By Matters India Reporter
Yangon, Dec. 24, 2018: A month after his election as president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon released a five-point Christmas message.
The cardinal, who elected the head of the Catholic Church in Asia on November 20, will assume his new post on January 1, 2019.
Myanmar’s prominent Catholic Church leader has sent blessings of reconciliation and peace not only for his country but also for all people of good will in the region.
In his November 22 Christmas message the Salesian cardinal lists “five mile stones to reach in our socio-pastoral adventure in Asia.”
Foremost in his thoughts is the mandate St Pope John Paul II delivered in 1999 when he released the Conclusions of the Synod of Bishops for Asia during his second visit to New Delhi.
In the Synod Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia St John Paul exhorted ‘just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent’” (EA, 1).
FABC president proposes his second mandate as “responding to Pope Francis call for Economic and Environmental justice to which people in Asia are victims.”
Third point is the urgent need of recognizing the presence of indigenous people starting from south China Sea shores to central parts of India, where market economy has created turbulence by denying their right to resources and traditional way of life.
Cardinal’s fourth concern is pursing peace through continuing the three-fold dialogue with poverty, culture and religions. The cardinal reminds church workers, “Our work with poor and their dignity needs to be the turf where we meet other religions.”
Finally, the cardinal does not hesitate to propose mainstream Reconciliation as the new Evangelization in Asia where “Church should not repay hatred with hatred, but be a healer of known and hidden wounds”.
The FABC is a voluntary association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia. Established in 1972 with approval of the Holy See, its purpose is to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of the Church and society in Asia, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.
The FABC federation includes sixteen (or nineteen) Bishops’ Conferences from Bangladesh, East Timor, India (both the CBCI and the individual conferences of the Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Roman Rites), Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan (RoC), Thailand and Vietnam. Associate members are from Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Novosibirsk (Russia), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. Cardinal Bo will take over as head pf the Catholic Church in Asia on January 1, 2019, a day after Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai retires after two consecutive terms.
The FABC presidential election took place on November 16 in Bangkok during a meeting of the FABC Central Committee, attended by 16 bishops from various Asian countries.