Latest News

Holy Father Returns to Vatican after Final Retreat Meditation

February 23, 2018


Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on February 23, 2018, after the conclusion of the week’s spiritual exercise, but not before hearing challenges by Fr José Tolentino Mendonca, preacher of the retreat.

Echoing the Pope’s words, Fr. Tolentino urged those in the retreat to listen to the thirst of those living on the periphery, according to Vatican News.  In that way, “the Church will rediscover herself.”

In his talk the afternoon of February 22, Fr. Tolentino recalled that “the voice of God should always confront us with the primordial question: ‘Where is your brother’?”  And he reminded the retreatants that 30 percent of the world’s people do not have clean drinking water in their homes.

He suggested that “the periphery is in the DNA of the Christian.”  In fact, he pointed out that Jesus was born on the periphery, in Nazareth, “a name so insignificant that it is one of the rare places in Palestine that was never named anywhere in the Old Testament.”

In his final meditation, the morning of February 23, Fr. Tolentino spoke of the Beatitudes, calling them not just words or laws, but the key to Jesus’s life. In Jesus, we see a model of living out each of the beatitudes.

For Christians, the Beatitudes are a “self-portrait of the one who pronounced them,” according to Fr Tolentino. Jesus presents “an image of himself which he is constantly revealing to us and imprints on our hearts.” It gives us a model to “transform our own image.”

Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, 2018, Pope Francis departed the Vatican to participate in his annual Lenten Spiritual Exercises at Casa ‘Gesù Divin Maestro’ (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome. Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.

Fr. José Tolentino Mendon, who led the meditations, is a Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian and vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon.

25 Feb 2018 - 13:30

Magisbangla, a Jesuit-run youth movement in Bangladesh, held a photography competition and exhibition to feature Christian life that also attracted Muslim and Hindu photographers.

The event, titled "The face of Christ in the faces of faithful," was held at the Catholic Church-run Bottomley Home Girls' High School in Tejgaon, central Dhaka, on Feb. 10-11.

A total of 69 photographs were showcased in the exhibition out of 164 images submitted by 48 young photographers.

Magisbangla coordinator Jesuit Father Pradeep Perez said the initiative drew inspiration from the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

"St. Ignatius initiated the spiritual practice of finding God in all things. Artistic inspiration and expression are significant in Christian spiritual life. It is in this context that Magisbangla tries to give a new dimension of Christian life and living to all, especially young people," Father Perez said.

"The Jesuits were always great promoters of aesthetic excellence in images. Former Jesuit General Father Pedro Arrupe said an artist can touch the wellspring of the human heart and release energies of the soul that the rest of the world does not suspect."

MAGIS (Marching and Growing in Solidarity) is a global youth movement sponsored by Jesuits and active in up to 87 countries. Magisbangla started in Bangladesh in 2007.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:46

The Magis Bangla Team has arranged a new camp for this year. The camp will be for 6 days and 7 night.The members are very much excited about the camp. The place of the camp is Ranikhong, Birishiri which is about 300 miles apart from the city of Dhaka. And the location is on the side of Mymensing district. There are about 75 Young people will attend on the camp. This will be a another waving camp on the banner of the Magis Bangla Team.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:32



Father General is visiting the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (16 February - 3 March). He will attend the meeting of South Asia provincials in Sri Lanka; visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in the Jesuit Province of Sri Lanka, and then later travel to India to visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in Karnataka Province. He is accompanied on the trip by Fr Victor Assouad, the Assistant for Western Europe, as well as the two Assistants for South Asia, Frs Lisbert D'Souza and Vernon D'Cunha.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:05


A workshop on Discernment and Apostolic Planning was organized from 5-10 February in the Jesuit Curia, Rome by the office of the General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning with 28 participants from the six conferences across the world. The workshop convened to help the Society of Jesus implement GC 36’s recommendations​ r​regarding communal discernment and apostolic planning, highlighted in Father General’s requests to the whole Society in his letters dated July 10, 2017, September 27, 2017 and October 3, 2017.   

Opening the workshop, Father General noted that the Society is a multicultural apostolic body journeying in fulfilment of her mission in the Church. "We want to walk together, religious and lay people, to incarnate the Church-people-of-God (Vatican II). The Society across the world is facing key choices. There are many calls. And yet, we Jesuits and our mission partners cannot keep reaching out to an indefinite number of needs. We have to make choices. That is why discernment in common is urgently needed." Father General called on the workshop to "come up with key principles, tools and methodologies for discernment in common." He acknowledged that it is an enormous task, nevertheless, reminded the participants "if we have that common base, that common foundation, we can move forward."


The workshop was also intended to share tools and resources pertaining to discernment in common and apostolic planning in a more systematic way throughout the Society. Thanks to the presentation of these tools and the gathering  of resources in a common online database.

The first two days were dedicated to sharing of personal experiences, to inputs  regarding previous experiences of communal discernment in the Near East and  African provinces, the  history of the use of discernment in common in the Society of  Jesus and the presentation of principles, methods and tools for communal  discernment and apostolic planning modelled on the ISECP and ESDAC   2 3 approaches. During the remaining two days, participants met in their respective conference teams, spoke with the President of the conference and with the Regional Assistant  to hear about needs and to discuss possible ways forward, and drafted proposals  about possible next steps. 

Raj Irudaya, SJ, Brian, SJ, Siji, SJ and Ms. Astrid represented the Conference of South Asia. During the workshop the South Asian participants interacted with Fr. George Pattery, SJ (POSA) through skype and had direct interactions with Fr. Vernon, SJ (General Assistant).   Fr. John Dardis, SJ was the Chief Organiser of the programme. The Coference of South Asia has planned to take the learnings forward through engaging Jesuits and Collaborators though a sustained plan of action. The programme planning and design is underway.

By Siji Varghese, SJ

(Also included some inputs from

20 Feb 2018 - 15:34


By Matters India Reporter

Mumbai: Jesuit Father Irudya Jothi, director of Udayani (awakening), bagged the “Social Activist Award” at a function in Mumbai, western India.

“I am extremely happy to receive an award called Modi Making Of Developed India from the Economic Times Now group along with World Corporate Social Responsibility groups at Taj Land Mumbai,” Father Jothi told Matters India after received the award on February 17. “The award was in the Individual category as social activist, he added.

Dr. R.L Bhatia, head of the World CSR day award who organized the event along with Economic Times Now and others said their full-time researchers came out with 1284 names after strenuous research among those innovatively contributing to the development of India. The jury then selected 184 individuals and companies for the final list of this award.

Father Jothi got the award in the individual capacity as ‘Social Activist Award.’ He was the only one in this category who was awarded a trophy and a citation.

He also received another award “World CSR Congress Awards” on February 18 at the same venue, Certificate of Merit for Udayani. “We were selected I guess for our holistic approach in our intervention among villagers,” he added.

Father Jothi said they were selected for ‘Kolkata NGO Leadership Award in November 2017. “When we received it we were delighted and wondered how we were selected for such a prestigious award,” the Jesuit priest said.

The latest awards have made Udayani activists and women beneficiaries “extremely happy” and proud, Father Jothi said.

“Now when we are awarded for Social Activist and World CSR Congress award, our joy has multiplied. Honestly, we neither expected it nor worked for it,” he clarified.

The young Jesuit priest said he always encouraged his people telling them, “If Jesuit run schools and colleges are the best in the country, there is no reason why an NGO run by the order should not be the best. Such words enthused my activists and colleagues.”

The priest said he dedicated the recognitions to the Dalit and Tribal women “who give me strength and courage to move ahead. I thank the Lord who has been guiding us through all the risks.”

He also noted the awards came at a time when their women’s groups were registering as NGOs and hope to become independent in future. “This CSR recognition is very helpful for their future support and sustainability,” he added.

Udayani has programs such as ‘small savings’, ‘unity and peace-building’, ‘Rights-based Work.’ It played a key role in the making of legislation, National Food Security Act. It takes up ‘environmental issues’ by opening nursery and solar housing and solar lantern assembling projects. It also celebrates “Women’s Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’, besides, taking an active part in tackling some of the corruption locally in the administration.

Udayani Social Action Forum is the social outreach arm of the Calcutta province of the Society of Jesus. It works with schools, parishes, spiritual centers, international immersion groups, NGOs, and other organizations to foster a faith that does justice. It also serves as a link between the Jesuit social apostolate in India and the priorities of the Jesuit Conference of the South Asian Assistancy.

19 Feb 2018 - 04:41

Some of the recent activities of Vidyajyoti Center for Christian Muslim Relations. In the first week of February 2018, we had a scholar visitor Dr. Adis Duderija ( from the Griffiths University, Australlia. He presented the Victor Courtois Memorial 2nd Lecture on “Islam and Gender: Gender Egalitarian Interpretations of Islam” at Indian Social Institute on 3 February 2018. Fr. Victor Courtois was a pioneer in Christian-Muslim Relations in India. Indian Social Institute and Vidyajyoti Center for Christian-Muslim Relations felt honored to organize a Lecture in Courtois’ honor by an international expert in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.

The main aim of this lecture was to identify and outline a number of interpretational mechanisms which can be employed in developing what Dr. Duderija calls gender egalitarian interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunna.  Dr.Duderija started by outlining a brief definition of the concept of gender egalitarian interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunna. He then  move on to briefly discuss gender cosmologies in classical Islam and the presuppositions on which they rest, including  from the perspective of mainstream methodologies  of interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna. In the main part of the lecture he discussed interpretational principles which are supportive of gender egalitarian interpretations of Islam including : interpreter-centered interpretational approach which emphasizes the role of the interpreter in arriving at meaning of texts; interpretational recognition of what Dr.Duderija  terms the   intrinsic contextuality of the ethico-legal elements in the Qur’an and the sunna/hadith that makes an interpretational distinction between what the Qur’an and Sunna reflected as opposed to what they  initiated; interpretational distinction between meaning and its significance; a thematico-holistic approach to textual sources based on the principle of inductive-corroboration; a non-salafi based Weltanschauung that is not restricted by the interpretational and ethical confines within with  classical and neo-classical Islamic law and ethics operate ; a purpose-based and rationalist interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna that interpretationally privileges  the  spirit or the moral trajectories of the normative texts over their literal meaning; a non hadith- dependent Sunna interpretational approach according to which the concept of Sunna is independent of the concept of sound hadith and is  a broad , dynamic, ethico-behaviour  and rational concept. The lecture was an eye opener to many as the lecture helped to identify the egalitarian interpretations of the main sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunna.

While preparing for the VC Memorial Lecture it was decided that some of our colleagues in the field of dialogue could be contacted to explore possibilities of Dr. Duderija presenting lectures in some of the Delhi based institutions. The Indilogue Foundation ( invited Dr. Duderija to present a lecture on the “Approaches to interfaith dialogue in Islam”. In his lecture on “Approaches to interfaith dialogue in Islam” Dr. Duderija highlighted the importance of religious and socio-political context in understanding the history and the debates pertaining to the nature of interfaith dialogue in Islam. The lecture started with Dr. Duderija outlining some of the factors that need to be taken into account when attempting to understand how the Qur’an and early Muslim community approached the idea of religious difference and more specifically the question of the relationship between the religious self and the religious other. In this context Dr. Duderija argued that interfaith dialogue in Islam is as old as Islam itself as Islam emerged and was forged in the context of a number of existing religious traditions. He continued by extending this analysis in both premodern and modern contexts and examined the issue of how influential Muslim scholars have approached the issue of Salvation of non-Muslims as example of one important debate informing the nature of interfaith dialogue in Islam. He made reference to how a number of influential Muslim scholars, both pre-modern and modern, have approached the question of Salvation of non-Muslims. In the premodern context Dr.Duderija noted a predominant but not the only tendency among Muslim scholars to not to extend Salvation to non-Muslims. In the final section of the lecture Dr. Duderija made reference to a number of contemporary progressive Muslim scholars who are strong proponents of religious pluralism and critics of religious exclusivism.

Along with some friends at JNU a lecture was organized at the School of International Studies where Dr. Duderija examined  the historical genealogy, meanings and function of the concept of Salafīsm in the Islamic tradition and  highlighted the intra-Muslim sectarian origins of the concept and hence its contentedness with the various intra-Sunni divisions. Dr.Duderija argued that the imperative of the preservation cultural memory of early Muslims and imitation of their beliefs, practices and values as symbols of true piety and virtue is a persistent and pervasive element of the very concept of the Islamic tradition (turāth) that has in the Sunni community been given expression in the concept of Salafīsm or following in the footsteps of the as-salaf aṣ-ṣaliḥ. It is also a crucial constituent of the idea of belonging to a salvific tradition of divine truth by subscribing to a regressive view of epistemology, history and time as embedded in the broader concept of the sacred past. Dr.Duderija argued that the concept of Salafīsm as it developed in Sunni Islam should be seen through this lens. However, given the numerous and traumatic schisms that emerged in the nascent Muslim community the concept of Salafīsm is also reflective of competing constructing and articulations of history, community, and authority among various Muslim groups.

Dr Adis also presented a lecture at Jamia Nazamudin Aulia the methodologies in Interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna. This lecture was similar to the one that he presented at the Indian Social Institute.

I am grateful to Fr. Denzil Fernandes SJ, the director of Indian Social Institute, Mr. Behzad Fatmi (Indialogue Foundation) Janab Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi (Jamia Nizamuddin Aulia), Mr Saad Ahmad (JNU) for their encouragement and every help that they render to us at Vidyajyoti to organize these lectures. I express my gratitude to Fr. Thomas V Kunnunkal SJ, the president of Islamic Studies Association for his guidance and support. I am grateful to Father Tony Kurmann SJ for his encouragement and support.

Dr. Victor Edwin SJ

17 Feb 2018 - 05:15



Father Durack

By Matters India Reporter

Patna: An era in the Bihar Church history ended on February 12 with the death of its last American Jesuit missionary.

Father Jerome Durack died at 6:20 am at Xavier Bhawan, Xavier Teachers Training Institute, Digha Ghat, a western suburb of Patna, the state capital. He was 88. He was unwell for the past few days.

“Father Durack’s death is a moment of special significance to the history of the Church and of Jesuits in Bihar. He has been the last American Missionary working in Bihar. With his death a significant chapter in the history of Christian faith and Patna Jesuits come to gracing end,” says Father Anto Joseph Thundaparambil, a Patna Jesuit.

Father Durack came to Patna in 1951 and visited his home only once, in 1976, and that too under obedience to his Jesuit superior.

“Hundreds of families and thousands of Christians in Bihar would miss him, but would remember him with love and devotion in years to come,” Father Thundaparambil said his condolence message.

The young priest hailed Father Durack as “a model of missionary zeal and Jesuit charism.” His prized possession were the Bible, the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola and the Constitutions of the Society (all in Latin). “He read them again and again. They had become his life.”

Fr. Durack was born in 1929 at Chicago, Illinois, in the middle class family of Jeremiah and Lillian Durack. After high school, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1947. After arriving in India he completed his priestly studies from Pune, Shembaganur, Jaipur, and Kerseong. He was ordained a priest at St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral, Patna in 1960.

From 1962 to 1974, he was entrusted with the formation of Jesuits as a teacher in St. Joseph’s Mission Home, Palai, Kerala, southern India, and director of candidates in Xavier Hall, Patna.

He served the Christian community as a pastor in 1976 and the rest of his life. He cycled or walked into Christian families; administered the Sacraments, preached; taught catechism, laity, bishops, clergy, and religious.

He served as parish priest of Bettiah, northern Bihar twice, 1974-1976 and 1999-2007. He was parish priest of Latonah for two years from 1992 and then in Kurji, Patna for four years. He also served as secretary to the Bishop of Muzzaffurpur for ten years from 1982 and then secretary to the Bishop of Bettiah for seven years from 2007. He was the vicar general of Bettiah during 1999 –2008.

He also served as the spiritual director of Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Bettiah for two years. He guided the general chapters of the congregation as he always admired the unique contribution of the sisters in the faith formation of Catholics in Bihar.

Father Durack also contributed to the growth of Catholic literature in Hindi such as Dharma Gyan (religious wisdom) and Prem Apaar (incomparable love). He has translated many lives of saints. Recognizing his contribution to Hindi Catholic literature, he was awarded with Cherubim Barno Sahu Award by Prabhat Prakashan in 2014.

His books — English Speech Drills, Let Us Learn English Grammar, and Some Principles and Practices are still being used as source books to teach English to religious and seminarians.

Until January, he maintained house accounts of Sanjivan Jesuit community, taught catechism to those recommended by the Kurji parish priest, offered spiritual guide to religious and laity. He also visited Christian families in the evening.

“He was a truly spiritual man -very austere, a man very congruent in words and deeds and in his silence,” recalled George Kunnath, a management consultant and former Jesuit seminarian in 1970s.

“He was very systematic and methodical in helping me/us in inculcating self-discipline. The way he facilitated English grammar, spelling and writing skills I still value. Many of us found him difficult to emulate but looking back I value his contribution to my life,” Kunnath said.

13 Feb 2018 - 04:35


“United in Diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness: ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ ” (Mt 28: 20)

The theme of our General Body Meeting immediately invites us to reflect on the mystery of the Trinity. The great mystery of the one God, united in three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the foundation of our Christian faith.

We thank God for the unique nature of the Catholic Church in India who is blessed with three sui iuris Churches called to reflect in her life and mission the communion of the Holy Trinity. Rooted in this vision, we, the 184 bishops of the Catholic Church in India gathered together for the 33rd General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, from 02 to 09 February 2018, to pray and reflect upon the theme: “United in Diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness: ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ ” (Mt 28: 20) to deepen our understanding of our own identity and to enhance our contribution to nation-building.

We, the Catholic Bishops of India felt reassured and strengthened by the words of our Lord: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). We have taken into account the final statement of the Catholic Council of India (CCI) which met from 17 to 19 November 2017.

The Mission of Jesus
Jesus, who came to unite and reconcile the whole of humankind into one family of God, is himself the good news. He presented God to people in the way he loved all, namely, in feeding the hungry, comforting the disturbed, promoting the dignity of the marginalized, healing the sick, giving hope to the hopeless, freedom to the captives, forgiveness to the sinners, justice to the poor and life to the dead.

The Church in India
The Church in India received the gift of faith through St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus. Our Christian faith was nourished and strengthened by the efforts of many great saints such as St. Francis Xavier who is Patron Saint of Missions. We want to emphatically affirm that the Christian faith in India is as old as Christianity. India is what it is today is also due to the contribution of the Church in India.With the evidence of yeoman service rendered by the Church, it is clear that India needs the Church just as the members of the Church continue to love India as they reach out to the very last and the least, in imitation of Jesus our Master. The Church believes that all people are our brothers and sisters as Jesus himself has taught us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22: 39). The empowerment of the poor and the promotion of human dignity are values enshrined in our Constitution and are also cherished by the Church in her mission. The mission of the Church carried out through all her activities has only one aim, to build up our nation on the four essential pillars of peace, that is, truth, justice, love and freedom (cfr. St. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris).

Understanding Authentic Nationalism and Constitutional Secularism
Any attempt to promote nationalism based on any one particular culture or religion is a dangerous position. It may lead to uniformity but never to genuine unity. Such misconceived efforts can only lead our nation on the path of self-annihilation. Mono-culturalism has never been and can never be the right answer to the quest for peace, progress and development, especially in a country like ours that has a rich diversity of culture, language, region, race and religion. Violence always recoils upon the violent sooner or later, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26: 52). We deplore the rising incidence of atrocities against women, killings, caste rivalries and communal violence which includes attacks on Christian institutions and communities. Therefore, let us follow the path of true nationalism that can lead our motherland to true peace, harmony, progress and prosperity. Authentic nationalism respects the human dignity of every citizen, regardless of one’s economic status, culture, religion, region or language.

We wish to urgently call all people of goodwill to uphold the rule of law guaranteed by our Indian Constitution. In a climate of violence, we make an appeal to all our fellow citizens to eschew mob culture and vigilantism in favor of peace. We appreciate and will collaborate with the Government in all its efforts to maintain law and order in our country, to ensure progress and development of all and the protection of the environment. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has stated in clear terms that “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough of everyone’s greed”.

The Precious Gift of Human Life
The Christian community upholds the absolute and transcendent value of human life which is a precious gift of God. Therefore, an assault on human life can never be inspired by God nor justified because of the diverse beliefs and practices. Human life of every individual person in our beloved motherland needs to be valued and defended.

The Church’s Mission of Mercy
Mercy that flows out of the heart of God alone, through the cross of Jesus Christ, can heal the wounded human hearts, restore the broken relationships between persons and communities and lift up out of misery those suppressed for centuries. Faced with this precarious situation we the disciples of Christ, resolve to be authentic witnesses of mercy, which is the essence of the Gospel and the manifestation of Christian discipleship. This is witnessed in the gentle hands and wrinkled face of St. Teresa of Kolkata and in the martyrdom of Blessed Rani Maria of Indore.

In our service to the nation, especially to the Dalits, Tribals and other backward classes, we Christians join hands with our fellow citizens to ensure the authentic human development of our people which is measured by the scale of human index, and not merely by economic standards.

Let us all resolve to go beyond narrow domestic walls of every kind in order to establish a truly secular, socialist and democratic nation as is enshrined in the Constitution of India.

To Live in Unity in the midst of Diversity, both within the Church and in the country, we propose the following:

1. To deepen and intensify our Christian life of discipleship at all levels by being a ceaselessly praying community, always living our unity in diversity in accordance with our Trinitarian faith.
2. To strengthen the bonds of communion among the laity, the religious and the clergy and to ensure that communion becomes the way of life for the Church at all levels.
3. To promote and intensify Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and Family Units for the all-round integral formation of the faithful and for inter-religious cooperation, peace and harmony.
4. To accompany families in their evangelizing mission in the world and to make sure that they become the focal point of the pastoral ministry of the Church; to manifest special care and compassion to families in distress and to enlighten our families on responsible parenthood.
5. To imbue our youth with the vision of an authentic Christian Life to enable them to play their role in Church and society; to empower our youth to play an active role in the Church by equipping them with the knowledge of the Word of God and with the teachings of the Church through the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) and other Catholic Youth Movements; to help our youth to discern and choose the way of life which is the primary theme of the forthcoming Synod on Youth in Oct 2018.
6. To encourage and train our lay people and youth for nation-building through involvement in vitally important areas of our national life such as politics, civil services, defense, law and judiciary.
7. To ensure that formators in our formation houses guide the formees to respect the equal dignity of women and to promote the role of the laity in the life and mission of the Church.
8. To ensure adequate representation of women in all Church bodies.
9. To prepare seminarians, priests and religious to be authentic witnesses of mercy within the Church and society.
10. To seize every opportunity to promote dialogue across religious boundaries; our inter-religious dialogue will become more credible, fruitful and effective if we Christians make every effort to grow in our unity in Christ.
11. To take various initiatives to foster better cooperation among all Christians through dialogue with ecumenical groups and promoting common ecumenical services, common prayers and common endeavours.
12. To make the Constitution of India more widely known in all sectors of Church and society, particularly highlighting some salient features such as the equality of all citizens, the freedom of religion, the freedom of conscience and the freedom of expression.
13. To encourage and motivate our laity to be actively involved in the secular world in order to effectively contribute to nation-building in fulfillment of their proper vocation.
14. To continue to make our service in the field of education a mission of mercy and to implement purposefully the “All India Catholic Education Policy 2007” of the CBCI in order to impart Gospel values.
15. To make Catholic Health Services a mission of mercy and healing that is affordable, compassionate and caring, yet professional, self-sustaining and collaborative.
16. To ensure the implementation of the CBCI Policy of Dalit Empowerment in every diocese, to work for the protection and integral development of the Tribals and Other Backward Classes (OBC’s) and to take special initiatives for the relief and welfare of farmers, fisher folk, migrants and other deprived and exploited communities by providing care, comfort and hope to them in their distress.
17. To increase awareness of the importance of ecology as an integral part of our Christian commitment and spirituality and to take new initiatives to protect the environment and to promote love for Nature; to ensure that every diocese has formulated an environment policy to implement the teachings of Laudato Si, the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis.
18. To create an awareness of the plight of our brothers and sisters in prison and to assist them in their rehabilitation and the care of their families.
19. To ensure transparency in all spheres of the Church’s administration and to stand for the same in society.
20. To set up an effective “think tank” for all our dioceses for taking up urgent matters and earnestly engaging in advocacy with all stakeholders.

The Church “exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God...” (Blessed Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 14). “The Church and theology exist to evangelize, and not be content with a desk-bound theology” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 133). Even as we face many grave challenges and setbacks to the unity in diversity of our country we are proud to be Indian. We love our country as we continue to pray constantly for it and its wellbeing. Our Christian faith gives us hope to move ahead to continue our work for unity in diversity so as to establish peace and harmony and make our country live up to its exalted calling. We entrust ourselves in all that we do for the Church and society, to the loving care of Mary, Mother of Mercy.

Baselios Cardinal Cleemis
Catholic Bishops Conference of India
February 9, 2018

11 Feb 2018 - 13:11


Bengaluru: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and one of the advisors of Pope Francis, was on February 8 elected the president of the Catholic Bishops in India.

The 73-year-old Latin prelate replaces Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis, head of the Syro-Malankara Church who led the country’s 20 million Catholics since 2014.

With the election, Cardinal Gracias created history as the first Church leader to head the Church in Asia as well and in India. Cardinal Gracias is the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, the episcopal body of the Latin rite prelates in the country.

The election was held during the 33rd biennial plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) that is now underway at St. John’s National Academy for Medical Sciences in Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka state.

Cardinal Gracias assumes leadership of the Catholic Church in India at a crucial time in India’s history. The country is scheduled to elect a new national government in the first half of 2019. Media reports indicate a move to hold the elections end of this year.

The Church in India has witnessed attacks on its personnel and institutions in several parts of the country in the past few years. Radical groups have opposed its charitable activities among the poor, especially Dalit and Tribal communities.

Cardinal Gracias had headed the Indian Church for four years from 2010.

He is one of the eight cardinals Pope Francis chose on April 13, 2013, to advise him on the management of the Universal Church and reformation of the Vatican Curia. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal in 2007, a year after he was appointed the archbishop of Bombay.

Cardinal Gracias was born on December 24, 1944, in Mumbai (then Bombay) to Jervis and Aduzinda Gracias of Goan origin.

He completed his school studies at St. Michael’s School in Mahim, Mumbai, and joined Jesuit-managed St. Xavier’s College in the same city. After a year, he entered the Seminary of St. Pius X in Bombay, and was ordained a priest by Cardinal Valerian Gracias (no relation) of Bombay on December 20, 1970. He served as the chancellor and secretary to the late Jesuit Bishop Joseph Rodericks of Jamshedpur during 1971-1976.

He obtained doctorate in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Urbaniana University in 1982. He also has a diploma in jurisprudence.

On his return to Mumbai, he was named chancellor, judge of the metropolitan tribunal, and judicial vicar of Bombay archdiocese. He has also served as the chancellor and judicial vicar. He also served as the president of the Canon Law Society of India.

On June28, 1997, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay by Pope John Paul II. He was appointed the Archbishop of Agra on September 7, 2000.

He also served the CBCI as it secretary general.

By Matters India Reporter


9 Feb 2018 - 03:00