Bengaluru: The 33rd General body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) got off to a solemn start on Friday at St. John’s Medical College. The day began with the Eucharistic Mass presided over by Most Rev. Giambattista Diquattro, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal.
In his Homily, the Nuncio reminded the Bishops that today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a call for an encounter with the Lord that leads to an encounter with the people. Four Cardinals from India, The chief guest at the Inaugural Session, Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Archbishops, Bishops, Directors of National centres, Secretaries of CBCI Offices/Councils, Regional Deputy Secretaries and faithful participated in the Holy Eucharist.
In inaugural function that followed, the Chief Guest Cardinal Charles Bo speaking on the theme ‘How the Church Lives Unity in Diversity in Myanmar’, he explained how the Church in Myanmar faced great challenges including nationalization of Catholic schools and activities and how it responded with faith and courage.
He was in admiration of India. “India represents over 100 cultural groups in the church. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Mumbai to Mizoram, India church proves ‘service is power’. In that sense the Indian church is truly Catholic,” the Cardinal added.
His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, the President of the CBCI, emphasised the contributions of the Catholic Church in nation building and affirmed that the Church is at the service of the nation. “Unity is one of our greatest asset both as the bishops – conference as Catholics. May be the path to unity is led by the issues of the nation. While pastoral issues can have a diocesan focus. Church needs credibility through taking up social issues at the national level,” Cardinal Cleemis added.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the CBCI, reporting on the life and activity of the Catholic Church pointed out that the Church continued its mission of service and witness and will continue it despite very strong challenges and difficulties. “. It is our ardent hope that building on the tireless efforts which our President Cardinal Baselios Cleemis has been putting in, we would have the grace and blessing of a papal visit to India in the near future,” he added.
“As we look forward towards the future it is my conviction that we Bishops are called for a special task even as our fellow citizens look up to us for leadership, for our voice of conscience, for courage, prudence and wisdom,” the Bishop added.
His Eminence Cardinal Charles Bo, and Most Rev. Giambattista Diquattro, were given a traditional welcome with shawls and Mysore Peta by Cardinal Cleemis and Archbishop Bernard Moras.
Wishes and messages from Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India, Pope Francis and Prefects of the Congregations for Evangelization and Oriental Rites were read out to the gathering by Most Rev. Filipe Neri, the second Vice President of the CBCI.
Later, the newly appointed Bishops and the Jublilarians were honoured. Most. Rev. Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, the first Vice president of the CBCI proposed the vote of thanks. The program concluded with the singing of the National Anthem and praying of the Angelus.
The Bishops will continue discussing issues affecting the Church for the next six days.