Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New president for Indian bishops

80 year old Cardinal Varkey Vithyathil, Major Arcbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay is the First Vice President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

It's a bit unusual to have someone this elderly elected; Cardinal Vithyathil cannot, for instance, vote for the Pope in a conclave. He spoke with Asianews:
"My priority is to make the three Episcopal bodies (the Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Latin Churches) work together with greater cohesion, communion and cooperation in unity of spirit," he said. Even though "my election as president was completely unexpected given my age (81), [. . .] I humbly accepted."

For the cardinal India has to cope with many great contradictions. The country is undergoing "great economic development" but still faces "immense misery". Its "constitution guarantees us freedom to practice and propagate our faith and yet fundamentalist forces unleash their reign of terror on minority" communities.
And, then:
More importantly, "evangelisation" is "not merely doing social work, but the explicit and direct proclamation of the message, works and promises of Jesus Christ. It is essential that we communicate the Good News with courage and commitment, bringing joy and fulfillment into people's life," he said.
Music to my ears! :)

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