The roots of Christianity in India reach back to Apostolic times, with tradition having St Thomas the Apostle be the first to bring the Gospel to those shores. Today, the Church in India is a youthful, vibrant participant in the life of the country that contributes to Indian society on scale hugely disproportionate with its numbers. Comprising no more than 2.0 % of India’s population, the Catholic Church is responsible for more than a fifth of all health care provided in the country. The Church has also taken a leading role in the drive for integral human development in India, with over 60% of Catholic schools situated in rural areas. Saturday morning saw six bishops from central and south-western India in to see the Holy Father – the leadership of the Church in parts of India ranging from coastal Karwar near Goa to Mangalore further south, and inland to the central Gulbarga diocese.
One of the bishops who began their round of meetings on Thursday of this week was Thomas Dabre of Poona diocese, 150 km southeast of Mumbai. He says the bishops are focused on permanent formation of the lay faithful and the clergy, so that the Church gives effective witness to the Gospel. “The Holy Father was very pleased with us,” he said after his Friday meeting. “[W]e are emphasizing formation of the laity, ongoing formation of the clergy, interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and harmonious relations with people of other religions and cultures.” Bishop Dabre went on to say the Holy Father invited the bishops to continue their work in education, catechesis and in the spiritual formation of the clergy, “So,” he said, “that we are always in communion with Jesus Christ and we can share the love of Christ to the people of other religions in India.”
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