For three days, delegates from the Catholic Churches from 29 countries meet to elaborate a synthesis of the reflections that were generated in Asia from the listening path promoted by Pope Francis in view of the Synod that will take place in Rome in October. Monsignor Kikuchi, Archbishop of Tokyo: “The Church is called to generate hope”. Christina Kheng, laywoman from Singapore: “The goal of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to build relationships as God’s people in Asia.”
Bangkok () – With a celebration presided over by the Archbishop of Tokyo, Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, who is also secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), it was inaugurated today at the Baan Phu Waan Center of the Archdiocese of Bangkok the Continental Assembly on Synodality, the meeting witnessing the meeting of the local Churches of Asia on the way to the Synod promoted by Pope Francis. Representatives of 17 Episcopal Conferences and 2 Synods of Eastern Rite Churches participate in the Assembly, representing the 29 member countries of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
Until Sunday the 26th, a total of 6 cardinals, 5 archbishops, 18 bishops, 28 priests, 4 nuns and 19 lay people will reflect together in Bangkok on the resonances generated in Asian countries by the document “Widen the space of your tent”, which the General Secretariat of the Synod published last October, based on the contributions of the Churches of the whole world that have already been received in Rome. The result of the work will be a document that, together with other similar ones from other continents, will shape the Instrumentum Laboris for the first phase of the celebration of the Synod, scheduled for October in the Vatican.
“The Church is called to generate hope; it must not be a source of despair and sadness,” Archbishop Kikuchi said in his homily. He added that “walking together on the path of synodality” means for the Church in Asia “walking in solidarity” with all the peoples of Asia, especially the marginalized, the mistreated and the poor in the peripheries.
In the first session of the works, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, recalled that “we are all people who have something to learn on the path of synodality.” The cardinal invited everyone to be more attentive to the voices within the Church, both those that agitate and those that “do not speak.” He further explained that an adequate exercise of synodality never confronts the people of God with the pastors, but rather keeps them in constant relationship, allowing both to fulfill their roles and responsibilities.
For her part, Christina Kheng, laywoman from Singapore and member of the Synod Methodology Commission, illustrating the path traveled so far, stressed that “the objective of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to meet, dialogue, establish relationships, grow as a community of discernment and experience walking together in the Spirit as God’s people in Asia”.
Fr. Clarence Devadass, a priest of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, then presented the draft that will be the focus of these days’ debate, describing it as an open working document, written to help delegates discern, discuss and decide. The text revolves around five thematic areas: Asian resonances, Asian tensions, Asian realities and divergences, gaps detected in Asian responses, and priorities of Asian responses. Fr. Devadass expressed his hope that the joint discernment – which began this afternoon with group work – will result in a text that truly represents “the dreams, hopes, aspirations and pains that resonate in the Asian continent”.