Vatican City (Fides Service) – Working in communion and unity for evangelisation to meet the challenges of secularism: this is the encouragement made by Pope John Paul II when on 13 May he received in audience Bishops of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rite from India on their five yearly ad limina visit to Rome.
Addressing the Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church the Pope encouraged them to “work closely with your brother Bishops of the Latin Rite and the Holy See to ensure that Syro-Malabars throughout India and the world receive the spiritual support they deserve”, stressing the need for constant commitment to fraternal charity and cooperation for the good functioning of a Synod of Bishops.
The Pope recalled the riches of the Syro-Malabar liturgy which has “played a vital role in moulding the experience of faith in India” and he exhorted the Bishops to “guard and renew this treasure, with great care never allowing it to be used as a source of division”.
Stressing that “charity urges every Christian to go forth proclaiming the Good News of Christ to the ends of the earth”, John Paul II said: “India, blessed with so many different cultures, is a land in which the people yearn for God; this makes your distinctively Indian liturgy an excellent way of evangelisation”. “Authentic evangelisation is sensitive to local culture and customs, always respecting the “inalienable right” of each and every person to religious freedom”. Addressing a Church rich in missionary vocations, the Pope said he joined the Bishops “in giving thanks than your Eparchies have been blessed with so many priests and Religious.”
In his address to the Syro-Malankara Bishops the Pope mentioned the challenge of growing secularism and crisis of values of today which, also in India, erode the practice of the Christian faith and Christian culture and he underlined the need for Christians to be leaven in society. “Responding to this challenge in a proper fashion necessitates an inculturation of the Christian ethics at all levels of human society”. “Your long experience as a small community of Christians in a predominantly non-Christian land has prepared you to become this ”leaven” a fitting instrument of transformation”. The process is no simple task, the Pope said adding that it must be accomplished “ensuring that Christ’s saving message is never diluted or altered in an attempt to make it more culturally or socially acceptable.” “As Bishops – the Pope concluded – you are the source of guidance and strength for the religious communities in your Eparchies.” PA (Fides Service 15/5/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 429)