SAR News September 11, 2003

AICU Chief Calls for Reshaping Organisation's Future 
Chennai: SAR News

The national president of the All India Catholic Union, a premier lay 
organisation, has stressed on reshaping the future of the Christian body 
in tune with the changing political trends in the country and the turmoil 
within the Catholic Church.

In her inaugural address at the 49th Annual General Meeting of the Union, 
held here, September 6-7,  Ms. Maria Emilia Menezes from Goa said that 
there were many forces that shaped the future of an organisation. "Today 
it is not enough to merely know the future. AICU, as a vibrant lay 
Catholic organisation, must shape its future keeping in mind the present 
political trends and turmoil within the Church. It must harvest ideas and 
bring renewal in the Church and country," she said.

To achieve this goal, Ms. Menezes said, it was necessary to "redraw the 
image of AICU, redefine its units and rework an action agenda to rewrite 
its various dynamics."

The national president said the Catholic Union too should strive to 
enhance its image among the people. "So far AICU was of the view that our 
works would speak for themselves but it is important that we should be 
committed to enhancing the image of Union, not only among the non-members 
but also with our own members."

She said the Catholic Union members were "poorly oriented, poorly 
inducted and often not engaged in laity empowerment." Proper formation of 
the laity for the distinctive role in the life and ministry of the Church 
must continue to be a priority," she said and urged the audience to take 
active part in laity formation programmes.

Ms. Menezes also spoke of AICU's contribution towards rehabilitation of 
the earthquake-affected children in Parnala village of Gujarat State. 
"Emboldened by this work, AICU should transform itself into a vehicle for 
grassroots diplomacy, empowerment and for uniting people of different 
cultures and beliefs," she said.

Archbishop Arul Das James of Madras-Mylapore took a swipe at the 
"anti-people and anti-conversion Bill" introduced by the Tamil Nadu 
Government in October last year. "Tamilnadu was peaceful till the 
introduction of this Bill which has shattered the freedom, peace and the 
confidence in the Government," he said

The archbishop said that the primary motive and goal of Christianity was 
evangelisation. "We are required to preach and make known the word of God 
to all men. The anti-conversion Bill has created new challenges. 
Persecution is not something new to Christianity; the Church in India is 
not afraid of it," he added.

Former Secretary to the Government of Tamilnadu, Mr. Louis Menezes, in 
his keynote address emphasised that the Church in India must educate and 
empower the laity as recommended by the Vatican Council II and come 
forward willingly towards the ultimate goal of building a participatory 
Church.

National vice-president of AICU, Mr. John Dayal, suggested some 
initiatives vis--vis the emerging challenges in politics, development 
and religious freedom.

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