Pope Francis recently called the catholic Church in Asia a 'Church of the poor and young' and urged Asian bishops to determine the Holy Spirit's message to them.
Francis made the statement on Wednesday in his video message to Catholic bishops attending the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC) 50th-anniversary event in Thailand. Over 150 Catholic bishops are participating in the gathering, which started on Oct. 12 and will end on Oct. 30.
The Catholic World Report said Filipino archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is scheduled to lead the conference's closing Mass on the 30th. Tagle is among the prime movers of the Vatican's Dicastery for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Pope's Message to the Asian Church
In his recorded address to the bishops, the pope explained the path that the Church in Asia should be treading.
"This meant that the Church in Asia was called to be more authentically the Church of the poor, the Church of the young, and a Church in dialogue with Asian brothers and sisters of other confessions," the Catholic World Report quoted him saying.
The pontiff added that the majority of countries in the region are now FABC members, with China being a notable exception. The Church's growth in Asia, Francis said, meant that the Catholic Church is in the process of 'formation and strengthening.'
The pope recounted the late Pope Paul VI's Manila visit in 1970, during which the FABC was established. The website said that the late pope met with some 180 Catholic bishops during his visit.
Pope Francis said in his message that the Asian Catholic bishops who attended the 1970 gathering mentioned their observations of certain "awakenings."
Francis explained that the bishops who met Pope Paul VI in Manila "noted that the masses were awakening from fatalism to a life worthy of man... culturally diverse societies were awakening to become a true community of peoples."
Fitting with Synod on Synodality
The pope added that the conference's theme, "FABC 50: Journeying together as peoples of Asia '...and they went a different way," fits with the message of the Synod on Synodality.
"I pray that the deliberations of the general conference will enable your local Churches to develop, within the polyhedric unity of the People of God, creatively 'different ways' to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, to form new generations of missionary disciples, and to labor for the extension of Christ's kingdom of universal holiness, justice, and peace," Catholic World Report quoted Francis saying.
The news outlet said the pontiff also gave his blessing to the Asian Catholic bishops attending the event.
The 'Asian Millennium'
In his message, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Burma, FABC President, said Asia now has "the baton of interpreting Christ to the modern man and woman." He added that it is indicative of the "Asian millennium."
The Burmese cardinal is the country's first cardinal and is Yangon's archbishop.
He is among the seven prelates in Asia that the Church considers as testaments to its growing prominence in the region.