PRESS NOTE – 20TH OCTOBER 2022
20th October 2022, the fourth day of the segment ‘Emerging Realities’ at the FABC General Conference began with the Holy Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-mien of Hsinchu, Taiwan. H.E. Francis Xavier Cardinal Kriengsak Kovithavanij opened the morning session by leading the Adsumus. The morning prayer, played over video, was led by the Philippines-Malaysia-Papua New Guinea-Thailand province of the Daughters of St Paul.
H.E. Cardinal Kreingsak introduced the topics for the day - dialogue, peace and reconciliation; geopolitical and social shifts impacting Asia and reflections on ways of building bridges in the context of inter-intra religious dialogue, in the light of Evangelii Gaudium.
H.E. Charles Cardinal Maung Bo SDB, President of the FABC, speaking of a mission of dialogue, peace, and reconciliation as a new way for the Asian Church, contextualized Asia as a country of great opportunity, optimism and survival. Adding how war has been a way of life, and describing the many threats to peace, H.E. Cardinal Bo stressed the need for the Church to be reactive, to be an agent of peace, initiating dialogue, advocating for equality, and standing up to power with ‘empty hands’. Mentioning that ‘every jubilee calls for metanoia - let us challenge ourselves to let peace-making be the new evangelisation’, H.E. Cardinal Bo concluded by calling his listeners to ‘fight for peace’.
The next speaker, Dr Edmund Chia, professor of theology and Co-director of Interreligious Dialogue at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, highlighting the key moments in the Asian Church's journey of dialogue, sought to emphasize the lessons that could be learned from them. Speaking of the history of dialogue, the appreciation of other religions, and the Asian Church as a learning Church, Dr Chia praised the FABC as an example of a Church of dialogue, citing it as something to be proud of.
Mr Lawrence Chong, Co-Moderator for the Singapore Archdiocesan Synodal Committee and Consultor to the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, speaking in the context of inter-intra religious dialogue, especially for young people, proposed ways to build bridges. Suggesting that Church leadership had to show credibility to the youth, develop capability for the youth, and create a future of involvement and dialogue with them, Mr Chong called on his listeners to be better at dialogue with the youth.
The session was followed by a round of plenary group discussions and questions.
Prof. Edmund Terence Gomez, professor of political economy in the Faculty of Economics and Administration at the University of Malaya, spoke on the next topic, ‘the political and economic trends driving Asia today’. Providing a comprehensive view of Asia’s political history, Prof. Gomez elaborated on authoritative rule, the people’s power movement, the effects of corruption on democracy and high industrialisation, along with adding context to current geo-political struggles. He reminded his audience that asking ‘who is the state?’ and ‘where does power lie?’ are the keys to understanding geo-political constructs in their countries.
In the afternoon, Fr Bryan Lobo SJ, Dean at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, elaborating on the topic ‘The Church in Asia Proclaiming the Gospel: Ways of building bridges in the context of inter-intra religious dialogue in the light of Evangelii Gaudium’, reiterated the Pope’s message about being pilgrims journeying alongside one another. Emphasizing how the reality of agape was the fundamental principle of the document on which every initiative can be built, and that in dialogue with other cultures and religions, realities are more important than ideas, Fr Lobo underlined how dialogue must be characterized by openness to truth and love. The session was followed by group discussions.
Fr. Pedro Walpole SJ, a Network Catalyst of the River Above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network, describing the organization's purpose and efforts in ecological preservation, stressed the importance of sustaining the food, environment and livelihoods of people, and invited the representatives to connect with those who could help effect change.
The day concluded with H.E. Cardinal Kriengsak leading the representatives in the Alma Redemptoris Mater.