ASIA/INDIA - "To be truly a Church of the poor": the final message of the Assembly of Bishops

Friday, 14 February 2014

Palai (Agenzia Fides) - The Church is called to become an example of simplicity, transparency, justice, mercy, in a society polluted by corruption and violence: This is what the final communiqué of the 31st Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), held at Palai (Kerala), from February 5 to 13 says, on the theme "A renewed Church for a renewed society". In the text sent to Fides, the Bishops say, following the example of Pope Francis: "We want the Church to be truly a church of the poor".
In the note sent to Fides, the 187 Bishops participants reaffirmed that "the Church in India tries to live according to the vision of the II Vatican Council": "We reaffirm the vision of the Church, which is enshrined in the Constitution Lumen gentium, as the People of God travelling towards Christ" and as an "evangelizing community", stated in the decree Ad Gentes. In addition, "we want to be, as stated in the Constitution Gaudium et spes, a Church involved in the struggles of human suffering, based on the principles of respect for the person, of solidarity and dialogue".
In the internal dynamics of the Church, the Bishops intend to enhance "the small Christian communities born in many places, rooted in the Word and in the Eucharist", which "are a sign of vitality and an instrument of formation and evangelization".
With regards to the plans and future guidelines, the Bishops note that the experience and encounter with God, through the Word and Sacraments need to be promoted: "The experience of God leads to an inner conversion made visible in the simplicity of our lives, in an attitude of love, compassion and forgiveness, following the example of Pope Francis", they say. "The experience of God will lead to the involvement with the marginalized, with those living in the economic , cultural and social suburbs. We will speak against all forms of injustice carried out against them and we will enforce their rights", the text continues. "We want the Church to be truly a Church of the poor" say the Bishops, reiterating "its full solidarity with the Dalits in India who continue to be oppressed".
The Bishops' Conference "reiterates its willingness to fight for the equal rights of Dalit Christians, calling for the abolition of the Presidential Order of 1950, which unfairly discriminates against Dalit Christians". Moreover, the Church is committed to "eradicating all forms of discrimination and to ensure equal opportunities for Dalit Christians".
The message also focuses on the role of the laity, who should be given more space in pastoral care; then there is the fight against discrimination against women, who must be ensured "equal dignity and equal opportunity", supporting the campaign "against female feticide and gender-based violence". The Bishops ask for a "more significant Christian presence in political and public life" and propose dialogue "as a style of presence in a land of rich cultures and ancient religions": "The Church in India should be a Church in dialogue. We exhort the laity to engage in the dialogue of life", says the text. Last point: the protection of creation, for sustainable development. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/02/2014)