18 Notes & Comments

posted Feb 8, 2018, 6:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 6:30 AM ]

CBCI plenary focuses on India's greatest challenges


The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) held its annual general assembly (Feb. 2-9) with the main theme: 'I am with you always, even to the end of the ages. (Mt 28:20) United in diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness.' Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar) was the guest of honour.

The focus of the gathering was on the type of nationalism that tends to erase the country's pluralistic identity, on the global struggle against poverty, and on the inclusion of marginalised Dalits.

In his opening address, Cardinal Bo praised the Indian Catholic Church. "India owes a lot to the Catholic Church," he said. "Millions are touched by your services. You are the face of the compassionate Jesus to the poor and the broken," he told his fellow bishops.

It was the 33rd Plenary Assembly of the CBCI, held at St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, in Bengaluru (Bangalore), the capital of the State of Karnataka. The CBCI ranks fourth in the world in terms of bishops: 204 - divided in three different rites – Latin, Syro-Malankara, Syro-Malabar – in 174 dioceses.


Cardinal Cleemis: unified diversity of nation, Church


Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, CBCI President, expressed concern on the Dalit issue and urged those in power to uphold Constitutional values. The cardinal was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, February 1, prior to the 33rd general body meeting of the CBCI.

Cardinal Cleemis elaborated on the theme: 'United in Diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness': "Our country is a rich nation with the patrimony of diversity. Even the Church in India has diversity of rites and three ecclesial traditions. The diversity is united for Church and nation today. Though unity is seen in its positive aspect, it has gone and grown beyond beliefs. The country's diversity has contributed to its growth and sustained it gloriously as a united nation in reality, despite differences.

"India's richness in culture, customs, habits, tradition and values form part of the Church in India. The deliberations would focus on how we can reflect the 'Mission of Mercy'," he said. Cardinal Cleemis said the bishops will look into the aspect that we need to be more sensitive to the poorest of the poor.


School for Rohingya children

Agenzia Fides

"The Rohingya live in small shelters in refugee camps made of bamboo cane and pieces of plastic; drinking water and food are still scarce. There are more than 500,000 children who yearn for a future that does not exist. I have just visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh; almost one million people have fled Myanmar to save their lives. In order to respond to the great need of children, who are more than half of the Rohingya population in the camps, Sant'Egidio Community opened a school for 300 children in the refugee camp of Jamtholi," said Alberto Quattrucci, an envoy of Sant'Egidio community in Bangladesh.

Quattrucci said: "The men of the Burmese army have destroyed the Rohingya villages, burned their homes, tortured men and raped women, killed more than 7000 people in the last year alone. Those who escaped are people without citizenship, the most numerous stateless persons in the world. A people that does not exist, and therefore without any rights. We are talking about the ethnic cleansing of our century."

A small seed of hope in this dramatic situation is the new school launched in Jamtholi refugee camp: open six days a week, from Saturday to Thursday, from 9 am to 3 pm, in three shifts of 100 children.

The teachers are four Rohingya refugees, who were teachers in the Burmese Rakhine state before fleeing to Bangladesh. The lessons are being held in a temporary hut, in partnership with the volunteers of the Dreamers and of the Muhammadiyah, the Indonesian Islamic organisation that also manages a small nutritional centre.


Pope condemns all violence in the name of God


All religious leaders must condemn any 'absolutising' that justifies violence, stressing that violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression.

Pope Francis made this appeal in the Vatican on Feb. 2, 2018, when addressing participants at the "Tackling violence committed in the name of religion" conference.

The Holy Father began by reiterating what he said during his April 2017 visit to Egypt: "God, the lover of life, never ceases to love man, and so He exhorts us to reject the way of violence."

Above all and especially in our day, the Pope said, religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any 'absolutising' that would justify violence.

Violence, Pope Francis said, is the negation of every authentic religious expression. "We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God."