Mumbai, India, Feb 19, 2020 / 09:30 am
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has reelected Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay, as president of the conference for a second term. The election was held on February 17.
Gracias turned 75 in December. In accord with canon law, he has already submitted his resignation to the pope, but is expected to continue as Archbishop of Bombay for the foreseeable future.
The cardinal is also one of the members of the Council of Cardinal Advisers-- known as the “C6”--a group of six cardinals who advise Pope Francis on the governance of the universal Church and on the preparation of a new governing constitution for the Roman Curia.
On the same day that Gracias was re-elected by the Indian bishops, the C6 held its first meeting of 2020 with a three-day session in Rome from Feb. 17-19.
Gracias will begin his new two-year term leading the Indian bishops’ conference at a time when the persecution of Christians in the country has increased. In October 2019, Bishop Kishore Kumar Kujur of Rourkela, speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, said that India’s Christians “are living mostly in fear at the present--much more in the north, where they are a minority.”
“There is a fear about how the government will react now the right wing has taken over. We have apprehensions it will not go well for the Christians,” said Kujur.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is widely perceived as favorable to the Hindu nationalist movement and, since his election in 2014, there have been more frequent reports of violence and persecution against Christians.
India was scheduled to host the 2021 Asian Youth Day celebration for young Catholics of the continent, but pulled out of the commitment last month, in part due to fears of governmental hostility to the event.