MUMBAI, India – Cardinal Oswald Gracias concluded the 33rd General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India by presiding at Mass on Feb. 9 as the new president of the organization.

It is the Bombay archbishop’s second term as CBCI president, after being elected for the first time to the post in 2010. Gracias also serves on the “C9” group of cardinals which advises the pope and as president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

The Theme of the General Body Meeting was: “I am with you always to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20) – “United in Diversity for a Mission of Mercy and Witness.”

According to a press release from the CBCI, the bishops rededicated themselves to their mission of service and witness: Feeding the hungry, comforting the disturbed, promoting the dignity of the marginalized, healing the sick, giving hope to the hopeless, freedom to the captives, forgiveness to the sinners, and justice to the poor.

“Given that Christianity came to India over two thousand years ago, the bishops underlined the contribution of the Church in India to nation building and service to all Indians irrespective of religion, region, culture, race or language. According to the bishops, India needs the Church and the Church needs India. No one should doubt our loyalty or our commitment to the nation,” the bishops’ statement read.

The statement said authentic nationalism respects the human dignity of every citizen and calls for integral and inclusive development that extends to every part of society.

“In a climate of violence, [the bishops] appealed to all fellow citizens to shun mob culture and vigilantism in favor of peace,” it continued, alluding to the recent spate of anti-Christian incidents across the nation.

The bishops also urged everyone in India to work to establish “a truly secular, socialist and democratic nation as is enshrined in the Constitution of India. Dialogue with followers of other religions and with ecumenical groups is the need of the hour.”