Thursday, January 19, 2006

Archbishop's Christmas Reception Address

Text of Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao's speech at Christmas Reception - Dec 28/05

Here is the text of the welcome address delivered by Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, at the Christmas reception hosted by him for the civil authorities and other public persons, in the Archbishop's House on December 28, 2005.

Our Dear and Honoured Guests:

Your Excellency, Shri S.C. Jamir, the Governor of Goa and Mrs. Jamir,

Honourable Deputy Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. Wilfred D'Souza,

Honourable Ministers and Members of the Legislative Assemby,

Honourable Members of the Parliament,

Honourable Members of the Judiciary,

Respected Members of the Central and State Administration,

Honourable Defence Personnel,

Respected Consular Authorities,

Esteemed Members of the print and electronic media,

Reverend Colleagues in Church leadership,

Major Superiors of Religious Congregations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Together with His Grace Most Rev. Raul Gonsalves, the former Archbishop of Goa and Daman, I have great joy in welcoming you this evening to this Archbishop's House. It is the second time that we are holding this event here, for we thought that there is no better occasion than the festive Season of Christmas --- a season that calls for the sharing of friendship and of mutual concern --- to reaffirm and consolidate a relationship that has always existed between the Church and the civil authorities, between the Church and persons who actively serve the human family in its various needs. For - I quote now from an important Church document signed by the Pope and nearly two thousand bishops gathered in Rome forty years ago - "the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, those too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the Church."

We would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to re-state that the Church would like to be wherever the genuine interests of the people are being promoted with a steadfast commitment and deep respect for the dignity of the human person. For we believe that at that first Christmas, two thousand years ago, a divine being took human form and was named Jesus and that this uniquely sacred birth elevated human dignity to its highest level. Deeply imbued with this fundamental datum of her faith, the Church has been making, throughout the last two millennia, a significant contribution to the integral development of humankind, especially by her dedication to education, health care and assistance to the less fortunate, without discrimination of colour, creed or race. Through these and other activities, the Church continues to help build a society of justice, trust and cooperation in every part of the world.

Coming to our little State of Goa, we would like to assure everyone that, irrespective of the political affiliations of the governments in power at the Centre or at the State level from time to time, the local Church is committed to extend her unstinted support and backing to any initiatives taken by the Government or other agencies to sincerely promote the integral development of human persons and communities, of course, within acceptable standards and safeguarding ethical principles. I will remind you of what I said last year on this occasion, namely, that whenever Catholics gather for their Sunday Mass, they pray specifically for those who govern the country and the state as well as for all those who enthusiastically work for the well-being of others. So you are all in our constant prayers!

In this connection, allow me to offer a point for our common reflection. We live in a democracy and we cannot thank our Constitution Fathers enough for laying the foundations for the practice of true democracy, inspired by supreme and immutable values, which enable the cultural wealth of the people of India and the gradual development of our society to respond to the demands of the common citizen, whose well-being has been uppermost in the minds of those who drafted our Constitution. On the other hand, we all know, from experience, how easily a democracy without principles and values can turn into a disguised totalitarianism. We have seen, in our own State, how democratic ideas and convictions can be manipulated for reasons of power and personal gain, leaving the wellbeing of the common man grossly unattended and thereby bringing in a highly unstable and disreputable political situation in the State. And, sad to say, people of all political affiliations have contributed to this sorry state of affairs. Isn't it high time that those concerned engage in a soul-searching exercise, so that the citizens' confidence in their authorities can be restored and an atmosphere of credibility can be created around those who are voted to power? We would like to assure that the Church in Goa, deeply concerned as she is with the plight of the common man, would be only too willing to help in this process, according to her limited possibilities.

I am certainly not standing before you today in order to paint a dark picture. During Christmas season we must focus on the bright side of things! And the main purpose of our inviting you all today to this place is to shake hands with you and to tell you that we appreciate what you are doing for the people of Goa and, more particularly, for our Christian Community. On our part, as we have just said, we shall be only too glad to offer our collaboration in the building of a supportive society that sincerely and genuinely promotes the dignity of the human person, religious and cultural harmony as well as peace and justice for all.

Once again, I wholeheartedly thank His Excellency Shri S.C. Jamir, the Governor of Goa, the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Wilfred D'Souza, all the authorities in the Government and our distinguished guests for accepting our invitation and making time to be with us this evening. We wish and pray that God Almighty may give all of us a New Year filled with His choicest blessings and inspire us to serve our people with greater earnest and good will.

+ Filipe Neri Ferrão
Archbishop of Goa and Daman.

Archbishop's House, Panjim, Goa, December 28, 2005.

Original English text, issued by the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media (DCSCM), Goa.

No comments: