Address of the Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli to the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Friday 17th September 2021
Address of the Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli
to the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
Friday 17th September 2021
Your Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the CBCI,
Your Beatitude, Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church,
Your Beatitude, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Church,
Your Graces, Your Lordships, Reverend Fathers,
I am pleased to have this opportunity today to greet the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Some of you I have already had the chance to meet in person, others I hope to encounter soon.
In the letter I addressed to you following my accreditation as Nuncio in India and Representative of the Holy Father to the Church in this beloved land, I alluded to various aspects of a Bishop’s responsibility and also some of the specifics of my own mission. Allow me to recall that it is my intention to walk with you fraternally to help you in your ministry as Pastors of this beloved local Church, in all its complexity and richness.
Whilst I shall, of course, relate with each Bishop individually, it is you, the Archbishops and members of the Commissions of the Bishops’ Conference, who will be my privileged interlocutors.
It takes some time to grasp the enormity of everything in India: the size of the population and geographical extension of the country; the variety of languages and cultures; the history and politics; the richness (and challenges) of a Catholic community composed of three rites. I ask your understanding if some of my interventions give the impression that I am suffering under the ignorance of the beginner. But I wish also to reiterate, as I wrote in my letter addressed to you, that “when I speak in certain specific contexts, I do not simply express my own opinion, but instead articulate indications given directly by the Apostolic See, or at least ensure that the general orientation desired by the Holy See is made known”.
Indeed, I am now addressing forty-two Bishops who are members of the Standing Committee, a committee which alone is larger than all but fifteen other Bishops’ Conferences worldwide. In such a setting, your counsel will be invaluable to me in fulfilling my mission.
I have read with interest the programme for your three-day virtual encounter, and I note some of the themes you have addressed: the ongoing pandemic; the activity of Caritas; social communications; education policy; Dalit policy; safeguarding; asset management; dialogue. Each of those themes would merit a lengthy reflection in its own right, and now is not the time. I simply wish to encourage you in your open and frank deliberations, hoping that the action that ensues will be for the good of the Church and for Indian society as a whole.
I wish to touch briefly upon a theme that has been the focus of your attention this morning: the forthcoming Synod.
We are but a few weeks from the solemn opening of the Synod, a process which will profoundly mark the life of the Church for the next two years. We will be called to walk together as we explore the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” These three dimensions of synodality – communion, participation and mission – are profoundly interrelated, and we are invited to examine the dynamic relationship between them, bearing in mind that all three must be articulated together:
Communion: gathered together in God’s grace as diverse peoples of one faith, through the covenant that he offers to his people.
Participation: All those who belong to his People – laity, consecrated and ordained – are called to engage in the exercise of respectful listening to one another.
Mission: We cannot be centred on ourselves, but, as members of the Church, are called to evangelize. Our mission is to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family. 
In short, Synodality is the modus vivendi and operandi with which the Church prepares all its members (laity, religious and clergy) to share responsibility, develops their charisms and ministries, intensifies their bonds of fraternal love (cf. POPE FRANCIS in Florence, November 2015).
I am grateful to Archbishop Machado for his preparatory note on the Synod. Allow me to draw a quotation from it: “what the Synod is looking for is the sensus fidei”, that “‘inner voice of the faithful’ or ‘common conscience’ of the baptized concerning the faith of the Church which each baptized person professes”. The Holy Father, in giving renewed impetus to the doctrine of the sensus fidei fidelium, (Evangelii Gaudium (EG), 119) makes it clear that walking the path of synodality is essential for infusing the Church with a renewed missionary impulse: all the members of the Church are active subjects of evangelization and ‘missionary disciples’ (EG, 120).
The first phase of the synodal journey will be at diocesan level. This will be followed by a continental phase from September 2022 to March 2023, leading on to the “universal phase”, to be celebrated in Rome in October 2023.
I should like to encourage you to engage fully with all stages of this synodal process, starting in your own dioceses, but also in your regional and national conferences. We shall all walk on this journey together, and it will doubtless afford us many opportunities to share our reflections and enrich one another.
Be assured of my prayer and support for your ministry in this beloved country.
Inaugural Address of the Apostolic Nuncio CBCI – 2018 Plenary Meeting Bangalore, 2-9 February 2018
Golden Jubilee of Priesthood of Bishop Yvon Ambroise, Diocese of Tuticorin
Golden Jubilee of the Sacerdotal Ordination of Fr. Ignatius D’Costa, Mangalore Diocese
75th Year of the inception of the comitium of the Queen of Apostles of the Pious Lay Association of Legion of Mary
Diamond Jubilee of Rev. Mother Mary Grace of the Sacred Heart OCD
Golden Jubilee of Good Shepherd Church, Guduvanchery, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
National Symposium: ‘Understanding Amoris Laetitia in the Indian Situation’
Message of the Apostolic Nuncio to the Eparchy of Faridabad New Delhi, Thyagaraj Stadium, 2 October 2017
2nd Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Diocese of Gurgaon & Feast of Bishop Mar Jacob Barnabas, 7 May 2017