Sister Nirmala Encourages India´s Bishops to Embrace Poverty

Mother Teresa´s Successor Addresses Conference Assembly

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JALANDHAR, India, MARCH 8, 2002 ( Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, encouraged India´s bishops to serve the poor by becoming poor themselves.

In her address to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the successor to Mother Teresa stressed, «If we want our dialogue with the poor to be effective, we have to follow in the footsteps of Jesus our Master in becoming poor and loving and serving the poor like him,» according to the SAR Catholic news agency.

Sister Nirmala appealed to the 150 bishops of India to «identify the poor not as persons deprived of material food only but also hungry for the Word of God, thirsty for truth, knowledge, justice and peace, and naked for want of human dignity.»

The bishops´ conference today is ending its weeklong biennial General Body meeting, at Trinity College. The theme of the meeting is «Church in Dialogue.»

Distinguishing the poverty of the clerics and religious from the poverty of the poor, Sister Nirmala said, «We need to share in the poverty of Christ by a deliberate choice of evangelical poverty, each one according to one´s state of life. We must listen to the cry of the poor, make reparation for the selfishness and greed of man, and share with the poor what we have.»

«Not from our abundance, but from our want, ´until it hurts,´» she added, quoting a favorite verse of Mother Teresa.

In a gentle but resolute voice, Sister Nirmala told the bishops that the riches and wealth of the Church are the poor and the destitute. «Christ calls us to give freely since we have received freely,» she added.

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