Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok on Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)
The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has postponed its general conference slated for November due to uncertainty over the Covid-19 situation.
The conference was due to be held in Baan Phu Waan, Thailand, from Nov. 3-20. No new date has yet been decided.
The federation’s central committee and offices meetings scheduled for June have also been postponed.
“Despite the fact that most of the countries of the member conferences are under lockdown, they feel a great sense of bonding during this dark moment in the history of the modern world,” FABC leaders said in a letter.
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, president of the FABC, and Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, the convenor of the general conference this year, signed the letter.
“It is in moments like these that we experience a greater dependence of God and our faith is strengthened. All of us will rise out of this crisis with a deeper sense of religiosity,” the prelates said.
Cardinals Bo and Gracias said they held FABC planning and regional meetings via video conferencing due to the constraints on travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At the moment the situation is volatile, and we do not know what the morrow will bring,” they said.
But the leaders expressed hope that “they may be able to project when things could limp back to normal and then be able to take a definite decision.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the FABC, which was established in 1970 with the approval of the Holy See as a federation of 19 bishops’ conferences and eight associate members from South, Southeast, East and Central Asia.
It aims to foster solidarity and co-responsibility among members for the welfare of the Church and the peoples of Asia.
During Pope Francis’ meeting with Asian bishops on his visit to Thailand last November, the pontiff said marking the 50th anniversary of the FABC in 2020 would be “a fitting occasion to revisit those shrines where the missionary roots that left their mark on these lands are preserved.”
The pope said the bishops should be ready to welcome “a future that you yourselves must help develop and create."
“In this way, both the Church and society in Asia will benefit from a renewed and shared evangelical outreach,” he told the gathering.
Cardinal Bo, who became FABC president on Jan. 1, 2019, has prioritized peace, justice, reconciliation and indigenous rights in planning for the Asian Church.
The 72-year-old cardinal said there was a need for the Church in Asia “to pursue peace through dialogue on tackling poverty, protecting cultures and promoting inter-religious harmony.”
In early April, Cardinl Bo strongly condemned the Chinese Communist Party’s negligence and repression as poor countries were suffering from the coronavirus.
“The Chinese regime led by the all-powerful Xi Jinping and the CCP — not its people — owes us all an apology and compensation for the destruction it has caused,” he said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.