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North East India Bishops reiterate Pope Francis' Stand on Poor


By J. Pulinthanath sdb
North East Regional Bishop`s Council at Agartala
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Shillong, Apr. 5. Agartala: Echoing the predilection for the poor that Pope Francis famously made known at the beginning of his pontificate, the leadership of the Catholic Church in North East India has said there is an essential 'link between our faith and the poor'. ''Our educational services and social outreach programs,'' said Archbishop Dominic Jala, ''are expressions of the Church's belief that there exists an undeniable link between our faith and the poor.'' He called it a 'link' the Church in North East would ''vigorously pursue.'' Archbishop Jala of Shillong was speaking at the meeting of the North East Regional Bishops Council, held at Bishop's House Agartala, 2nd - 4th April 2013, of which Archbishop Jala is the chairman.
The half yearly meeting of the Council saw full attendance with prelates from all the dioceses participating in the two-day event. The dioceses of Jowai and Diphu that are awaiting the announcement of their bishops, were represented by Diocesan Administrators Fr. Hilarius Lamare and Fr. John Timung respectively. Archbishops emeriti Joseph Mittathani and Thomas Menamparampil and Bishop emeritus Robert Kerketta also attended the meeting taking the total number to a record 18. The Council discussed ''matters pertaining to the practice of Christian faith in the region, besides those of Church administration and governance,'' said Bishop John Thomas of Itanagar, the Secretary of the Council.

At a reception given to the visiting church dignitaries by the priests and religious of the diocese of Agartala, Most Rev. Lumen Monteiro CSC, DD, the Bishop of Agartala and the host of the meeting called the presence of the North Eastern church hierarchy in Tripura, ''a blessing to our land'' and said it would bring about ''greater unity among the dioceses of the region''.  He also thanked the visiting prelates for the goodwill and concern they always display for Agartala diocese.  It is the second time that the Council meets in Agartala. The first time was in 2006, when the diocese of Agartala held the decennial celebrations of its coming to existence.

Referring to the changes the guests saw in the capital city, Archbishop Jala said, ''Returning to Agartala after a gap of 7 years, we see that substantial development has taken place in the town of Agartala. We appreciate the pro-development stance taken by the Tripura government and hope that other state governments in the region will emulate the emphasis on development that is visible here.''

The members of the Council also called on Shri Devanand Konwar, the Governor of Tripura and conveyed its good wishes and appreciation for the fast-paced development taking place in the state. The Governor, in turn, was all praise for the services the Church renders to all sections of people particularly the poor.
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