Oswald Gracias

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Oswald Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay
President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
Oswald Kardinal Gracias2, Erzbischof, Mumbai, Indien, 99. Deutscher Katholikentag, Regensburg (cropped).jpg
Gracias in 2014
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed14 October 2006
Installed14 December 2006
PredecessorIvan Dias
Other post(s)
Ordination20 December 1970
by Valerian Gracias
Consecration16 September 1997
by Ivan Dias
Created cardinal24 November 2007
by Pope Benedict XVI
Personal details
Oswald Gracias

(1944-12-24) 24 December 1944 (age 78)
DenominationRoman Catholic
ResidenceMumbai, India
ParentsJervis Gracias and Aduzinda Gracias
Previous post(s)
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay (1997–2000)
  • Titular Bishop of Bladia (1997–2000)
  • Archbishop of Agra, India (2000–2006)
Alma mater
MottoTo Reconcile All Things in Christ
सवॉचा ख्रिस्तात समेट साघण्यासाठी(Marathi)
Coat of armsOswald Gracias's coat of arms
Styles of
Oswald Gracias
Coat of arms of Oswald Gracias.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
Ordination history of
Oswald Gracias
Priestly ordination
Ordained byValerian Cardinal Gracias
Date20 December 1970
PlaceBombay, India
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorArchbishop Ivan Cornelius Dias
Co-consecratorsBishop Ferdinand Joseph Fonseca,
Bishop Bosco Penha
Date16 September 1997
PlaceSaint Michael Church, Mahim
Elevated byPope Benedict XVI
Date24 November 2007
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Oswald Gracias as principal consecrator
Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado8 March 2008
Bishop Henry D’Souza12 June 2008
Archbishop Elias Joseph Gonsalves29 September 2012
Bishop Udumala Bala Showreddy23 May 2013
Bishop Savio Dominic Fernandes29 June 2013
Bishop John Rodrigues29 June 2013
Bishop Barthol Barretto[1]28 January 2017
Bishop Allwyn D’Silva[1]28 January 2017

Oswald Gracias (born 24 December 1944) is an Indian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was appointed Latin Church Archbishop of Bombay by Pope Benedict XVI on 14 October 2006 and was raised to the cardinalate in 2007. In 2008, he became vice-president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India; and in 2010, he was elected president. He was also elected secretary general and then president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences from 2010 to 2019. On 13 April 2013, he was appointed to the eight-member Council of Cardinals, informally the Council of Cardinal Advisers, established by Pope Francis to help with governing the Catholic Church and reforming its central administration. He was mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.


Early life and ordination[edit]

Gracias was born in Bombay (modern-day Mumbai) to Jervis and Aduzinda Gracias (a native of Orlim, Goa). He recognises himself as a Goan Catholic. He completed his school studies at St. Michael's School in Mahim and joined college at the Jesuit St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. After a year, he entered the Seminary of St. Pius X in Bombay, where he studied philosophy and theology. Gracias was ordained to the priesthood by Valerian Gracias (no relation) on 20 December 1970.[2] From 1971 to 1976, he served as Chancellor and secretary to Bishop Joseph Rodericks, SJ, of Jamshedpur.[2]

Diocesan work[edit]

Gracias attended the Pontifical Urbaniana University from 1976 to 1982; he obtained a doctorate in canon law, a diploma in jurisprudence. Upon his return to Bombay, he was named chancellor, judge of the metropolitan tribunal, and judicial vicar. From 1982, he was the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, and from 1988 he was the judicial vicar for the archdiocese.[2] In 1991, Gracias was made archdiocesan consultor. He also taught as a visiting professor in the seminaries of Bombay, Poona, and Bangalore. He was also president of the Canon Law Society of India.

Bishop and Archbishop[edit]

On 28 June 1997, Gracias was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay and Titular Bishop of Bladia by Pope John Paul II.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on the following 16 September from Archbishop Ivan Dias, with Bishops Ferdinand Fonseca and Bosco Penha serving as co-consecrators.[citation needed] Pope John Paul named Gracias Archbishop of Agra on 7 September 2000.[3] Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Bombay on 14 October 2006.[4] He has served as secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), which comprises several rites, and as president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, the organization of the Latin Church.


On 17 October 2007, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would elevate Gracias and twenty-two other prelates to the College of Cardinals. At the consistory in St. Peter's Basilica on 24 November 2007, he was created Cardinal-Priest of San Paolo della Croce a Corviale.

On 20 February 2008 Cardinal Gracias was elected 1st vice president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) of which had earlier served as secretary general.

Pope Benedict named him a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts on 6 May 2008 [5] and of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 6 July 2010, [6]

On 18 September 2008 in Washington, D.C., Gracias underwent surgery for a rare form of cancer.[7] He recovered completely.[8]

Gracias was elected secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) by the presidents of its 19 constituent bishops conferences representing 28 Asian countries. He led the organization from 2010 to 2019.[9][a]

On 29 December 2011 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.[11] On 12 June 2012 Cardinal Gracias was appointed a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[12] On 18 September 2012, Gracias was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as a synod father for the October 2012 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. [13]

Both in Agra and Mumbai Gracias endorsed teaching the discipline of yoga in Catholic schools. In 2012 he wrote: "Through the prescribed postures and exercises one improves one's all round sense of well being and is able to enter into oneself so as to commune better with God."[14][b]

He was mentioned as a possible candidate for election to the papacy in the 2013 conclave.[8] He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in that conclave, which elected Pope Francis.[16]

On 13 April 2013 he was appointed to the Council of Cardinal Advisers, a group established by Pope Francis to advise him and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia.[17]

Gracias was elected to a two-year term as president of the CBCI on 9 February 2018.

On 6 December 2019, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples notified Gracias that Pope Francis wants Gracias to remain Archbishop. Gracias had submitted his resignation as required in anticipation of his 75th birthday.[18] On 17 February 2020, Gracias was elected to a second two-year term as president of the CBCI.

On 15 October 2020, Pope Francis renewed Gracias's term on the Council of Cardinal Advisers.[19]

Views and theology[edit]

Humanae Vitae[edit]

Gracias delivered an address to priests in 2018 to commemorate Pope Paul VI's papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. In his address, Gracias affirmed that the Church "stands unwavering and firm in her decision to embrace and uphold life as well as embrace, nurture, defend and uplift the gift of life, every life". The cardinal referred to the encyclical as "a great gift to the Church" because it was able to set out how the Church views marriage and family life, however, the cardinal noted that the encyclical was also a reminder about the need to "invest more in marriage preparation, prepare couples for marriage and enrich the marriages of those already married".[20]

Married clergy[edit]

Cardinal Gracias has suggested that the pathway to married priests is still an open possibility; during the 2019 Synod of Bishops the cardinal suggested in his intervention that following present canon law could present possibilities for married men to be ordained to the priesthood, mentioning that special dispensations could be granted.[21]


In February 2020, Gracias stated that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception", pointing out that "the Church has been unwavering in its protection of the sanctity of human life, from conception until natural death". In his address given to the 32nd plenary session of the Indian Episcopal Conference in Bangalore, Gracias condemned India's new abortion bill that would extend the period to end a pregnancy to 24 weeks, declaring that "bishops have the responsibility to spread Christ's message about the dignity of all human life".[22]


In March 2011, Gracias expressed his relief at the Supreme Court's decision to reject the plea for the mercy killing of a nurse who was in a semi-comatose condition for over three decades. In remarks given to the Catholic News Service, the cardinal expressed his relief that the court rejected the plea, stating that "allowing one to die amounts to actively supporting taking away one's life".[23]



Coat of arms of Oswald Gracias
Coat of arms of Oswald Gracias.svg
The coat of arms was designed and adopted when he was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.
16 September 1997
Washing of the feet, Letter M, Scales of Justice and Handshake
To Reconcile All Things in Christ
Washing of the feet: symbolises a commitment to service;
Letter M: Represents devotion to Mary;
Scales of Justice: Church Law. His field of specialisation;
Hand shake: stands for reconciliation and building bridges of communion


  1. ^ The Federation coordinates the work of the Church in these countries and represents Asian interests to the Vatican and government authorities. The Central Secretariat located in Hong Kong is the principal service agency of FABC, and an instrument of co-ordination both within FABC and with outside offices and agencies throughout Asia.[10]
  2. ^ The openness to yoga on the part of Catholic institutions is controversial in some quarters, but it has a long history. Cardinal Valerian Gracias supported the practice.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Grassroots worker priests ordained as bishops". Times of India. 28 January 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Quicktakes: Bishop of Mumbai". The Indian Express. Indian Express Group. 27 July 1997. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 28.09.2000" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 28 September 2000. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 14.10.2006" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 14 October 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.05.2008" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 06.07.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Cardinal Gracias operated for cancer". Mumbai Mirror. 5 October 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b Allen Jr., John L. (10 March 2013). "Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  9. ^ Sainsbury, Michael (12 January 2019). "Myanmar cardinal to focus on peacebuilding as he takes over helm of FABC". Crux. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  10. ^ Bishops/Archbishop Oswald Cardinal Gracias
  11. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 29.12.2011" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 12.06.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 18.09.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Indian priest: Yoga is good, even for Christianity". Asia News. 12 December 2012.
  15. ^ D'Mello, Ashley (20 February 2010). "A Catholic and a lotus-eater". Times of India. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  16. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Carvalho, Nirmala (29 January 2020). "Pope asks Cardinal Gracias to continue as Bombay archbishop". Matters India. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 15.10.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  20. ^ Oswald Gracias (26 July 2018). "Card. Gracias: Humanae Vitae reaffirms the truths of life and the family". Asia News. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  21. ^ Joshua J. McElwee (24 February 2020). "Cardinal Gracias: Church must 'shed prejudice' against women's leadership". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  22. ^ Nirmala Carvalho (17 February 2020). "Card. Gracias: Human life must be respected from conception". Asia News. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  23. ^ Anto Akkara (10 March 2011). "Indian court issues 'passive euthanasia' ruling". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 28 July 2020.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by — TITULAR —
Titular Bishop of Bladia
28 June 1997 – 7 September 2000
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Agra
7 September 2000 – 14 October 2006
Succeeded by
New title Second Vice-President of the 'Vox Clara' Committee
22 April 2002 –
Preceded by President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
2005 – 12 January 2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Bombay
14 October 2006 –
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of San Paolo della Croce a Corviale
24 November 2007 –
Preceded by Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
19 February 2008 – 1 March 2010
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
1 March 2010 – 12 February 2014
Preceded by President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences
21 October 2011 – 1 January 2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
February 2013 – 12 January 2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
9 February 2018 –