11/27/2004, 00.00
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Bear witness with joy, says Apostolic Nuncio

by Nirmala Carvalho
Mgr Quintana met 160 pilgrims from different parts of India and invited them "to radiate the happiness that comes from being Christian".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – In a meeting held at the chapel of the nunciature in New Delhi, Mgr Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio in India and Nepal, exhorted a group of 160 pilgrims from different parts of India speaking various languages to keep bearing witness of their faith.

The Papal Nuncio told the gathering: "Welcome to the House of Peter. This is the House of Peter and I am his representative. As you are aware, this is Vatican territory".

Mgr Quintana had just returned from a pastoral visit to the southern state of Kerala, which in the recent past has witnessed many attacks on Christian Missionaries. He spoke to the pilgrims for a long time urging them to "continue in the act of bearing witness".

Speaking the same words that John Paul II spoke immediately after his election as Pope, he told the pilgrims: "Do not be afraid and reach into the depth of your faith. Radiate the happiness that comes from being Christian and share it with everyone. The church is asking you to consecrate yourself to the mission for we can count on His Help and Blessing".

The Nuncio further said: "I pray you may maintain the same enthusiasm, joy and energy. We need to be alive in faith to joyfully proclaim the Word of God" because the "successor of Peter is witness to the faith in the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ."

The Pope, he stressed, embodies the "reference point Christ gave us", and following the example and witness of John Paul II "we can renew our faith".

Mgr Quintana reminded his audience that through their witness they can confirm their desire to "belong to the Church which is the communion of people who believe".

Encouraging the pilgrims who at times face persecution because of their love for life and large families, he added: "Your enthusiasm does fill people with fear because your joy is so infectious that it disturbs anything that is settled". He also urged them to be patient because "this sacrifice will increase your own joy. Do things in a spirit of charity and persuade others with soft ways and love. Invite them but do not force them."

Finally, the Nuncio told the pilgrims 'to fight against routine" because the Gospel is something new everyday. "Be joyful," he told them, "because a spirit filled with joy is a precious source for witness."

A group of catechists led the 160 pilgrims; among them 14 priests and 4 deacons from the 'Neo-Catechumenal Way' (a religious movement founded by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez).

Ranging in age from 22 to 84 years, these men and women from different social and cultural backgrounds had come from Bangalore (Karnataka), Karwar (a town along Karnataka's coastline) and Mumbai (India's commercial capital) and gathered at the Diocesan Seminary in Mumbai before setting off on the pilgrimage.

Before their journey, they celebrated mass in Mumbai's Mount Mary Basilica in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai, placing themselves under the protection and patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mother and welcoming Her into their hearts, homes and apostolic service.

The pilgrims then proceeded to New Delhi confessing their faith by reciting the Creed before 'The Rock" in order that He may confirm them in the Faith. The Creed was sung in Tamil, Konkani and English.

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