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India's Latin-rite bishops. India's Latin-rite bishops.  

India’s Latin-rite bishops' plenary assembly

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) is holding its 31st plenary assembly in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, January 8 to 14 on the theme, “The Joy of the Gospel”.

By Robin Gomes

India’s Latin-rite bishops are holding their plenary assembly next week in the seaside town of Mahabalipuram in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state. 

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin-rite bishops, is holding its 31st plenary assembly at the Joe Animation Centre from January 8 to 14 on the theme, “Evangelii Gaudium”, or “The Joy of the Gospel”, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis that deals with the Church’s primary mission of evangelizations in the modern world.   

The bishops “will chalk out detailed programmes and action plans to revitalize the ministry of love and compassion of the Church at the diocesan and parish levels,” wrote CCBI Secretary-General Father Stephen Alathara in a statement on January 2.

The assembly will be inaugurated January 8 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro.  CCBI president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay will preside over the inaugural meeting.


Several speakers, including a nun and a lay man are scheduled to address the bishops on various aspects and ways to promote the “Joy of the Gospel” in the Church in India by upholding the ministry of love and compassion.

The CCBI plenary meeting will also look into the present situation of the Church in India.

The secretaries of the fourteen commissions and the three departments of the CCBI will present the biennial reports of the activities for the year 2017 and 2018. The Bishops will evaluate the programmes and plan out future activities of the commissions and other bodies that come under the jurisdiction of the CCBI.

The assembly members will elect new office bearers and commission chairmen.   

CCBI president, Card. Gracias is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic Church in India that includes bishops of India’s 3 ritual Churches – the Latin and the two eastern rites, the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara.  The cardinal also served as the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), ending his 2 terms on December 31.

The weeklong plenary assembly includes a day of recollection guided by the well-known theologian and preacher, Fr. Anil Dev of the Indian Missionary Society of Varanasi.  Also on the agenda is a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas, the Apostle of India and to the Marian shrines during which the Church and the dioceses in India will be entrusted to the patronage of St. Thomas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The host Diocese of Chingleput headed by its Bishop Anthonysamy Neethinathan will accord the CCBI participants a solemn public reception on January 13.  It will include a Holy Mass presided over by Card. Gracias at the Bishop’s House ground.

The CCBI plenary assembly will conclude with a Holy Mass on January 14 presided over by the newly elected CCBI president.

According to Fr. Alathara, the CCBI, with 132 dioceses and 189 bishops, is the largest bishops’ conference in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.

03 January 2019, 17:59