Among cardinals and bishops, three young people speak in Bangkok
Three youth representatives are at the General Conference of Asian Churches, two from India and one from Malaysia. Speaking to AsiaNews, they see the meeting as a great opportunity for an open debate. The emerging challenges in our societies concern them firsthand. For them both present and future count.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Almost 200 delegates from the Catholic Churches in 29 Asian countries gathered in Bangkok for the General Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC).
Ashita Jimmy, 18, is the youngest, working along with bishops and cardinals from all over the continent. “Everyone is telling us that young people are the future,” she says, “that we must have confidence in the future, but as Pope Francis says in the apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit, we are also the present. We need to focus on that because even young people who wait for the future become old.”
As secretary general of Young Catholic Students (YCS), she is one of the three youth representatives that the FABC wanted at the Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Training Centre of the Archdiocese of Bangkok where the Churches of Asia are trying in a synodal way to trace a common path for the continent’s multifaceted Catholic communities.
The conference, which began on 12 October, is entering its final stage. A message will be soon released to the peoples of Asia before the final celebration on Sunday at the Cathedral of the Assumption, led by the papal legate, Card Luis Antonio Tagle.
The Church in Asia is called today to look with particular attention to young people, like Antony Judy, who hails from Kerala. As a representative of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement at the Bangkok meeting, he is well aware of this task.
“If we talk about migration, most of those who emigrate from Asia are young. If we talk about the family, it is young people who are personally involved.
“Women's issues particularly affect young people in Asia, not to mention the environment. Our voice is not heard, while the planet where we will live is being devastated.”
But he sees some sign of hope in the meeting in Bangkok itself. “As Pope Francis himself noted, caring to listen is getting traction. I heard the bishops engage in very open and down-to-earth discussions. There is a strong desire to be where people are, aware that change is built by walking together.”
Josephine Magdalyn Tan, a youth pastoral worker from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, is also aware of the desire of young people to do their part in the Church of Asia today. She is equally conscious of the difficulties the Church experienced during the pandemic, but also how important it is to be responsible for one another.
Like those who urge the Church to be more present on social media “where young people are", she too thinks that “many people should be inspired to evangelise also through these tools”, which ought to be “a starting point for face-to-face meetings with a community, which is what young people want.”
This is something that she would like to help build. “Youth outreach is by its very nature temporary; in our communities, young people meet to enjoy being together and discover their talents.
“But today the real challenge is to understand that we young people can offer more, commit ourselves personally to evangelisation where we live, every day, serving in society. Such a journey becomes possible only if we learn to collaborate more in the Church, all of us really thinking through it together.”