Church Urged to Promote Laity and Ecumenism: Apostolic Nuncio
Bishops Appeal for the Persecuted Christians in the World and for the Martyrs of Yemen.
Bangalore, 7 March 2016: Inaugurating the 28th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin Church, in Bangalore on Sunday 6 March 2016, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, exhorted the Church in India to promote the Laity and Ecumenism.
He said: “There is a need for constant dialogue and sustained formation of the laity in a transparent, credible and accountable manner so that they may truly understand their role in the Church. In today’s socio-political scenario, it is crucial to recognize the dignity of the laity and their participation in the mission and decision making of the Church so that they become sharers in Christ’s mission”.
“Our Christian witness to the Gospel in a pluralistic world includes, engaging in dialogue with people of different faiths, religion and cultures.” “In the special context of India, the relationship between the Catholic and other non-Catholic Churches and ecclesial communities is progressing gradually. However, several factors still separate us and hinder us from coming together around the table of the Lord.” “In a time of increasingly marked secularization, and religious discriminations, Christians have to be united among themselves and extend a united and true common witness to the nation” mentioned the Apostolico Nuncio.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the CCBI President in his Presidential message, made an appeal to pray for the persecuted Christians in the world, especially for those Christians in the Middle East and expressed the concern of the Indian Church for the martyrs of Yemen. “We feel the pain even more because one of the sisters is our very own from Jharkhand. All of them tried to live the charism of Mother Teresa by giving themselves totally in service and in the process lost their lives. This killing was senseless but will bear fruit. We pray the blood they shed will bring peace and the presence of Jesus Christ to the strife torn area” said His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias.
Bishops also requested the authorities to take immediate and necessary steps for the release of the missionary priest Rev. Fr Tom Uzhunnalil sdb, from Ramapuram, Kerala, who was abducted by the terrorists.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão the Vice President of the CCBI and the Archbishop of Goa and Daman presided over the inaugural meeting and read the message of the President of the Conference. The Secretary General of the CCBI Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Calicut presented the annual report. Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore welcomed the gathering. Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara, Deputy Secretary General of the CCBI proposed the vote of thanks.
The one day meeting of the CCBI discussed matters affecting the Latin Catholic Church in India. There are 131 dioceses and 180 Bishops of the Latin Church in India. The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) is the largest Episcopal Conference in Asia and fourth largest in the world.
The Catholic edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) of the Bible was released during the meeting. “Liturgy and Life” a book on liturgy edited by Rev. Dr. Ayres Fernandes and Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara was also released.
Fr. Stephen Alathara
Deputy Secretary General
Conference of Catholic Bishops of India