Palai (Agenzia Fides) - "A Renewed Church for a renewed society", in the spirit of the II Vatican Council and to be on the same wavelength with Pope Francis’ words: is the theme of the 31st Plenary Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI ) being held in Palai, Kerala, in southern India, until 12 February. As noted in a statement sent to Fides by the Secretary-General of the Conference, Msg. Albert D' Souza, there are between 185 archbishops, bishops and directors of national centers of the Episcopal Conference. This is the largest plenary in the history of the Indian episcopate, which includes the bishops of the three Catholic rites present in India: Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-malankares. That of India, with its 167 dioceses, is, in order of size, the fourth Conference of Bishops in the world.
In the opening celebrations, on February 4, the Apostolic Nuncio to India, Mgr. Salvatore Pennacchio, stressed the importance of the renewal of the Church as "a sure path towards greater fidelity to Christ and the Gospel". Citing Pope Francis, the Nuncio said that "the renewal of the Church cannot be postponed" and that "every renewal leads the Church to recognize and rediscover its missionary vocation".
The president of the Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, in his speech pointed out that the texts of II Vatican Council "are the source for the renewal of the Church and society in India", noting that, in this process, "we must remain faithful to Christ". The Cardinal reported to the bishops, Pope John XXIII’s exhortation before the beginning of the II Vatican Council: "Be holy in what you do, so that you can lead the faithful to holiness".
Mgr. Albert D' Souza presented the biennial report of the CBCI focusing on two themes that emerge from the instances of the bishops: Interreligious Dialogue in favor of the poor. "Interreligious dialogue is essential in order to achieve the evangelizing mission of the Church. Christ is asking us to open our hearts to others and walk with them as fellow travelers", he said. In addition, several bishops point out that "the Church, following in the footsteps of Christ, cannot close its eyes to the suffering and injustice that penalize the poor, marginalized, excluded". The Church in India faces several challenges, which will be discussed during the assembly: the role of women in the Church and in society, equal opportunities and access to education, the preferential option for the poor, the presence and witness in society and politics. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/02/2014)