Closing Speech of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, FABC president, at the end of the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences on Oct. 30, 2022
It is my happy duty to share a word of thanks to our merciful God for the grace of these days.
As our Holy Father mentioned, Pope St. Paul VI encountered inAsia a continent of poor masses who were awakening from fatalism to a life worthy of man. Asia was also a continent of the young who were awakening to their rightful roles in society.
Finally, Asia has always been home to ancient faiths and diverse cultures that were becoming more and more committed to building a fraternal community of nations. The Church, therefore, could not but realize that we were called to be a Church of the poor, a Church of the young and a Church in dialogue.
While we engaged in the triple dialogue with the poor, with cultures and with cultures, we were also painfully aware of and praying in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Church of silence, who – by bearing the Cross as Christ did – spoke more eloquently than any of us living in less oppressive societies.
Fifty years later, we realize that we cannot divorce the cry of the poor from the cry of the earth. The Church of the poor must therefore become the Church in harmony with creation. Heeding the wisdom of our brothers and sisters in indigenous communities, the voice of the oppressed must become the voice of our sister, mother earth. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land”.
Fifty years later, we realize that the youth have already populated the world wide web, just as our forebears braved the seas and conquered mountains to explore and discover new habitats. Because of the young, Jesus is already in the web: transforming lives and building communities. The Church of the young has become the Church swimming and navigating the new frontier of the web. Aware of the many dangers we face in the digital continent, we cheerfully confirm: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
Fifty years later, we realize that dialogue has become not only relevant but also indispensable to a world that has grown more fragmented and prone to violent conflict. The Church in dialogue must become more and more a Church of bridge builders. With Jesus, we proclaim “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Fifty years later, we realize that the space for the free exercise of religion cannot be taken for granted. Freedom must sometimes be bought by the sweat of our brow and redemption achieved by the blood of martyrs. With the Church of silence, we pray the blessing: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
We stand also with those who suffer abuse and violence.As we work for a world that is safe for children, women, migrants and refugees, we pray, too, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” The Church of silence is also the Church of redemption and hope.
Dear friends, thank you for making time for this Conference. To the wonderful people of Thailand, thank you for graciously hosting us. To the Church in Thailand, thank you for your cheerful witness and hospitality. To all who worked and prayed for the fruitfulness of this Conference, thank you. May God hear your every prayer. May God bless you with good health, prosperity and peace.