Indian bishops commit to accountability and participation

Concluding their annual plenary which focused on the vocation and role of the laity, Indian bishops have committed the Church to urgently establishing participatory structures for lay people and a system of accountability for bishops and priests.

UCA News reports that India's Latin-rite bishops say that "even though much has been done in the way of empowering the laity (they) realise that more has to be done".

The statement on behalf of India's 123 bishops from the 128 Latin-rite dioceses in India came at the end of a six-day meeting during which they discussed "the vocation and the role of laity in the life and mission of the Church."

"There is a need for solid formation, on theological and spiritual bases, for the vocation and for the mission of the laity in the Church," Archbishop Oswald Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, told media after the meeting which was held in Kerala state.

The archbishop said the conference's laity commission would finalise modules and set budgets for a training program for laity, which would be aimed at empowering laypeople to take leadership positions in society.

"Our will be to guide, encourage and empower the laypeople in the Church," he added. Later, he told UCA News the training might vary from diocese to diocese.

The bishops are committed to work for "a change in the attitude and practices of clergy and religious wherever needed," their statement says.

"Clergy's formation would stress regarding lay people as responsible collaborators. People in the hierarchy must encourage laity to exercise their rightful place in the Church."

All dioceses and parishes will "create urgently a system of accountability" and within two years develop "participatory structures" such as pastoral councils and finance committees, the statement says.

The bishops also committed themselves to invite theologians to create a "meaningful lay spirituality geared to action."

Fr Joseph Etturuthil, chief meeting organiser told UCA News some priests have been reluctant to acknowledge a more involved role for laity. "Things are changing slowly. It may take a few more years to change the old mindset," he added.

Bishops Firm Up Plans For Lay Empowerment (UCA News, 10/1/07)
CCBI Assembly Concludes, Bishops Pledge To Make Laity Responsible And Competent Collaborators (CBCI News, 9/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Conference of India
Pontifical Council for the Laity

Official urges better catechesis for laity (CathNews, 15/4/05)
Brisbane program aiming to empower laity (CathNews, 13/4/04)
Pope stresses parish role in formation of laity (CathNews, 26/11/02)
Pope warns against 'clericalising' the laity (25/9/02)

11 Jan 2007

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