Thursday, August 19, 2010

Calling the Catholic Laity to see beyond their own Country

The Pontifical Council for the Laity with the cooperation of the Korean Bishops will convene The Congress of Catholic Laity in Asia from August 31 to September 5, with the theme:."Proclaming Jesus Christ in Asia today."  Attending the Congress here in Seoul will be 180 members and associate members of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences and about 200 Korean laity.

There will be panel discussions on the following topics: "Imitation and Christian  instruction of the laity; participation of the laity in the life of the parish and small communitites; the witness given by lay people in various sectors of society (work, education, media, politics; the engagement of the laity in the inculturation  of the Gospel and in the dialogue between faith and culture; experiences of the laity in ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue; witnesses of Christian charity and service to the poor; questions regarding religious freedom in the lives of Christians; the laity as builder of peace and justice."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A Catholic Times' editorial pointed out the important question the Congress must face and answer: Are we, as Asians, prepared to be troubled enough with our situation to deal with it effectively. Not only should we be concious of the mission we have been given from the time of the apostles but we should be prepared to help solve the problems we are faced with.

Over 60 percent of the world's population lives in Asia; the  number of Catholics about 3 percent (1/6th of the African total). Half the population lives in poverty and must deal with all kinds of  social problems: paternalism, discrimination between the sexes, low birthrates, aging of the population, imigration, and the problems that come by living in a foreign culture.

The editorial goes on to tell us there are some bright spots on the Asian landscape. While in the West the numbers of Christians are decreasing and faith life is weakening, the opposite is happening in Asia. Here, the numbers of Christians and vocations are increasing. Although there are still many conflicts, the sensitivity we have for the spiritual makes Asia a field of great potential.

We need to take advantage of this potential by extending our vision beyond our own country and drawing up concrete proposals.  Laity should be prepared to reconsider their calling  and see themselves as major contributors to Asia's future.


  1. I think that before truly effective witness can be given by the laity, the Pope and Curia need to resolve a major issue in the church. What exactly is the ideal relationship between the Church and the State? The reason is that the laity need to know what they have to work towards in the social sphere.
    Traditionally the goal was to work towards the morals of the Church to be enshrined in nations' constitutions and that the Church would be given privileges to pursue the salvation of souls. Indeed Pope Leo XII said "...the whole purpose of civil laws is to make it easier for people to live by the eternal law."
    No one can doubt the important role the coercive power of the state plays towards pushing people towards either virtue or vice.
    Of course I am not holding my breath that this is on anyone's radar in the Vatican because it is extremely politically incorrect and goes against views of democracy and interpretations of ecumenism, but I mention it because if this isn't resolved, the laity will spin their wheels and get nowhere.
    If we don't know what we want to achieve we won't achieve anything.

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