Manila (AsiaNews/UCAN) The Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) will hold its 8th Plenary Assembly in South Korea in August 2004, on the theme: "The Family in Asia toward a Culture of Life."
Oblate Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, 65, of Cotabato will be a resource person at the assembly. President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines until December 1st, 2003, he was also a member of the FABC Central Committee. Aside from leading two archdioceses and one diocese in the Philippines during the 23 years since he was ordained a bishop, he also served for 10 years as a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and is now a general council member of the secretariat of the Vatican-based permanent Synod of Bishops.
The Archbishop highlighted the effects of globalization on the family in Asia in a commentary for UCA News, targeting the economic difficulties and the challenge to the traditional values of Asian families.
"The phenomenon of globalization represents... the primary overall challenge to the family in Asia. Globalization is value-laden. Its spirit is mainly materialist, secular and neo-liberal or postmodernist. As such it is at best ambivalent, since it brings into Asian families both good and bad."
While mentioning that many technological and scientific advances can improve the quality of life for Asian people on many levels, the Archbishop warns of the negative effects.
"Poor countries that cannot compete with more developed and more powerful countries are affected adversely. With increasing poverty, the number of Asian migrant workers grows, and this creates internal problems of disunity and inadequate education for the families and children they leave behind. Moreover, through mass media comes the inexorable flow of secular and materialist values from the West that are quite foreign to the religious and spiritual sense of Asian families. .. a crisis of values in Asia is setting in, affecting family traditions, customs, ways of thinking and relating. Directly affecting Asian families are emerging values concerning sex and sexuality, human relationships, marriage, human conception, children, life and death. Thus emerge issues of bioethics, contraception, abortion, premarital relationships, same-sex unions, divorce, etc."
In the same way, however, Archbishop Quevedo draws attention to the fact that, "We should not romanticize traditional family cultural values to such an extent as to ignore many cultural values that need to be "evangelized." These are, for instance, casteism and patriarchy in Asia. Patriarchy is especially to be denounced as oppressive for it has determined the inequality between men and women, the subordinate role of women both at home and in society, and the discrimination against the girl-child. Hence we need to be discerning about "cherished traditional family values,"
We also have to add the dimension of religious pluralism in Asia, home of the great ancient religions. Indeed, interfaith marriages and families are becoming more common in many parts of Asia.
Therefore, for a family ministry in Asia to be relevant and adequate, we need to understand Asian life in its integrality, i.e., in its social, economic, political, religious and cultural dimensions. We have to look at how globalization is affecting literally all aspects of human life, and design holistic pastoral programs that respond to pastoral challenges that are basically interconnected.
Finally, Asian families and family ministries need to develop a perspective of God's reigning (kingdom) not only with regard to the God-given mission of the family but also to its spirituality. It is by trying to achieve this holistic pastoral vision that the family in Asia can respond to the call of Pope John Paul II (in his 1981 apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio"): "Family, become what you are!"