Pope Francis called on Asian bishops currently gathered in Thailand to strive for consistency in mission and action.
In a video message, he told the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) that the Church in Asia is 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.”
“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,” the pope said.
“The fundamental question is: What is the Spirit saying to the Churches in Asia? And that is what you must answer,” he said.
The conference, which gathered more than 150 bishops from different Asian episcopal conferences, started on October 12 and will end on the 30th.
The gathering also marks the belated 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the federation during the visit of Pope Paul VI to Manila in 1970.
The conference’s presentations and discussions will reflect on the theme, “Journeying Together as Peoples of Asia,” which aims to reflect on the “re-emerging and emerging realities and challenges of the Church in Asia.”
“Go forward, let the laity assume their baptism, their function as laypersons, and let the singularity of each one be respected, because the universal Church is not the uniform Church, no: she is universal, with respect for the particularity of every Church,” the pope added.
Among the Filipino bishops attending the meeting are Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan and Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, the president and vice president, respectively, of the Philippine bishops’ conference.
In his welcome address, FABC president Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon emphasized that the Church in Asia “is called upon to exhibit an evangelical enthusiasm for justice and peace.”
“The future calls for a pilgrimage of confidence. History beckons; the Spirit moves us; let us proclaim the missionary call to the Asian Church, let us make this a century of Jesus’ Good News to the whole of Asia,” Cardinal Bo said.
“Let this gathering be God’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Multiple languages, multiple cultures: let us hear the same language of God’s call in the coming days. Let the Holy Spirit be the animator of our words and actions,” he added.