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Indian Catholic Bishops Meet to discuss Synodal Synthesis

General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) in Bangalore November 6-11 on theme "Called to be a Synodal Church"

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) opened its 35th general body meeting at the St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences on November 7.

The 35th general body meeting of the CBCI took to a colourful start with the grand inauguration program at St. Johns Auditorium, Bangalore, south India.

Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the CBCI, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Bishop Joshua Ignathios, Vice President of CBCI, Archbishop Felix Machado, Secretary General of the CBCI and Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore gave momentum to the inauguration by lighting a traditional lamp. 

Archbishop Peter Machado welcomed the distinguished dignitaries on the dais and the large gathering of Bishops, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and the lay faithful.

The Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Archbishop Girelli urged that one is not to be timid in propagating and professing one’s faith and defending the rights of the Church. 

Addressing the gathering, Cardinal Gracias said that during the pandemic the Church in general has found various pastoral possibilities through online digital publications and broadcasting. The President of the CBCI also shared the summary of deliberations that took place at the General Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Meeting in October in Bangkok.

The Resource Person and the Chief Guest, Cardinal Grech conveyed the greetings of Pope Francis to his brother bishops in India and told the gathering that the Holy Father is appreciative of the commitment of the Indian bishops.

Emphasizing the Synodal consultation and the very theme of the ongoing CBCI Meeting, “Synodality: The Call to be a Synodal Church,” the Papal Representative urged the participants to delve deeply into the Acts of the Apostles, for in it the first mention of the Synodal Church. 

Archbishop Machado, Secretary General of the CBCI, presented the CBCI Biennial Report. The CBCI Vice President Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios read out the messages from Pope Francis, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Dicastery of Evangelization of Peoples, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. 

Deputy Secretary General of the CBCI, Fr. Jervis DSouza, proposed the vote of thanks, and the inauguration culminated with the singing of the National Anthem. 

35th General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, November 2022 (Press release)

Highlights of First and Second sessions

In the First Session, the three representatives, from the three sui juris churches, namely, Father Sebastian Chalakal (Syro-Malabar)), Father Yesu Karunanidhi (Latin), and Father John Kuttiyil (Syro-Malankara) presented the consolidated Synodal Synthesis reports of their respective Churches. 

The Session was moderated by Bishop Antony Pappusamy, Archbishop of Madurai.

The members observed that the Catholics were very happy that the synodal process gave them an opportunity to express their opinions. The synodal consultation process was very inclusive of various groups such as priests, religious, lay faithful, children, youth, women, religious, migrants, non-Catholics, divorcees, the LGBTs, transgenders, practising and non-practising Christians, atheists, even people of other faiths.

The Second Session in the afternoon started with the Keynote Address by Cardinal Grech, on “The Call to be a Synodal Church.”  This Session was moderated by Bishop Johua Ignathios, Vice-President of the CBCI. Cardinal Grech explained the purpose of the Synod on synodality and the synodal process initiated by Pope Francis.

The Cardinal stressed that the desire of the Holy Father is to promote an ecclesial spirit where everyone participates and owns responsibility for continuing the mission of Jesus Christ. Presently the active participation of the laity is not encouraged much.

Cardinal Grech said that over 1000 Syntheses were received from all over the world, in which, the people expressed their view that the church is too clerical and that the lay faithful are either left out or given less importance. 

Highlighting Synodality from theological, ecclesial, biblical and pastoral dimensions, the Cardinal said that this synodal consultation process galvanized the church and promoted spiritual communion, as is stressed in the synodal working document. and its implications and challenges in the prevalent realities. He appreciated the diocesan, regional and national synodal processes, and the preparation for the Synodal Syntheses at the national level.

At the end of the keynote address, a few Bishops raised the question as to how they can give more freedom to the laity and continue to retain their pastoral authority. Some others wanted to know how to sustain and promote the spirit of Synodality in the present context.

The meeting will go on till November 11.


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