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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 5. Evaluation of the Fabc’s Theology of the Laity


109 Chapter 5 Evaluation of the Fabc’s Theology of the Laity As the first Ecumenical Council where ecclesiology was the central theme, Vati- can II has changed the Church,1 and provided seminal insights into the various aspects of Church life and spirituality� One of its most significant contributions was the development of a new understanding of the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world� The Council left an important body of texts about the laity (Chapters 2 and 4 of Lumen Gentium, Apostolicam Actuositatem, Gaudium et Spes, and Ad Gentes), which became the foundation for the FABC’s reflection on the identity and role of lay people in the Church in Asia� In 1974, nine years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, at their first plenary meeting, held to discus the theme “Evangelization in Modern Day Asia,” the Asian bishops declared that more and more lay people “must assume 1 For a series of discussions on this topic see John Wilkins, “How Vatican II Changed the Church: 1: Earthquake in Rome,” The Tablet (12 October 2002) 10-1; “How Vati- can II Changed the Church: 2: Unfinished Business,” The Tablet (19 October 2002) 10-2; Alain Woodrow, “How Vatican II Changed the Church: 3: Diary of an Insider,” The Tablet (26 October 2002) 11-3; Alberto Melloni, “How Vatican II Changed the Church: 4: A Speech That Lit the Flame,” The Tablet (2 November 2002) 7–8; Robert Blair Kaiser, “How Vatican II Changed the...

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