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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


As the first Ecumenical Council where ecclesiology was the central theme, Vatican 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 ← 109 | 110 → responsibility in the tasks of evangelisation.”2 In 2001, at the Second Asian Laity Meeting, they observed that “the world of politics and the workplace are the pre-eminent places where the laity are called to transform society.”3 For them, “Basic Ecclesial Communities/Small Christian Communities offer the laity a way to link faith and life,”4 help them grow in awareness of local situations, and through faith formation “develop a sense of mission and become a moving force to bring about conversation and change in Church and Society.”5 This focus on basic ecclesial communities/small Christian communities together with...

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