03/10/2016, 14.27
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Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas is the new General Secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference

by Nirmala Carvalho

The auxiliary bishop of Ranchi talks about the challenges of the apostolic mission of the Church, and in particular those in the field of health and education. In "remote areas of India only the Church takes care of the poor". Card. Baselios Cleemis confirmed as president.


Bangalore (AsiaNews) - Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, was elected General Secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI) during the 32nd Plenary Assembly of Bishops being held in Bangalore. Card. Baselios Cleemis was confirmed as president.

The bishop has an in depth knowledge of the situation of tribal poor in India and the work of the Catholic Church in their favor. He told AsiaNews: " The Catholic church has always been concerned about the poor. Its services are geared to all peoples but specially to the poor. One has to see the Catholic church in the remotest areas to understand how the church has selflessly served the nation, its poor, its marginalized and its dalits. The Hospitals and schools in the cities do not reflect the whole story. The  real story is told by thousands of schools and hundreds of in remotest areas where no one but the Church has gone years ago. The mercy of God, as defined by the Holy father Pope Francis is shown through these institutions".

The new Secretary General of CBCI has worked for years in the diocese of Ranchi, in Jharkhand state, where most of the population belong to tribal communities.

Jharkhand is among the poorest of the whole Union. According to the CBCI Society for North India Medical Education, 43,96% of the population in the state lives below the poverty line; 12.5% ​​of the population suffers from lack of food, compared to a national average of 2.3%. In addition, the maternal and infant mortality rate is very high: 371 women out of 100 thousand births die in childbirth; 69 children per 1,000 do not survive after birth.

This is why recently the diocese has promoted the construction of a hospital of 500 beds, the Constant Lievens Hospital and Medical College, which is expected to begin shortly.

Then speaking of the various social challenges facing the Church in India, the bishop said: "The country is facing many problems: we must uphold the dignity of the human person. It is more important than anything else".

The Indian bishops present at the plenary, he continues, "are working on several issues, including that of freedom of religion. Every person has the right to freely choose their beliefs. "

As for the environmental crisis underscored primarily by Pope Francis, Msgr. Mascarenhas concludes: "Forced migration in the name of development is leaving thousands of people landless and homeless. Migration is taking place at the cost of human dignity. The Church wants to address all these issues as a priority during the year of mercy".

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