50 years after the establishment of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), Pope Francis reminded the bishops of Asia of the true mission of the Church in the continent envisioned by its founders.
In his video message to the participants of the FABC’s General Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, the Holy Father recounted the situation in Asia when Saint Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines and what it meant for the Church and for the bishops of the continent.
“He found a continent of great masses, made up largely of young people, and Asia was acknowledged as the home of diverse cultures and religions. The Bishops noted that the masses were awakening from fatalism to a life worthy of man; the young people were also awakening, they were idealistic, aware, concerned, impatient and restless; culturally diverse societies were awakening to become a true community of peoples,” he said.
“This meant that the Church in Asia was being called to be more authentically the Church of the poor, the Church of the young, and a Church in dialogue with fellow Asians of other denominations,” the Pope added.
Looking forward, the Holy Father challenged the FABC to discern as they continuously gather as one body of Church in Asia.
“It is important for the Regional Conferences to meet with some consistency, as in doing so the Church is formed, is strengthened along the way, and the fundamental question is: What is the Spirit saying to the Churches in Asia? And that is what you must answer,” Pope Francis exhorted.
Held for the very first time upon Pope Paul VI’s 1970 visit in Manila, the FABC was a “long standing dream of the bishops of Asia” after years of meetings which started in December 1958 at the Central Seminary of the University of Santo Tomas.
This year’s conference of Asian bishops started last October 12 until October 30, 2022 at the Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Center in Bangkok, Thailand with the theme: “Journeying together as peoples of Asia “…and they went a different way” (Mt. 2:12)”. (Lem Leal Santiago/SOCOM-Binondo Church)