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Bishops in Asia lay new ‘pathways’ for mission

Bishops in Asia lay new ‘pathways’ for mission

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle with the delagates of the FABC General Conference at Bangkok Cathedral on Oct. 30, 2022. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde 

October 31, 2022

Bangkok, Thailand

Catholic bishops across Asia ended their historic meeting in Thailand on Sunday, laying down “new pathways” for renewing the Church in the region.

The 18-day general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences produced a document that will serve as pastoral guidelines not just for a better Church but for “a better Asia”.

The document presented challenges to the Church in Asia including, among others, poverty, refugee crisis, climate change, and violence “that we hear crying out for help and justice”.

The church leaders also turned its focus to the need to recognize more the role of lay people, especially the youth, in the Church and the challenged posed by the digital revolution.

“In prayer and in a spirit of collaboration, we desire to respond to these challenges by relying on the power of love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness,” the bishops said in their message to the “peoples of Asia”.

“We believe that peace and reconciliation is the only way forward. We have envisaged new pathways for our ministry based on mutual listening and genuine discernment,” they said.

Among these new pathways, the bishops vowed to pursue genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh concrete and more creative ways to address the problems besetting the Church and society.

“We commit ourselves to bridge-building not just among religions and traditions but also by principled engagement with governments, NGOs, and civic organizations on issues of human rights, eradication of poverty, human trafficking, care of the earth, and other common concerns,” they said.

“By journeying together along these pathways, we will serve the world with greater commitment. We assure our people of this continent that the Catholic Church in Asia will always work for a better Asia and the good of all our people,” they added.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, FABC president, stressed the message of Christianity has always been peace “but how to bring it in such a vulnerable and even volatile situation is probably in the minds of many of us”.

“Only when we walk together as one that we can serve more effectively. What has been clear in this conference is the need to work together, to collaborate as one Church of Asia,” Bo said.

“We commit ourselves to work for a better Asia because the joys of others must be our joys; the pains of others must be our pains too. There can be no room for apathy and indifference. What we need is empathy and compassion,” he said.

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