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
Chapter 6. Models of the Asian Church
137 Chapter 6 Models of the Asian Church Like Vatican II, which was largely a Council of the universal church, for the church, and about the church, the statements of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) are in the main documents of a local church for and about the Church in Asia� Indeed, since their first meeting in 1970, the Catholic bish- ops of Asia have issued numerous statements addressing various aspects of the Asian Church� In 1982 they devoted the entire Third Plenary Assembly to reflect on the theme of “The Church – A Community of Faith in Asia�”1 However, con- sistent with their predominantly missionary and pastoral orientation, they did not develop a systematic ecclesiology� Their ecclesiological interpretations were generally crafted to address the specific challenges facing the churches in Asia� In the first section of this chapter, which begins with an overview of the statement of the Third Plenary Assembly, we will trace the development of the FABC’s ec- clesiology highlighting its basic continuity and gradual progression� We will then proceed with an investigation into the theological basis and features of this theol- ogy of the church, and conclude with a preliminary assessment of its strengths and limitations� Development of the FABC’s Ecclesiology The statement of the Third Plenary Assembly comprises the main text, which consists of five parts, the “Resolutions of the Assembly,” and the “Syllabus of Concerns�” It focuses on the church “as a community realizing its communion and mission in its own being...
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