Asian Catholic bishops who are meeting in Thailand this month are urged to work together to make a “better Asia” through their work and life.
“Let us work together…. Let us ignite the fire of mission back in our hearts,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay in his homily at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences meeting.
He said that as Church leaders they should first put the mission of evangelization to heart, “and then in the hearts of our people … so that we can make, by our work, by our life, by our words … a better Asia.”
He said “making Asia a better place, making Asia a better Asia, which we have come for, is also evangelization, is also spreading the word of God, is also doing the will of Christ.”
“We as Church, we as leaders here present, have got to think of creative ways of fulfilling the mission,” he told the gathering of the region’s Church leaders during the World Mission Sunday Mass on October 23.
He said Church people in Asia should not despair despite all the challenges — “shortage of priests, shortage of nuns, difficulties because of shortage of finances, difficulties because of loss of enthusiasm to spread the gospel.”
“We are not in the worst situation ever,” he said, adding that “the apostles were in a worst situation.”
Cardinal Gracias reiterated an earlier statement of Pope Francis, saying that “all lay people are called to be part of the Church” and “therefore have the same mission of spreading the gospel.”
He reminded his fellow bishops that growing the Church in the region is not a “numbers game.”
“I think we must make clear to ourselves and to the world that we, the Catholic Church, are not in the numbers game, who try to get more than other religions,” he said.
“Our mission is to make Jesus real in the world, the gospel real, that’s evangelization. It is not just baptizing people,” added Cardinal Gracias.
More than 200 cardinals and bishops from 29 member countries of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences are currently gathered in Thailand for their general conference.
The gathering, which started on October 12 and ends on October 30, aims to “reaffirm, renew and revitalize” the Catholic Church in Asia under the theme “Journeying Together As Peoples of Asia.”
The FABC is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences in Asia that was established with the approval of the Holy See. Its aim is to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia.
FABC members include Church leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Thailand, China and its special administrative regions — Macao and Hong Kong.