Address of the Apostolic Nuncio H.E. Luigi Bonazzi
Mississauga, September 19, 2015
Your Eminence, Cardinal ‘Mar’ Alencherry,
Dear Bishop Kalluvelil,
My brother bishops,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
I am pleased to be among you today, having the honor and great joy of representing our Holy Father Pope Francis on this beautiful occasion. I bring with me and offer to you his greetings and paternal affection, together with the assurance of his spiritual participation in this liturgical celebration. The establishment of this Apostolic Exarchate and the appointment of its first pastor speaks strongly of the Holy Father’s solicitude for the Churches of the East. These Churches are increasingly witnessing a growing number of their faithful dwelling outside the traditional confines of their jurisdictions, and for which appropriate pastoral provision and attention must be given.
Indeed, this is a historic day for the Church in Canada, which will be enriched by the presence and witness of the venerable Syro-Malabar Church, the second largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, tracing its history back to St. Thomas the Apostle. Of apostolic foundation, this Church stretches back into the ministry of Jesus and the call of the first apostles. And today, dear Bishop Kalluvelil, having become a successor of the Apostles and a member of the Episcopal College, you receive the mission to proclaim the Gospel as you shepherd that portion of the people of God encompassed by this newly erected Apostolic Exarchate.
As you know, the center of the Good News of the Gospel is the proclamation that lies at the heart of the Christian faith: “Christ, who had been crucified, is Risen!” Indeed He is Risen! He is alive! He is with us, and his presence fills every corner of the earth. Dear Bishop Kalluvelil, you are called to be first of all, a “witness of the Risen One”.
Actually, thanks to your episcopal ordination, your very person has become a visible sign of the Risen Lord. In the person of the Bishop, in fact, there becomes visible the Lord’s will to remain in the midst of his people as the One who is the Good Shepherd. As the Second Vatican Council teaches: “In the bishops… Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Supreme High Priest, is present in the midst of those who believe” (LG, 21).
Thus, it is through your life, example and teaching that you are called to be a witness of the Risen Lord. Allow me to entrust to your daily meditation and action these words of Pope Francis: “The Bishop is the one able to make all that happened to Jesus relevant today and above all he knows, together with the Church, how to be a witness to his Resurrection. The Bishop is first and foremost a martyr for the Risen One. He does not stand alone as a witness but stands together with the Church. His life and ministry must make the Resurrection credible. In becoming one with Christ in the cross of the true gift of himself, he makes the life that never dies flow forth for his Church. The courage to die, and the generosity to offer his life and to expend himself for the flock are inscribed in the “DNA” of the Bishop. Renunciation and sacrifice are connatural with the mission of the Bishop. And I wish to emphasize this: renunciation and sacrifice are connatural with the mission of the Bishop. The episcopate does not exist for itself but for the Church, for the flock, for others, especially for those whom the world would throw away” (Address to the Congregation of Bishops, 27 February 2014).
The Syro-Malabar Church has a rich and dynamic history and has made an invaluable contribution to the people of Kerala and beyond. In India, your Church is highly respected for its work in education and for its social and charitable institutions that are at the service of the entire community. Even in the face of sectarian tensions, the Syro-Malabar Church has been a voice of moderation so as to foster peace and concord within the wider community. Today, dear Bishop Kalluvelil, you have been entrusted with the mission of nurturing the continued growth and strength of the Syro-Malabar Church in Canada. It is a mission of mercy and reconciliation, a mission of joyfully announcing the good news of the Lord’s resurrection. And it is a mission and ministry that flows from the confession of faith professed by St. Thomas out of his encounter with the Risen Christ: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
In the name of the Holy Father Pope Francis, I am pleased to convey to you and to your clergy and lay faithful, the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of encouragement, peace, love and joy in the Lord.