New Delhi (AsiaNews) In numerous churches in every Indian State masses were celebrated this morning for the conclave that opens this afternoon in Rome.
Some faithful prayed for an Indian Pope, but generally people prayed to the Holy Spirit for the election of a saintly pastor to guide the Universal Church.
Fr Augustine Kanjamala, a Verbite priest and a well-known theologian, spoke to AsiaNews about the challenges facing the new Pontiff, in particular in India.
"The Church is ever changing," he said, "and after an exceptional pontificate like that of John Paul II, the new Pope will bring creative reforms to the Church's administration and theology".
In a pluralistic and multicultural society like India "a certain degree of power to the Bishops' Conference will be welcomed and appreciated," he added.
For Father Kanjamala, "collegiality will be fundamental for the new springtime of the Church".
In his opinion, liturgical reforms should be encouraged, "keeping in mind the Spirit of Vatican II". "Diversity," he believes, "is not opposed to unity".
"India has a vibrant and living Church. The varied traditions of the people cannot be dispensed with. [And] local customs [. . .] have to be respected and incorporated into the liturgies."
In a country with over a billion people, Catholics are around 16 million.