Press Release: Pastoral Letter for the ‘Year of Faith’

  04 April,2013

Press Release

Catholic Bishops of North East India Release 
Pastoral Letter for the ‘Year of Faith’

The Council of Catholic Bishops of North East India released a joint pastoral letter for the ‘Year of Faith’ and ‘New Evangelization’ during the Annual Regional Bishops Conference being held in the Diocese of Agartala from 2nd to 4th April 2013. It may be mentioned that, the Regional Bishops Conference is the body of the ecclesiastical heads of the 15 dioceses of the Region, the apex body which takes decision on matters of common concerns of the region. 

Pope Benedict XVI had declared from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013 as ‘Year of Faith’, which coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the Promulgation of the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, to help the Catholic Faithful to know their faith more thoroughly, live it more joyfully and to proclaim it more confidently.

The joint letter is addressed to the Priests, Religious and Catholic Faithful of the Dioceses of North East India, to help them to live the ‘Year of Faith’ and enhance their Faith. The joint letter gives a profound reflection on the understanding of Catholic Faith and New evangelization, and gives recommendations for making the Year of Faith fruitful. 

The letter first examines the challenging ground realities of the multi-religious and multi-denominational context of the region, which is plagued with peripheral religious belief and practices, communal tension, insurgency, illegal migration, poverty, underdevelopment, corruption, unemployment, moral decadence, breakdown in traditional family and moral values, consumerism and materialism. Secondly, it closely examines the various influential sectors of the region for a renewed and relevant way of proclaiming the Gospel. It notes that the cultural sector is influenced by secularisation as a result of materialism, relativism and individualism. In the scientific sector, it observes the danger of undermining the religious practices and limiting the role of God by propagating the idea that science and technology can satiate the deepest longings of humankind. While in the religious sector it notices the fundamentalism and proliferation of religious sects, causing unhealthy competition and wide spread confusion. 

To respond to the impending dangers that are lurking around in all these sectors, responding to the clarion call of the Holy Father, the bishops propose a program of action for a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to rediscover their Faith in him. Modelled after the proposals brought out during the North East Pastoral Conference held in September last year, the bishops in the letter recommend the following programs for the spiritual benefit of the flock of Christ in North East, viz., pilgrimage, devotion to Mary, seminars, Youth activities, Gathering for faith Sharing, study on Vatican II documents, training in preaching, Ecumenical initiatives, translation of Vatican II documents and Catechism of the Catholic Church in local languages, more dynamic use of mass media for the proclamation of the Gospel etc. The bishops also propose a plan of action, namely, evangelization of the evangelizer, intense Sacramental life, Sacramental Catechesis, spiritual retreats, promotion of popular devotions, well-planned catechism classes, greater use of the Bible, greater use of Catholic literature, mass media, training of lay leaders and catechists, meaningful and creative liturgical celebrations, various campus meetings etc. 

The bishops exhort the Parish Priests, Heads of Communities and institutions to make the contents of the pastoral letter to all those who are under their care and call upon all those who have leadership roles in the Church to draw up suitable plan of action and carry forward the suggestions recommended in the pastoral letter. 

Fr. Dr. Sojan Xavier
Spokesperson, Diocese of Kohima