03/07/2005, 00.00
INDIA – INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Women, like Mary, to save the world, says Cardinal Toppo

by Nirmala Carvalho
India might be affected by all the threats that the family faces in the West. Mgr Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Agra, is elected chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.

lRanchi (AsiaNews) – Card Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, told AsiaNews that "the role of women [. . .] in the Church is identical to the role of Mary in the History of Salvation: save the world from the spiral of depravation that afflicts it".

Archbishop Toppo is currently attending the 17th assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) in Ranchi (Jharkhand state); its main theme: 'Family: Good News for India'.

The CCBI elected Mgr Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Agra (Uttar Pradesh) as its new chairman.

For Cardinal Toppo the role of women in the family is central despite threats from modernisation. "Can you imagine any family without a woman?" he asks. "Can even the most primitive unit of co-existence be called a family without the presence and collaboration of a woman?

With the Mother of Christ in mind, the Cardinal proposes Mary as model for women. "The role of women in the Church today is the same as that of Mary," he said.

"Like Mary, women are called to exercise forbearance and fortitude vis-à-vis crisis situations, [embody] the virtue of reflection, [display] leadership qualities such as those Mary showed in Cana, [adopt] her virtue of service at personal risks. This is the fundamental vocation of the woman which can save the world with its rapidly downward spiralling trends".

As to the family, the conference's main theme, Cardinal Toppo said the Church considers it a 'gift of God' even though in India "it is under attack from all parts and threatened by serious dangers".

"In this age of rapid communication, we in India cannot remain aloof from 'unhealthy trends' seen in families elsewhere in . . . a world [that] has shrunk to a global village," he said in reference to single parent and same-sex families, which in his view threaten "established social norms".

"The Church has a duty to work and speak out boldly against such disturbing trends," he added. "We have to be on our guard against the moral deprivations that are invading our families and society".

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