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Indian bishops set to look into sociopolitical realities, AI challenges

The Catholic Bishops of India are set to commence their 36th biennial plenary meeting on January 31, with a focus on assessing the Church’s response to the current sociopolitical landscape in the country and grappling with the challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Approximately 175 members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) are expected to participate in the eight-day meeting at Bengaluru’s St. John’s Medical College, according to a report by Matters India. 

A press release issued ahead of the gathering disclosed that the meeting would be inaugurated by Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. 

Conference president Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, along with other office bearers, addressed the media on January 30 at St. John’s, shedding light on the key themes and objectives of the plenary session.

The theme of the meeting aligns with Pope Francis’ message on World Communication Day, emphasizing the Church’s commitment to actively engaging with prevailing societal issues. 

The bishops will delve into an array of topics, including the current socio-political situation in the country, the outcomes of the Rome Synod held in October 2023, the status of the violence-affected northeastern Indian state of Manipur, and the overall condition of Christians in India.

A notable addition to the agenda is a comprehensive examination of the benefits and challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence. 

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Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is slated to share his insights on this topic during the plenary.

Scheduled for February 6, the conference will witness the election of its president, two vice presidents, and the secretary-general, marking a pivotal moment in shaping the leadership of the CBCI.

The press release underscores the importance of the meeting as a critical forum for bishops to collectively discern and strategize responses to religious, social, and national issues. 

The eight-day event is expected to culminate on February 7, leaving a significant impact on the trajectory of the Catholic Church’s engagement with the multifaceted challenges confronting society in India.

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