The Holy See
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Public Reception at Trichur - January 11, 2004



Your Eminence Card. Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Your Eminences, Your Grace John Patrick Foley, President ot the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Your Grace Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio in India, Your Grace Cyril Mar Baselios, President of the Catholic Bishops= Conference of India, Your Grace Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy, Archbishop of Trichur, Dear Brother Bishops of India, Distinguished Representatives of Civil Authorities and Pulic Life, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I wish to extend to all of you anew my most cordial greetings. It is a great joy for me to be with you here today and to join your gathering in this historic city of Trichur in order to honor all the Catholic bishops of India. My joy is even greater witnessing this spectacular celebration here this visit of mine has been a truly spiritual and cultural experience, which will remain in my heart for years to come.

Thanks be to God for this unique experience! And thanks be to you, Church of India: like a mother rich in spiritual treasures you have received me and have made known to me your deep faith in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to you, India: a wonderful nation of so profound religious traditions.

Please permit me to address to you the following three brief messages: The first to the Archeparchy of Trichur: may the message of your Cathedral and of the Dolours Basilica, whose spires rise up towards God, find an echo in the service you offer to your brothers and sisters in need. The second message to the oriental Churches in India: be proud of your patrimony, of your ancient roots, of your traditions; find in them the source to be a sign of the variety of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the one Body of Christ. The third message to the whole Catholic Church in India, here represented by all their bishops: grow in love and unity. Blessed are you by God with the richness of three rites: latin, syro-malabar and syro-malankara; you have received a gift to live in harmony and respect with other Christian brothers ans sisters, and with followers of other religions. Blessed are you for your many missionary vocations and dedicated faithfull.

And now permit me to ask you two questions: what contribution can the Church in India make to the Universal Church? And what contribution can the same Church in India make to this nation and to the world? The Universal Church expects of the Church in India an ever-greater testimony to the fruitfulness of inter-ritual, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. The nation of India and the world expect of the Church in India a special contribution to the promotion of peace. Church of India, you know the four foundations of peace: truth, freedom, justice and love (cf. Pacem in terris)! Continue to announce to the nation and to the world that they can be found in Christ, your Spouse and Shepherd. Continue to respond to the many needs of the young, the sick and the poor.

I have visited you, Church of India, in the name of His Holiness Pope John Paul the second. The Pope loves you, encourages you and blesses you, now and in the future. Be always able to bring the respect, esteem and affection of the Holy Father to this marvelous nation.

St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for your India!

Our Lady, The Virgin Mother, Patroness of India, intercede for all people of this nation!

Christ Jesus, light of the world, continue to illuminate with your Gospel this beautiful and blessed land of yours, which is India. Thank You!