The Challenge of the New Evangelisation

Archbishop John Dew blogs from the gathering of the Federation of Asian Bishops in Vietnam. He is attending as President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania.

Greetings from Vietnam with another little update from the FABC Assembly.

Yesterday and today we were put into small groups to reflect on different aspects of the paper "FABC After Forty Years, Responding to the Challenges of Asia: New Evangelization".

I was put into one of the South East Asia groups which was given the topics to reflect on of Population and Ecology, these were just two of what had been identified as Megatrends in Asia today. They have been fascinating discussions to be part of, many of the same themes have arisen as arose at the Synod in Rome. For example, if the Church wants to have an influence in society it must be humble and it must be contemplative. They are very aware that the leadership must come from the bishops, and they in turn must transmit it to their priests, and the priests take up active leadership for their people. There has been a lot of talk about people being very spiritual and involved in lots of spiritual practices, but that does not necessarily lead to being active in society and taking the Gospel with them wherever they go.

There has also been concern expressed about priests doing all the spiritual activities, but not going out of their way to visit or to be proactive - this surprised me but some of the bishops do have concerns about that.

Each of the Bishops Confeferences gave a report about their own activities, some of them of course are huge. However one Polish priest who is the Superior of Missio Sui Iuris (not a diocese as such) in Turkmenistan and which has only 150 Catholics gave his report, he said the did not have much to say about 150 Catholics so instead he would simply pray - which he did, it was an amazing prayer and everyone was very moved by the sincerity of his prayer and the situation he is faced with.

One of the other Megatrends spoken about has been 'Religious Freedom' the churches in some parts of Asia certainly have some difficulties, e.g. Pakistan and Vietnam, it makes me realise how blessed we are to live in New Zealand and to have the freedom we do have.

With every blessing.