Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor visits India on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI
The former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, has returned from a visit to India. He was representing Pope Benedict XVI in events commemorating the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's historic visit to the country.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor visited many of the areas Pope John Paul II did. In Delhi he celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart; in Ranchi he discussed the central role the Eucharist plays in the life of the Church; in Calcutta he spoke about works of charity; in Cochin he preached on the central role of the Family; and in Bombay he met with the city's Clergy and Religious as well as seminarians at the Goregaon Seminary.
Speaking on the BBC Sunday Programme, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "India is the most fascinating country. What struck me most was the respect for religion."
"John Paul's visit had a huge impact at the time. I spoke mostly on the themes he had spoken on himself. I spoke on the family; young people, tribal issues, the Holy Eucharist and inter-religious dialogue."
"What struck me was what an extraordinary brave and courageous man he was. I was in India for ten days and was very tired at the end of it. Pope John Paul went all over the world with huge crowds - proclaiming his belief in Jesus Christ - an apostle of the Gospel. I remember him saying that I want to be in every country; in every home. He was an extraordinary man. My visit made me reflect that he was also a man with enormous faith; enormous stamina to undergo these great visits, but also an apostle who wished to put his belief before the world."
"Twenty five years ago, Pope John Paul II said to the Indian Catholic Church - 'you are a very tiny minority, but you are important - you have a very special part to play in this country with its myriad number of religions.'"
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said that the Church in India today is "confident and vibrant." He praised the Indian Catholic Church's distinctive liturgy and customs. "Wherever I went I was garlanded and the crowds were enormously enthusiastic. It was very moving."
According to Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, Pope Benedict XVI is also interested in coming to India, but he may not be able to visit as many places in the country as his predecessor.
"Whenever I meet the Pope, I talk to him about visiting India. Quite a number of Indians were his students when he was teaching before becoming the Pope. He is interested to come to India to see his students," Cardinal Toppo told a gathering of Catholic religious and lay workers in his Archdiocese.
"Maybe, if Mother Teresa is canonised in India, probably he can come here for the canonisation ceremony," Cardinal Toppo said.
I think the canonisation of Mother Teresa, whenever that happens, would be a great time for another papal visit to India. Not only would that be an opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest Catholic saints in modern times, but it would also give India’s small Catholic community a great boost. Living the Christian faith in a highly pluralistic and highly stratified society is a quite a challenge, and in recent times there have been attacks from Hindu extremists.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, who headed a recent Vatican delegation to India, encouraged the Church in India to foster “inculturated catechism." By this he means the Church should imbibe and assimilate local cultures, without of course impacting the doctrines of the faith, so that the Indian Church is fully Catholic and authentically Indian. I think that is the way to go. Insisting on Latin mass and other western traditions on the Church in India is really futile. What matters is people practice their faith in the most practical and appropriate manner.