Laity seek role in Church governance

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, July 2, 2012: Around 100 delegates attended the historic Laity Synod.

The first synod of Catholic lay people in India has sought that bishops and priests play a strictly spiritual role and allow the faithful to manage schools and other Church institutions.

Around 100 delegates from 15 north Indian dioceses attended the two-day synod that ended July 1 in New Delhi.

The All India Catholic Union (AICU) and the Federation of Catholic Association of the Archdiocese of Delhi, organized the historic meeting to enlighten Catholics about their rights and duties.

“The northern region consultation was aimed at empowering the 17 million Indian laity based on the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council and Canon Law,” said AICU president Remy Denis.

AICU vice president Eugene Gonsalves said the consultation demanded the implementation of the Vatican II’s teachings on governance and participatory structures in the Church on the occasion of the Vatican II’s golden jubilee.

He said the council had declared the laity’s participation in prophetic, kingly and priestly office of Christ.

The laity synod wanted parish councils be made a decision-making body, parish finance comittees and formation of laity through lay associations.

Another proposal was to address the anullment of marriage as the meeting noted it deprived women and children compensation. It also wanted the Church to press for a law to help the community adopt children.

The synod also suggested appointment of lay deacons to assist the priest at Mass and perform baptism, marriage, formation and burial rites.

However, Gonsalves clarified that final resolutions will be arrived at only after all the regional consultations. But the northern region’s consultation, which has been finalised, will be sent to the regions bishops.

There are six more consultations to be held. The final will be held in February 2013, the venue is yet to be finalised, he said.

Earlier, opening the synod, Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) said it offers new and dynamic ways for the laity to join the mission of the Church.

However, he cautioned the laity that their deliberations must take care of the fact that whatever they do should be for the growth and unity in the Church.

Violett Scolt, former president of Delhi women’s council, welcomed the synod as “a good beginning.” She also said it took place at the right time when resentment among the laity was growing in India.

Bishop Anil Couto of Jalandhar, one of 11 prelates present at the synod, agreed there was laity resentment. “However, it should also be seen if it is justified. We have to take each case on its own merit.”

– ucan

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