Cardinal Rosales Delivers Pope's Message to FABC Plenary Assembly

FABC -- Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, papal legate to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), conveyed the wish of Pope Benedict XVI for Asian bishops to renew their zeal in showing love for Christ, the Gospel and Church, and to boost their efforts to witness to the faith through dialogue.

Cardinal Rosales shared the pope's message with bishops of Asia in an address at the close of a Mass on Dec. 11 which officially opened the assembly in Xuan Loc Pastoral Centre, Dong Nai Province, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

Cardinal Rosales explained, "The Holy Father expressed in his letter to this legate his desire for the brothers in the episcopacy to generously continue in the commitment to 'the Bishops' duty to manifest, by their renewed strength and zeal, the love of Christ, the Church and the Gospel. Burning with the virtue of faith, they should foster human culture and diligently pursue dialogue among the peoples.'"

The cardinal said he would communicate to the pope his observations of "dedicated efforts of the Asian bishops, with the assistance of the FABC, in keeping alive the dialogues with peoples, religions and long subsisting cultures in the large Asian continent in relation to the evangelization in Jesus, initiated years ago."

Seventy-one cardinals, archbishops and bishops from 22 countries were among 100 delegates at the Mass. They included prelates from long-time member conferences who are attending an FABC plenary assembly for the first time, as well as bishops from new FABC member conferences. One bishop is from the bishops' conference in Timor Leste, which was launched just this year and is the FABC's newest member. Previously, the youngest member had been the Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan, which officially joined the FABC in 2008.

Cardinal Rosales, 80-year-old archbishop emeritus of Manila, was active in the FABC’s early years particularly regarding the role of Asian bishops in organizing the International Congress on Mission held in 1979 in Manila.

The cardinal cited the themes of the nine previous FABC plenary assemblies among highlights of the federation's 40 years of collaboration after the Holy See approved its statutes on Nov. 16, 1972. The discussions and activities of the current assembly are focused on the theme “FABC at Forty Years: Responding to the Challenges of Asia.”

Cardinal Rosales also conveyed to the assembly’s participants "Pope Benedict XVI's wish of expressing his charity to all the Bishops of Asia, and through you, beloved bishops, the same love is extended to priests and the beloved faithful of Asia."

The pope, he said, is "happy to be informed of your efforts and the initiatives to disseminate the Gospel," and "assures all that he accompanies you in spirit, and encourages all with his prayers."

Local Catholics joined the opening Eucharist and other welcome ceremonies in which government officials and representatives of other faiths in the country also took part.

Source: Website FABC

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