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Lay People in the Asian Church

A Critical Study of the Theology of the Laity in the Documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences with Special Reference to John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation «Ecclesia in Asia» and the Pastoral Letters of the Vietnamese Episcopal Conf

Peter Nguyen Van Hai

This book investigates the role of the laity in the Asian Church. Lay people have three responsibilities: proclaiming the Gospel, be a witness of life, and the triple dialogue with the cultures, the religions, and the poor. Focusing on the triple dialogue, the bishops of Asia have offered fresh ideas to address three global trends in society: the revolution in communications technologies which blurs the cultures; the conflicts between followers of different religions; and the advance of globalisation which leaves in its aftermath the poverty of the masses.

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Chapter 1. Rediscovering the Importance of Lay People in the Asian Church

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1 Chapter 1 Rediscovering the Importance of Lay People in the Asian Church As one of the main preoccupations of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) the vocation and mission of the laity was the subject of an entire conciliar Decree and several sections of two Constitutions on the Church�1 In the first Constitution, Lumen Gentium,2 the Council emphasised the basic equality of all the baptised,3 and the common priesthood of all the faithful in the Church as the people of God�4 1 See Vatican Council II, “Apostolicam Actuositatem: Degree on the Apostolate of the Laity,” in Vatican Council II: Vol. 1: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, edited by Austin Flannery, new revised edition (Northport, N�Y�: Costello Publishing Co�, 1996) 766–98; “Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” ibid� 350–426; “Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” ibid�, 903–1001� Henceforth, in footnotes the full titles of these conciliar documents will be abbreviated to “Lumen Gentium,” “Apostolicam Actuositatem,” and “Gaudium et Spes,” followed by numbers� The main conciliar teachings on the laity appear in “Lumen Gentium,” especially chapter 2 on the people of God and chapter 4 on the laity, “Apos- tolicam Actuositatem,” and Gaudium et Spes,” in particular section 43� 2 Contending that one of the lasting contributions of the Council was its “Christological definition of the concept of the Church,” Joseph Ratzinger argues that “to understand Vatican II correctly one must always and repeatedly begin...

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