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Cardinal Gracias Makes Pilgrimage to Mark Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII

April 24, 2014

Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, wants to "consecrate India to Our Lady to intercede for the renewal of our lives, and for the new evangelisation of the country". He will do so when he makes a pilgrimage to Mount Mary's Basilica in Bandra (a Mumbai neighbourhood) ahead of the canonisation of popes John Paul II and John XXIII on 27 April. The cardinal highlighted the two popes who "loved India" on the 51st anniversary of Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in Terris published on 11 April 1963, before his adoration of Pope John Paul II's relic in the basilica. Here are his thoughts.

Before the canonisation, I will go as a pilgrim to Mount Mary's Basilica - ahead of the canonisations - to pray and venerate the relic of John Paul II and celebrate the 51st Anniversary of the Encyclical of Pope John XXIII. I shall pray and ask for the intercession of our popes - both of whom loved India - to bless the church in Mumbai and India, and intercede for our priests and bishops.

Pacem in Terris spoke about world peace, progress and truth, justice, charity and freedom. This is exactly our prayer and hope for our country, India. We want India to join the comity of nations and this can only be possible if we have a good government and all of us citizens work together in order that we have a more just and peaceful world.

We are celebrating the 51st anniversary of Pacem in Terris in the context of India's general elections. Let us pray that Pope John XXIII will be our powerful intercessor.

Pope John XXIII never came to India but his heart was for India, and often met Indian bishops.

In 1962 when war broke out, he met Card Valerian Gracias in the Vatican and asked him to return to India to be with the people.

Pope John Paul II also had a special love for India, visiting the country twice as a 'pilgrim of peace', and was a great friend of India. He understood and loved Indian culture.

He was a charismatic man with a big heart and great cultural openness. The great pope, when he landed in India on 1 February, said at the welcoming ceremony that the purpose of his visit was "to come to a deeper understanding of the rich cultures of your country".

In my pilgrimage, I shall venerate the Blood of Pope John Paul II, who did good things with his suffering.

As we begin Holy Week, the time of the passion of our lord, the blood of John Paul II will intercede for us, and teach us that giving of oneself is like an imitation of Jesus.

More importantly, during my pilgrimage to the Marian Basilica, I shall also to pray for Pope Francis and the deep, spiritual continuity of the Petrine ministry shared by the [three] popes.

Pope Francis said that the "call of Pacem in Terris continues to be very timely" and for this reason he "draws a line that goes from the peace to be built in the hearts of men to reviewing our model of development and of action at all levels so that our world may become a world of peace."

I shall also make this pilgrimage as president of FABC, to pray for Pope Francis' scheduled visit to Asia, for the success of the Holy Father's trip, for his health and safety, that the Holy Spirit be with him and that he receive many graces during this time of Easter.

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