MUMBAI, India – Retired priests are “examples of burning furnaces of prayer” for the Church, says India’s leading prelate.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, celebrated Easter Morning Mass with the 23 retired priests at the Clergy Home in Mumbai.

“All of our priests follow Jesus: Follow Jesus in our ministry in the Gospel, through our baptism we enter into Christ’s death and Resurrection. This is our guarantee that our apostolate is effective. That there is never a hopeless situation for a Christian, no room for despair in our ministry, no room to say that this is a lost cause. No sinner can sin so much that he can never be forgiven. No situation is so complicated that it can never be resolved. No conflict so great that peace cannot come,” Gracias said.

“Our retired clergy participate by their prayer, by their example, by the memory of work they have done before, inspiring our young priests. That is their apostolate. And those that are still in their apostolate that they continue in their communities, in our places of residence, civil societies, nation, world, making God’s kingdom of peace present,” he added.

The cardinal mentioned he was at the Vatican on April 11, when Pope Francis dramatically kissed the feet of the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice President Riek Machar after the two attended a retreat in Rome to solidify a peace deal in the conflict-ridden East African country.

“I was in the elevator with the Holy Father immediately after this. I asked the Holy Father how the meeting was, and the Holy Father was very concerned: ‘I hope they don’t fight; I hope they don’t go to war,’” Gracias recounted. The cardinal said the pope told him: “I am begging for peace. I would like to go to Sudan. No situation is impossible.”

Gracias said this was an important message.

“Therefore for us, priests, for us who are ministers of the Lord, in various and many different apostolates, no situation is hopeless,” he said. “The Lord is always with us. We can always bring Jesus to every situation; we can bring peace to the world. This is what the world needs today in 2019. So many points of conflict.”

He then mentioned the ongoing national elections in India.

“We pray for peace in our country. We pray for progress in our country. We pray that God may give us a government that we need, who will help us to bring peace, progress and spreads God’s kingdom. Our task is to make God’s kingdom present,” he said.