India’s bishops elated after successful moon landing 

India moon Students and teachers in Hyderabad, India, on Aug. 24, 2023, celebrate the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the south pole of the moon. India on the previous day became the first nation to land a craft near the moon’s south pole. | Credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images

India’s Catholic bishops celebrated along with the rest of the country this week after an Indian-built lunar lander touched down on the moon’s surface Wednesday morning, a win for the country’s still-developing space program. 

“The progress made by our scientists and engineers in the field of space research is truly commendable and fills our hearts with pride,” said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) on Aug. 23, as reported by UCA News. 

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly and the conference president, said: “The pursuit of knowledge and exploration knows no boundaries and brings together people from all walks of life, reflecting the unity in diversity that India represents…May this achievement serve as a reminder of what we can accomplish when we come together with a shared vision.”

The touchdown of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft marked mankind’s first successful mission to the moon’s south pole, which is an interesting site for scientists due to the presence, scientists believe, of substantial quantities of water ice. The mission also represents a redemption for India’s space program, as a previous attempt to reach the moon in September 2019 ended in failure amid a software glitch. 

The solar-powered lunar rover will now spend two weeks exploring the vicinity of the landing site, studying the chemical composition of moon dust and gravel, reported. The rover and lander are not expected to survive past the next lunar night (lunar days and nights are two weeks long, and the nights are frigid). 

India’s successful landing took place just days after Russia — attempting to revive its space sector amid its war of aggression in Ukraine — failed to land its Luna-25 mission in the same area following a botched orbital maneuver, said.

Similar to the Indian bishops, Pope Francis has spoken about space exploration — recalling the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019, the pope encouraged Catholics to look to that great event for inspiration to overcome injustices and mistreatment of the weak.

“Fifty years ago yesterday man set foot on the moon, realizing an extraordinary dream,” the pope said at the time. “May the memory of that great step for humanity ignite the desire to progress together towards even greater goals: More dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, more future for our common home.”

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