Mumbai, Feb 21
Mumbai: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has re-elected Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai, as president of the CBCI for a second term in an election held on February 17. Archbishop Felix Machado, the Bishop of Vasai (near Mumbai) was elected as the CBCI Secretary-General.
Gracias was elected on February17, which was the fifth day of the CBCI’s 34th plenary assembly, concluded at St John’s Medical College in Bengaluru in Karnatak. Cardinal Gracias will now lead the Indian Catholic Church for the next two years. On the same day that Gracias was re-elected by the Indian bishops, the Council of Cardinal Advisers (C6) held its first meeting with a three-day session in Rome from Feb. 17-19.
Gracias turned 75 in December. In accord with canon law, he has already submitted his resignation to the Pope, but is expected to continue as Archbishop of Mumbai for the foreseeable future.
The cardinal is also one of the members of the C-6, -a group of six cardinals who advise Pope Francis on the governance of the universal Church and on the preparation of a new governing constitution for the Roman Curia.
Gracias’ re-election as head of the bishops’ conference, despite his being past the normal retirement age for a bishop, comes just weeks after the announcement by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, another member of the C-6, that he will step down as head of his own bishops’ conference, in part because of his age.
On Feb. 11, Cardinal Marx said he would not seek re- election as head of the German bishops’ conference. He said he wants to spend more time in his Archdiocese of Münich-Freising and to allow “a younger generation” to lead the Church in Germany. Marx is 66 years old.
Speaking to IT, Fr. Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for Cardinal Gracias, said that the decision to re-elect Cardinal Gracias was taken at the Bangalore plenary, which is ‘like a general body meeting of all the bishops. Normally, someone is not elected as the CBCI president for more than two terms. The duties of the President include coordinating with all the bishops of India.
Gracias was born in Mumbai on 24 December 1944, to Jervis and Aduzinda Gracias (a native of Orlim, Goa). He recognises himself as a Goan Catholic. He completed his school studies at St. Michael’s School in Mahim in Central Mumbai and joined college at the Jesuit St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. After a year, he entered the Seminary St. Pius X in Mumbai, where he studied philosophy and theology. He was ordained to the priesthood by Valerian Gracius (no relation) on 20 December 1970. From 1971 to 1976, he served ad Chancellor and secretary to Bishop Joseph Rodericks, of Jamshedpur )Jharkhand)..
Gracias (born 24 December 1944) is an Indian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.. He was appointed Latin rite Archbishop of Mumbai, by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 October 2006 and was raised to the cardinalate in 2007. In 2008, he became Vice-President of the CCBI and in 2010, he was elected its President. He is also the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. On 13 April 2013, he was appointed to the Council of Cardinals, informally C-6, set up by Pope Francis to help with governing the Catholic Church and reforming its central administration.