“We have to work toward lifting up the downtrodden [dalits, tribals and the poor] for the nation’s development,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias in his opening address to the 11th General Session of the Catholic Council of India (CCI) in Kerala. Cardinal Gracias, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and Archbishop of Mumbai, said “there can be no progress without peace and without justice and forgiveness there can be no peace.” Noting that one of the major hurdles to development is corruption, he appealed for the eradication of the “scourge” from society. Church’s Role for a Better India is the theme of the four-day meeting which began Thursday in Kochi, the southern state’s commercial hub.
Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, said globalization and consumerism have widened the gap between rich and poor. “The poor and the dalits are exploited and unless we address this issue, the country cannot progress,” he told the 150-strong gathering of bishops, priests, nuns and laity. He appealed for the Church to build bridges with other faiths in order to help speed up efforts for development and progress.
His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church also expressed his concern for the upliftment of the poor and marginalized people of our nation.
During the four-day meeting, CCI members will share their experiences, reflections and suggestions on vital Church and national issues and decide on common action in which to carry out Christ’s mission. The biennial meeting comes ahead of the General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which this year has the same theme.