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    » 02/19/2008, 00.00

    INDIA

    Cardinal Vithayathil elected new president of Indian bishops

    Nirmala Carvalho

    The newly-elected president talks to AsiaNews about his priorities: the unity of the Catholic Church, the defence of the downtrodden and the protection of religious freedom. He stresses the need for dialogue and tolerance. He receives Cardinal’s Gracias best wishes.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Card Mar Varkey Vithayathil has been elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). The prelate, who heads the Syro-Malabar Church (some 3.5 million of India’s 16 million Catholics), spoke to AsiaNews about his work and the Indian Church.

    “My priority is to make the three Episcopal bodies (the Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Latin Churches) work together with greater cohesion, communion and cooperation in unity of spirit,” he said. Even though “my election as president was completely unexpected given my age (81), [. . .] I humbly accepted.”

    For the cardinal India has to cope with many great contradictions. The country is undergoing “great economic development” but still faces “immense misery”. Its “constitution guarantees us freedom to practice and propagate our faith and yet fundamentalist forces unleash their reign of terror on minority” communities.

    “The CBCI will try to use all the resources and personnel of the Catholic Church to ensure that in Asia, the poor and the vulnerable sections of society get a better deal, that the marginalised are embraced with the charity mission of the Church through education and healthcare services.”

    For the cardinal the CBCI wants to remove “misunderstandings and prejudices towards the Christian faith [. . .] through dialogue” in “a climate of understanding and mutual exchange of views.” Hence the “CBCI will work towards building a society and a nation of peace, unity and mutual understanding and tolerance.”

    “Our beloved John Paul II in ‘Ecclesia in Asia’ had said that the Third Millennium belongs to Asia and this is the renewed commitment of the Indian Church.”

    More importantly, “evangelisation” is “not merely doing social work, but the explicit and direct proclamation of the message, works and promises of Jesus Christ. It is essential that we communicate the Good News with courage and commitment, bringing joy and fulfillment into people’s life,” he said.

    Card Oswald Gracias, a former CBCI president, expressed “great joy” for a choice that “sends a strong message that the Eastern Churches are important and an integral part of the one Catholic Church.”

    “The appointment,” he added, “also highlights the growing importance of the Church in Kerala (the new president’s state) which is truly God’s country.”

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    See also

    03/03/2016 17:11:00 INDIA
    Indian bishops: most Hindus are secular, but there are aggressive and intolerant minorities

    The 32nd Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) opened yesterday in Bangalore. Some 180 bishops from the country’s three Catholic rites are meeting to discuss ‘The Response of the Church in India to Present Day Challenges’.  CBCI President Card Baselios Cleemis noted that most Hindus are secular. Mgr Mepamparampil agrees, “but there is certainly an aggressive minority among them” who want to obtain “dominant positions in the country.” Hence, “We should invite a vigorous debate among intellectuals about the danger of surrendering the future of the country to the aggressive elements in society.”



    08/08/2006 INDIA
    Need for more children and a better family life, says the Indian Church
    In a pastoral letter, Syro-Malabar Cardinal Vithayathil slams couples who decide against having children although they have the means. He suggests they take part in the Eucharist as an effective way to renew their capacity for self-sacrificing love.

    19/01/2007 INDIA
    Mar Baselios, “pastor of the Syro-Malankara Church,” dies
    The prelate dies at the age of 71 from a heart attack. The archbishop of Mumbai remembers him. India’s Christian community mourns a charismatic leader, involved in education interfaith dialogue, and the search for the truth.

    14/01/2014 INDIA - AUSTRALIA
    Card Alencherry: welcoming migrants is the mission of the new Eparchy of Melbourne
    Pope Francis announced the first Syro-Malabar diocese in Australia, home to 35,000 members of the Syro-Malabar Church, mostly migrant workers. For the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, head of the Syro-Malabar Church (Kerala), the new eparchy is "required" for the development and integration of local communities into the Universal Church.

    23/05/2012 INDIA
    Kerala Catholic priests build new housing for the poor of Changanassery
    The St. Mary Athirampuzha (Syro-Malabar Church) will host three buildings on its land for 21 families. People will use it for 15 years, after paying a nominal rent. The goal is to educate young people to make them self reliant. The project is funded by the parishioners of the archdiocese.



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