10/16/2006, 00.00
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"Strengthening the faith of the community," says the new archbishop of Mumbai

by Nirmala Carvalho
Following his new appointment as head of the archdiocese of India's economic hub, Mgr Gracias tells AsiaNews his new pastoral plan. The prelate replaces Cardinal Dias who was appointed chairman of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples last May.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – "Strengthening the faith of the community and making it more service-oriented towards the Church, the city, and our country," are the key elements in Oswald Gracias's "pastoral plan". The newly-appointed bishop of Mumbai spoke to AsiaNews soon after the official announcement came about his nomination by the Vatican.

The Catholic community welcomed the news with joy and satisfaction. The new archbishop is seen as a capable man with the right knowledge about the pastoral needs of the diocese.

Mgr Gracias, 61, replaces Card Ivan Dias, who was appointed by Benedict XVI to the chairmanship of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

The prelate, who has already served as auxiliary bishop of Mumbai and then archbishop of Agra, chairs the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). Expert in Canon Law, he also heads the CBCI's Social Communication Commission.

Mgr Bosco Penha, administrator of the archdiocese of Mumbai, said he "was happy for the appointment". Mgr Gracias, he noted, "is perfect for the Church of Mumbai. He'll be a discerning leader and in these historic times will be a passionate defender of the Catholic identity in words and witness." For Bishop Penha, Gracias is "a great leader who will promote harmony, unity and communion".

Based on the new archbishop's portrait, AsiaNews has determined that his best qualities are: "simplicity, humility and his superlative pastoral skills and experiences."

Dolphy D'Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, a local Catholic social agency, expressed his full appreciation for Gracias, to whom he offered "full collaboration".

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For Catholics in India Cardinal Dias is the right man for the evangelisation of peoples
Mumbai cardinal prays before the Holy Shroud for the Indian Church
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