Cardinal Ivan Dias' Farewell MessageDear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus:
I am deeply grateful to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for appointing me Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. It is the missionary department of the Holy See entrusted with the propagation of the faith in areas where it has not yet taken firm root. It co-ordinates the pastoral activities of over a thousand ecclesiastical units in the five continents, with about 2,400 bishops, both in active service and retired.
A decade of pastoral serviceNovember 8th next would have been the tenth anniversary of my appointment as Archbishop of Bombay. I thank God for the many graces he has showered on the Archdiocese during the past decade. Since gratitude is the memory of the heart, permit me to recall some highlights of this period: the visit of the statue of Mary of Nazareth in 1999; the erection of the diocese of Vasai and the appointment of its shepherd Bishop Thomas Dabre; the promotion of Archbishop Oswald Gracias to the See of Agra; the ordination of the first permanent deacons. There was also the institution of the Day of the Consecrated Life (February 2) and the Pro-Life Day (March 25) and the setting up of memorials for the unborn children in our cemeteries. The great event during my tenure of service was the 2001 Archdiocesan Synod and its follow-up organism BASIC; the recent Mid-Term Synod Assembly which emphasised the need of a holistic spirituality permeating, in particular, the family, the youth and the marginalised; the Archdiocesan Consultation on Education and the subsequent constitution of ACTIVE; the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Federation of Centres of Community Organisations. I gratefully recall also the establishment of the Conference of Diocesan Priests of the Archdiocese of Bombay (CDPAB), the institution of the Community Welfare Fund, and the activities of the Small Christian Communities and Centres for Community Organisation all over the Archdiocese.
During the past decade we gave due importance to dialogue within the Ecumenical Fellowship of Christian Bishops in Mumbai, as well as to inter-religious dialogue where persons of diverse religious traditions participated in an exchange of ideas, common action plans and experiences. I shall recall our meetings with nostalgia and I wish both the dialogues a fruitful continuation in the years ahead.
We have also had occasions to show our solidarity during the emergency caused by natural disasters, like the earthquakes which struck Gujarat in 2001 and Kashmir in 2005, and the terrible deluge which fell on a large part of the Archdiocese and even beyond its borders, leading our parishes, schools and other institutions (e.g. Centre for Social Action) to take many heroic relief and rehabilitation initiatives. A few days ago we inaugurated one of the three housing complexes we have built in Raigad district for the tribals/adivasis who were victims of landslides caused by last year’s apocalyptic monsoon floods. On this occasion, we made it clear that the project – as all the health, educational and social projects of the Catholic Church in the country – had no ulterior motives whatsoever and no conversion strings attached to it.
In the spirit of Our Lady’s Magnificat we can truly say: The Lord has done marvellous things for the Archdiocese of Bombay during the past ten years. Holy be His Name!
Special thanksI want to thank my venerable predecessor Cardinal Simon Pimenta for his warm friendship and fraternal benevolence towards me. I thoroughly enjoyed the cordial fellowship of my Auxiliary Bishops: at present, Bishops Bosco Penha, Percival Fernandez and Agnelo Gracias - and, before them, Bishops Ferdinand Fonseca, Thomas Dabre and Oswald Gracias. I have appreciated their close collaboration as they shared with me the joys and concerns of the Archdiocese as Zonal Bishops and in-charge of various pastoral sectors of the faithful, while shouldering responsibilities at the national level as well.
I thank the diocesan priests and the religious men and women for their pastoral zeal in the parishes and in the fields of education, health and social welfare. May God continue to shower abundant blessings on their dedicated service to the well-being of the nation, and especially to the poor and the marginalised.
I wish to commend the edifying piety and fervour of the laity, their deep devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist and their filial love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. In particular, I thank God for the Blessed Sacrament Adoration Chapels in almost all our parishes which are visited by so many persons from morn till night, as also for the spread of the Divine Mercy Devotion in the Archdiocese. I laud the laity’s increasing involvement in the affairs of the Church and their active participation in the Archdiocesan, Deanery and Parish Pastoral Councils, in associations, movements and ecclesial communities, in committees and in catechetical, liturgical and other ministries. I admire their zeal and enthusiasm and I pray that their endeavours to make faith flow into action may gather momentum, both individually and community-wise, as the years go by.
As everyone knows, no Bishop can pretend to be perfect or to accomplish everything during his tenure of office. I am aware that my ministry in your midst may have had its lacunae and I am conscious of my limitations and shortcomings. I beg pardon from all those whom I may have unwittingly hurt, offended or scandalised in the exercise of my pastoral duties. I ask them to pray for me. There are also initiatives which could be considered an unfinished symphony to be carried on by the new shepherd which the Holy Father will give to the flock in Bombay. I wish him God’s choicest blessings and assure him of my prayers
Farewell MessageDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: I was very happy to have been able to serve the diocese of my birth for almost a decade. As I leave the Archdiocese and my dear Bharat Mata for my new assignment:
I have a dream: that this wonderful megapolis of Mumbai and the whole Indian sub-continent may progress and flourish in human, humane and spiritual virtues, and that the overall progress of its citizens may be gauged, not so much by the economic sensex, but rather by the rise and fall of their civic sense and moral values.
I have a dream: that India may have an abundance, not only of political parties and politicians but, above all, of statesmen and women, who are outstanding in moral integrity, who place the well-being of the whole nation before their personal, party and petty interests, who are known for their noble intentions and their selfless love for the poor and the marginalised, persons who are ever alert and ready to combat the three evils which pose a constant threat to harmonious living among the citizens of India: viz. communalism, casteism and corruption.
I have a dream: that the thirst of India’s teeming millions, who yearn to be led “from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.3.28), may be quenched at the divine fountain of living waters, Jesus Christ Our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Light of the World. Because Christ loves India and India needs Christ.
ConclusionSisters and Brothers: As I prepare to begin my new assignment in Rome, I earnestly beg you to keep me in your prayers, so that, true to my episcopal motto Servus (servant/slave), I may continue to labour tirelessly and selflessly in the Lord’s vineyard for His greater glory and for the spread of His Kingdom to the four corners of the earth. On my part, I assure you of a special memento every day at Holy Mass and during the recitation of the Breviary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Holy Rosary.
God bless India, our beloved Motherland, and God love you all!
Your affectionate shepherd In Corde Mariae
+Ivan Cardinal Dias
June 27, 2006
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