03/11/2014, 00.00
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For Card Gracias, Pope Francis' first year centred on the Church's first task, the mission

by Card. Oswald Gracias
The archbishop of Mumbai gives his thoughts. "Since his election, Francis has strengthened the mission of the Church in India, focusing on 'an option for the poor' as a concrete way of proclaiming God's love in today's world."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In order to give thanks for the first year of Pope Francis' pontificate, who said " the first task of the Church is the mission," Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, and 32 priests will celebrate Mass on Thursday, anniversary of the election.

On the 18th, together with four bishops from his archdiocese, the cardinal will lead the Eucharistic adoration and thanksgiving prayers for the Pope.

On the 19th, Solemnity of St Joseph and the day of the inauguration of the pontificate, the prelate will lead a Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Name, to give thanks to the Holy Father and ask God to continue granting his graces and blessings to the pope.

The cardinal's thoughts about the first year of Francis' pontificate follow.

Let us give thanks to our Heavenly Father for our Holy Father, as we celebrate the first year of his election to the Chair of St Peter, in continuity of the Papacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

For the universal Church and the Church in India, this has been a year of a joyful journey, full of solidarity and fraternity.

On March 13th, 2013, when Pope Francis came to the balcony, he said, "Let us begin this journey together." For "the successor and the people, for the Roman Catholic Church, this is a journey of friendship, love, trust, and faith between us. Let us pray always for one another. Let us pray for the whole world. Let us be held by a strong brotherhood."

"In India, we celebrate this journey of friendship, love, trust, and faith. We celebrate with prayer and works of compassion and charity, and we rededicate our Mission to serve the peoples of our country and work for nation building".

Since his election in March last year, Pope Francis has strengthened the Mission of the Church in India, advocating "an option for the poor" as an effective way of proclaiming God's love in today's world and attract others to the Gospel message, as India celebrates its greatest modern missionary, Mother Teresa of Kolkata.

Pope Francis emphasised evangelisation and the mission as the highest priority for the Church. "May the whole ministry be in a missionary key."

In India, we are blessed with the mortal remains of the Patron Saint of the Mission, St Francis Xavier.

The Holy Father has stressed the Church's social teaching as an integral part of the Gospel message to be proclaimed in the mission, noting, "The income of a minority is increasing exponentially and that of the majority is crumbling."

For India, this is a major challenge in terms of justice and peace. Indeed, income inequality is growing in the country, widening the gap between rich and poor.

Pope Francis has also begun a revolution of tenderness. His is a voice of conscience, a voice that proclaims the reality of "brotherhood and friendship in Christ."

Pope Francis lives by the principles of devoted and genuine brotherhood, which was so evident in the meeting of the council of cardinals.

The Archdiocese of Bombay and the entire Church in India are praying for Pope Francis as he leads the Church into the future.

A Pope whose pontificate echoes' his latest document, The Joy of the Gospel, begins "a new chapter of evangelisation, full of fervour, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction."

God Bless Pope Francis!

God Bless India

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