By CBCP News
The Asia continental synod assembly started in Thailand on Friday with a challenge for the Church in the region to be a ‘source of hope’, especially in the face encountered by the people.
Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo and secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) said “the Church has to be at the center of producing hope… and not of despair and sadness”.
“We have to be the source of hope because we have the Gospel of life, Gospel of hope and we are the one walking together in solidarity on the path of synodality,” Archbishop Kikuchi said.
The archbishop was speaking in his homily at the assembly’s opening Mass at the Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Training Center of the Bangkok archdiocese.
The meeting brought together representatives from the 17 bishops’ conferences, and two Synods of Bishops, representing the 29 countries of the FABC.
The delegates constitute six cardinals, five archbishops, 18 bishops, 28 priests, four sisters, and 19 lay persons.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and some members of the CBCP synodal team are representing the Philippines.
“As we understand through our journeying together on this synodal path that this Synod is not only one time passing event to celebrate but rather to realize change of attitude of entire people of God to make synodality the foundational nature of the Church, we know this journey will continue after the actual meetings,” Archbishop Kikuchi said.
“So as the pandemic situation is getting better and activities of the society have been resuming, we have a strong foundation now to continue our journey together,” he added.
Also in attendance is Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, with some of his closest collaborators.
The continental stage is a key step towards the October 2023 Synod on Synodality in the Vatican, with the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.
The synodal process will conclude with a second session in Rome, in October 2024.
Cardinal Grech characterized the synod continental stage as “a further moment of listening to which the Church is called: ‘mutual listening, in which each one has something to learn,’“ citing Pope Francis’s speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.
He then reiterated that the goal of the process is that of tracing the “Catholic path to synodality.”
“Our desire,” he explained, “is to preserve the legacy of a Tradition that always keeps synodality, collegiality, and primacy as necessary and inalienable elements of the synodal process, built on the respective functions of the People of God, the College of Bishops, and the Bishop of Rome.”