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» 02/19/2008 15:06
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

Editor's choices
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
Xi Jinping returns home full of deals and silence
by Bernardo CervelleraThe Chinese president signed agreements worth tens of billions of Euros in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He also stayed clear of any press conference. At the College of Europe in Bruges, he presented his dream of a new trillion-dollar Silk Road. Yet, he also made it clear that at home, the monopoly of power stays with the Party, squashing any dream for political reform in China. On the Internet, netizens disagree with him.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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