Bangalore: The first pan Asian conference of Catholic moral theologians ended on a high note on Monday with a top prelate disclosing that Pope Francis has high hopes in the churches of the continent.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said he had asked the Pope to remove him from two recently appointed posts, but “he told me that the future of the Church is in Asia.”
The Filipino cardinal was addressing the concluding session of the July 18-20 conference held at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, (DVK, garden of virtues knowledge temple), a Pontifical Athenaeum for philosophy, theology and Canon Law, in Bangalore, southern India.
The 58-year-old prelate was appointed the head of Caritas International and Catholic Biblical Federation in a span of two months. He said he requested the Pope to relieve him because he was neither a Caritas man nor a Biblicist.
As the gathering comprising some 100 theologians from around the globe and hundreds of seminarians and professors from DVK clapped, Cardinal Tagle cautioned them that the papal expectation from the Asian Churches is not an honor but a matter of great responsibility.
“Please do not clap, it is not a matter of honor. Is it a challenge, a prophecy or a great calling, we do not know. But it is surely a matter of great responsibility, a great mission.”
The Asian cardinal said the Churches in the region would take “our mission seriously and seek ways how we can contribute to the worldwide church, in terms of reflection, research and best practices.
The prelate noted that things in the Church are moving to regions such as Africa, Asia and Oceania.
“Places of deep suffering and pain have become the center of gravity of the Church life and for reflection,” Cardinal Tagle noted as he explained “Church and leadership in cross-cultural and inter-faith Asian context.”
The conference that chose “Doing Catholic Theological Ethics in a Cross-Cultural and Interreligious Asian Context” as its topic dealt with a plethora issues confronting the region such as sexual violence against women, forced migration, religious fundamentalism, threats to democracy, fertility tourism and land grabbing.
DVK partnered with the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) and its Asian Regional Committee to organize the conference.