Bangalore (Agenzia Fides) - The Church in India is committed and will continue to commit itself to promoting dialogue and social harmony, also and above all in the midst of conflicts or social and political crises: says Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CBCI), opening the 34th plenary assembly of the conference, held every two years. The meeting of the Bishops, which takes place from 13 to 19 February in Bangalore, focuses on the theme "Dialogue, the way to truth and charity". "The Church has always been at the service of society", he recalled, stressing the need for dialogue which "is the tapestry of different cultures, languages and ethnic diversity" constitutive of India. The Catholic Church in India, at the start of a new decade, would move forward to a dialogue with all groups in society: this includes civic bodies, government and non-governmental organizations, religious communities, so as to "create a peaceful and harmonious environment for all to live as true citizens of the rich land, India", remarked the Cardinal. The Cardinal assured that the Church in India will continue to "live the gospel values of peace, joy and harmony and always work for the whole humankind".
"I place into the Lord’s hands this Plenary Assembly and pray that the fruits of the deliberations may inspire us to continue to build bridges, first by understanding the other person and then walking along with him/her, irrespective of his caste, creed, colour", he reiterated.
The Plenary Assembly of Bishops had focused on a similar theme 20 years ago: the Indian Church now wants to give new impetus and vitality to this theme, strengthening networks and institutions to improve dialogue, explained the Cardinal. "The Church in India was a pioneer in education, medical and health services besides social upliftment. The Church always stood as the light of the world and helped others as well to witness the same light and truth. The church is always identical with such lofty ideals", he said.
On the days of the meeting, the participants of the assembly discuss the central theme, in order to discover new ways to promote dialogue and unity within and outside the Christian community. Representatives of other religions are also invited to some assembly sessions to share their views and offer their views.
Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, vice president of the CBCI and interim secretary general, confirmed that "the Catholic Church in India firmly believes that dialogue with different groups, religions, ethnic and cultural entities including all civil, governmental and non-governmental bodies, is necessary to create a peaceful and harmonious environment so that we can all live as authentic citizens, custodians of inalienable dignity and rights".
CBCI has turned 75, and is one of the largest Bishops’ conferences in the world. It is made of 174 dioceses with over 200 active bishops and 64 retired bishops. Through its various commissions, the Conference organizes pastoral and social services to the faithful and to all Indian citizens, without any discrimination in the field of education, social assistance, health care, development. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2020)