by Anto Akkara
BANGALORE, India (CNS) — Catholic bishops in India made some self-critical observations and also discussed moral decline and growing religious fundamentalism during their biennial assembly.
A six-page statement at the end of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India assembly cited the church’s “excessive preoccupation with institutionalization, insufficient zeal and fear of proclaiming Christ as the unique savior . . . and growing indifference to and lack of commitment the Christian vocation.” It also noted the moral decline among Christians, including increasing divorces and abortions.
“Within the church, we feel the need to renew ourselves, including the bishops,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal said at a March 9 news conference.
The assembly’s final statement expressed concern over cultural nationalism under the current government and criticized “widespread intolerance, religious fanaticism and fundamentalism, attacks and atrocities against intellectuals, social activists, religious personnel and institutions.”
“There is a growing tendency to consider those who disagree as enemies of the country,” Cardinal Thottunkal said at the assembly’s concluding news conference.
“Unilateral understanding of one religion brings down the religious values [of other faiths],” he said.
The assembly groups bishops from the Latin rite, Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar Catholic churches. During the March 2-9 assembly, participants re-elected Cardinal Thottunkal as president. The cardinal is major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
The cardinal also said church leaders “need to adopt styles of simplicity, not as administrators or corporate executives, but of a more pastoral nature so that the people could feel the presence of the God of mercy.”
The assembly decided to have a full-time resident bishop at the bishops’ secretariat in New Delhi as its secretary-general: Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi.
The assembly ended on a lighter note with Bishop Stephen Rotluanga of Aizawl explaining his cartoon summarizing the assembly proceedings.