The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, the apex body of the Catholic church, on Wednesday said widespread intolerance and attacks on religious personnel and institutions were present-day challenges in the country.
In the "final statement" at the eight-day 32nd CBCI plenary in Bengaluru which concluded on Wednesday, the Conference also identified large-scale poverty and growing gap between rich and poor, corruption, illiteracy, child labour, increasing unemployment, growing addiction to alcohol and drugs and denial of SC status to Christian Dalits as other challenges.
The Bishops noted that the multiple, composite culture of the country has noble values of religiosity, peace, simplicity and tolerance as lived by Mahatma Gandhi and various Indian sages.
The CBCI holds the Plenary Assembly once in two years to discuss various aspects of life of the Church in India, especially the challenges faced by it.
About 180 Bishops from all the Dioceses of the country deliberated on the principal theme of the plenary 'The Response of the Church in India to the Present Day Challenges'.
The Conference also identified some of the challenges within the church such as declining family values, tensions and break ups in families, an increasing number of divorces, abortions and a lack of understanding of marriage as a sacrament, growing materialism, consumerism and addiction to social media, growing indifference and lack of commitment to the Christian vocation, the CBCI said in a statement.
The Bishops chose for review and for an appropriate response areas such as regular visits of Parish Priests to the families, accepting the dignity, role and importance of the lay faithful in the Church.
Other areas included fostering advocacy to address the issues of land alienation and human trafficking, promoting youth apostolate, providing educational opportunities, especially to the socially backward and girl children, drawing up an Environmental (Green) Policy, shunning excessive institutionalization, clericalism and extravaganza.
The concluding Holy Mass was presided over by the CBCI President, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, who exhorted the Bishops to diligently put into practice the recommendations and suggestions that came up in the plenary in their respective dioceses.