Twenty-five Catholic bishops from all over India last week came together in the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, to take a closer look at the Church’s core mission in the country, AsiaNews reported.
The July 2-7 “Bishops' Joint Reflection Programme” was the initiative of Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI), the official body of the country’s Latin-rite bishops, one of the three rites that make up the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the nation’s apex Catholic bishops’ body.
Touching Christ’s wounds
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and president of both CBCI and CCBI explained to AsiaNews that the purpose of the programme was “to reflect on the mission of the Church and how we can touch the wounds of Jesus".
"St. Thomas the Apostle, whose liturgical memorial recurred on July 3, wanted to touch the wounds of Jesus with his own hands,” Cardinal Gracias explained to AsiaNews. “By touching the wounds of Jesus in the marginalized, in those who suffer or who are sick, we can find Jesus."
In the same world, he added, "for us in India, as it was for St. Thomas at the time, we can recognize Jesus through his wounds: they are the wounds of the abandoned and the needy, the elderly and the poor without a home. They are the wounds of those who live in distant places, the Dalits and tribals, the indigent farmers and those who are in prison, the orphans and widows, those who suffer from miserable poverty ". "The identity of Jesus is his wounds. This is the mission of the Church in India: to touch wounds with tenderness and compassion, " Cardinal Gracias added.
Part of the meeting was a pilgrimage on July 4th to the city’s Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra, where the bishops prayed and dedicated the nation to the protection of the Virgin Mary. From there, they proceeded to St. Michael’s Church in Mahim to participate in a novena in Hindi which concluded with a Eucharistic blessing by Cardinal Gracias. The participants then concelebrated a Mass in the Holy Name Cathedral of Mumbai where they prayed for the archdiocese and the entire Church in Church.
The Mumbai gathering was the second phase of the Bishops' Joint Reflection Programme, after the first held from March 12 to 17. Cardinal Gracias explained that the programme is an initiative born of the 29th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI held in 2017 in Bhopal.
At the closing Mass on Saturday, the cardinal recited a special prayer of consecration, entrusting the mission of the Church in India to the Virgin Mary.
The CBCI comprises the Latin and two eastern rites – the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches that claim their origin from St. Thomas the Apostle. Of the country’s 180 dioceses, 132 belong to the Latin rite. Syro-Malabar Church has 34 dioceses, while the Syro-Malankara has 14. (source: AsiaNews)