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Indian Bishop on Pope's Request for Way of the Cross Meditations

By Nirmala Carvalho
March 25th, 2009
Asia News (www.asianews.it/)

The Archbishop of Guwahati was invited personally by the Pope to compose Meditations on the Way of the Cross for this Good Friday.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "I have drawn much inspiration from the fearlessness of Christ before Pontius Pilate, who was at that moment in history the most powerful force, as he represented the Roman emperor. Christ was able to stand fearlessly only because of his inner rectitude and inner uprightness and the confidence and guarantee that he was sustained by Truth."

Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop of Guwahati, tells AsiaNews about how he approached the task entrusted to him by the pope, of writing the meditations for the Via Crucis on Good Friday at the Colosseum.

Menamparampil heard the news while he was in Mariampur, in the state of Assam, with 260 young candidates, postulants, and novices from 11 religious congregations and seminaries in his diocese. The bishop says "I was overwhelmed to be asked," and sees this choice by Benedict XVI as a sign that "His Holiness regards very highly the identity of Asia," "the cradle of civilization," "moreover, our Holy Father has a prophetic vision for Asia, a continent much cherished by him and his pontificate."

For the Indian bishop, the image of Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate is an exhortation for all Christians today, and especially those of India. "At that time in history, it was ‘culturally’ unthinkable for a person of such a humble background (like Christ) to stand so fearlessly before Pilate.

"Yet, Jesus stood alone before Pontius Pilate with a deep conviction and calmness, his attitude was calm and reflected his own inner rectitude and serenity. Christ was non-aggressive and non-threatening and completely unafraid, without playing victim and devoid of anxiety.

"This fearlessness of Christ is the inspiration of our lives and situation - not a persecuted Church, but a Church with a future, a people with a future, a people with Hope."

A faith that is solid and anchored in the message of the Gospel is "a major source of hope in hard times." Menamparampil confirms that he wanted to mention various places in the meditations for the Via Crucis, "from the Himalayas to the Alps and Americas. May the message of Christ echo to all the ends and corners of the world to enrich humanity."

Archbishop Menamparampil, who is also the chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference Commission for Evangelisation, says that he is convinced that "living out our faith leads to an enhanced human development in every field of life." And "a person with deep faith," the bishop asserts, "will be able to enrich society through development and also build bridges of understanding, peace and harmony."

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