02/24/2023, 19.56
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Continental assembly on synodality opens in Bangkok

Delegates from the Catholic Churches in 29 countries have gathered for three days to draft a paper that reflects the thoughts and ideas generated in Asia by the process laid down by Pope Francis ahead of the Synod set for Rome next October. For Archbishop Kikuchi of Tokyo, the Church is called to generate “hope". A laywoman from Singapore, Christina Kheng, notes that “the purpose of the Synod [. . .] is not to produce documents” but “weave together relationships” as the people of God in Asia.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality opened today in Bangkok at the Baan Phu Waan Centre with a celebration led by Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, who is also secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).

About 17 bishops’ conferences and two synods of Eastern Rite Churches representing 29 countries in the FABC have sent representatives to the assembly, which is designed to give Asian Churches an opportunity to discuss the path towards the Synod laid out by Pope Francis.

Participants, including six cardinals, five archbishops, 18 bishops, 28 priests, four nuns and 19 lay people, will meet this Sunday to reflect on a working paper titled Enlarge the space of your tent released last October by the General Secretariat of the Synod, based on contributions sent to Rome from Churches around the world.

Like similar documents from other continents, the output of this meeting will shape the Instrumentum Laboris for the first phase of the Synod, set for the Vatican next October.

In his homily, Archbishop Kikuchi said that the “Church should be at the centre of producing hope” rather than “be a source of despair and sadness”.

In his view, “walking together on the path of synodality means for the Church in Asia to walk in solidary with all the peoples of Asia, especially, the marginalised, abused and the poor at the periphery.”

Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod, said during the first session of the gathering that “we are all learners in Synodality”, adding that every voice in the Church should be heeded, both those that agitate and those who “do not speak”.

He explained that the proper exercise of synodality never puts the people of God in competition with pastors, but keeps them in constant relationship, allowing both to fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

For her part, Christina Kheng, a laywoman from Singapore and member of the Commission on the methodology for the Synod, talked about the journey taken so far, stressing that "the purpose of the Synod [. . .] is not to produce documents, but” to meet, and engage in dialogue, and “weave together relationships” as well as give strength, grow as a community of discernment and experience walking together in the Spirit as the people of God in Asia.

Fr Clarence Devadass, from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, presented the draft framework to discuss in coming days, describing it as a working paper to help delegates discern, discuss and decide.

The draft revolves around five topics: Asian resonances, Asian tensions, Asian realities and divergences, identified gaps in Asian responses and priorities of Asian responses.

As such Fr Devadass expressed hope that the discerning process – which began this afternoon via working groups – can result in a document that truly represents, "the dream, hopes, aspirations and the pains that echo within the continent of Asia.”

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”