India's Latin-rite Catholic bishops have pledged to give special pastoral attention to people estranged from the Church and their families. During the 29th plenary assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh state, 137 bishops from the country’s Latin dioceses discussed on how to revitalize Catholic families who are drifting away from vital Catholic teachings. The theme was inspired by Pope Francis' 2016 exhortation, 'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love). "We will reach out to those who for several reasons feel estranged from the church … including people who are divorced, those civilly remarried and cohabiting partners," the Latin bishops said in a final statement. They said they would do this keeping in mind Pope Francis' words that "what is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down." They also pledged "to support and accompany" families that need special care such as those living in dire poverty, with spouses of two different religions, single parent families, families with disabled children, grieving and bereaved families, migrants and families with sick and elderly members.
To strengthen family life, the bishops also planned to intensify preparatory classes given to couples before marriage and encourage priests and nuns to "accompany families" through regular visits and contact. "We will ensure that our priests, catechists and pastoral workers receive better training in family ministry," they said.
Speaking to UCANEWS, Bishop Paul Alois Lakra of Gumla said that the bishops acknowledged that that the current formation of priests and nuns was not adequate to handle the complex problems that families face and they wanted to bring in changes. Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur said the CCBI’s office for Catholic families has been asked to "work out a uniform programmes to help young boys and girls to prepare themselves for family life that is in line with the teachings of the church." "When we strengthen the marriage preparation course with more programmes to help them realize their vocation to the sacrament of family, it will naturally help the church and society," he added.
The CCBI together with the eastern rite Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches form the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) the apex body of the Catholic Church in India. Of the 172 dioceses in India, 132 belong to the Latin rite. (Source: UCAN)