By Thomas Scaria
Bangalore, November 7, 2022: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) began its 35th General Assembly on November 7 with the Inaugural Mass presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli at the National Academy of Sciences of St John’s health in Bangalore.
The nuncio also gave the opening speech on the same day.
The opening session saw CBCI President Cardinal Oswald Gracias deliver the presidential address and Secretary General Archbishop Felix Machado present the report of the past four years.
The General Assembly, the supreme organ of the Church in India, is addressing the theme “Communion, participation and mission of the Catholic Church in India” during the plenary from November 6 to 11.
More than 200 active bishops and 64 retired bishops from 174 dioceses attend the meeting with the secretaries of the various CBCI offices.
The Prelates will “introspect the efforts of the Church in India, on how to journey together in order to collaborate in nation-building,” reads a press release from the CBCI Secretariat.
Members of the CBCI office met with the press on November 6 to explain the dynamics of the program.
Although bishops usually meet every two years, they have been unable to meet for the past four years due to Covid-19 and subsequent national lockdowns.
Their last meeting took place from February 2 to 9, 2018, at the same place, on the theme “I am always with you, even until the end of time”. No less than 184 bishops attended the last meeting.
The CBCI represents approximately 22 million Catholics in India belonging to the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches.
The Church in India dates back to 52 AD, when the Apostle Saint Thomas arrived on the Malabar Coast to preach the gospel.
Archbishop Machado told the press conference that the Church in India has been involved in “nation building as an integrated community” of the country and continues to do so.
“Today, the Catholic Church in India operates over 54,000 educational institutions, which provide education to almost 60 million children and young people, and over 20,000 hospitals, clinics, dispensaries and other centers health care,” added the Archbishop, who leads the Diocese of Vasai in the state of Maharashtra.
The Church is also involved in disaster and calamity relief and social work and helps the poor in remote areas of the country through more than 60,000 priests and brothers, 125,000 nuns and thousands of people.
The bishops must also debate on the theme “Synodalism: the call to be a synodal Church. “All the dioceses in the country have gone through the process of discussing synodality at the grassroots level,” says CBCI.
New ways have been discussed and are being implemented on how all sections of the parish and diocese can be involved in walking together for one mission of Christ. Workshops will also be held which will result in the Assembly’s final statement which the Bishops will strive to implement in the next two years.