MUMBAI, India – Bangladeshi Archbishop Bejoy D’Cruze says taking over the Archdiocese of Dhaka will be “challenging.”
“Dhaka being the capital city, so there are many complexities. It is a challenging mission in Dhaka, even politically,” he told Crux.
D’Cruze was appointed to replace Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario on Sept. 30. Previously, he had served as the Bishop of Khulna from 2005-2011; that year he was made Bishop of Sylhet.
“I was very happy in my Diocese of Sylhet, my people the Tribals and the Tea Plantation people, and everyone loved me very much. We had a lot of collaborative work with the laity and clergy, and the diocese was growing in faith and love and service for each other, and also in our harmony and relationships and dialogue with other Christian groups and people of other faiths,” the bishop said.
Tribals are South Asia’s marginalized indigenous community, and the Tea Plantation people descend from those brought into the region to work in the tea growing regions.
“Earlier, I was very happy in Khulna Diocese where I was for 6 ½ years, after which I was in Sylhet. But when God Calls, we cannot say no. It is a call trusting in God to this new appointment as Archbishop of Dhaka,” D’Cruze told Crux.
Over 86 percent of Bangladesh’s 163 million people are Muslim, with Hindus making up 12 percent of the population. Christians make up just 0.5 percent of the population and there are only around 400,000 Catholics in the country.
The Church makes an outsized contribution to Bangladeshi society, however, with a strong presence in the education, medical, and social services sectors.
“The people of Dhaka are very good Christians. I do not know what I am going to do in Dhaka, the priests are involved in all spheres,” the new archbishop said.
“My missionary focus will be on education and dialogue: ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue,” he said.
He also told Crux he would continue the work of D’Rozario, who headed the archdiocese from 2011 and was Bangladesh’s first cardinal.
“His priorities for the Dhaka archdiocese will continue with new impetus. My vision is a more participatory Church – for it to become a Church of the people, with more inclusion of women in decision making roles in the Church,” D’Cruze said.
“The health ministry of Cardinal D’Rozario will be developed, it is a good means of evangelisation. Through the health apostolate – like the educational apostolate – we can witness the love of Jesus,” he added.
“Dhaka is a big city. There are migrants and poor people, women and girls … we need to take care of them. We need to help them, empower them to live a life of dignity and self-reliance,” the bishop said.
D’Cruze will be consecrated archbishop on Nov. 27.