Synod: Asia's Christian communities

2012-10-15 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) – On Monday, Asian bishops addressed participants in the XIII Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation calling for a radical shift in Church leadership models and greater emphasis on garnering the capacity of small Christian communities to witness to the faith in everyday life:

Below the interventions of Church leaders from Pakistan, Thailand, India and Malaysia:

Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau, coadjutor of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
The call for a New Evangelization presupposes a realization that our present methods and expressions are no longer attractive or appealing to the world caught up by, drifted along and even pushed by changes that are expedited by advancement in science and technology, and by human greed.

Numerous reflections and conferences have been organized at various levels after Vatican II, trying to read and understand the signs of the times. Many Statements and Exhortations too have been released for local Churches to respond to the changing situations with courage and hope. But the messages have not been able to be transmitted fast and wide enough. We need to humbly admit that our past responses were outpaced by changes in the world. We are simply unable to provide solutions to individuals and societies trapped in the structures and occasions of sins. Our voices are either being suppressed by national laws or by powerful forces that control the media. I wish to add the dimension of a movement towards fanaticism and extremism (cf. IL 63-67). Therefore, there is an urgent need to review our methods of transmitting the Church's teachings in terms of vocabulary, format, expression and means.

In a world of increasing conflicts in beliefs and ideologies, our laity as minorities in certain regions, such as in Asia, must be trained to respond to critical situations when their faith is threatened. Interreligious dialogue is to be made a crucial part of their agenda for new evangelization. At the same time, we need to ensure that the basic rights of Christians as minorities in certain regions need first to be protected and their faith be strengthened.

If Church leaders are unable to withstand the changes in the world, how can they help others? Scandals, bad leadership, materialistic lifestyles and loss of pastoral zeal are among the liabilities in our evangelizing mission. In view of the special status of the ordained ministers, seminary formation is to be seriously reviewed. The quasi-monastic, intellectual, easy and comfortable life (cut off from the world) has failed to form pastors relevant and responsive to the needs of people today and tomorrow.

Finally, the question arises as how to help our people remain credible witnesses of the gospel in the contemporary world. I propose that our Social Doctrine should be made an essential and integral component of our catechesis and homilies. The Good News explained through the Social Doctrine may be more palatable to the inquisitive mind of the modern man.
Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião Do Rosario Ferrao of Goa, India:

The Parish is the place where the faithful gather to grow in faith, live the mystery of ecclesial communion and take part in the Church’s mission (cf. EA 25). The Church in India has embraced “A New Way of Being Church” through “Small Christian Communities”. The faithful of a neighbourhood reflect collectively on the Word of God, pray together and act in solidarity for the integral development and authentic liberation of the human person. Experiencing conversion, growing in the personal encounter of Jesus and recognizing him in one another, the faithful place the various gifts and charisms of the Spirit at the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church and enter into a dialogue of life and action in their own places with people of other faiths. This calls for a new type of leadership, particularly from priests who, shunning all signs of dominating and arrogant attitudes, follow Jesus in humble, self-emptying, animating and encouraging leadership. Lay faithful are specifically called to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them in the spirit of Christ according to the plan of God in the vast and complex arena of the socio-cultural spheres of our modern society. The pastors must ensure that the laity are formed as evangelizers able to face the contemporary challenges, not just with worldly wisdom and efficiency, but inspired by the truth of Christ (cf. EA 45). This needs a paradigm shift in our thinking and a radical reallocation of our resources.

Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak KOVITHAVANIJ, of Bangkok (THAILANDIA)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand is of the opinion that it is necessary that all the Bishops, priests, men and women religious and the laity be concretely revived in faith and Christian life aiming at “Discipleship and sharing the Good News” with regards to the teaching of the Church, liturgy, life of prayers and continuous formation, using the means of “BEC” (Basic Ecclesial Communities) through coordination of the various Catholic entities and the CBCT commissions especially the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care of the Christians. The parochial community will enable the BEC to be the sign of active life of a parish which will be a new community, “communion of communities”, based on the culture of love and will become a good approach for the pastoral care and evangelization “Ad gentes”.
The Catholic Church in Thailand is amid our brothers and sisters of other faiths. The Church is essentially the sign and instrument of announcing the Kingdom of God and all the disciples of Christ are called to announce and share the Good News to both those who have not yet heard and those who are not yet in the same sheepfold. The appropriate way to bring about mutual understanding in society is through the “Interreligious Dialogue” which is the way suitable for our new evangelization.
In the context of multiple cultures in Asia the dialogue with respect will widen the venue of mutual listening to the religious experiences and mutual collaboration. The Catholic faithful through the Basic Ecclesial Community, therefore, filled with faith, love and hope will be able to enter into the dialogue not only, with our Christian brothers and sisters of various denominations, but also with the Buddhists, the majority of the population in Thailand, to cooperate and together create true unity and peace in Thai society. And with the Risen Lord in the midst of “two or three, united in His name”, we Catholic faithful in Thailand, can share God's love to everyone.

Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, O.F.M., bishop of Tino, Apostolic Administrator of Lahore (PAKISTAN)

The New Evangelization has been welcomed by the Church in Pakistan, hoping that through evangelization the Church will find willingness to accept the present realities objectively, and find concrete solutions to live the gospel of Christ today. In view of this, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan felt the need to translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Urdu, the national language, so that people may have access to the basics of our faith.
Before I share the activities planned for the New Evangelization I want to highlight that Pakistan is a predominantly Islamic country with a Blasphemy law. I would like to thank the Holy Father and many other Church and state leaders who intervened to save the life of Asia Bibi with regard to the false charges of blasphemy. Pakistan’s population is 180 million but only about 2% is Christian. As such, we cannot depend on any of our neighbouring countries, such as Afghanistan, India, Iran or China for faith formation programs.
For the New Evangelization, a healthy sense of human relationships as it was with Jesus is essential. However, a disposable sense of relationships as in consumerism dominates our daily lives today. For example the psyche behind the use of a tissue paper is very relevant in the sense that however expensive or perfumed the tissue paper may be, the relationship with it ends the moment you use it and throw it away; so, it is, unfortunately, the unconscious psyche that dominates our relationships today in families, parishes, places of work, etc.
In spite of the religious fundamentalist challenges to our Catholic faith in Pakistan, we in the Church through interreligious dialogue invite Islamic scholars and civil society, and other religious minorities to endeavor to build up a harmonious society in which all Pakistanis could live the common religious values which we profess together, such as justice, peace, respect for environment, good governance with reciprocal love and concern. Finally, I humbly request you to keep us in your prayers so that we “the little flock” of Christ in Pakistan may continue to be the beacon of faith for the transformation of people, culture and society, energized by the New Evangelization.