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Asian bishops to work ‘not just for better Church but for better Asia’

Asian bishops to work ‘not just for better Church but for better Asia’

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon after speaking to the press about the ongoing general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Thailand, Oct. 24, 2022. PHOTO BY ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

October 25, 2022

THAILAND— Asia’s Catholic leaders gathered in Thailand are working on a new document that outlines their work and mission in the years ahead.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), said the document would be reflective of the emerging pastoral needs of the people.

“That final document is the resolutions of the works that we are focusing on for the coming years,” Bo said in a press conference on Monday.

Around 200 cardinals and bishops from across the region are currently gathered in Sam Phran district of Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok, since Oct. 12 for the FABC general conference.

Organizers said the ongoing meeting is the largest gathering of Asian bishops so far in FABC’s 50 years of history.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay said several consultations were held at the regional level to identify the “concerns, challenges and opportunities” that both the Church and society are facing.

“Having put all those together, we identified some of the concerns which were given to us, and then we had now the whole conference trying to respond, taking that already as a basis,” he said.

Among these challenges, he said, include issues on human rights, migration, environment, poverty, natural calamities, women, and political instability.

“Now, the bishops here, representing the different Churches in Asia, are reflecting on how exactly we can promote human rights, how exactly we can promote human dignity, how exactly we can ensure justice, and peace, and reconciliation,” Gracias said.

The cardinal, who is also the convenor of this year’s FABC conference, said the meeting’s objective “is really reflecting on the richness of Asia”.

“We want to commit ourselves, the FABC, not only for a better Church but for the better Asia all over,” he said. “That, I think, is what we are going to discern”.

“At the end of this meeting, we will present a message to the people of Asia, and also begin the elements of the final document, which will be like a guide document or a pastoral plan for the churches of Asia,” he added.

The 18-day gathering will end with a Mass to be presided over by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who is Pope Francis’ special envoy to the FABC conference, on Sunday, Oct. 30.

The pro-prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization is arriving Thailand on Oct. 29, where he is also set to have a closed-door meeting with the bishops.

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