27th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of
India (CCBI) to be held in Bangalore to invigorate the Liturgical Life.
What is CCBI?
The CCBI is the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India for the Latin Rite Bishops, which was established on 22nd April, 1988 in accordance with the Code of Canon Law and the letter of St. John Paul II, dated 28th May, 1987. The CCBI has its own organizational structure: General Body, Executive Committee, Office Bearers and twelve Commissions with their Chairmen, Member Bishops and Executive Secretaries. The official functions of the CCBI are being carried out from the National Secretariat situated in Bangalore.
The 27th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI
The forthcoming 27th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) scheduled to be held from 3 – 9 February, 2015 at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore will deliberate on the theme “Liturgy and Life”, and will chalk out detailed programmes and action plans to revitalize the liturgical life of the priests, religious and laity for renewal and meaningful worship service.
The CCBI is the Conference of the Latin Catholic Bishops in India having 18 million Catholics spread throughout the country, consisting of 131 Latin Catholic dioceses and 181 Bishop Members. It is also the largest Bishops’ Conference in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.
Why the theme: “Liturgy and Life” is chosen for this Plenary Assembly?
Since the liturgy plays an important role in the life of the Church, this topic is chosen for this forthcoming Assembly. The word liturgy is derived from a Greek word, leitourgia, which was used to refer to any public work or function exercised by the people as a whole. The people who do the work of liturgy are the people of God, all baptized. A well-known word that is close in meaning to ‘liturgy’ is the word ‘worship’. But while worship can be done privately, ‘liturgy’ is always a public, group activity. A working definition of ‘liturgy’ that is helpful is ‘The official, public worship of the Church’.
Liturgy is always an action, something we do. It is a public action, a ritual action, and a symbolic action. It is the proclamation of the word that God speaks to us; it is in the breaking of the bread that we recognise Christ. We participate in the action of the liturgy by responding, singing, listening and joining the gestures.
Liturgy often means the whole complex of official services, all the rites, ceremonies, prayers, and sacraments of the Church, as opposed to private devotions. Liturgy for Catholics is a sacrament of communion, bringing them closer to God and to their brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. It is the heart of Christian Life and fellowship. In a place of worship, a liturgical service is celebrated as a community, especially when the faithful participate in the Eucharistic Service (Holy Mass). The Catholics firmly believe in the fruits of the Eucharist in their daily lives, and fill their families and communities with the life-giving qualities of the Liturgy in which they participated as one worshipping community. The fruits of any liturgical services are: union with God, self-renewal, fellowship with the community, concern for the poor and the vulnerable, self-offering and thanksgiving.
An ancient saying in the Church reads that the law of prayer is the law of faith, meaning that as we pray, so we believe, and so we live. If the effects of Liturgy (worship) stop at the doors of the Church, we have not made our prayer and our faith as part of our law of living. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that the Sunday Worship helps us grow in union with Christ, avoid sin, increase in charity, strengthen communion with our brothers and sisters, and recognize Christ in the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society (see CCC, nos. 1391 -1397).
How does a liturgical Service help the believers in their daily lives?
Just as Jesus gave an example of humble service to his Apostles by kneeling down and washing their feet (John 13), so must the believers live their lives in service to their brothers and sisters. The Church’s Tradition draws the worshippers more deeply into conformity with the Lord Jesus through Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy like feeding the hungry, caring the sick, sheltering the homeless, etc., (Corporal works) and helping sinners to mend their lives, instructing the ignorant, comforting the sorrowful, etc., (Spiritual works).
Liturgical worship, not only gives us an opportunity to pray for personal and community needs, but it also invites the worshippers to pray for all their brothers and sisters, their spiritual and political leaders, and for the well-being of the whole humanity. The Catholic Church believes that “What material food produces in our bodily life, the Liturgy, through worship wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life (CCC, no. 1392).
1. The Second Vatican Council did foresee legitimate differences in the Latin Rite in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, especially in the missions. Even in the liturgy the church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters that do not affect the faith or the good of the whole community. It has known and still knows many different forms and liturgical families, and considers that this diversity, far from harming her unity, underlines its value.
2. Both, Saint John Paul II, in his Apostolic letter “Vicesimus Quintus Annus” and the present Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel”, have described the attempt to make liturgy take its root in different cultures as an important task for liturgical renewal. These cultural values need to be compatible with the true and authentic spirit of the liturgy, always respecting the substantial unity of the Catholic Church as expressed in the liturgical books.
During the 27th Plenary Assembly, the Members will deliberate on:
How to make the Liturgy relevant for the people in their everyday life?
How effectively can the signs and symbols be meaningfully used in the liturgy?
The effective integration of music, art and visuals in the liturgy.
The areas in which renewal or adaptation are needed in the liturgy.
How to help the faithful participate in the liturgy more devoutly and actively?
How to make liturgy take its root in different cultures for liturgical relevance and renewal?
Who are the Church Officials participating in the Plenary Assembly?
This Plenary Assembly will be inaugurated by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal on Tuesday, 3rd February 2015 at St. John’s Nursing College Auditorium, Bangalore at 11 a.m. The meeting will be presided over by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the President of the CCBI and FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) and the Archbishop of Mumbai. His Grace Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão, the Vice President of the CCBI and the Archbishop of Goa, His Excellency Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal, the Secretary General of the CCBI and the Bishop of Calicut, His Grace Archbishop Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore and Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara, the Deputy Secretary General of the CCBI will speak on the occasion.
The official beginning of the Plenary Assembly will be marked with the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration invoking the Holy Spirit. His Excellency, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal will be the main celebrant and the homilist. All member Bishops of the Conference will concelebrate in their official attire.
His Grace Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; His Grace Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, President, Pontifical Mission Societies and Adjunct Secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; His Grace Archbishop Thomas Menamparambil, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Jowai; His Grace Archbishop Dominic Jala, Archbishop of Shillong; Rev. Dr. Ayres Fernandes, the Secretary, CCBI Commission for Liturgy; Rev. Dr. Rolington, Tamil Nadu Regional Secretary for Liturgy and Rev. Dr. Moncy Nellikunnel SDB will address the Bishops on various topics on Liturgy and Life. The theme of the Assembly “Liturgy and Life” is the follow up of the ‘Pastoral Plan for the Church India’, promulgated on 8th December, 2013, in which liturgy is explained as one of the basic dimensions for the mission of the Church in India.
The Main Celebrants and the Choirs at the daily Liturgical Services
The Liturgical Services will be officiated by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias – President of the CCBI; His Grace Archbishop Arthur Roche – Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; His Eminence Telesphore Cardinal Toppo – Archbishop of Ranchi; His Grace Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, SJ – Archbishop of Gandhi Nagar and His Grace Archbishop Bruno Forte – Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy will preside over the Liturgical celebrations. Special Hymns have been prepared by the following choirs of the Archdiocese of Bangalore for the occasion: St. John’s Medical College; St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Parish; The Resurrection Parish, Indira Nagar; The Ascension Parish, St. Mary’s Town; St. Patrick Parish, Brigade Road; and St. Antony’s Friary Parish, Koramangala.
Other Significant Activities at the Plenary Assembly
The 7 days of the Meeting will also discuss on the theme of the forthcoming 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World” to be held from 4 – 25 October, 2015 in Rome. The Plenary Assembly will elect the delegates of the Indian Church to participate in the Synod in Rome.
The National Catechetical Directory, prepared by the CCBI Commission for Catechetics and the Indian Edition of the Homiletical Directory prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will be released during the Assembly.
The Secretaries of the twelve Commissions of the CCBI will present the biennial reports of the activities of their Commissions for the years 2013 and 2014. The Bishops will evaluate the programmes and plan-out future events of the CCBI Commissions of Bible, Catechetics, Canon Law and Legislative Texts, Ecumenism, Family, Laity, Liturgy, Proclamation, Theology and Doctrine, Vocations, Women and Youth.
The Member Bishops will elect new office bearers and Commission Chairmen for the CCBI. As per the Statutes of the Conference, the term of the Office Bearers is for two years and for the Commission Chairmen four years. The meeting will also look into the present situation of the Church in India, especially the challenges and difficulties faced by the Christian minority in our country.
A one day recollection for the member Bishops, directed by well-known theologian, Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy and one of the speakers at the last Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, is also organized.
The official closing of the 27th Plenary Assembly will be on Monday, 9 February, 2015. The new President of the CCBI will preside over the concluding liturgical ceremonies.
This Press Release was issued on 2nd February, 2015 at the Press Conference held at
St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara
Deputy Secretary General, CCBI