Cardinal Gracias new President of the Indian Bishops’ Conference
By Sr. Carmel Ann
Almost 200 bishops are attending the 33rd General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), which is taking place at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Koramangala, Bengaluru. It is scheduled to wrap up on 9 February.
The Meeting foresees the election of a new President and of other Conference officials and provides an occasion to reflect on its mission.
At the heart of the theme chosen by the Bishops for their deliberations is Jesus’ assurance that He will accompany His Church at all times and in all circumstances, and it highlights their commitment that they will remain united in diversity for a mission of mercy and witness.
Even though the Church in India has been one of the greatest promoters of unity in diversity it has been facing immense challenges to serve and witness. At the ongoing General Body Meeting the bishops will discuss how the Church can be the ‘leaven in the dough’ so that all men and women of good will, cutting across religious, social and political lines, can unite to preserve the secular fabric of the country and uphold its Constitutional values. The bishops will also deliberate on how the Church can continue to witness the love of Jesus Christ and selflessly serve the nation.
The Church wishes to actively involve itself in open and full dialogue with followers of all religions and ideologies so that together they can promote peace and harmonious living.
As per the tradition of the CBCI, the new Office-Bearers are elected on a basis of rotation among the Rites. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, was elected the new President.
Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Bishop of the Eparchy of Mavelikara and Archbishop George Njaralakatt, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tellicherry, were elected as first and second Vice-Presidents. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, continues his three year term as Secretary General.
Outgoing President, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis and Vice-Presidents, Archbishops Andrews Thazhath and Filipe Neri Ferrão, were no longer eligible for election having already completed two terms.
The CBCI is the main body of the Catholic Church, which counts more than 20 million members.