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Church in India celebrates the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis

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Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Indian Church, in communion with the universal Church, today celebrated the fifth anniversary of the beginning of Francis’s pontificate.

Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), celebrated Mass with 33 bishops from all over the country as well as Mgr Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India. This evening the 35 prelates will gather in Eucharistic adoration and prayer for the Holy Father.

“We pray also for the bishops in India and Asia,” Card Gracias said, “so as to understand and put into practice the thoughts of the Holy Father – inspired by the Holy Spirit – on how to live the episcopacy and be the bishops of today – beacons of mercy, good shepherds.”

The bishops are currently attending a seminar (12-17 March) dedicated to newly ordained prelates, in Sarvodaya, in the Archdiocesan seminary of St Pius X College, Goregaon (Mumbai).

“I speak about Pope Francis to the new bishops,” Card Gracias told AsiaNews. He is “the guide of the Church and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is very important that in today’s challenging times we always keep in mind his thoughts.”

“Pope Francis is the pope of the peripheries. He is a pope with a compassionate heart for the poor. His love and concern go to the forgotten and the suffering. He cares about our young people and pays special heed to the elderly, especially grandparents. From the beginning of his pontificate, he reminded young people of the importance of staying connected with the elderly.”

Pope Francis “is the Pope of Mercy,” the CBCI president explained. He “brings people to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Holy Father has a great love for Asia, which he showed during his travels to Asian countries. The pope often asks me about Asia, whose spiritual wealth he greatly appreciates.”

Francis “emphasises the importance of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions. He said that ‘If there is a word that we must never be tired of repeating, it is dialogue’. We are all called to promote a culture of dialogue by all possible means. This way we can rebuild the social fabric.”

Finally, “The vision of the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) for the Church in Asia is in communion with the thoughts of the Holy Father,” said the cardinal who heads the FABC.

The pontiff’s thoughts are based “on a triple dialogue – with the poor, with cultures and with religions. I’d also add the dialogue with nature.” (NC)

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