09/16/2017, 13.43
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Mumbai celebrates Card. Gracias, 'prophetic voice' and guide of the Indian Church

by Nirmala Carvalho

Celebrations for the 20th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. The cardinal is highly esteemed by religious and political leaders. The relationship of friendship with Mother Teresa and her battles for the marginalized. The Archbishop of Mumbai's commitment to the universal Church.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) -As Cardinal Oswald Gracias observes the 20th Anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination on 16th September, the Church in Mumbai and India celebrate the Prophetic Voice of the Shepherd, who has guided the Church in India with Faith and Conviction, but above all could read the signs of the times and respond with courage.


Made an Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay in 1997, Cardinal Gracias has served the Archdiocese and the Church with singular distinction and a razor-sharp intellect. Hard-working, and a charming prelate, Cardinal Gracias is not just an  ecclesiastical star, but  in our pluralistic Indian society, is courted by religious leaders of other denominations and Faiths, and also by  politicians of every stripe.


In the past twenty years, since he was ordained Bishop, Indian society has undergone numerous social, economic and political changes and Cardinal Gracias has established himself as a key voice, never succumbing to pressures - both subtle and overt. He has always stood firm, defending the Faith and the Church.


Cardinal Gracias continues to be an ardent advocate for Justice and Peace, for the poor and the marginalised, the unborn and the vulnerable and protection of the Environment. He remains an outspoken defender of marriage, the family and is attentive to what is really happening in the lives of his faithful and also people of other Faiths.


Cardinal Oswald suffers the pain of those who are excluded; the sick, those with special needs and the elderly.  During the Jubilee of Mercy, on his visit to Shanti Avedna, Cardinal said of the terminally ill, “they are our benefactors! Emphasising, “as reaching out to those in need & we will feel the joy & peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a Grace for me". Thus in his own person Cardinal counters Pope Francis’s powerful metaphor of a “throw-away culture”


Despite his hectic work and travel schedules and of course, being Archbishop of Bombay, His Eminence finds time to visit the sick priests and spend time with people in distress and the disadvantaged.  Time is a luxury, that our Cardinal does not have, yet the day after Christmas, bearing gifts in his hands,  Cardinal visits the Cloistered Carmelite Nuns, “I come to visit you, as you cannot come to see me” he joyfully tells them.


Cardinal Gracias known for his diplomatic skills, does not hesitate to draw lines in the sand when he believes that core matters of Catholic identity are at stake, as he has done, when he stated: “Religious Freedom is Non-Negotiable”  or on a contentious issue,  “the Church has “never considered gay people criminals”.


Cardinal Gracias enjoys the respect and confidence of Pope Francis and is one of nine cardinals from around the world who sit on the Holy Father’s council of Cardinal advisers, known colloquially as the “C9,” whose advice he relies on in making management decisions for the universal Church.  He also serves as President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences as well as President of the Catholic Conference of Bishops' India. As President of the Episcopal Conferences, Cardinal has been a leading voice, calling for an end to discrimination against Dalit Christians, demanding the government of India grant Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians.



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