Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The pursuit of unity in the diverse Catholic community of India and full communion with the universal Church, as experienced at the just concluded Synod, are among the priorities of the Catholic Church in India, a country where, out of 1.3 billion inhabitants, there are about 20 million Catholics, who are divided into communities of three rites: the Latin, the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara rite, the latter two with Eastern church characteristics and traditions. This was emphasized by Cardinal Felipe Neri Ferrão, President of the Episcopal Conference of the Latin Rite in India (CCBI) and Archbishop of Goa and Daman, at the conclusion of the Synod on Synodality that he attended at the Vatican.
Before a large gathering of over 300 Indian priests, religious, nuns and seminarians living in Italy, the cardinal made a heartfelt appeal for the preservation of a "solid cultural and national identity among Indian priests" at a meeting a few days ago at the Collegio Urbano in the Vatican and religious living in Italy" who are staying outside the country for study purposes.
The meeting - organized by representatives of the Indian Bishops' Conference and Father Paul Sunny, Chaplain of the Indians in Italy, was attended, in addition to Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão, by the other Indian cardinals and bishops present in Rome on the occasion of the Synod: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Anthony Poola, Archbishop of Hyderabad; George Antonysamy, Deputy Chairman of CCBI and Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore; Msgr. Alex Vadakumthala, Bishop of Kannur.
Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão noted that "we already have the grace within the Latin Church in India to have a tapestry of beautiful cultures, languages, ethnicities and rituals. As members of this diverse community, it is vital that we express our sense of identity and connection with our roots in India, even when we are far from home". The presence in Rome, which many Indian priests and religious experience for a short period like a synod or for a longer period like a study cycle, is a deep enrichment that they can take home with them: "We draw inspiration for our faith from the 'fides romana', from our closeness to the Pope, from the experience and witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul. This allows us to enrich our personal and spiritual growth," said Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão.
The Catholic Church in India, said the meeting participants, is called to take a comprehensive synodal path, starting with its internal life, addressing the challenges related to Christians from the Dalit ethnic group, the status of women, caste discrimination and also promoting communion between the communities of the three different rites that exist in the country.
"Synodality, which goes hand in hand with discernment," said the cardinal, "requires a new model of ecclesial governance, a 'synodal' model. A 'synodal' governance will create an environment that includes all who belong to the Church "to ensure that their deep desire to be understood, respected, valued and honored is fulfilled", referring in particular to the commitment of the laity in fulfilling the mission of Christ and hoping that a process may be initiated in India , to continue the content and methodology of the Synod - summarized in the wise expression 'the art of listening' - at national, regional and local levels. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/11/2023)