Bengaluru: Inaugurating the 32 Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin Church, in Bangalore on Sunday 16 February 2020, His Excellency Most Rev. Giambattista Diquattro, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, exhorted the Bishops in India to urge the faithful to live the Gospel values in the situations of their daily life: “The followers of Christ have the responsibility to promote the Gospel values of mercy and compassion. The Bishops in our country should encourage the faithful to deepen the values of the Gospel in their lives”.
His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias lighting the lamp during the inaugural ceremony of the 32 Plenary Assembly of the CCBI. His Excellency Most Rev Giambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão, Archbishop George Antonysamy, Archbishop Anil Couto and Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara are also seen.
His Grace Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrão, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman and President of the CCBI presided over the meeting. In his presidential address, he underlined the need to promote nation-building even amidst the difficulties that we are facing and to further brotherhood and peace. He called for the construction of a society without any discrimination of caste, creed, language or ethnicity.
His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and one of the topmost consultors of Pope Francis, requested the Bishops to promote the culture of life and brotherhood in our country. He expressed his serious concern over the new Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of the Central Government, which allows abortion at any time during the pregnancy till the 24-week gestation period.
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. The Church has been unwavering in its protection of the sanctity of human life, from conception until natural death. Bishops have the responsibility to spread Christ’s message about the dignity of all human life”, affirmed Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
His Grace Most Rev. George Antonysamy, the Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore and Vice President of the CCBI, welcomed the gathering. His Grace Most Rev. Anil Couto, the Archbishop of Delhi and Secretary-General of the CCBI, presented the annual report. Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara, Deputy Secretary-General of the CCBI, proposed the vote of thanks.
Earlier in the day His Excellency Most Rev. Giambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, was the main celebrant and the homilist for the Inaugural Holy Mass of the 32 Plenary Assembly of the CCBI.
Special prayers were offered at the Holy Mass for the people affected by coronavirus in China and in various parts of the world. The President of the CCBI, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão requested all the Bishops to pray continuously for the speedy recovery of the people affected by this deadly virus.
The newly ordained Bishops were solemnly welcomed as members of the Conference. All the Silver and Golden Jubilarians of the Priestly and Episcopal Ordinations were felicitated. The deceased members of the Conference were remembered with gratitude. A few moments of silence were observed in their memory.
Special tributes were paid to Archbishop Dominic Jala who passed away on 10 October 2019 in the USA. Archbishop Jala had served the CCBI as the Chairman of its Commission for Liturgy from 2003 to 2007 and from 2015 till his death.
The Plenary Assembly elected Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha, Bishop of Mangalore, Karnataka, as the new Chairman of the CCBI Commission for Liturgy. The Conference also elected 26 Bishops of the CCBI to participate in the three weeks Golden Jubilee Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) to be held in November 2020 at Bangkok in Thailand.
The one-day meeting of the CCBI discussed various matters affecting the Latin Catholic Church in India, which consists of 132 dioceses and 190 Bishops. The CCBI animates the Church in India through its 16 Commissions and 4 Departments. Its main Secretariat is in Bangalore with extensions in Goa, Delhi, and Pachmarhi (MP). The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) which is the Canonical National Episcopal Conference is the largest in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.
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