The remains of Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy now rest in his home diocese where Catholic and political leaders paid their respects to the first cardinal of Asia outside the Middle East to be appointed to serve in the Roman curia.
Cardinal Lourdusamy, former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches and former Archbishop of Bangalore, passed away June 2 morning in a Rome clinic where he had been hospitalized due to failing health, the Vatican announced. He was 90.
Father Albert Thambidurai, director of Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society recognized Cardinal Lourdusamy’s participation in the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), the assembly convened by St. John XXIII that gathered more than 2,000 bishops, clergy, religious and lay people from around the world in Rome for discussions between 1962-1965 to settle doctrinal issues.
Through Cardinal Lourdusamy’s work, “He became a bridge between Rome and India,” The Hindu newspaper quotes Father Thambidurai.
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Hector Welgampola, veteran journalist specializing in Church in Asia, on the eve of the funeral service for Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy in Rome, reflects on the contributions of the late cardinal to the development of the Church in Asia and in the world.
Cardinal Lourdusamy, 90, died on Monday in a Rome clinic where he had been hospitalized due to failing health, the Vatican announced.
Pope Francis in a message issued the same day expressed sadness over the death of the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches and former Archbishop of Bangalore. The pope will conclude the last rites at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Cardinal Lourdusamy’s remains will be brought to India for rites and a funeral ceremony that will “most probably take place next Monday (June 9) or Tuesday (June 10) at Pondicherry,” Daijiworld news service in Bangalore reported.
Following is the commentary of Welgampola, who knew the cardinal in the prime of his life:
As we prepare for the feast of Pentecost, it is timely to recall how the Second Vatican Council brought into limelight several new leaders including some recent popes, bishops and theologians. Deceased Cardinal Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy was one of the first Asians among them. He attended the council fresh after episcopal ordination for India’s Vatican, Bangalore archdiocese.
The Tamil bishop was one of the youngest Council Fathers. Yet, he stood out among some 60 Indian participants by pleading for the holistic welfare of God’s poor. Jesuit Father Norman Tanner’s book “The Church in Council” cites how the Indian bishop urged that international aid be more than mere material aid. He said :
* international support should push for “emotional integration, unity and equality among all poor people.”
* He defined aid as “help that comes from the heart and goes to the heart,” the book claimed as if prophetically missioning a mandate for the then unborn Caritas.
It was a vision he had pushed as editor of the Tamil Catholic weekly of his native diocese, then named Pondicherry.
The young archbishop’s passionate call against discrimination, brought back to my mind what his brother, the late Father Simon Amalorpavadas, had told me about their own difficult path to the priesthood. But the new winds of the council boosted their spirits in their new home diocese in Karnataka. Together the two brothers helped make Bangalore archdiocese a regional venue for Church renewal. They set up the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre. It was a hub of inspiration for all of South Asia. But as Archbishop Lourdusamy continued to be hassled by Bangalore’s unceasing language problems, providence led him where the council beckoned.
Conciliar thinking had already moved Pope Paul VI to reorganize the curia. Some of these innovative trends had already been explained during the 1969 All India Seminar by Archbishop Sergio Pignedoli, secretary of Propaganda Fide. The pope’s energetic emissary was scouting for fresh talent. Before long, this congregation’s responsibilities for the missions were entrusted to three prelates from the Third World – Latin American Cardinal A. Rossi, African Archbishop B. Gantin and Asian Archbishop D. S. Lourdusamy.
As the first Asian to hold curial office, the Indian prelate rose high in the service of the Holy See. After serving over a decade as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, he was made a cardinal in 1985. A new appointment followed. Cardinal Lourdusamy was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
The Oriental congregation’s conciliar mandate regarding relations with the Eastern Churches was clear. But the new prefect had to work around the strong native Slavic sentiments of Saint John Paul II. The Vatican’s haste to make inroads into jurisdictions of Orthodox Churches in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse dampened their enthusiasm for dialogue. The temptation to saddle Eastern Churches with Latin-Church discipline was another attitudinal problem. For example, the move to impose the age 75 retirement rule on a Ukranian-Rite bishop became a sore point.
In such a scenario, as head of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Lourdusamy tended to begin from his own home turf. By boosting and upbuilding relations with the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches, he was able to make a unique contribution to the Indian Catholic community. His pioneer move restored the country’s native Syrian Catholic Churches to their rightful place.
Every forward move evokes criticism. Some Latin-Church leaders tended to see his focus on the Syrian Churches as divisiveness to avenge past grievances. Eyes rolled when his friend the Latin-rite Bishop Anthony Padiyara of Ooctamund was invited to return home to head the Syro-Malabar Church. However, it was welcome as a wise move, when the genial Syrian-cum-Latin-experienced prelate was installed later as the first Major Archbishop of that Church.
In a message to the Constitution and Directives of the Missionary Society of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Cardinal Lourdusamy encouraged that Church’s missionary activities. He lived to see the native Church very successfully serve its followers scattered in about a dozen dioceses throughout India in addition to sending missioners to Western countries. That service to the universal Church has been Cardinal Lourdusamy’s enduring legacy.
Before making his peace with the Lord on June 2, the illustrious Indian cardinal lived to see the final approval of canonization process for two more Syrian Church members – Blessed Euphrasia and Blessed Kuriakose Chavara. They would have joined Saints Alphonsa and Garcia to welcome home their compatriot, Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy.
May his moksha (liberation) lead to the plenitude of beatific bliss.
Pope Francis’ first visit to the Holy Land beginning Saturday has prompted veteran Asia Church journalist Hector Welgampola to revisit the long string of past efforts of Church leaders and offices related to interreligious dialogue and outcomes from these, why theologizing on interreligious dialogue fell short and what Pope Francis contributes to the Church’s movement towards dialogue and cooperation among followers of various religions.
Following is the full text of Welgampola’s commentary:
Interreligious Dialogue – Let a thousand documents now bloom in action!
A Commentary by Hector Welgampola
A Jewish rabbi and an Islamic imam joined Pope Francis on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. That was more than a symbolic gesture. It brought back memories of Saint John XXIII’s wish to restore relations with Abrahamic faiths. In the early days of the Second Vatican Council, that wish made him whisper a council agenda item to Cardinal Augustine Bea. As then head of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, the cardinal had been working on the draft decree on ecumenism. Pope John asked him to include in that draft, a para clearing Jews of blame for deicide.
That was a pentecostal prompting. It helped Council Fathers see the need for a separate Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: Nostra Aetate. After Pope John’s death, Pope Paul VI set up a new secretariat to implement that declaration. The Secretariat for Non-Christian Religions, later named as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), was launched on Pentecost Sunday 1964.
Since then, PCID has held numerous conferences and symposia. Over the past half-century, such events have produced a thousand or so documents on interreligious dialogue. These days, PCID’s 50th anniversary is being celebrated worldwide, and more documents may be added to the collection. But what next?
Even amid such multiplicity of documentation, we still need to refocus on the original declaration’s historic call for “dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions.” Currently ongoing jubilations may lead to a salutary outcome, if they help evaluate the futility of sterile monologues about dialogue.
True, modalities for dialogue-based collaboration with other religionists have been discussed by Church leaders, particularly in Asia, where the major religions originated. Especially during the 1970s and 1980, various institutes (BIRA, BIMA) of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) noted that interreligious dialogue must lead to interreligious cooperation. Later on, some of these moves helped Church leaders discern that such interaction has to embrace the cultural, socio-political and economic aspects of people’s everyday life. Asian theologians urged all religions to provide a complementary moral and religious foundation for Asian societies struggling for liberation. But theologizing failed to be translated into action.
Such discernment was unproductive due to several factors. Here are a few:
* Firstly, the Church’s theological approach to dialogue still speaks a language alien to other religions.
* Secondly, absence of a mutually acceptable practical agenda for dialogue failed to ease other religionists’ long-standing suspicions about proselytism.
* And thirdly, in spite of all the documented discernment on the need to embrace the cultural, socio-political and economic aspects of people’s everyday life, the Church failed to build on people’s interpersonal collaboration already prevalent in the public square.
The public square is the venue where followers — not just preachers — of various religions live and work together. It is an interactive forum where persons of various religions witness to their respective values and develop a social ethic enhanced by cultural commonalities. It is pluralism in action. Hence, 50 years after all the theological cud chewing about dialogue, now it is time to overcome these and other hurdles to interreligious collaboration. It is time to learn from the lived witness of Christians collaborating with fellow humans in everyday life.
A small lesson about the enduring praxis of interreligious collaboration can be learned from the antecedents of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Rabbi and the Imam accompanying him on the visit are two persons who had interacted with him in the public square in his native Argentina. The grace of their interpersonal witness is now at the service of the entire Church. May this small Pentecostal flame help lead us beyond the theological maze of high-profiled dialogue!
Shopping at Gateway Mall, Araneta Center this week until the 24th of April, might be a bit crowded around the Oasis area. Totus Tuus group has set up a 50-piece exhibit of Blessed John Paul II’s relics and memorabilia there where people are milling around on foot or in wheelchairs.
Inquirer newspaper was there and talked to some of the faithful praying and writing notes to the late pope who is scheduled to be canonized in Rome with Blessed John XXIII on April 27.
One of them, Christina Bisana, 28, stopped in after seeing the relics displayed in the middle of a bustling shopping mall in Quezon City on Thursday.
The single mother was just passing by Gateway Mall at Araneta Center on her way to Makati City on an errand when she saw the exhibit, part of the two-month “Totus Tuus” tour of the relics in the Philippines.
Here’s what Bisana prayed for at the prayer corner.
The exhibit caught my attention too. It included Pope John Paul II’s blood stain and hair strands
a cassock, a purificator, a piece of a chasuble that he used, a rosary and a strip of the sheet from his deathbed.
Some of the relics came from Rome and some from Poland. The others were borrowed from the personal collections of nuns, priests and lay people who met the Polish-born Pope during his two visits to the Philippines.
Blessed John Paul is fondly remembered for his last visit to Manila for World Youth Day in 1995. I was most impressed by his visit to Bacolod City on Negros island in 1981. It was during massive hunger on the island where thousands of the children grew severely malnourished allegedly due to the drop in the world price of sugar, the islands main product. Non-government groups working with farmers and sugar plantations workers blamed “unjust” socio-economic systems.
Here is, for me, a powerful memorabilia of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Bacolod City on Negros Island which the late Bacolod Bishop Antonio Fortich described then as a “social volcano” .
Blessed John Paul II’s visits to the Philippines were commemorated at the exhibit of his memorabilia at Gateway Mall Araneta Center, Quezon City. The exhibit set up there until April 24 included chairs and items used during his visits. NJ Viehland Photos
A statement last September announced that Pope Francis had decreed that the two popes would be canonized together on April 27. Among groups that hailed the decision to canonize the two heads of the Church was the Anti-Defamation League which wrote the following month: “For us in the Jewish community, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII have already been saints for a long time.”
League National Director Abraham Foxman was quoted calling the popes “towering men whose visionary leadership and groundbreaking reforms transformed Jewish-Catholic relations and reversed two thousand painful years of church-based Antisemitism,” said Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, who met Pope John Paul II on several occasions, in a statement.