2 March 2010, Kochi, Kerala, India: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay was elected the new President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) the world’s fourth largest bishops’ conference. His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Mar Cleemis Catholicos the Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and Mar George Punnakottil, the Bishop of Kothamangalam Syro-Malabar diocese, were elected the first and second Vice Presidents respectively. Archbishop Albert D’Souza of Agra was elected as the new Secretary General of the CBCI for next two years. The Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference is the chief functionary and as such he deals with the most important matters that come under the purview of the Conference.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias served as the Secretary General as well as the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and currently the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), belonging to the bishops of Latin rite, which is one of the three Episcopal bodies of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. He is a consulter to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. His Beatitude Baselios Mar Cleemis Catholicos was also served the CBCI as its Vice President.
Cardinal Oswald expressed his gratitude to the bishops for placing their trust in him and assured them that he would continue the good work of his predecessors for the whole Catholic Church in the country. The outgoing President of CBCI Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who was unable to attend the Plenary Assembly of Bishops thanked the religious heads of the Catholic Church for their cooperation and support to him for the last two years as President of CBCI.
The new office bearers were elected by the 29th General Body Meeting of the CBCI in the north eastern city of Guwahati, the capital of Assam state, at Don Bosco Institute, Kharguli, on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra river. One hundred and forty five member bishops of CBCI took part in the election of new office bearers. The office bearers of the CBCI consist of President, 2 Vice Presidents and Secretary General. At every biennial General Body Meeting of the Bishops new officer bearers are elected to guide the apex body of the Catholic Church in India.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) is the permanent association of the Catholic Bishops of India. It was formally constituted in September 1944 at the Conference of Metropolitans held in Madras. Its objectives are to facilitate coordinated study and discussion of questions affecting the Church, and adoption of a common policy and effective action in all matters concerning the interests of the Church in India. The CBCI has 228 member Bishops from the Latin, Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara ecclesial traditions. Among these are 158 heads of dioceses of whom 3 are Cardinals, 27 Archbishops and 51 Retired Bishops.