MUMBAI, India – The former archbishop of Archdiocese of Goa and Daman in India was remembered as a man who faced “all challenges with courage” during his funeral on July 4.
Archbishop Raul Gonsalves died on July 1, at the age of 95. In 1967 he was made an auxiliary bishop and appointed apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. He was formally named as archbishop in 1978 and served until 2003.
The archdiocese encompasses the former Portuguese colonies in western India, which were completely incorporated into the rest of the country in 1961. Christians compose over 25 percent of the population, compared to less than 2.3 percent in the entire country. The archdiocese is the oldest Latin Rite jurisdiction in the region, and the archbishop holds the honorary titles of Primate of the East and Patriarch of the East Indies.
During Gonsalves’s funeral, current Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao called Gonsalves “a man of God, rooted in Christ with a filial devotion to Our Lady.”
“He had taken charge in uncertain times; on the other hand he also had a challenge to put into practice the new orientation of the church, which came with the Second Vatican Council. He faced all challenges with courage and established various councils and bodies of the church for its renewal and stability,” the archbishop said.
“He was a loving and a courageous person, ever willing to carry the Cross of Christ.”
Father Joaquim Loiola Pereira served as secretary to Gonsalves during the first two and the last eight years of his tenure as archbishop of Goa and Daman.
“It is not an easy task to govern this archdiocese, with its glorious traditions and complex problems as well. The responsibility that Bishop Raul took upon himself must have certainly weighed on his shoulders. More so, because he had to take it up at a time of a great crisis, particularly in the political and administrative spheres,” Pereira told Crux.
“We all know that, in December 1961, Goa had to wake up to a new political identity as part of the Indian Union, after having been ‘Portuguese India’ for more than four and a half centuries. This overnight change brought about serious challenges to a church that was left ‘headless,’ as the last Portuguese archbishop returned to Portugal in 1962 and the next bishop, a simple apostolic administrator, followed only a year later,” he explained.
Pereira noted that the church in Goa faced “politico-economic” challenges after the end of Portuguese rule, and that Gonsalves steered the archdiocese “towards the economic stability that it enjoys today.”
“There was another great challenge to face. Raul Gonsalves was ordained bishop less than two years after the Second Vatican Council concluded in Rome. The herculean task of helping the church in Goa adapt herself to and integrate herself in the global process of church renewal set up by the Council fell, in its greater part, to the strong shoulders of apostolic administrator and, later, archbishop, Raul Gonsalves,” Pereira said.
“He was a no-nonsense man, who was often feared by lay persons and priests alike. But deep inside he had the heart of a father and of a shepherd, which was manifest especially to those who, like me, lived under the same roof with him,” the priest added.