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Bangladesh Catholic bishops' conference marks 50 years

CBCB leaders are determined to ensure a participatory church based on ongoing synodal talks, says Archbishop D'Cruze

Clergy, religious and laypeople attend the 50th anniversary of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh in capital Dhaka on May 27

Clergy, religious and laypeople attend the 50th anniversary of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh in capital Dhaka on May 27. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: May 27, 2022 11:00 AM GMT

Updated: May 27, 2022 11:19 AM GMT

Catholic bishops in Bangladesh kicked off the 50th founding anniversary celebrations of the bishops’ conference with an inaugural program and seminar in capital Dhaka, stressing the importance of a participatory church in light of ongoing synodal talks.

Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, Oblate Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka and all Bangladesh's bishops attended the event at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) center in central Dhaka on May 27.

The prelates were accompanied by senior clergy, religious and nuns including heads of religious orders, lay leaders and heads of Catholic educational institutes during the program.

The conference marked 50 years in 2021 but celebrations were withheld due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

CBCB president Archbishop D’Cruze termed the golden jubilee of the conference as a “historic moment” for the church.

“I am glad to be here on this historic occasion. On this day, I assure that the CBCB leadership is determined and committed to transforming our church intro a synodal church,” Archbishop D’Cruze said during his speech.  

“We have a long way to go to help those who still need support for development. We also envision an ideal synodal church through decentralization of leadership and ensuring participation of all in the church"

In the past 50 years, the local church has made strides in the education, health and development sectors, the prelate noted, adding that the CBCB needs support from all concerned to make better contributions.

“We have a long way to go to help those who still need support for development. We also envision an ideal synodal church through decentralization of leadership and ensuring participation of all in the church. We look forward to everyone’s support and active participation,” the archbishop added.

The CBCB was founded in 1971, shortly after Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan following a brief but bloody war.

According to its mission statement, the CBCB seeks to “facilitate common policy and action in matters that affect or are liable to affect the interest of the Catholic Church and to be of service to the country at large.”

During the discussion program, clergy, religious and lay leaders put forth what they expect from the CBCB in future.

"The CBCB has worked for the poor over the years. However, it needs to do much more because our indigenous communities are deprived of rights and justice"

Sanjeeb Drong, an ethnic Garo Catholic, rights activist and writer, noted that the Catholic Church has been supporting the poor but needs to do more, especially to advocate for rights and justice for marginalized indigenous people.

“The CBCB has worked for the poor over the years. However, it needs to do much more because our indigenous communities are deprived of rights and justice. Church leaders need to use their influence to convince the government to ensure equal rights and treatment for marginalized people,” Drong said.

The CBCB jubilee celebrations concluded with a special Mass and exhibition at Holy Rosary Church in central Dhaka on May 27 afternoon. All bishops, apostolic nuncio Archbishop George Kocherry and thousands of Catholics were expected to join the celebrations.

In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Christians are a minuscule minority accounting for less than half percent of the population of more than 160 million. Church sources say there about 600,000 Christians in Bangladesh including about 400,000 Catholics.

The Catholic Church is comprised of eight dioceses including two archdioceses. About half of the country’s Catholics hail from ethnic indigenous groups and the rest belong to the majority Bengali community.

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