06/12/2008, 00.00
INDIA

For the bishop of Bellary, Catholic media are playing a greater role in the Church’s mission

by Nirmala Carvalho
Mgr Henry D’Souza was consecrated today as the new bishop of Bellary. For years he was a pioneer in the field of social communications in India. About the BJP’s increasing appeal among voters he tells AsiaNews that he is neither pessimistic nor pessimistic.

Bellary (AsiaNews) – India “is the world’s largest democracy.” In this country, “the Church is not involved in party politics. We work for everyone and shall continue in our mission to improve the quality of life of its people and develop conditions that are favourable to such improvement. As much as the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gets more support in more and more states, I am neither pessimistic, nor optimistic,” said Mgr Henry D’Souza, who spoke to AsiaNews after he was consecrated today as the new bishop of Bellary, a diocese in the southern state of Karnataka where the BJP, a nationalist party closely associated with Hindu fundamentalism, won in recent elections.

For years the new bishop was the spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). Currently, he is the executive secretary of the CBCI Communication Commission. Through his efforts Catholic media have gained greater visibility in India. For him Christian journalists “play a significant role in the Church’s mission and must be integrated into the Catholic ministry. We should never tire to announce the Good News to the entire world.”

In the last few years “India has made great strides in the field of communication, and mass media have great influence on people. They create public opinion and can promote religious and ethical values in the social, political and economic fields,” Bishop D’Souza said. “For this reason, communications means proclaiming the values of the Kingdom [of God] in a context of inculturation for the transformation of the whole world.”

His consecration was attended by representatives from the Vatican, priests from Hong Kong, 35 bishops, 350 priests and 400 women religious.

As evidence of good relations with the Union government, Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes and President Pratibha Patil’s personal secretary Christy Fernandes were also present at the ceremony as were various local BJP representatives—the party swept the district in which the diocese is located, taking eight out of nine seats.

“This is democracy,” Bishop D’Souza told AsiaNews about the BJP’s victory. “The BJP won in a democratic way and we always respect democracy. There are situations that are cause for concern in some states where the BJP is in power, but I am convinced that in a society that is civil, political parties will behave in a civilised manner. Still I am neither pessimistic, nor optimistic.”

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