His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis to address press conference on 1st Feb 2018.
Nearly 200 Bishops will be meeting together at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Koramangala, Bengaluru from 2nd to 9th February for the biennial meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). The CBCI is the apex body of the Catholic Church, which has more than 20 million members.
The theme chosen by the Bishops for deliberations is “I am with you always, even to the end of the ages” (Mat.28:20) UNITED IN DIVERSITY FOR A MISSION OF MERCY AND WITNESS. The theme in its first part basis itself on Jesus’ assurance that he will accompany his Church at all times and in all circumstances. This is what gives it strength and courage in its mission of service and witness to all humankind.
The General Body Meeting comes at a time when the Catholic Church in India is facing immense challenges to serve and witness. The Church has been one of the greatest promoters of unity in diversity. But groups and organizations wishing to promote cultural and religious nationalism are becoming bolder. Mob lynchings of people on the pretext of cow smuggling, cow slaughter or beef eating have created a fear psychosis in certain sections of the population. Killing of dissenting journalists, the recent mob attacks including an assault on a school bus full of children in protest against a movie are disturbing signs in our traditionally secular and largely peaceful society.
Incidents in Madhya Pradesh like the one in Satna, in which innocent carol singing priests and seminarians were abused, beaten and arrested and the attempt in Vidisha by more than 800 miscreants to enter a Catholic College and forcibly perform poojas and aartis in the name of pseudo nationalism have left the Bishops worried and upset.
Support from the Government authorities both at the Centre and the State, specially our Minister for tourism Mr. Alphonse Kananatham and Members of Parliament like Mr Conrad Sangma helped in keeping the situation under control in the two above mentioned cases. However, the way the poison of communal, caste, and religious bigotism and hatred is being spread in the country is troubling and disquieting.
The Bishops will discuss how the Church can be the leaven in the dough so that all men and women of good will, cutting across religious, social and political lines can unite to preserve the secular fabric of the country and uphold the constitutional values.
The Bishops will also deliberate on how the Church can continue to witness the love of Jesus Christ and selflessly serve the nation. Reflections will veer around finding new ways of partnering the Governments at the state and central level in nation building and developmental projects with a special concern for the dalits, tribals and the marginalized. The Church wishes to actively involve itself in open and full dialogue with followers of all religions and ideologies so that together we can promote peace and harmonious living.
The General Body meeting will begin on 2nd February 2018 with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro at 9 AM. Cardinal Charles Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar will be the Chief Guest at the inaugural function. Cardinal Baselios Cleemis the President of the CBCI will deliver the Presidential Address and preside over the whole General Body Meeting.
The Bishops will also elect the President and two Vice Presidents for a term of two years. Offices and Councils as well as other CBCI affiliated organizations will report on their activities and the Bishops will deliberate the way forward for the work of the church in India. The inaugural Mass and Session will be streamed live on the CBCI Website: www.cbci.in. Catholics all over the country are praying for the success of the General Body meeting.
His Eminence Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, President of the CBCI, will address a Press Conference at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, at 3.00 p.m. on 1st February, 2018, regarding the General Body Meeting.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX
Secretary General, CBCI