Pope urges Asian bishops to rely on laity and celebrate diversity

Vatican City – As bishops across Asia celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, Pope Francis has urged them to recognize the dignity and potential of their laity and to remember that the diversity that characterizes their cultures and their churches is a gift to the church.

“Go ahead, that the laity assume their baptism, their function as lay people, and that the singularity of each one be respected, because the universal Church is not the uniform Church, no: It is universal, in the respect for the particularity of each Church,” the pope said in a video message to the federation.

Bishops from 29 Asian countries, as well as priests, religious and laity, gathered from October 12 to 30 in Bangkok to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federation and look to the future.

The federation was created in 1970 when Saint Paul VI met with bishops from all over Asia in Manila, Philippines. Anniversary celebrations had to be postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The preparatory document for the assembly said it would focus on five questions: “How can the Church in Asia continue to become the good news in light of emerging realities? How could the FABC more effectively serve and support the bishops and their conferences in How can a renewed appreciation of the blessings and riches of Asia contribute to the church? How can the church in this part of the world contribute to a better Asia? How can the church in Asia contribute to the universal church?

In his message to the federation, Francis said that when Paul visited Manila in 1970, “he found a continent of great masses, made up largely of young people”, and reflecting a diversity of cultures and religions.

“The bishops noted that the masses were waking up from fatalism to a life worthy of man; young people were also waking up, they were idealistic, aware, restless, impatient and restless; culturally diverse societies were waking up to become a true community of peoples,” said the pope.

“It meant that the Church in Asia was called to be more authentically the Church of the poor, the Church of the young and a Church in dialogue with other Asians of other faiths,” he continued.

Francis assured the bishops of his prayers for their meeting and emphasized the importance he places on frequent meetings of regional episcopal conferences, because “in doing so, the Church is formed, strengthened along the way.

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