Asian bishops reflect on future paths for Church on continent with ‘complex realities’

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MUMBAI, India – The bishops will seek to “dialogue” with the peoples of Asia during the second week of the 50th anniversary meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) taking place this week in Bangkok, India. Thailand.

Bishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo said it “was so exciting to meet more than 100 bishops from Asia gathered in Baan Phu Wann, pastoral center of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, for the commemorative FABC General Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation”.


“However, as soon as the participants got into the real business on the 13th, we immediately realized that a huge task lay ahead of us, namely knowing the reality of Asia, thinking about the possibility of our possible responses and considering ways future for the Church in Asia,” he said. Node.

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The October 12-30 event marks the anniversary of the founding of the federation by Pope Saint Paul VI during his trip to the Philippines in 1970. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the commemoration of the event, which was to initially take place in 2020.

“To know the reality of Asia, which is a vast continent stretching from Kazakhstan in the far west to Japan in the far east, we must immerse ourselves in the completely diverse histories of each of the 22 countries present,” said Kikuchi. .

“We immediately realized that Asia being a continent of complex realities with different cultures, it is not easy to make a unified policy for the pastoral response. Through this awareness, we understood the meaning of the last sentence of the General Conference theme which is: And they took a different path,” the Archbishop said.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, former president of the FABC, suggested that the organization follow the example of its Latin American counterpart, CELAM.

“I cannot stress how vital our role at this general conference is. We are committed to becoming and remaining a prophetic, relevant and responsive Asian church serving the people of Asia,” Gracias said, according to ucanews.com.

“All participants in recent world church events will have noticed how the bishops of South America have invariably referenced Puebla, Medellin and now Aparecida in their reflections,” Gracias said, referring to CELAM’s decennial conferences.

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When he was cardinal of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis was the main architect of the final Aparecida document, which continues to influence him, Gracias said.

“So the question arises: isn’t it time for FABC to have something similar in Asia? What has helped South America can surely help Asia,” the Cardinal added.

He said a restructured conference would help churches in Asia “renew and revitalize our pastoral momentum” and turn it into “a vibrant church working for a better Asia”.

Kikuchi said the early days of the conference “contributed a lot to deepening our sense of togetherness.”

“We spent time listening, talking and praying together. Now, next week, we will reflect on these realities, engage with local Church of Asia people online, and try to reach the final stage of week three to find our new ways forward that may compel the FABC to go through a kind of structural change,” said the Archbishop of Tokyo.

“The Holy Spirit is at work with the bishops, supported by the prayers of local churches in Asia,” he said.

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