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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 4. Features of the Fabc’s Theology of the Laity


79 Chapter 4 Features of the Fabc’s Theology of the Laity Lay people have always played a vital role in the life and activity of the Church, but never become so much a subject of theological reflection as it is today� In Asia, where Christians are only a tiny minority, their vocation and mission have been one of the primary concerns in the mind of the Asian Bishops who have devoted an entire plenary assembly to the subject and regularly reflected on its themes in the overall context of evangelisation�1 Indeed, for them, the age of lay people has dawned upon the Churches in Asia�2 In this chapter we will examine the distinctive concept and role of lay people in the documents of the Asian bishops, and provide a detailed analysis of the elements and developments of their theology of the laity from 1970 to 2012�3 We will emphasise the centrality of the concept of “priesthood of life,”4 and argue that there is both fundamental continuity and gradual development in the FABC’s theology of the laity� Specifi- cally, in the first section, we examine the identity of lay people, their vocation, mission, ministries, and spirituality� We also summarise the FABC’s theology of the laity in an ecosystem to highlight its key tenets and theological approach in the context of the challenges of Asia� In the second section, we discuss the de- velopment of the FABC’s theology of the laity over a forty-two year period from 1...

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