08/22/2020, 15.19
INDIA
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The Syro-Malabar Synod ends with pledge to help the new COVID-19 poor

by Biju Veticad

Due to pandemic-related health regulations, the synod was held via videoconference. Some 61 bishops joined in from all around the world. Participants called on the “faithful to increase the nation’s production capacity, encouraging agricultural and industrial activities.” They also urged cooperation with the authorities to help society’s poorest, irrespective of caste or creed. Since the start of the pandemic, the Syro-Malabar Church has spent US$ 7.3 million to help the poor.

 

Ernakulam (AsiaNews) – The second session of the 28th Synod of Syro-Malabar Church ended last night. During the three-day conference, participants examined and discussed the Church's commitment to the poor in the age of the pandemic.

The synod’s first session was held earlier this year, from 7 to 15 January 2020; the second one took place from 19 to 21 August via videoconference due to health regulations to contain COVID-19.

Overall, 61 out of 64 Syro-Malabar bishops joined in, from Toronto to Sydney, from Italy to Great Britain, as did the bishops of Kerala and other Indian dioceses.

In his opening address, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Card George Alencherry, said that the time had come to make fundamental changes in the pastoral care of the faithful.

Other speakers spoke about what the Church did for the faithful and for the population during the pandemic. the most important point though was the discussion about the socio-economic consequences of the epidemic on ordinary people.

To this end, “The Church,” said Card Alencherry, “should focus on the integral development of the faithful.”

The prelate also urged the bishops to work with the authorities to host, for example, quarantined expatriates in Church institutions,  as well as help the faithful achieve some financial security.

"We need to encourage our faithful to boost the nation’s production capacity, encouraging agricultural and industrial activities,” he said.

However, the most pressing issue is ensuring food for all those who have been badly affected by the health emergency. Church authorities, institutions and parishes must help society’s poor, irrespective of caste or creed, the cardinal explained.

India has reported so far 2,975,701 cases with 55,794 deaths. But the economic consequences have been even more serious. Due to the lockdown, hundreds of millions of domestic migrant workers have lost their jobs, increasing the number of the extreme poor.

Recognising that the government alone cannot solve these problems, Syro-Malabar Church has offered to help the authorities any way possible.

Meanwhile, since the start of the pandemic in India, the Church has spent at least US$ 7.3 million to help the needy, through its social service department (Spandhan).

During their deliberations, the bishops expressed appreciation for the parishes that provide rice and vegetables at the entrance of their churches for the needy, who are encouraged to take what they without asking for permission.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the Synod, the bishops urge the faithful to follow Jesus, who got involved with the poor, fed them and created a Church that stands by them, that is a "poor Church", as Pope Francis often points out.

Alencherry took advantage of the occasion to thank the pontiff for making the Church of Saint Anastasia available to the Syro-Malabar community in Rome.

For the bishops, ultimately, the best way to express our humanity and fraternal love is to give food to the hungry.

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