50 years of the "new" catechumenate, a moment of grace for the Church in India
by Nirmala Carvalho
On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA), AsiaNews interviews the Director of Catechesis in the Archdiocese of Bombay, Fr. Terence Murray. The response of the new evangelization to catechumens today, looking for "a deep and personal encounter with God" among the threats of fundamentalism.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "An important moment of grace for the life of the Church in Mumbai and India": this is how Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, greets the Golden Jubilee of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA), published after the Second Vatican Council to regulate the catechumenate. This anniversary has value because it falls in the Year of Faith, "inaugurated by Benedict XVI precisely to mark the 50th anniversary of the Council." For the Archbishop, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), the catechumenate "is a responsibility of all the baptized" and its anniversary calls us "urgently to renew evangelization in Asia to live our faith without fear and be witnesses to proclaim the Gospel in the midst of continual changes of this continent". To mark the occasion, AsiaNews interviewed Fr. Terence Murray, director of the Center for Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Bombay.

How does the New Evangelization respond to challenges of those asking for Baptism?

New Evangelization first challenges Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith and Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel to those region awaiting the first Evangelization where the Gospel has not been proclaimed so that those seeking baptism may know who the Lord is and make their commitment to him.

India is a multi-religious multi-cultural pluralistic society, does this deep inner Spirituality ultimately lead the seeker to Christ?

Given our multi-religious, cultural and pluralistic society, one spiritual heritage surely leads many to a personal encounter with a living God and this is possible for the already existing spirituality in our country, those seekers are not looking for a superficial encounter but a deep personal encounter which only Lord Jesus can fill and make complete.

With the current trends of fundamentalism, what can you say, about those, who seek Baptism , has fundamentalism, deterred or hampered conversions to the Christian faith?

If I understand Baptism as God's grace then no power, person or principality can be greater than God. God's grace is operative in ways more than one and no one can ever quench the working of the Holy Spirit who is the agent of Evangelization.

It is different to state what fundamentalism can do. One can be infant get stronger and live his /her faith in the most different situation if one is anchored in God and knows that God alone suffices, but the one who is a nominal in his/her faith it makes no difference, conversion is metanoia and to repent & believe are the two riches of faith.

The Church in Mumbai responded 50 years ago and began the RCIA, can you share this journey with us?

This has been a journey, where each of us witnessed the Faithfulness of God, the Church in Mumbai responded enthusiastically to the Sacrosanctum Concilium 64-66.  The enthusiasm of the clergy was remarkable, many took it upon themselves as an invitation from the Lord as the old ecclesiological maxim stated "Salvation of the soul is the highest law". "Salus animarum suprema lex". So far some of it was a short term instruction that they taught those waiting to embrace the faith some prayer which for others it was giving them the essentials of the Catholic faith and still others it was a systematic faith formation programme.

The Feast of  the Conversion of St. Paul and the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul are especially important for all, the neophytes , the baptised to encourage and share  and help each other  to grow in the knowledge and understanding of faith and the Catholic tradition, and then in turn, continue to make themselves available to share that faith with others"