A file picture of Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay. The Cardinal led a special prayer at his base in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) to mark the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. (Photo by Christopher Joseph)
Pope Francis appreciates Asia's spiritual richness and inspires its bishops for dialogue with religions, according to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay.
The president of the Asian bishops' forum was speaking at a special prayer gathering to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' election.
Cardinal Gracias, who also heads the Indian bishops' conference was joined by 33 bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, at the March 13 prayer gathering.
The bishops, all appointed over the past eight years, were attending a March 12-17 training and reflection program at the St. Pius X College seminary in Mumbai.
The bishops prayed for the bishops in India and in Asia "so as to understand and put into practice the thoughts of the Holy Father," Cardinal Gracias said.
Cardinal Oswald, one of nine cardinals Pope Francis handpicked to help him renew Vatican administration, said that during private meetings the pope always "asks me about Asia as he has great love and respect for Asia."
Pope Francis is appreciative of Asia's rich spiritual traditions belonging to different religions. He wants these traditions to be equally respected, treated with friendship, the cardinal said.
"We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society, the pope is never tired of saying this," the cardinal said.