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» 02/19/2008
INDIA
Cardinal Vithayathil elected new president of Indian bishops
by 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
08/08/2006 INDIA
Need for more children and a better family life, says the Indian Church
01/19/2007 INDIA
Mar Baselios, “pastor of the Syro-Malankara Church,” dies
by Nirmala Carvalho
01/14/2014 INDIA - AUSTRALIA
Card Alencherry: welcoming migrants is the mission of the new Eparchy of Melbourne
by Nirmala Carvalho
05/23/2012 INDIA
Kerala Catholic priests build new housing for the poor of Changanassery
by Nirmala Carvalho
02/11/2008 INDIA
Kerala: state committee recommends banning religious worship in schools
by Nirmala Carvalho

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VATICAN
Pope: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
IRAN
Time for a deal with Tehran, a reliable partner against the Islamic State group
by Bernardo Cervellera A framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has to be inked by 31 March. US Republicans, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fiercely opposed to it for ulterior motives. Hassan Rouhani wants Iran to come back into the international fold. Tehran is playing a mediating role in the Middle East. For Vatican nuncio, “there is no evidence that Iran is preparing a nuclear bomb.”

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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