By Robin Gomes
India’s Latin-rite bishops on Saturday elected new office bearers.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman was elected the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) during the 31st Plenary Assembly of the CCBI that is taking place at the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.
143 Latin-rite bishops from 132 Latin-rite dioceses are participating in the plenary meeting, January 7-14.
Arch. Ferrao takes over from Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who served as president for three terms of two years each from 2013 to 2019.
Archbishop George Antonysamy of Madras and Mylapore has been re-elected
Archbishop Ferrao, 65, served as vice president from 2011 to 2017. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Goa and Damao at the age of 40, on 20
He also served as vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic Church of India that brings together the bishops of the CCBI and the 2 eastern-rite Churches of India – the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara.
Archbishop Ferrao is currently the chairman of the Office of Education and Faith Formation (
Archbishop Antonysamy, 66, has held various responsibilities in the Holy See’s diplomatic missions in Africa, Asia and the Baltic nations. He served as Apostolic Nuncio to Guinea, Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2005 to 2008. He was also Charge D’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Jordan. In 2012 he was appointed the 6th Archbishop of Chennai-Mylapore Archdiocese.
Archbishop Couto was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi in 2000 and was later transferred to Jullundur as bishop in 2007. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Delhi in 2012.
The CCBI plenary assembly is deliberating on the theme “The Joy of the Gospel” to chart a detailed action plan to revitalize the ministry of love and compassion for the Church at the diocesan and parish levels.
Pope Francis sent his blessing to the participants at the start of the CCBI plenary meeting praying that their discussions bear much fruit in their service of God's people, as they strive to grow in faith and charity. In a message sent by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope urged that the faithful in India live out their vocation joyfully and generously.
The Secretaries of the fourteen Commissions and the three Departments of the CCBI presented their biennial reports of the activities for the year 2017 and 2018.
The Bishops evaluated the programmes of the CCBI Commissions of Bible, Catechetics, Canon Law and Other Legislative Texts, Ecumenism, Family, Laity, Liturgy, Migration, Proclamation, Theology and Doctrine, Vocations, Women and Youth and the Departments of Pontifical Mission Organizations (PMO), Conference of Diocesan Priests of India (CDPI) and the Association of Rectors of Major Seminaries (ARMS).
Well-known theologian and preacher, Father Anil Dev IMS from Varanasi, conducted a one-day recollection for the plenary participants.
Until recently, Card. Gracias headed 3 important bishops’ conferences of Asia at the same time. He was president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) for 2 terms until December 31. He just ended his presidency of CCBI but continues to head the CBCI as president.
The CCBI is the largest bishops’ conference in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. It consists of 132 dioceses with 189 bishops.