Card Gracias: Young and lay people for the new evangelization

September 25, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead, Persecution

Card Gracias: Young and lay people for the new evangelizationMumbai, September 20, 2012: The president of the Bishops’ Conference of India will be one of the three Asian members of the Synod of Bishops (7-28 October). Interviewed by AsiaNews, the cardinal underscores the contribution India and Asia can make to the universal Church in order to learn together how to respond to the faithful’s new needs. The new evangelisation is important to bring God back into the centre of society, community, family and people.

The13th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held between 7 and 28 October 2012 on the topic of the ‘New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian faith.’

The list of synodal fathers includes a patriarch, ten cardinals, 11 archbishops, eight bishops and four priests. Some of the main protagonists appointed by Benedict XVI are from Asia, like Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Bishops’ Conference of India, secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and archbishop of Mumbai (India); Mgr Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila (Philippines); Fr Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, prior general of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (India).

 Important representatives of ecclesial movements will also attend: Mgr Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, bishop of Cilibia, head of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei; Rev Julián Carrón, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

Ahead of the Synod, AsiaNews interviewed Cardinal Gracias on the expectations and hopes associated with this event, and on the importance of the new evangelisation for India and Asia.

Your Eminence, how did you react to your appointment in the Synod of Bishops?
“I was humbled that Holy Father nominated me for the Synod. It is an honour to be associated with the Universal Church. The theme is very relevant and important for me. It is an occasion to learn what is happening all over the world and learn from the wisdom of so many other eminent bishops and experts.

As Secretary General of FABC, I know I represent Asia and India but I always said that Asia has a lot to learn and much to contribute to the Universal Church. Our contribution of spirituality and sense of contemplation puts a lot of value on the importance of the family. All these core spiritual values, which we cherish and hold dear, have to be strengthened, maintained and shared with the Universal Church.

Asian societies face new challenges and opportunities unheard of in human history. We must understand how young Asians create new subcultures, tackle political, economic, and environmental challenges, and continuously reinvent their relationship with tradition, with previous generations, and with global phenomena.

What contribution can Asia make to the ‘new evangelisation’?
Asia is the birthplace of many of the world’s major religions. It is the cradle of some of the world’s most ancient civilisations. Yet it also is, for the most part, a young continent in terms of its current demographics. Our beloved John Paul II said that Asia is a young continent and India is a young country. Asia’s new generation, which is approx three quarters of a billion people, is our strength. It is urgent that they hear and receive the Good News. Therefore, we must concentrate on how we must pass on the message.

Our beloved pope, the late John Paul II, said, that the new evangelisation has to be new in its ardour, new in its method and new in its message. This is the right moment, because the people want to bring God back from the margins of life and society into the centre of life and society. This is the time for us to respond to their self needs.

We need to bring God back into the life of the country, into the lives of people life, into family and community life. This is really the new evangelism that India, Asia and the world need. People are saying this in different languages and different places.

Asia is home to the largest population of young people in the world. India is home to nearly 714 million people under the age of 30. We have to celebrate with them a faith witnessed and lived. Importantly, in today’s culture of technology, the Gospel is the guide and the permanent paradigm for inculturation, purifying, healing and elevating the best features of the new languages and the new forms of communication.

The Holy Father is prophetic in calling for this synod, with the New Evangelisation for the Transmission of Faith. In the Asian context, this synod is an immense gift, a vital moment to energise and rekindle the treasures and wealth of our faith and promote new opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.

In India, civil society is restless; only God’s calm can free it.

Before the Synod, the Church in India will have a Day of prayer. I will request that all the religious houses, monasteries and convents to pray especially during the days of the Synod. It is important for all of us. There is great expectation that all of us together will be open to the spirit and be able to discern the way God is leading us so as to enable us to interpret and answer it appropriately

As president of the Bishops’ Conference of India, what are your hopes?
India is a land forever blessed by missionaries like the Apostle St Thomas, St Francis Xavier and Mother Teresa. We have received our faith from the Apostle Thomas and the Patron of the Mission St Francis Xavier. In our own times, we have experienced a faith witnessed, lived and celebrated through the life and mission of the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, the most loved, appreciated and esteemed missionary of the 20th century. Therefore, India has the chance of witnessing faith and works.

What do you expect for the Church in Mumbai?
As archbishop of Mumbai, I am looking forward to a clear sense of direction at the end of the synod. In Mumbai, we are engaged in an archdiocese-wide consultation, and the new evangelisation will be very much part of it.

With advances in all kinds of spheres, in the secular, scientific, and communications domains, we should be equipped to respond adequately to the changing and challenging ways of transmission of faith, with new languages and new forms of communication.

In our world today, especially in multi-cultural and multi-religious Asia, our differences and diversity are not obstacles but a form of richness. Along with the Universal Church, we pilgrims move towards the fullness of life, peace, love, justice, and human dignity.

What role do women and lay people play?
Women have a special role to play to educate people and preserve the faith. Many women, religious or lay, are involved in the Church’s catechistic apostolate.

Contemplation and a profound sense of inner self must be inculcated in the faithful, both lay and clergy, because they are at the core of the Indian and Christian lifestyle. The latter agrees with a cosmic vision of the world and care for planet earth.

Through their faith in Jesus Christ, lay people can bear witness to the Gospel message; they can also use their experience in the service of the faith.

Following the spirit and letter of the Second Vatican Council, lay charisma must be acknowledged and given an opportunity to operate.
Dialogue within the Church and with all others should be the way to proceed with the new evangelisation.

– asianews

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