India’s Catholic bishops vowed to face challenges brought about by changing social conditions, among others, in a synodal way.
“The Catholic Church in India recognizes the changing circumstances and growing challenges she has to face, but has never ceased to tell the story of Jesus,” the prelates said in a statement at the end of their 34th plenary assembly this week.
“In the present context, the story of Jesus needs to be told even more courageously, creatively and authentically, considering that the Good News is to be proclaimed in season and out of season,” added the country’s Church leaders.
The bishops vowed to “stand in solidarity with those affected by persecution, displacement, discrimination and marginalization” and make it their mission “to protect and preserve mother earth … by employing all means at our disposal to promote eco-friendly lifestyles at all levels.”
They condemned “all fundamentalism” and promised to “tell the story of love, justice and human fraternity.”
Following their meeting in Bangalore from January 24-30, the bishops said “the Church in India has substantially contributed to nation-building, especially through her engagement in the fields of education, healthcare and social uplift.”
The meeting, which was attended by Catholic bishops from Latin dioceses in the country, carried the theme “Telling the Story of Jesus in our Context: The Synodal Way.”
“Standing firm on the teachings of Christ, the Church has always upheld the dignity of the human person, stood for a just society, promoted peace and harmony and cared for the weak, the suffering and the deprived sections of society,” said the Church leaders in their statement.
“The Church, in the midst of her ups and downs, lights and shadows, successes and struggles, has striven to be faithful in bearing witness to this love of God in our beloved Motherland,” it added.
Among the “challenges” the bishops said they have to face are the “changing social conditions and the excessive use of social media” that they said “have placed enormous pressure on the harmonious life of families.”
They also noted that addictions to drugs, alcohol and pornography “are ruining the lives of many young adults” while poverty and inhuman living conditions “deprive a substantial part of our population of equitable opportunity and dignity of life.”
The prelates said massive displacement of peoples, loss of land and fishing rights in the name of industrial and corporate development resulted in forced migration, dispossession, loss of livelihood and further marginalization.
“Greed and consumeristic life styles are eroding the life of faith and centrality of prayer,” they said.
They also said that some civil legislations and policies often “hamper pastoral engagements” of the Church.
“Misuse of anti-conversion laws in some States and false propaganda about ‘forced conversions’ are discouraging and hindering the life and service of the Christian community,” said the Church leaders, adding that it calls into question the Constitutional rights of minorities.
“The growing culture of intolerance, hatred and even violent attacks on Christians in some quarters is a matter of grave concern to Christians in India,” said the bishops.