03/16/2005, 00.00
INDIA – YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST
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Catholics of all ages flock to adoration chapels

by Nirmala Carvalho
Interview with Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, who was recently appointed to chair the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

Ranchi (AsiaNews) – Card Telesphore P. Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, will be one of the President-Delegates to the 11th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2-29 in Rome. The meeting will focus on "The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the church".

Speaking to AsiaNews on the morrow of his appointment, Cardinal Toppo conceded that he was the younger of the three President-Delegates (Cardinals Arinze and Iniguez are the other two).

"I have to learn a lot to fulfill my functions as the proceedings moderator, but I trust in the power of the Holy Spirit [to help me]," he said.

The Pope appointed Card Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice (Italy), relator general to the Synod whilst Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon (France) will act as its special secretary.

Commenting on the Year of the Eucharist in India Cardinal Toppo, who until recently was the chairman of Indian Bishops' Conference, was happy to report that things were moving along better than expected.

"In my pastoral letter on the Eucharist I urged the community to encourage others to become devoted to this sacrament," he said. And the faithful have responded positively to the Year of the Eucharist.

In concrete terms, this greater commitment to the Eucharist has led to the "opening [of] more perpetual adoration chapels".

"It is fantastic," Cardinal Toppo noted, "to see how in our diocese of Ranchi, and even in the most distant villages of Jharkhand, people visit these chapels at every hour of the day". What is more, "people of every age come: from teenagers and young adults to the elderly," the prelate said. "The laity's love for the Eucharist is edifying," he added.

One distinguishing feature of the Indian Church is the coexistence of various liturgies. In addition to the Latin, there is the Syro-Malabarese, which goes back to the early centuries of the Christian era.

When asked whether the Eucharist could be assimilated into the various cultures of India, each with its own rites and traditions, the Cardinal said: "We are a people with 60 million Catholics, with different cultures, different languages, different mindset, different socio-economic realities; all these differences enrich the Church at large."

He saw this enrichment in a visit to northern India. "I was recently on a Pastoral Visit to a diocese in West Bengal. [In one church] there were symbols on the altar, something I have not seen elsewhere. They were so beautiful, so unique.  Here in India local traditions and cultures abound and we have to respect them. [Here] there can be no uniformity, but harmony and unity in our diversity."

Never the less, Cardinal Toppo insists that no one "should think the Indian Church apart from the wider Church. The Church in India is part of the universal Church".

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