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Pope Francis meeting Thai and FABC member bishops in Bangkok, Thailand Nov. 22, 2019.  Pope Francis meeting Thai and FABC member bishops in Bangkok, Thailand Nov. 22, 2019.   (Vatican Media)

Asian bishops postpone major gathering due to pandemic

Members of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) have been informed that their general conference in November has been postponed.

By Robin Gomes

The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has informed its member conferences that because of the “fluid situation”, the general conference, scheduled from November 3 to 20 at Baan Phu Waan, Thailand, has been put off.  No future date has been set as yet.  

FABC’S Central Committee and Offices Meeting that had been scheduled for June has also been postponed, said a letter addressed to the members.

The communique was signed by FABC president, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, and Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, the convenor of the general meeting this year.

Greater sense of bonding and faith in crisis

Despite the fact that most of the countries of the member conferences are under lockdown, the April 2 letter noted that they feel “a greater sense of bonding during this dark moment in the history of the modern world”.

The FABC leaders noted that “it is in moments like these that we experience a greater dependence of God and our faith is strengthened”.

They expressed hope that all will come out of this crisis “with a deeper sense of religiosity”.  

Despite the constraints brought about by the health emergency across the Asian region, some FABC planning and regional meetings for the general assembly were already held.

Optimism amid volatility

Cardinals Bo and Gracias noted that despite the fact that members have not been able to travel recently, they been “in contact through video conferencing” and “much reflection and discussions have taken place”.   However, the “situation is volatile, and we do not know what the morrow will bring,” they wrote.

They expressed optimism that would be able to plan future activities when things return to normalcy. 

FABC's 50th anniversary

The FABC is a federation of 19 bishops’ conferences and 8 associate members from South, Southeast, East and Central Asia that aims to foster solidarity and co-responsibility among its members for the welfare and good of the Church and society in the continent.  

The federation is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

It was founded in November 1970, when 180 Catholic bishops of Asia gathered together in the Philippine capital, Manila, during the visit of Saint Pope Paul VI to the continent.  On that occasion, the Holy Father addressed the bishops on November 28, 1970. 

During his visit to Thailand in November 2019, Pope Francis also met the FABC bishops in Bangkok.  He noted that the 50th anniversary “is a fitting occasion” to revisit “shrines where the missionary roots that left their mark on these lands are preserved".  He also encouraged them “to welcome with parrhesia a future that you yourselves must help develop and create".  In this way, he said, “both the Church and society in Asia will benefit from a renewed and shared evangelical outreach.” (Source: CBCPNEWS)

04 May 2020, 17:53