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SCCs should radically change neighborhood: Bishop Penha
Panaji, India, 20 Nov 2013: The Small Christian Communities (SCC) should radically transform the neighborhood otherwise they are a sham, asserts the Indian pioneer of the grassroots movement that helps Catholics give concrete shape to their faith in modern world.
“SCCs are an antidote to the modern culture of individualism, competition and consumerism and it should radically transform neighborhood,” Bishop Bosco Penha, retired auxiliary bishop of Bombay, told the movement’s first national convention.
Some 2,000 people representing India’s 166 dioceses are attending the three-day convention that opened on November 19 at Old Goa, the ancient capital of Portuguese colonies in Asia. The organizers said more than 8,000 delegates have registered for the convention, majority of them from Goa archdiocese.
The meet aims at bringing about a renewal among Catholics in India through Small Christian Communities. It also envisages promoting intercultural bonding and sharing of the faith. It is being held under the guidance of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
SCCs, also called Basic Ecclesial Communities, or Basic Christian Communities, are the communitarian model of the Church the Second Vatican Council promoted. The communities are considered as a new way of “being the Church” or the formation of the Church at the grassroots, in the neighborhood and villages. The Church is observing this year the golden jubilee of the Council’s beginning.
The earliest communities emerged in Brazil and in the Philippines in late 1960s and later spread to Africa, Asia and in recent times to Australia and North America. According to some, the movement traces its roots to the Liberation Theology in Latin America.
Bishop Penha, who introduced the SCC concept first in Bombay archdiocese and later throughout India, was among several people who addressed the national convention on the opening day.
The 76-year-old prelate, who had also headed the CBCI laity commission for years, said that SCCs should help people move from individualism to community life and consumerism to sharing and materialism to God.
As many as 75 cardinals, archbishops and bishops are attending the convention along with Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio.
Archbishop Pennacchio, who led the opening Mass, explained that communion is “the essence of the Holy Trinity and the sincere way of living the new command of love.”
Welcoming the participants, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa, projected Blessed Joseph Vaz, a missionary priest from Goa who worked in Sri Lanka 300 years ago, as the patron of the SCC movement.