Aug 19, 2009

IX FABC Plenary Assembly ended

The IX Plenary Assembly of FABC (Federation of Asian Bishop's Conferences) which was held in the Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila from 10 to 16 August ended successfully. The assembly which was under the theme of "Living the Eucharist in Asia" was attended by 117 participants including 75 bishops from all over Asia, which is divided into East, South East, South and Central. Out of these 75 bishops, there were 7 Cardinals, namely Cardinal Arinze, President emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments who had been sent by Holy Father as his special envoy, Cardinal Vidal of Cebu, Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi, Cardinal Man of Ho Chi Minh, Cardinal Rosales of Manila, Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai. Also present was Archbishop Sarah, Secretary of the Propaganda Fide.

Each member bishop's conferences are entitled to send the president and 2 or more delegates according to their size. CBCJ (Catholic Bishop's Conference of Japan) was represented by Archbishop Okada, the president, Bishop Oshikawa and myself. Among other participants, there were bishops from Hong Kong, Mongolia, East Timor, Uzbekistan and Nepal who are associate members of the FABC. Also representative bishops from USCCB (USA), FCBCO(Oceania), CCCB(Canada), ACBO(Australia) and CEE (Spain) joined the assembly.

To facilitate fruitful discussion on Eucharist, a working document had been prepared well before the assembly by a Theological team led by Bishop Luis Tagle of Imus to which each Bishop's Conferences were asked to submit their opinions. Based on these opinions, the document was revised and re-written by Bishop Tagle on which we made 10 minutes interventions from each Bishop's Conferences. From Japan, we mentioned about the social hardships people are facing at present in Japan which forces many to commit suicide, more than 30,000 a year according to the government sources, and possibility of providing "Hope" to these people through the Eucharist.

Re-written and finalised document by Bishop Tagle will be presented to the Central Committee in November for approval and will be published later on as the FABC document.

The assembly also produced a 2 page message in which delegates say that in the Eucharist, " the God of unity comes to permeate and envelope our life, personal and societal, bringing the gift of union with him and with one another." Then, "love made perfect in self-sacrifice by Jesus, and renewed in the Eucharist, calls forth nothing less than a life-style of sacrificial love. " "Each and every Christian and every community must become what they celebrate: unity in diversity."

The message also mentions importance of listening of Word of God. It says "we cherish the Eucharist, for in it we receive the Word of life and light that opens our eyes and the Bread of life that warms up our hearts. The unity of the Word and Bread in the Eucharist invite us to treasure and live both these aspects."

Finally the message call people to go out for mission saying "we are convinced that meaningful, contemplative, experiential and prayerful celebration of the Eucharist has the potential to render the Christian communities of Asia powerful witnesses of Jesus, witnesses who are bearers of his presence, his love, and his healing power." (photo above is the conference room of the Pius XII Catholic Center)

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