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Vatican Officials Meet With Indian Catholic Leaders

25 Jan 2011 – by Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In India, where the country’s 18 million Catholics make up less than 2 percent of the population, top Vatican doctrinal officials met with Catholic bishops to discuss key theological questions and challenges.

Officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with leaders from India’s Latin-rite, Syro-Malabar, and Syro-Malankara Catholic communities Jan. 16-22 in Bangalore, India.

At the colloquium, titled “Seeking the Truth Together,” the doctrinal congregation delegation was led by U.S. Cardinal William Levada, prefect; Archbishop Luis Ladaria, congregation secretary; and four other officials including Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who is the key official for dealing with clerical sex abuse.

A Vatican statement published Jan. 24 said participating bishops, theologians and Vatican officials discussed questions “such as the specific role of the theologian in the church, theological methodology in the East and in the West, inculturation, Jesus Christ as the one savior of all people, the relationship between the church of Christ and the other religions, the Christian concept of authentic human liberation, the role of the faith community, and the distinctiveness of Christian prayer and spirituality.”

Each topic generated “lively and sustained dialogue” and the talks sought to “take account of the Catholic presence in the distinctively Indian context,” it said.

The talks touched on the need to build on a faithful, authentic and solid theological foundation when seeking to “elaborate a contextualized theology,” said the statement.

It said the bishops and Vatican officials also met in a separate series of meetings to discuss “the specific role and responsibility of bishops in the church, such as the bishop as teacher of the faith, the functioning of the doctrinal commission of the bishops’ conference, the formation of future priests and members of religious congregations, and the correct adjudication of the more serious canonical delicts,” which, for example, would include the sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Without mentioning any specifics, the statement said, “many questions were clarified and valuable initiatives proposed” during the meetings.

Out of a population of more than one billion people, 2.3 percent of India’s inhabitants are Christian and about 1.6 percent are Catholic. The Catholic Church has 161 dioceses in India; 128 of them are Latin rite, 27 belong to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and six dioceses belong to the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches trace their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle. The churches follow Antiochene tradition but are in union with Rome.