2010-10-12 17:57:10

Report of Mons. Orlando B. QUEVEDO, Secretary General of the "Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences" (F.A.B.C.), for Asia

On behalf of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, I express our deep gratitude to you for inviting me to represent the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC) and participate in this important Synod. Likewise on their behalf may I express our communion and solidarity with all the Synod Fathers gathered here today, most especially with our brother Bishops in the Middle East.
Our theme is Communion and Witness. It is a theme very close to the heart of the Church in Asia. No.55 of the Instrumentum Laboris expresses a significant desideratum: to foster unity in diversity, to encourage communities to cooperate among themselves,
" ... some responses suggest periodically calling (perhaps every five years) an assembly of the entire episcopate of the Middle East."
May I share with you the experience of Asian Bishops. Meeting every four years since 1974 the Bishops in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences have had a very positive experience in promoting communion. Consider that the FABC has 25 regular and associate members, including two ancient Eastern rites - Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara, in 28 countries and territories. It covers that vast region of Asia bounded by Kazakhstan in the West, Mongolia in the North, Japan in the East, Pakistan and India in the South, Indonesia and East Timor in the Southeast. Despite diverse social, economic, political, cultural, and religious situations, Asian Bishops have gained a certain degree of communion, fellowship, solidarity, cooperation. This is so because of a common vision of mission and pastoral priority.
In 1970 Asian Bishops gathered in Manila were inspired by the message of Pope Paul VI who had spoken about pastoral challenges in Asia. In 1974 they met for their first Plenary Assembly as a Federation approved by the Holy See. They drew up the following common vision of the mission to proclaim Jesus as the Lord and Savior. They stated:
Evangelization is the carrying out of the Church's duty of proclaiming by word and witness the Gospel of the Lord. In Asia this task is carried out:
The insertion of the Gospel into the cultures renders the local Churches truly present within the life and cultures of our peoples;
Through the insertion of the Gospel into the religious traditions, the Asian religions are brought into living dialogue with the Gospe1, so that the seeds of the Word in them may come to full flower and fruitfulness within the life of our peoples;
Finally, through the preaching of the good news to the poor (Lk 4: 18), Christ's renewing life and the power of His pascha1 mystery is inserted into our people's search for human development, for justice, brotherhood and peace (FABC I, 1974, nos. 25-28).
They also drew up a common pastoral priority which is the building of the local church.
The local church is a church incarnate in a people, a church indigenous and inculturated. And this means concretely a church in continuous, humble, and loving dialogue with the living traditions, the cultures, the religions - in brief with all the life realities of the people in whose midst it has sunk its roots deeply and whose history and life it gladly makes its own.
For the Asian Bishops such a vision of a local church and mission is best reflected in the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities, by which a parish or a diocese becomes a "communion of communities."
Supported by the various pastoral offices of the FABC, Asian Bishops strive together towards this vision of mission and pastoral priority. Through their leadership the Church in Asia continues to undergo waves of conversion or renewal, towards a renewed evangelization and discipleship of life, a Church renewed in the Word and Bread of God. Yesterday during his homily the Holy Father reminded us that “communion is a gift of the Lord”, communion ultimately in the life of God. That requires our response of profound renewal or conversion.
The Holy Father also reminded us: “Without Communion there is no witness; the life of communion is truly the great witness.” How imperative these words are for the whole Church in Asia, including the Middle East.
We are a "little flock" in Asia, less than 3% of the more than three billion Asians. In the light of rising religious suspicions and extremism sometimes erupting in violence and death, we can surely be afraid or timid. But we are fortified and encouraged by the words of the Lord, "Fear not, little flock." Confidently then we need to make our communion a reality and a witness of the Lord. For in many places in Asia where there is no freedom of religion the only way to proclaim the Lord is to witness to Him by a silent but truly faithful Christian life, a life of love for God and service to our neighbour (see Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, no. 23).
That witness urges us as bishops in communion with the Holy Father and with one another to address seriously the great pastoral challenges before us in Asia, such as the phenomenon of migration which is sometimes called the new slavery, the negative impact of economic and cultural globalization, the issue of climate change, issues or religious extremism, injustice and violence; religious freedom, and biogenetic issues that threaten human life in the womb and from conception to natural death.
In our dialogue as an expression of communion in the household of God, we pray that we could draw up a common pastoral approach to these problems as a form of witness to the faith we have in the Lord Jesus.

[00019-02.04] [RC002] [Original text: English]

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