By Sr. Bernadette M Reis, fsp – Bangkok
Representatives participating in the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality arrived at the Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Training Centre near Bangkok on Thursday. The Assembly begins on Friday with the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD of Tokyo, the Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), which is hosting the meeting. The Assembly concludes on Sunday with Mass celebrated by Cardinal Charles Bo, SDB, the Archbishop of Yangon and President of the FABC.
Those participating, who represent the local Churches, include:
• 6 Cardinals
• 23 Bishops
• 28 Priests
• 4 Women religious
• 7 Lay men
• 12 Lay women
These participants represent the FABC leadership and secretariat, Presidents of the 17 Episcopal Conferences and 2 Eastern Rite Synods; Bishops from 3 Associate FABC members; 2 delegates from each of the Episcopal Conferences and Synods; 1 delegate from each of the 3 Associate FABC Members; Synod Council and Commission Members from Asia; and members of the FABC Synodal Task Force.
These delegates come from twenty-three of the twenty-nine Asian FABC member countries: Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Macau, Kyrgyzstan.
In addition to orientation sessions provided each day, participants will be reflecting over and discerning a written draft response to the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) of the Synod. This draft will be amended on Friday and Saturday, and a final draft will be discussed and endorsed on Sunday.
Leading up to the Assembly
The FABC Synodal Task Force considers the FABC 50 General Conference, also held in Bangkok from 12-30 October 2022, as a “pre-assembly gathering” and a “significant launchpad for deeper conversations that will take place in the Continental Assembly.” Copies of the DCS were printed and given to all General Conference participants and a digital copy was e-mailed to all FABC members during the first week of November.
Each of the seventeen Episcopal Conferences and the two Eastern Rite Synods belonging to the FABC were invited to reflect on the DCS and submit ten-page responses to the three questions outlined in paragraph 106: “intuitions,” “questions or issues,” and “priorities, recurring themes and calls to action.” From 30 January to 4 February, the FABC Synodal Task Force, and others who were invited to join them, studied the reports and created a provisional draft from them in response to the DCS.
Themes that emerged
A press release issued on Thursday noted the themes that emerged in the provisional draft: “experience of Joy, of Walking Together, the Experience of Wounds, and the Call to Embrace New Pathways…Living Synodality, Decision-Making, Priestly Vocations, Youth, Poor, Religious Conflicts and Clericalism.”
Three events will be live-streamed during the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality.
• Opening Mass: 24 February; 8:30-9:30am (2.30-3.30 CET; 8:30-9:30pm EST)
• Concluding Session: 26 February; 4:00-5:30pm (10:00-11:30am CET; 4:00-5:30am EST)
• Closing Mass: 26 February; 5:30-6:30pm (1:30-2:30pm CET; 5:30-6:30am EST)
These events will be live streamed on the following channels