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“Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and councils, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purpose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affairs which are common to all, and work to establish suitable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal conferences and individual Bishops”. (Canon 708)

Origin and Development of CRI

With the coming into existence of an independent nation, the Church in India had to rely on its own sons and daughters for her vitality and mission. God blessed us with numerous vocations to Religious Life. Drawing inspiration from Pope Pius XII, the Major Superiors of Religious Institutes in India met in conference, separately at first as men and women in 1960-61, and then jointly in 1962. In 1963 the Holy See formally erected CRI by approving the Statutes. The same year it became a registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.

Growing along with the “aggiornamento” of Vatican II, CRI Became an effective means of renewal during the 1960’s, as indicated by the themes of the National Conferences :

Chastity in the modern world (1961); Sanctifying Grace (1962); Religious Poverty, Training of Religious (1963); Religious Life and Liturgy (1965); Religious Obedience (1966); Renewal and Adaptation (1967)

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw an effort and effective contribution towards the re-orientation of Apostolate. This was indirectly influenced by the “Church in India Today” Seminar (1969) and the Synod of Bishops on “Justice in the World”. (1972). Based on the experience gained, and the reading of the signs of the time, the Statutes went in for a revision and a new Statute was approved in 1980. With it, structural modifications began. The Brothers became a distinct section. The permanent Secretary system changed to a National Secretary, with a specific term of office, and responsibilities. An independent Secretariat came into existence with additional Religious staff other than the National Secretary. Financial restructuring facilitated more effective functioning of CRI. The theme of the National Assemblies during the 1980’s, and their statements, indicate the prophetic role of religious leadership in the country:

The 1992 National Assembly in Calcutta called for a breakthrough from prophetic animation to prophetic action that can bring people-centred and issue-based dynamics into the organisation. Consequently, the Assembly called for the revitalisation of CRI at all levels. The rationale of the revitalisation was the situation of the poor in our country, and the prophetic voice that speaks within us as Religious. The five-fold thrust of revitalisation was (1) the cry of My people; (2) proclamation in deed; (3) prophetic - activist leadership; (4) liberation movement thrust; (5) solidarity in networking
The Regional and Local levels were strengthened, with structures and specific objectives, aimed at making the CRI an instrument capable of responding more precisely to the needs of the Religious, of the Christian community and of society as a whole.

Though the CRI is a conference of Major Superiors, it is perceived as a body of 1,15,000 religious leaders spread all over the country, and involved in the lives of every group of people.

 
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