By Robin Gomes
“The followers of Christ have the responsibility to promote the Gospel values of mercy and compassion. The Bishops in our country should encourage the faithful to deepen the values of the Gospel in their lives”.
The Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, made the call on Sunday in his inaugural address to the Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), which brings together the bishops of the country’s Latin-rite dioceses.
The daylong plenary assembly, in Bangalore, took place during the February 13-19 Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), that brings together all the bishops of the country.
Archbishop Diquattro presided over the concelebrated Mass in the morning to inaugurate the CCBI’s 32nd Plenary Assembly.
CCBI president, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Daman, who presided over the meeting, spoke about the need to promote brotherhood, peace and nation-building even amidst the difficulties that the Church and the people are facing. He called for the creation of a society without any discrimination of caste, creed, language or ethnicity.
CBCI president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, requested the bishops to promote the culture of life and brotherhood in our country. He expressed serious concern over the new Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of the Central Government, which allows abortion at any time during the pregnancy till the 24-week gestation period.
Reiterating the teaching of the Catholic Church and Pope Francis, he said, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” “The Church has been unwavering in its protection of the sanctity of human life, from conception until natural death. Bishops have the responsibility to spread Christ’s message about the dignity of all human life”, the cardinal stressed.
During the inaugural Mass, special prayers were offered for people affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) in China and in various parts of the world. Archbishop Ferrão requested all to pray continuously for the speedy recovery of those infected by the virus.
The CCBI chose 26 bishops to participate in the three-week Golden Jubilee Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) scheduled for November in Bangkok, Thailand.
India’s Catholic Church is made up of 3 ritual Churches. The Latin rite (CCBI) and the two eastern rites - the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara churches - together make up the CBCI, the apex body of the Catholic Church in India.
With 132 dioceses and 189 bishops, the CCBI is the largest bishops’ conference in Asia.
The CBCI, which was instituted in 1944, turned 75 this year. With 170 dioceses and over 200 active bishops, it the 4th largest bishops’ conferences in the world, after Brazil, Italy and the United States. (Source. CCBI)