Bangalore, February 13, 2020: The 34th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) began on the 13th February with the commencement of the Holy Eucharist presided over by His Excellency Giambattista Diquattro, the Apostolic Nuncio to India, along with His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of CBCI, His Eminence George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church and His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Church, and the CBCI Office-bearers, Archbishops and Bishops from all over the county. There were also a great number of priests, religious and lay faithful took part in the service.
The Inaugural session marked the beginning with the lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries. His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, accorded a warm welcome to all the dignitaries and the participants. In his speech, he mentioned that Bangalore is known for hospitality and goodwill to those who come for various purposes. Undoubtedly, there is an influx of migrants from different parts of the nation who come here for their education and work. This year the Archdiocese is celebrating the “Year of the Poor”, since our primary commitment is to follow the footsteps of Lord Jesus Christ who reached out God’s mercy and compassion, love and care to the needy and the poor. For a meaningful celebration, the following 10 action plans have been initiated, namely: simple life style; avoidance culture of waste; education of the poor children; feeding the hungry; healing the sick; supporting the imprisoned; welcoming the immigrants; provide shelter to the homeless and concern for specially abled. He also wished the participants a comfortable stay and a fruitful deliberation at this Plenary Assembly.
The Apostolic Nuncio conveyed to the participants the good wishes and the blessings of Pope Francis, and also assured them that he would convey to His Holiness their filial greetings. He appreciated the services rendered by different Catholic Organizations under the leadership of the local bishops. The Nuncio stressed that, “the proclamation of the good news must be carried out through the joyful services.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of CBCI, and also one of the advisors to the Holy Father Pope Francis, informed the participants that the CBCI completes 75 years since its inception, and it is also one of the largest Bishops’ Conferences in the world. For better service to the people, he called for effective and dynamic leadership.
The Theme of the Assembly is Dialogue: The Path to Truth and Charity. And as such, all of us are called to walk together in harmony and solidarity to live with one another in harmony and peace. The Church has been always championing the cause for continuous dialogue and peaceful interaction to build the world community. Hence, we have to break down walls of separation and build the bridges of unity.
Archbishop George Njaralakatt, Vice President-II, read out the Congratulatory Messages from the Prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Vice President-I of CBCI, read out the detailed report of the activities of the CBCI during the past two years and also mentioned the nominations of the new bishops and the retirement of the bishops who attained their superannuation of 75 years. He also expressed his deepest condolences on the demise of the bishops in the past 2 years. He elaborated the point that the Church in India carried out its dedicated service in spite of hardships, crises and conflicts in certain parts of the country. The CBCI through its various commissions has been rendering commendable services to all the people without any discrimination in the fields of education, social work, health care and ecology. He placed on record the dedicated services of the retired and demised bishops to the CBCI.
Fr. Paul Parathazham, Director of St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, and the local host, welcomed the participants and gave them a few guidelines for their stay.
Rev. Fr. Jervis D’Souza, the Deputy Secretary General of CBCI, proposed the vote of thanks, he thanked all those who made the inaugural function a grand success, particularly the Apostolic Nuncio and the CBCI office bearers with their kind presence.
This 34th Plenary Assembly of CBCI will end on 19th February 2020. One of the meeting days the participants will have the three separate meetings specifically related to the three rites, namely, Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches.
The participants will deliberate on the theme extensively with a view to finding out new avenues for dialogue and unity within and outside the Christian community. The representatives of other religions have been invited to address the participants to share their views on the theme of the assembly.