Wednesday, 31 October 2012

XXVI Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of India 22-26 October 2012 Held at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore , by Saju Chackalackal

XXVI Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of India 22-26 October 2012 Held at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore by Saju Chackalackal Felicitations Offered by the President of DVK during the Inaugural Session on 22 October 2012, held at Pastor Kringe Memorial Auditorium, DVK Research Centre For all of us, both members of the Canon Law Society of India and Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, this is an auspicious occasion: while the 26th Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of India is being held here at DVK, for us this is the first formal programme here in this Pastor Kringe Memorial Auditorium in DVK Research Centre. I thank the Lord, Jesus the Guru of Dharmaram, for having blessed us with His bountiful graces. I thank all those who were associated with the construction and furnishing of this auditorium, particularly, Rev. Prof. Dr. Thomas Kollamparampil and Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Thonippara, my predecessors in the office of the President, who had taken the troubles to prepare the way for the construction and first-stage of the furnishing; I gratefully remember Rev. Dr. Thomas Aykara, our beloved Rector, for having supported us all through. I very specially thank Rev. Fr. Davis Panadan, the Finance Administrator of DVK, for having spent days and nights to get everything ready with the furnishing of this auditorium ready for today’s inaugural function. This being the first formal meeting held in this auditorium, please permit me to make a special mention of the name given to this auditorium: it is christened “Pastor Kringe Memorial Auditorium” after the fond memories of a holy and zealous priest in Bruchhausen am Steinen, near Olsberg in Germany. Pastor Herbert Kringe, whom I myself and many of us personally knew, was an ardent supporter of Indian missions. Although a parish priest of an ordinary village parish, he could motivate his parishioners to extend all possible support to the Indian missions; additionally, members from this parish used to sponsor a number of our seminarians for their priestly studies; personally, I was fortunate to be one among those who were supported by a parishioner of Pator Kringe. Remembering all these with gratitude, we the CMIs here at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram dedicate this auditorium in the name of Pastor Herbert Kringe to perpetuate the fond memory and the ardent love that he and his parishioners had for Indian missions, in general, and Dharmaram, in particular. I am doubly glad that the first event in this auditorium is the 26th Annual Conference of the Canon Society of India, especially as all its members live and contribute towards the making of the Indian Christian community and its smooth conduct along the Christian principles. The joy is doubled, precisely because of the fact that Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram has the unique privilege of having an independent Institute for the studies in Oriental Canon Law; this being the only institute outside Rome, to pursue studies in Oriental Canon Law, we take pride in hosting the Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of India here at DVK and, thus, to contribute our share into the development of Christian living in the Indian context. I thank the officials of the CLSI for having chosen Dharmaram campus as the venue for the conference, and I hope that you all would, later on, return to our campus whenever there is an opportunity – either for personal academic research purposes or for the similar conferences, including the annual conference of CLSI. There is a recurrence of a news item that I find the most distressing and painful; this type of news is filling at least a couple of pages in the print media these days. Can anyone guess what could this be? It is the horrendous and inhuman acts of rape that are being reported almost every day. Our civil society and the legal machinery seem to be completely helpless in tackling the situation, as every day the cases of this nature are on the increase. To my mind the alarming increase of rape cases is indicative of the tragic loss of humanity and condemnable erosion of civilization in our contemporary society. If the democratic government of the land and its laws are unable to tackle issues of the sort, it is reasonable to believe that such mechanisms are not in place at all. As far as the civil society is concerned, a non-functional law is no law at all. Parallel to the increase of cases of rape in the larger society, the Church in general and the Catholic Church in particular witness an alarming increase in the cases that come up for annulment and divorce. The Church has always believed that the matrimony is holy; the union between a man and woman in holy matrimony is a sacrament for the Catholic Church. Hence, the Church has been approaching the issues of marital relationship with utmost care and concern. The choice of the theme, “Matrimonial Procedural Law,” for the 26th Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of India clearly reflects both the importance the Church attaches to matrimony, on the one side, and the existential crisis of more and more couples queuing up for separation or dissolution of their matrimonial bond, on the other. Caught between the ideal and real, it is opportune and wise that the eminent canonists of our Indian Church come together and deliberate for five days about various aspects of the matrimonial procedural law and its ramifications in the existential context of India by firmly holding to the position of the Church that holy matrimony is a perpetual bond, a bond in love perpetually blessed by the Lord, and bond in love that is to be lived for ever under the care of the Church. Given the above positive affirmation of the relevance of the selection of the theme for the Annual Conference of CLSI, I was reflecting further upon the theme; without having any special training in Canon Law, especially approaching it from my background of philosophy, I used to wonder about an illogical tangle that is involved in the very issues that prompt us to undertake a discussion on matrimonial procedural law, especially in the Church in the wake of the alarming increase of cases of couples coming up for the dissolution of their marital bond. The increase in the number of such cases is an indication of the fact that largely our Indian Christian community is failing in living the fundamental principle of love and charity; it is a failure not only of the families, but fundamentally, a failure of the Church as a whole. While there are an innumerable number of factors involved in any particular case that comes up for a settlement in our diocesan courts, which I am sure all you canonists would explore before a reasonable and pastorally viable verdict is made, I wonder whether it would be proper for canonists, who are primarily pastors after the example of the Lord, to end up the discussions merely by deliberating about legislations and interpretation of the law. I feel that there are deeper and wider Christian existential issues which must be tackled before a proper canonical solution can be arrived at. If the failures in matrimonial bond happen due to the failure in living our Christian faith, especially from the angle of the fundamental Christian principle of love, then, the pastoral need is not only to settle with the disturbed relationships, but also to make sure that the Church puts in place mechanisms which would enable those who enter the holy matrimony to take up their responsibilities with all their seriousness and with a clear Christian perspective. Approaching the issues of matrimonial bond merely from the side of the problems involved would be almost like the physicians treating the symptoms; there is a greater need to identify the root cause or causes, and to plan out the strategies to tackle those root causes, certainly being based on the fundamental Christian sources. If we would succeed in this process, I am sure that our understanding of the matrimonial procedural law would undergo a tremendous Christian transformation and it would be capable of transforming and empowering every Christian who enters the holy bond of matrimony. I believe that if a Christian law is unable to transform the lives of the Christians, it is almost like having no law at all. I wish and pray that the understanding of the matrimonial procedural law will be enhanced through your scientific studies and common pooling of ideas through serious discussions. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit who guides the Church through its members will inspire all of you, especially during your stay and deliberations held here at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. Let your common efforts be a transforming power in the life of the Church, especially in our Indian context. I thank the CLSI, once again, for your blessed presence on our campus. I thank the director of our Institute of Canon Law, Rev. Dr. Sebastian Payyappilly CMI and his entire team of the staff and students of IOCL, very specially, Rev. Prof. Dr. Varghese Koluthara, the executive member of the CLSI and the local organizer of this Annual Conference here at DVK, for the wonderful arrangements that they have made for the smooth conduct of the entire programme. Wishing you all the best and God’s abundant blessings upon all of us, I remain. Thank you! Bangalore Prof. Dr. Saju Chackalackal CMI 22 October 2012 President, DVK

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