Thursday, 7 February 2013

Revisiting Vatican II: Inaugural Session Welcome Address by Saju Chackalackal

“REVISITING VATICAN II: 50 YEARS OF RENEWAL” Welcome Address by the President of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (31 January 2013) Between 11 October 1962 and 8 December 1965, through the leadership and animation of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, the Catholic Church made an earnest attempt, in the words of Pope John XXIII, “to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.” It is not only the opening of the Second Vatican Council that we recall and cherish during this Year of Faith, to which His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI invites every Christian, but also a grand opening of the Church to the rest of the world and reality. Without sacrificing its own foundational positions anchored in Jesus Christ, received and perpetuated in the Christian patrimony, the Church prepared itself to listen to others, and to look at itself from the point of view of others. The Spirit of God was at work among those Council Fathers and also among the Catholic faithful; the Spirit lead the Church by hand, showing carefully the path of aggiornamento for the good of the Church and its faithful and the world at large. Although the Second Vatican Council has certainly made a number of breakthroughs in the approach of the Church, it does not in any way mean that she has broken away from her sacred deposit of faith. Instead, what she has attained in the Council, in the form of the new perspectives enshrined in various documents is a path that was opened up fifty years ago, a path, journeying through which is said to better facilitate a more effective and meaningful Christian sojourn in the modern age. Having travelled so long along the path, using the ‘sure compass’ of the Vatican Council, to use an expression dear to Pope John Paul II, after fifty years, it is time for us to take stock of the situation. Celebrating the golden jubilee is not only a moment of joyous recollection, but also a time for introspection and critical assessment so that the way ahead can be properly charted. Indeed, the goal of this international conference on “Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal” under the auspices of Asian Horizons of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, is nothing but to offer a scientific and genuinely Christian platform to look at and evaluate the fruits of the Council from various points of views. Hence, I am sure that these four days of crucial and creative deliberations would offer a wonderful opportunity for all of us, experts from different parts of the world, students from our Pontifical Athenaeum, and the Christian faithful, to be enriched in our faith and to set ourselves on the right course of Christian living in the twenty-first century. I am amazed to see the enthusiastic response that we received from different corners of the world when this conference was announced; I am equally amazed to see that more than 350 international and national delegates have already arrived on our Dharmaram Campus to take part in the proceedings of this Conference. Well, I do see amidst us the presence of the Divine Providence which was at work during the Council. I am sure that this Divine Providence will animate and lead the entire Catholic Church and would enable us to make our Christian living more attuned to the Jesus in the Gospels, by being truly connected with the world around us. With this firm belief, let me fulfil my duty. We are blessed to have the presence of His Eminence Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Rome, to inaugurate this Conference. He hails from Poland; ordained to priesthood in 1963, he received his doctorate in Canon Law in 1972; consecrated Bishop in 1983, Archbishop in 1992, he was made a Cardinal in 2001. In 1999, he was appointed the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He taught Canon Law at Gregorian and Lateran Universities and at the Roman Rota for many years. The acceptance that His Eminence has received from among the intelligentsia and the states across the globe is obvious from the fact that 18 honorary doctorates have been conferred upon him, and has received a number of Medal of Honour from different states. His Eminence is seriously involved and committed in translating the teachings of the Second Vatican Council into practical life situations of the Church, be it through his scientific writings and lectures, or leadership in the Congregation for Catholic Education or any other Congregation or offices at the Vatican; therefore, although His Eminence had to travel all the way from Rome to Bangalore to take part in this programme, it is appropriate and meaningful that His Eminence is our Chief Guest and would inaugurate the Conference. While thanking His Eminence for accepting our invitation, may I extend to His Eminence the most cordial welcome to “Revisiting Vatican II.” Hearty welcome, Your Eminence! His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and the Chancellor of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram presides over this Inaugural Session of the Conference. Hailing from Kerala, “God’s own country,” His Beatitude was ordained a priest in 1972, and after his higher studies in biblical theology at Sorbonne University and the Catholic Institute, Paris, he was awarded a doctorate in 1986. He was ordained a Bishop in 1997 as the first bishop of Thuckalay. He was elected the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church in 2011 and was elevated to the Cardinalate in 2012. Being a very committed pastor and a man of solid spirituality, His Beatitude offers a wonderful spiritual and pastoral leadership to the Syro-Malabar Church through his unique style of shepherding. As the Chancellor of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram His Beatitude offers us clear guidance in faith formation and gives constant encouragement in its development. Recollecting and thanking the immense support that Your Beatitude extends to DVK and alos for the guidance offered in preparing this conference on Vatican II, may I accord to Your Beatitude a most cordial welcome! We are very glad that the Archbishop of Bangalore, His Grace Rt. Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras is present with us. He is also the Pro-Chancellor of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. He is known for his unassuming pastoral leadership and effective administrative capacity based on fundamental Christian values; he is known to be a people’s pastor. As our local Archbishop and in the capacity of the Pro-Chancellor of DVK, His Grace offers us all possible support to carry out our mission of ecclesiastical education. Your Grace, as we begin the “Revisiting Vatican II,” I accord to you a very cordial welcome! We are also blessed by the presence of Rev. Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil CMI, the Prior General of the CMI Congregation and the Vice Chancellor of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. Apart from being an excellent writer and orator, journalist and publisher, Fr. Prior General is known for his commitment to Christian values and his ability to animate our CMI Congregation along the core Christian values and commitment to the poor. He was very actively involved from the beginning of this conference and we are immensely grateful to him for his continued support in planning and realizing “Revisiting Vatican II.” Very Rev. Fr. Prior General, we accord to Your Paternity a very cordial welcome! Rev. Monsignor Dr. Bernard Ardura, President, Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, Vatican, has also graciously consented to deliver us a short message. As you may know, the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, Vatican, is one of the event partners of this conference. Msgr. Ardura, may I extend to you a very cordial welcome! Rev. Prof. Dr. Thomas Aykara CMI is the Rector of Dharmaram College and he is the head of all Dharmaram institutions, and he was graciously involved in the detailed planning of this Conference. Reverend and dear Fr. Rector, please accept our very cordial and warm welcome to this conference on Vatican II. Rev. Dr. Fr. Thomas C. Mathew CMI is the first and innovating Vice Chancellor of Christ University in whose premises we hold most of the sessions of this Conference. While thanking Fr. Thomas for his gracious support, may I extend to him a warm welcome to this inaugural session. May I also extend a very special and warm welcome to Rev. Msgr. Dr. Friedrich Bechina, the Official of the Congregation for Catholic Education who accompanies His Eminence Cardinal Grocholewski during his visit to India. Most cordial welcome, Msgr. Bechina. We have a whole galaxy of ecclesiastical luminaries, including Archbishops, bishops, renowned theologians from a number of excellent centres of higher learning and research; as I mentioned at the beginning, the enthusiastic response of all who have joined us is a great expression of the lasting significance of the Second Vatican Council even after 50 years of its convocation. I extend a most cordial welcome to all the experts and delegates of this conference on “Revisiting Vatican II.” Also, a very special word of welcome to all the staff and students of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram and Christ University, and other institutions on and off the campus. A special note of gratitude, I believe, will be quite apt at this opening moment: It was an initiative of Rev. Dr. Shaji George Kochuthara CMI, the Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology, and the Registrar of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology, and Canon Law that this mega event on the Second Vatican Council could be planned; he has worked for almost an year without any break; it is his relentless and meticulous planning, along with a committed group of DVK staff and students, that finally brought all of us together here to Dharmaram. Let me, in the name of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, thank Dr. Shaji George for planning and executing this wonderful programme and wish him and his team all the best and great success. I wish and pray that all our critical and creative deliberations take place in a mood of creatively contributing towards the further building up of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. We are all pilgrims; a pilgrim is ready to explore the divine as it unfolds to him; so, what the Second Vatican Council could establish is not the end, but a new beginning, a beginning grounded in the Christ Event and the Deposit of Faith that the Church has received. However, as St. Augustine wrote, “Let us seek with a desire to find, and find with the desire to seek still more.” So, we have a lot more to seek and find along the paths that have been already opened up by the Second Vatican Council. Wishing every success and welcoming one and all once again, I remain, Thank you! Fr. Saju Chackalackal CMI President, DVK

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