By Robin Gomes
The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) that brings together the Latin bishops of the country’s 132 dioceses, concluded its plenary assembly on Monday establishing two new commissions, a CCBI press release said.
143 bishops participating in CCBI’s 31st Plenary Assembly held in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu state, from January 7 to 14, voted in favour of establishing the new Commissions for Ecology and for Small Christian Communities (SCC).
The bishops’ decision to start a Commission for Ecology is in response to the appeal of Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si” published in 2015, in which the Pope urges all people of good will to take care of our universe.
The proposal was discussed earlier in the 79th Executive Committee meeting of the CCBI held on 1 May 2018 in Bangalore. Aware of the importance and urgency of responding to the environmental challenges in India and trying to embark on a new path to care for and protect the environment, the Bishops felt the need to establish a commission to deal with the issue.
Auxiliary Bishop Alwyn D’Silva of Bombay Archdiocese has been elected the chairman of the Commission for Ecology.
Small Christian Communities
The new Commission for Small Christian Communities is to promote the Gospel values at the grass root level and prepare all faithful to witness the compassionate ministry of the Church in their local life situations.
Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas of Simla-Chandigarh is the chairman of the Commission for Small Christian Communities.
The Diocese of Chingelput of Bishop Neethinathan Anthonisamy that hosted the weeklong plenary assembly accorded a public reception to the participants on Sunday at the Bishop’s House. It included a Holy Mass presided over by outgoing CCBI president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay.
CCBI plenary ends
The CCBI plenary assembly came to an end on Monday with a thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration by the new CCBI president, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão.
During the Mass, the bishops entrusted themselves and their dioceses to Divine Providence and prayed for the people of India.
The bishops also participated in a Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction led by Archbishop George Antonysamy of Madras Mylapore, the new CCBI vice president.
The apex body of the Catholic Church in India is the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), that bring together the Latin-rite (CCBI) and two eastern rites – the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches that claim their origin from St. Thomas the Apostle.
With 189 bishops from 132 dioceses, the CCBI is the largest bishops’ conference in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.
The chairmen of other CCBI Commissions are as follows:
* Commission for Boundary - Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Damao
* Commission for Bible - Bishop Antonysamy Peter Abir of Sultanpet
* Commission for Catechetics - Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar
* Commission for Canon Las and Other Legislative Texts – Bishop Derek Fernandes of Karwar
* Commission for Ecumenism – Bishop Francis Serrao SJ of Shimoga
* Commission for Family - Coadjutor Archbishop Sebastian Kallupura of Patna -
* Commission for Laity – Bishop Eugene Joseph of Varanasi
* Commission for Liturgy – Archbishop Dominic Jala SDB of Shillong
* Commission for Migrants – Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur of Raipur
* Commission for Proclamation – Bishop Raphy Manjaly of Allahabad
* Commission for Theology and Doctrine – Archbishop Felix Toppo SJ of Ranchi
* Commission for Vocations – Bishop Udumala Bala of Warangal
* Commission for Women – Bishop Francis Kalist of Meerut
* Commission for Youth – Bishop Nazarene Soosai of Kottar