The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines will present the result of its synodal consultations to the 50th general assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).
“We will share the lessons and realizations of the Philippine Catholic Church to other churches in Asia,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice, and Peace of the bishops’ conference.
He told LiCAS News that the synodal process will be one of the “highlights” in the celebration of the 50th year of the founding of FABC.
“It is timely that the celebration of the 50th year of FABC coincided with Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
He said Asian bishops “will definitely talk about the directions we will take in the next 50 years,” adding that it will be “much influenced by the results of the synodal process.”
The FABC will hold its general assembly in Bangkok, Thailand, from October 12-30 this year.
The meeting, which will mark the 50th anniversary of its foundation, will be reflecting on “the re-emerging and emerging realities and challenges of the Church in Asia.”
Bishop Bagaforo said the “realities” that the Church in Asia “are definitely reflected already in the findings of the synodal process” of the different countries.
He said he is looking forward to a “fruitful discussion on inter-religious dialogue,” which the FABC is known to have a “well-coordinated in the implementation of its program.”
“We want the next generation of Catholic leaders to learn, to be comfortable, and to venture together with other religions in Asia,” said the prelate.
He said Catholic Church in the Philippines “has benefited much from the experiences of other bishops’ conferences in Asia.”
Another issue that he said “will be strongly discussed” during the FABC meeting is the “wider participation of the laity.”
“I think in all countries in Asia, the participation of the laity is a common topic,” said Bishop Bagaforo. “The general conference is a perfect venue to discuss it,” he said.
Bishop Bagaforo said the “great challenge” that the Church in Asia faces is “evangelization, or how to make Christ more present in the lives of the people.”
“We are not talking about conversion here. We are talking about how the Catholic Church will make Christ known and make His presence be felt by Asian people in the next 50 years,” he said.
Over 150 bishops representing 29 countries, three rites — Latin, Syro-Malabar, and Syro-Malankara — and 19 episcopal conferences, as well as lay faithful, are expected to attend the FABC meeting.
The FABC was established in November 1970 on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Philippines.
The federation’s 50th anniversary was in 2020 but the celebration was rescheduled to 2022 because of the pandemic.