The Holy See
back up






His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, 38 (10 November 1994), voiced his intention to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. Shortly after this announcement, the Holy Father appointed a Pre-Synodal Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Asia, composed for the most part by bishops from Asia. The General Secretariat immediately began the preparation process for this special synodal assembly by sending a letter of consultation to all interested parties on the Asian continent, that is, the Episcopal Conferences and the Oriental Churches, as well as to the Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General, in an effort to arrive at a topic of contemporary importance, universal interest and particular urgency for treatment at this special synodal assembly. The results of this consultation were then analyzed and discussed by the Pre-Synodal Council for the Special Assembly for Asia and a series of recommendations formulated for submission to the Holy Father.

Taking into consideration the Council's proposals, the Holy Father subsequently made the following choice of topic for this Special Assembly: Jesus Christ the Saviour and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia: "...That They May Have Life, and Have It Abundantly" (Jn 10:10). The topic formulation intends to respond to the unique set of circumstances within the Church in Asia as well as to address the actual state of affairs affecting all the peoples and cultures on the Asian continent. In highlighting the centrality of the Person of Christ, His Mission as Mediator and One and Only Saviour in God's Eternal Plan of Salvation, the Church in Asia and all Her members will be better prepared to fulfill Christ's Evangelizing Mission of love and service in Asia, "that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

To present this synodal topic in a general way, the General Secretariat, in cooperation with the members of the same Pre-Synodal Council and theologians from the Asian continent, has drafted the Lineamenta, the first in a series of documents related to the Special Assembly for Asia. As its name suggests, the present document is offered as a broad "outline" on the topic. The sole purpose in providing this text is to foster a common reflection and prayer on the topic as well as to generate suggestions and observations. For this reason, a series of Questions appears at the end of the document.

It is the hope that this Lineamenta will result in a rich response in every part of the Church in Asia so that the Episcopal Conferences and the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Oriental Churches can have the necessary information to draft their official responses. Consequently, the Lineamenta itself is not part of the agenda of the Special Assembly. A "working document" or Instrumentum laboris will be drawn up at a later time on the basis of the official responses coming from the Asian continent and those from the Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General. It will be the task of these groups to use the many contributions which they will receive in drafting their official responses which they in turn will submit to the General Secretariat. A rich response will assure that the Synod Fathers, gathered in Special Assembly, will have the material needed for a more in-depth treatment of a topic of great importance for the Church in Asia.

Therefore, the whole Church in Asia is invited to participate: diocesan and religious priests, women and men religious, laymen and women, seminaries and faculties of theology, pastoral councils, Catholic movements and groups, parish communities and all Church organizations. The more numerous the responses, the more complete and substantial will be the information for those who are responsible to draw up their official responses. This will likewise ensure the complete and substantial character of the text of the Instrumentum laboris, the document which will be the center of attention and discussion at the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia.

In preparing a response to the Lineamenta, the following points should be borne in mind. The number and variety of the questions listed in the final section of the document have been deliberately chosen to serve as a guide in structuring the reflections on the topic of the Special Assembly for Asia. These questions, then, and not the Lineamenta text, should be the basis of all responses. In this regard, all observations should make explicit reference to the question addressed. At the same time, each and every question need not be answered. Depending on individual circumstances, respondents are free to make a choice of those questions which seem relevant.

On the Asian continent, responses from Church communities and groups within an arch/diocese are sent to the local bishop who will make use of such information in drafting his response. The bishop's response is then forwarded to the episcopal body of which he is a member. The official submissions from these episcopal bodies, and those from the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General should arrive at the General Secretariat no later than 1 August 1997. This target date should be kept in mind by all those who wish to contribute in some manner in this reflection process.

With the publication of the Lineamenta a crucial stage in the preparation of the Special Assembly begins, a stage which relies upon the cooperation and prayers of every member of the Church. The mystery of communion teaches that the Church extends beyond the confines of a given nation and continent--even beyond the world as we know it--through time into eternity. As the Church in Asia prepares for this special celebration of the communion of bishops, She does so in mystical union with the whole Church. In this spirit She is supported in this period of preparation by the prayers and good works of all the Church's members, particularly by those of the heavenly community of Asian Saints and Martyrs, and as in every endeavour, looks to the Virgin Mary for her unfailing assistance.

Jan P. Cardinal Schotte, C.I.C.M.
General Secretary


1. The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia is a moment of special grace for the Church on the Asian continent. Etymologically, the word "synod" means "walking together." The Particular Churches in Asia want to walk together. In an Asian context this means advancing together as a Church towards the Third Millennium and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ in word and action, not only to all brothers and sisters within the Church in Asia but to all peoples of the continent.

In the first place, the Church in Asia wants to walk together with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ as did the disciples of Emmaus, and to ask Him to open every heart to the Scriptures so that each person may see the ever-new meaning and application of God's Word to the various contemporary situations in Asia. She also prays that Asia come to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread as the source of life and all its fullness, offered to all peoples everywhere.

In preparing for the synod, the Church in Asia seeks to "walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:16), Who throughout history has illumined Asia's sages and saints in their search for the fullness of truth and life and enabled the people of Asia to recognize His presence and to profit by the rays of truth present in their philosophies and religions.

In "walking together," the Church wishes to continue to advance in the Church's living tradition, that is, in the Church of the Apostles and their teachings, the Church of the Fathers and their precious theological and spiritual patrimony, the Church of the great missionaries of Europe and Asia, the Church of the medieval saints and theologians and the Church of reform and renewal brought about by the Council of Trent, Vatican Council I and Vatican Council II.

In Her synodal journey the Church in Asia is not alone. She is accompanied by: the Holy Father, the Pastor of the Universal Church; Her Magisterium; and all the members of the Church outside the Asian continent, who through mystical communion are united in solidarity and prayer to their Asian brothers and sisters.

In addition to its universal character, the synodal pilgrimage has a particularly Asian dimension. The Church in Asia, in faithfulness to Her Lord, seeks to walk with all the peoples of Asia--brothers and sisters--united through common lives and cultures, whose destiny is bound up together, whose religious and spiritual richness the Church wants to make Her own and with whom She wants to share the inexhaustible salvific riches of Jesus Christ. The Church in Asia wants to accompany the cultures and social customs of Asia's peoples and purify these from all that is contrary to the Gospel of Christ, so that She may not appear to be a stranger on the continent in which She lives, and where, in union with Her Lord, She makes Her own "the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people."(1)




Great Religions and Cultures

2. Geographically speaking, it is difficult to determine the list of countries which constitute the continent of Asia. However, as it concerns the synod, the continent of Asia can be considered as the vast area lying between the Middle East and the Far East. This includes the Middle East, the Gulf countries, South Asian countries, the Central Asian countries, the South East Asian countries, Asian Siberia and the countries of the Far East.

This extensive area has been the mother to many races and peoples and the pantheon of the world's great religions which have resulted from the Asian peoples' long search for the meaning and destiny of humanity and the universe. There is no doubt that some of the most profound and elaborate religious, philosophical, social and linguistic systems and organizations known to history have come about as a result of Asian sages, saints and religious visionaries from time immemorial. These have guided the destinies of millions of peoples through centuries and millennia.

Judaism, though not widely represented in Asia, is indeed a world religion, having its teachings on God, the Creator and Merciful One, on the human person who possesses freedom and dignity yet in need of redemption from sin, and on eschatology. Hinduism is relentless in its search for the ultimate reality, the Absolute, and the liberation of the person from evil in all its forms through the way of knowledge, selfless action and devotion. It places great stress on silence, contemplation, detachment and non-violence. Buddhism seeks to show the individual a way out of the existential predicament of suffering through the Eight Noble Ways ultimately leading to total liberation. It insists on compassion as a primary virtue. Buddhism has been modified in several countries through the influence of the high ethical and mystical ideals of Confucianism and Taoism. These put a heavy emphasize on harmonious relationships in society. Islam is marked by its doctrine of the One God, the Creator, who is all-merciful and forgiving. He calls for total submission to His commandments through obedience, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca in one's lifetime. Traditional Religion views the whole of the cosmos, i.e., the visible world of nature and human beings, and the invisible world of spirits as "inter-penetrating". Traditional Religion emphasizes communion and harmony with God, the spirits, nature and immediate members of family, clan and tribe.

The People of Asia

3. The greatest wealth of Asia is its peoples with their rich and millennia-old cultures, generally known for their emphasis on industriousness and frugal habits as well as their perseverance and resiliency.

The religious and cultural values, e.g., love for philosophical inquiry, contemplation, simplicity, detachment, silence, non-violence, etc., are considered by the Asian peoples as powerful assets. A profound sense of religion, love for the family, respect for life, compassion for all beings, love for and closeness to nature, respect for parents, elders and ancestors and a sense of community are other sources of strength for the peoples of Asia.

Plurality of religions has been a constant fact of history in Asia. Despite occasional tensions and even wars, Asia has demonstrated a great degree of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. At all times there has been a dialogue of life among religions, a sense of accommodation and a desire for mutual enrichment.

Despite the process of modernization and secularization, Asian religions are showing vitality and a capacity for renewal, as evidenced by movements towards reform. These groups are showing a greater social concern now than in the past. There are also signs of a deep thirst for spiritual values demonstrated by people in all walks of life, especially by the youth. This phenomenon is also accompanied by the rise of new religious movements.

A Growing Asian Consciousness

4. There is a growing sense among the Asian people of "being Asian", resulting from a shared consciousness of Asia's rich and varied cultures, common elements in a religious and cultural heritage, a shared experience of colonialism, commonly held religious values, the Asian heritage of wisdom contained in the books of the great religious founders, wise men and sages, e.g. Confucius, and mutual economic interests.

Though ancient, Asia is, at the same time, a very young continent. Over 60% of its population is made up of young persons. They constitute the hope and future of Asia. A new generation of skilled workers, scientists, and technicians is growing daily and augurs well for Asia's development.

At various levels Asian peoples have begun to work together and cooperate towards a better Asia. At the government level continental groups, like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Regional Conference (SARC) and other economic and cultural associations of nations, are already contributing to the progress of the peoples of Asia. At non-government levels many private initiatives are being taken to improve the lot of the poor.

Even though the signs of the times are somewhat different from country to country in Asia, common patterns are discernible everywhere. All over Asia there is a growing awareness of the peoples' power to change existing unjust structures of society. Work is being done for greater social justice, for more participation in government and industry, for equal opportunities in education and work as well as for a just share in the resources of the nation. People are becoming increasingly conscious of their human dignity, human rights, legal rights, etc.. Long dormant ethnic, social, cultural and minority peoples are empowering themselves to become agents of change in their societies. The Spirit of God is indeed at work in the transformation of society in general, and in particular, in the people's yearning for the fullness of life.

More difficult to describe are other aspects related to the Asian continent, i.e., socio-economic development, the political situation and their resulting impact.


Socio-Economic Development

5. In the area of development, situations on the Asian continent are so diverse that they defy classification under a single category. Some countries in Asia are highly developed, while others are still developing through practical economic policies. In some cases, the cost of such development has been at the expense of traditional social and religious values. However, some Asian countries have been able to adapt these principles to modern economics and political life without adverse effects. Still others have been less fortunate in the area of development and remain among some of the poorest countries of the world. In the process of development, materialism and secularism are also gaining ground, especially in urban areas. These ideologies which undermine traditional social and religious values threaten Asia's great cultures with incalculable damage.

Not to be underestimated in the rapid changes taking place on the Asian continent is the impact of the mass media. Pope Paul VI, seeing its far- reaching effects, described it as a most powerful means of social transformation.(2) Where the mass media has made many positive contributions to development in many countries in Asia, the beneficial effects can sometimes be outweighed by the fact that these means are liable to be manipulated by those with vested interests. In some cases, the media is controlled by powerful political, economic and ideological forces. Since the mass media can sometimes be a means of cultural invasion, undermining the traditional religious and family values of Asia, education and formation as to their use is very important.(3)

Entwined with the positive elements affecting change on the Asian continent are certain socio-economic concerns. Despite several decades of independence, economic plans and a fair share of natural and human resources, many Asian governments have failed to create even minimal standards of human living conditions for their peoples. Reflecting on this situation, Pope John Paul II remarked: "I am thinking of the exploitation of workers, the exclusion of vast numbers of people from the benefits of an advanced society, the lack of social assistance, illiteracy, the use of drugs and other 'artificial paradises', the spread of gambling and violence, the corruption to be found in great cities, and the inhuman living conditions which millions of people are forced to endure in the teeming outskirts of urban centres."(4)

Several Asian countries are caught up in the vicious circle of malnutrition, under-nourishment, uncontrolled population explosion and unplanned urbanization with all their accompanying social and moral evils as well as political problems. In many Asian countries more than fifty percent of the population lives under the poverty line. In Asia there is a great number of the physically handicapped, the blind, the deaf and those affected by communicable diseases.

Even though respect for women, closely-knit family ties, filial piety, care of the aged and love for children are among the deeply-rooted cultural values of Asia, some women are often treated as second class human beings and suffer discrimination in many ways. The organized prostitution of women, and even of children, is on the rise in some parts of Asia. Such a tragic situation seems to be on the increase in some countries, almost with the approval of society in general and the sanction of religious and political powers.

At the same time, there are millions of Dalits ("marginalized people") who for centuries and millennia have been kept economically, culturally and politically at the periphery of society. Again, indigenous or tribal peoples all over Asia have from time immemorial lived in social, cultural and political isolation from the majority population. However, at the national, regional and international levels these people are gaining increasing recognition.(5)

The Political Situation

6. The political situation on the Asian continent is as varied as its social and economic dimensions. Many ideological hues make up the political spectrum of Asia. There are theocratic forms of government with an official state religion and legal systems which leave little space for religious freedom. Some countries, though not openly declared theocratic, reduce minorities in everyday life to the level of second class citizens with little safeguard for their fundamental human rights. In other countries in Asia, religious freedom is denied. At times, believers in this situation are looked upon as traitors of their country; they undergo persecution and are driven underground. Genocide, large scale dislocation of peoples, imposition of alien culture and rule, and elimination or suppression of all dissident and critical voices have been exercised by some governments. In some cases, this sad state continues. The above political situation is a major hindrance to the integral human development of the person as Pope John Paul II affirms: "It hinders integral human development by demanding a break with traditions, often violently imposed, and subject large numbers of peoples to great suffering, including hunger, through unrealistic economic plans and misguided priorities, such as costly armaments."(6)

At the same time, many countries in Asia are characterized by endemic corruption at all levels of government and society. As a result, people seem to be helpless even to rise up against corrupt politicians, judiciary officials, administrators and bureaucrats. The situation is further complicated by divisions among people. In many cases, multinational and national organizations, and agencies and industrial concerns tend to join hands to create sectional and one-sided progress whose benefits do not reach the poor. Thus the poor remain in their poverty or become even poorer.

The above factors inevitably lead to situations of conflict as witnessed in Asia on the regional, national and international levels. These conflicts have taken ethnic, religious, political and economic forms. All these conflicts hinder the integral development and progress of peoples. The most affected by them are the poor. In Asia such struggles have resulted in millions of migrant peoples, workers, refugees and those seeking asylum. These persons in search for survival and opportunities in life are often faced with hostility, discrimination and an uncertain future. Their family ties are often broken, thus creating further moral and social problems.

Furthermore, unplanned and uncontrolled development in many countries in Asia is leading to ecological disaster. Greedy and wasteful exploitation of natural resources, by the powerful in collusion with governments, bureaucrats, industrial-military complexes are depleting the precious natural resources on which the present and the future generations depend.

Many Asian countries are saddled with the heavy burden of an international debt which siphons off their national income into debt servicing. Between poor economic management, corruption and debt servicing little is left for national economic growth or badly needed social services.

Globalization of the economy and the process of modernization do not always take into account the primary needs of the people. In the process the poor are again left behind on the road to a more egalitarian society. Such a situation leads also to cultural, social and demographic dislocation.


7. Every one of Asia's realities are the living situations and contexts in which the Church's salvific mission is to be carried out. It is into this very Asia--with its resources, strengths and challenges--that the disciples of Jesus Christ are sent so that all peoples of Asia may have life and have it in all its fullness, i.e., in both its horizontal and transcendent dimensions. As disciples of Jesus Christ, the members of the Church approach the Asian situation with the power which comes from the Cross of Christ. Jesus Christ has carried the burdens of all the peoples of all times. He has redeemed and sanctified them for the salvation of all. This is the source of power and inspiration for the Church. In a humble way, the Church wants to take upon Herself the burdens of Asia and carry them along with Her brothers and sisters and have them redeemed in Jesus Christ through His saving death and resurrection.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ fills the hearts of His disciples in Asia with hope and strength to renew themselves and, thereby, the Asian continent. The Church in Asia, although numerically a "small flock", wants to make the realities, potentialities and hopes of Asia Her own.(7) God sent His Son into the world so that the it may have life. Part of that "world" is Asia where He continues to be present: "The Son is always present in the history of humanity as Redeemer. Redemption pervades all human history, even before Christ, and prepares its eschatological future. It is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (cf. Jn 1:5). The power of Christ's Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear."(8)




Apostolic beginnings

8. St. Paul wrote to the Christians of Galatia: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4: 4-5). It was Asia where Jesus Christ was born in the flesh. It was Asia where He preached the Good News, suffered, died, rose again, breathed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples and sent them to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Good News and gather together communities of believers.

The history of evangelization began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The first Christian community was formed there. From Jerusalem it spread to Antioch. From then on, it spread to the West and to the East. Some of the early Councils were held in Asia. Several of the great Fathers of the Church were Asians. Most of the earliest liturgical traditions, families and patriarchates have their origins in Asia. It was in Asia where Peter, James, John and the other Apostles of Jesus preached the Gospel and founded the first Churches, such as the Churches of Jerusalem and Antioch.

According to tradition Mesopotamia and Babylonia were evangelized by the Apostles Bartholomew and Thomas. A similar tradition holds that after establishing the Church of Babylonia (Chaldea) Bartholomew took the land route to the northwest of India and preached the Gospel there. The apostle Thomas took the sea route to South India and founded the Church on the Malabar coast around the year 50 A.D.

The tradition that St. Thomas the Apostle founded the Christian community of the Malabar coast in South India is far more convincing than the tradition St. Bartholomew. Though there is no absolutely convincing historical evidence, the existence of a Christian community there by the end of the first century, argues favourably for its historicity. Furthermore, their liturgy, liturgical language, Church organization, theology and spirituality were largely influenced by the Syrian Church.

Missionary Expansion

9. Syrian Christianity was a missionary movement that spread not only into South Asia, but also across Central Asia as far as China. Between the IV century and the VII century, fighting against many geographical and political obstacles, the missionaries carried the Gospel to the vast area of Turkistan, Mongolia and China. It was indeed a "Church on fire" with missionary zeal. The "Hsianfu tablet", a stone monument discovered in 1625 in northern China with Chinese and Syriac writings, gives an account of the spread of Christianity in China by East Syrian missionaries.

Most of these early missionaries and bishops were monks; others were merchants and ordinary Christians. They made use of the Bible to educate people. They used Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist symbols to express their Christian faith and thus made the Christian message intelligible to people in their own cultures.

In the XIII century an attempt at evangelizing Asia was made by the Franciscans. The most outstanding missionary of this period was John of Montecorvino in China. He was succeeded by Giovanni de Marignoli who passed through India and established some Christian communities there. Even though the communities founded by the Franciscans eventually died out due to persecutions, the heroism of the missionaries as well as their love for Jesus Christ and for the people are worthy of admiration and a source of inspiration.


Significant Missionary Testimony

10. In the XIII century, navigators, explorers, mercenaries, merchants, traders and trading companies were driven by the spirit of exploration, a taste for adventure and profit seeking. Beginning with Marco Polo and with Vasco da Gama (1498) there started a long period of colonial expansion that brought most countries of Asia under the colonial rule of Portugal, Spain, Holland, France or England. This was also a period of great missionary undertakings. In the wake of colonial expansion and the establishment of trading centres in Asia, missionaries began to arrive in several parts of Asia. Between 1510 and 1640, Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, Augustinians, Carmelites and Theatines all established houses in Asia.

St. Francis Xavier stands out as the greatest of modern missionaries. Within a short span of 10 years he founded Churches along the western coast of India from Goa to Cape Comorin, in Sri Lanka, Malacca and finally in Japan. In each place he adopted methods unique to each situation and the conditions of the people. However, the unchangeable characteristics of his transparent holiness, his life of prayer, his constant catechesis and untiring pastoral activity stand out as reasons for his success as a missionary.

The missionary trail blazed by Francis Xavier was followed in Asia by equally brilliant, learned and saintly missionaries in the XVI to XVIII centuries. Thus, in China and Japan Alexander Valignano, Matteo Ricci, Ferdinand Verbiest, Adam Schall, Bento de Gomes and Vincent Lebbe tried to dialogue with the cultures and religions of these countries and inculturate the Gospel, liturgy and theological language in a manner intelligible to the people. Similar efforts were made in India by equally great missionaries, such as Robert de Nobili, Constant Beschi and John de Britto, who sought to apply Christianity to the caste system prevalent in India. Something similar was done by Alexander Rhodes in Vietnam.

Other major efforts at evangelization were those of Rudolf Aquaviva and his companions who sought to focus their work on the Moghul court of Akbar. Though they failed, their significance for the future of mission cannot be denied. The efforts of Joseph Vaz, an Indian Oratorian priest, known as the Apostle of Sri Lanka was responsible to a great extent for the establishment of the Catholic faith there, despite the persecutions by the Dutch colonizers. His holiness and originality of missionary methods were the secret of his success.

The evangelization of Korea was begun by Peter Li, a layman, and his companions. Hence, Christianity in Korea has the distinction of being founded by the laity. Since that time, the laity have played a very important role in evangelizing the Korean people. Thousands of men, women and children bore witness to their faith through martyrdom during intermittent persecutions of XVIII and XIX centuries. Similarly, faith in Japan was kept alive by the laity for considerably long periods throughout the persecutions of XVII - XIX centuries. Similar examples of heroism and martyrdom are numerous even today in Korea and other countries under persecution.

The major success story of evangelization in Asia during this period is that of the Philippines. The credit for this should primarily go to the Spanish missionaries. Today, the Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, accounting for nearly half the Catholic population of Asia.

Difficulties and Setbacks in Mission

11. Modern missionary efforts in Asia, like any other human undertaking, had their failures and setbacks. Space prohibits entering into details or descriptions of the merits and demerits of the various events and controversies. Nor can this be the place for a proper evaluation of evangelization in the whole of Asia. This must be done by each local Church in Asia. But in a presentration of this type, certain events deserve mention.

In the first place, the Padroado system--the patronage of the mission by the Portuguese government and Sovereign--with its rights regarding the erection of dioceses and ecclesiastical appointments, though initially well-intentioned, turned out to be more a hindrance than a help for the free development of the missionary efforts in various parts of Asia. The condemnation of the bold missionary efforts at inculturation, adaptation and dialogue also put an end to a very promising beginning.

The suppression of the Society of Jesus for about 40 years deprived the young Christian communities in Asia of pastoral care for a long period of time and greatly hindered the progress of evangelization. Sometimes, rivalries among Missionary Institutes, Religious Orders and nationalistic tendencies also proved to be a hindrance to the progress of mission as the recommendations of Pope Benedict XV clearly stated.(9) Similarly, the hesitation by some missionaries to promote native clergy in the early centuries of mission in Asia did not help the progress of mission.(10)

The imposition of Latin Church jurisdiction on the Church of St. Thomas Christians in South India led to their unhappy division into several Churches and caused tensions between the Latin Church and the Syro-Malabar Church. These inter-Church divisions and tensions--which in some cases still continue--have adversely affected the progress of mission in India and elsewhere.

The Great Mission Century

12. For various reasons, the first period of Christian mission seemed to end, except for the Philippines, in near total failure. However, after the XVI-XVIII century, a new missionary awakening and enthusiasm came about in Asia and Europe. Many "missionary-minded" Religious Congregations sprang up in Europe during the XIX and XX centuries. Several of these Congregations are still at work in Asia. During this same period, a number of native Religious Congregations of men and women established themselves in Asia, particularly in India and the Philippines.

During the XIX century, for the first time in the history of the missions, women ventured out into distant lands in Asia to bear witness to Christ and His Gospel and to serve the poor, orphans, lepers, the handicapped, etc.. They also became a very essential part of mission in Asia, especially in the preparation of catechumens and the education of children. Their efforts and witness have been crucial in the progress of evangelization in Asia.

Many factors, such as great distances, lack of knowledge of so many local languages and dialects, customs of people, etc., led to the formation and deployment of catechists in evangelization work. A great part of the success of mission in Asia must be attributed to their efforts. Many of them have been shining examples of Christian life and holiness.

A number of seminaries specifically geared to the formation of missionaries were founded in both Europe and Asia. The first of these was the Seminary of Propaganda Fide, established in 1628 in Rome. In 1893, the seminary of Kandi (Sri Lanka) came into being to serve South Asia. The first Jesuit novitiate was opened in India in 1847. The seminary of Penang in Malaysia began receiving students in the first half of XIX century.

Towards the end of the XIX century further progress in evangelization work was made in several parts of Asia. During this period, Constant Lievens and his Jesuit companions were responsible for the mass conversion of the Adivasis of the Chotanagpur region in central India. This young Church now numbers about 2 million Catholics.

Significant Events

13. The re-establishment of the Syro-Malabar hierarchy by Pope Leo XIII was an important event in the life of the Church both in and outside India, because a very large number of missionaries and religious working in the Latin dioceses of India come from this Church. Many priests and religious working in Asian and African countries are also from this Church. Furthermore, there are large numbers of migrant workers from this Church all over India and the Gulf States.

This period in the history of Christian mission in Asia coincides with independence movements all over Asia. In most Asian countries the Church in this period grew in numbers, in some places into a minority with significant influence. A widespread commitment in these Churches has been made to education, development of health programmes and charitable work.

The Church in Indonesia, which began with the apostolate of St. Francis Xavier, has made impressive progress during the last hundred years because of the significant missionary efforts of the Divine Word Fathers. Indonesia has a large number of well educated and well formed laity, a fine network of schools, universities and a press which commands much attention in the country.

South Korea has also witnessed an extraordinary conversion movement to the Church during the last few decades from every stratum of society. Though the movement has decelerated, it still continues. A similar conversion movement is taking place in South Vietnam, despite the Communist take-over of the South since 1975.

In Northeast India, during the last hundred years, the conversion movement, which started with the arrival of the first Salvatorian missionaries, has been carried on mostly by the Salesians of Don Bosco. Today, there are about 1 million Christians, and their number is rapidly increasing.

The communist take-over of China led to renewed persecutions and the exodus of many Catholics from the mainland to Taiwan and elsewhere. A similar large scale exodus has taken place from North Korea to South Korea and from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. In Kampuchea, most Catholics perished in the appalling genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime.

According to estimates, there are in the Gulf States nearly a million Catholic migrant workers, mostly from India and the Philippines. This group's religious freedom is severely restricted.

The post-conciliar years have been marked by a dramatic change in the understanding of mission, its methods and most of all its attitudes. The theological uncertainties of Vatican II are seen in the missiological uncertainties. These are in turn reflected in the actual mission field. Is mission the proclamation of Jesus Christ and the gathering together of Christian communities? Is it the promotion of the Kingdom of God and its values of justice and peace? Is it inculturation? Is it human promotion and liberation? And if all these together, where is the emphasis to be placed? Other theological and Christological questions, such as the salvation of the followers of other religions and their relationship to Jesus Christ and His Church, are now being discussed by missiologists and missionaries.


Significant Contributions

14. The history of Catholic mission in Asia would be incomplete without briefly mentioning the contribution of the Vatican's Congregation of Propaganda Fide, now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. For nearly five centuries of evangelization in Asia, Propaganda Fide has consistently supported the promotion of native clergy through its various documents, decrees and recommendations. It has encouraged the appointment of native clergy as bishops and the creation of many new dioceses. It has always supported the establishment of seminaries and Religious Congregations. It was also this same Congregation which requested Religious Congregations to take up mission territories for evangelization.

Many Popes have taken a personal interest in evangelization work in Asia. This is reflected especially in a series of missionary encyclicals and documents on the theology of mission, its methods, ecumenical relations, relationship of Christianity with world religions, relationship between mission and social justice, human development, liberation and promotion.(11) The first of these was Maximum illud which has been called the magna carta of modern Catholic mission. Fidei donum of Pius XII has inspired the growth of mission societies in Asia and the missionary movement from these young Churches to other countries.

The Church's mission and its missionary activity are the work of the Spirit, who is its transcendent agent.(12) At the same time, it is also a human enterprise. Like any other human enterprise it has had its limitations and failures. Hence, mission is semper riformanda, namely, to be always renewed and reformulated to suit the times and the needs of peoples. Such a process requires an examination of conscience, repentance for failures of the past and renewal for the mission of Christ in the Third Millennium. It must also thank God for what has been accomplished by missionaries in the past, both foreign and local.

With a few exceptions, the Church in Asia is mostly the result of the heroic sacrifices, holiness and zeal of the missionaries of the past. Today, in nearly all the countries of Asia the Church is present and is able to give witness to Jesus Christ. The young Churches of Asia have come of age with their own hierarchy, clergy, Religious and laity. They have also the necessary structures, such as seminaries, formation centres, pastoral centres, theological faculties, theological reviews, qualified formation and teaching personnel. They have a significant presence in the mass media with a good number of weekly newspapers; in some countries, even daily newspapers. There is a relatively good number of vocations to the various ministries in the Church. Continental structures for Asian bishops, like the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), and others for the Religious in Asia, such as the Asian Meeting of Religious (AMOR), bring the Particular Churches in Asia together and help coordinate their missionary and pastoral activities.

Positive Signs for the Future

15. Vatican II has been, and still is, a great source of renewal in the Particular Churches in Asia. Major ecclesial events in Asia, such as International Eucharistic Congresses and the visits of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, have been significant occurrences which have stimulated the growth of the Church in Asia.

There are also many positive signs for mission in Asia. Greater attention is being given today to the laity and their formation. This means also that the local Churches are becoming more aware of their missionary vocation and responsibility. Many new areas of mission, such as Ashram life, are undergoing experimentation. Thus, a good number of Ashrams have sprung up in Asia especially in India, Japan and the Philippines, under various names and structures. They have become centres of dialogue, inculturation, Asian spirituality, contemplation, God-experience, sharing of spiritual experiences and contact with followers of other religions. The Particular Churches in Asia are now deeply involved in the work of human promotion and liberation. They support refugees, migrants, oppressed classes, tribals and the landless. They promote and defend the legal rights of minorities and the marginalized as part of the mission of the Church.

One important sign that the local Churches are now becoming "mission-sending" Churches, instead of being exclusively or mostly "mission-receiving" Churches, is the emergence of new Asian Mission Societies. In the first four centuries of mission in Asia, the agents of mission were mostly members of Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Institutes. Today the local Churches of Asia have a number of Asian Missionary Institutes. The Philippines Foreign Mission Society, the St. Thomas Missionary Society and the Heralds of the Good News in India, the Korean Mission Society, and the Thai Mission Society are examples of local Churches becoming "mission-sending" Churches.

The Asian Church, though a "little flock", is called to be leaven among the people of other religious and secular traditions. Its source of inspiration and power is the Crucified-Risen Lord and the gift of His Holy Spirit. Every Asian reality is a challenge and opportunity to be transformed by the Church's mission of love and service to life in all its fullness.




16. The whole of creation has its origin in God. The sacred writer rightly begins his statement on creation with the words: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen 1:1). It is not so much the chronology of the universe nor the history of humankind that he had in mind as the theology and eschatology of all things as the basis for a progressive salvific self-revelation and self-communication of God to humanity. Though God made all things in order to share His glory, truth, goodness and harmony with all creatures, He did so in a unique manner with humanity. This divine action is a result of God's infinite wisdom and goodness: "The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe, and chose to raise up men to share in His own divine life".(13) It is said that God's glory is the purpose of creation. But in reality, divine glory consists in sharing His life with humanity. St. Irenaeus said: "God's glory is the person fully alive."(14) A line from St. Bonaventure also aptly states the fact: "God created all things not to increase His glory and goodness, but to manifest them and to communicate them."(15) The ultimate purpose of creation is God's glory, in so far as it is shared by humans, so that God may be all in all.

The Genesis account of the creation of the universe and man serves as an introduction to the Scriptures in order to express and define the essential religious dimensions of the human person, i.e., the individual's origin, destiny, nature, transcendent image, existential need for God to be truly human, vocation to self-realization in God, non-submission to God, and the essential goodness of all creatures, the mystery of sin and evil in the world, the astounding drama of religious and moral ignorance, man's rejection of God's salvific plan, the origin of pain, suffering and death, and the person's longing for the fullness of life, truth and harmony.(16) The first chapters of Genesis are indeed high drama as well as profound theological, spiritual and anthropological statements which explain the origin of humanity, its present predicament and its ultimate vocation.


A Christian Anthropology

17. All creative and salvific activity in the world flows from the One God. It is only by appropriation that one particular activity is applied, in the light of New Testament revelation, to one of the Three Divine Persons. Hence, wherever the Spirit of God is present, it is understood that the Logos is also present.

All persons are essentially and existentially touched by the transcendent Spirit of God. They are in constant search, questioning about and yearning for the fullness of life. The Spirit of God urges them on and leads them to communion with him. In this regard Pope John Paul II states: "The Spirit, therefore, is at very source of man's existential and religious questioning, a questioning which is occasioned not only by contingent situations but by the very structure of his being."(17)

The Spirit of God, therefore, is shown to be active at the very beginning of creation, drawing order, harmony and beauty out of chaos (cf. Gen 1:1ff). The area of His activity is the whole of creation, particularly the human family. The specific and historical manifestation of the Spirit's salvific activity in Israel and in the Christian dispensation only continues and perfects the initial creative-salvific work.(18) The Spirit has been sowing the seeds of salvific truth and grace among all peoples, their cultures, philosophies and religions as Vatican II teaches in the following words: "He generously pours out, and never ceases to pour out, his divine goodness, so that he who is creator of all things might at last become 'all in all'."(19)

The Heart's Deep Yearnings

18. The salvific activity of the Spirit is in some manner present in the various religions and philosophies on the Asian continent through which peoples of all faiths have found their way to God. The Church wants to respect and build on this saving presence of the Spirit of God among the peoples of Asia. In this regard, Pope John Paul II has stated: "The Church's relationship with other religions is dictated by twofold respect: 'Respect for man in his quest for answers to the deepest questions of life, and respect for the action of the Spirit in man'."(20)

The yearning and search for wholeness, liberation and fullness of life has been no better expressed than in some of the traditional prayers so familiar to Asians. Pope Paul VI quoted one of these prayers while on a visit to the Asian continent:

From the unreal, lead me to the real;
from darkness, lead me to the light;
from death, lead me to immortality (Br. 1, 3, 28).(21)

The human yearning for life and wholeness, love and communion makes it possible for persons to accept God's self-communication not only in creation but also in history, when God chooses to reveal and communicate Himself in Christ as their Way, Truth and Life (cf. Jn 14:6).

Man's longing for God and the fullness of life is constantly frustrated by sin. Though created in God's image, persons don't always acknowledge and love their creator and obey His dictates imprinted on their consciences. The account of original sin illustrates the presence of evil in some form in the world from the very beginning, some radical disharmony, a rupture or existential deviation, some culpable ignorance in humanity from its origin and an inexplicable insubordination to God's salvific plan.


God's Spirit at Work

19. Despite the presence of sin, recognized as the root cause of humanity's present condition, persons are not left without the rays of God's truth and saving grace: "...he himself gives all men life and breath and every other gift."(22) "In him we live and move and have our being...we are his offspring" (Acts 17:25-28). Thus, Vatican II teaches: "He has never ceased to take care of the human race, so as to give eternal life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation."(23) The seeds of the Word hidden among nations or manifestly known, the spiritual riches He has given to nations,(24) and elements of truth and grace He has bestowed on peoples(25) are all means of salvation to all peoples. It is through these that the Spirit of God leads them to salvation.

The saving revelation and salvation of God did not remain a "vague and uncertain family of religious truths, originally from God, but sojourning without the sanction of miracle, or a definite home, as pilgrims up and down the world..."(26) It did not remain a hidden mystery. It finds a concrete expression in the on-going history of salvation. The same Spirit of God at work in creation and in the "sinful" world of men and women revealed Jesus Christ, when He came. Such salvific revelation is not an accidental addition to the salvific work of the Spirit of God in the world, but its fulfillment and its authentication. Sin could not forever thwart God's plan of creating human beings in His own image. God continued His creative work until the new "Adam", Jesus Christ was revealed to humankind.

The mission of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to be situated in the context of the universal salvific will of God at work in the world from the beginning. Thus, the Fathers of the Church spoke of the Spirit preceding, accompanying and following the mission of Jesus Christ in history. The Spirit precedes, accompanies, and follows the mission of Jesus, because there is only one saving design, namely, participation in the trinitarian life of God. The Father began this saving design already in creation through the mission of the Spirit and the Logos and continued it in the mission of Jesus Christ which was accompanied by the Spirit.

The incarnation of the Son took place under the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 1:18). Jesus is anointed with the Spirit of God in the river Jordan, and led into his desert experience (cf. Mk 1:10-12). Jesus is anointed by the Spirit and begins His saving ministry of word and deed in the power of the Spirit (cf. Lk 4:14-18). The public ministry of proclaiming the reign of God, teaching, healing and restoring wholeness and life to those who were sick was done under the power of the Spirit. Acts states: "You know...the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:37-38).

The salvific revelation of God finds its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was a sacrifice offered up in the Spirit as the letter to the Hebrews tells us: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb 9:14).

The Mission of Jesus and the Spirit

20. One of the effects of the life and saving death of Jesus was the giving of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples and breathed the Holy Spirit upon them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22). From the day of Pentecost, the Spirit carries on the saving work of Jesus in the Church. The Spirit was poured out upon the disciples to continue the saving work of Jesus, making present His word and His saving death-resurrection in the Church's sacraments so that people at all times and in all places could participate in Jesus' Paschal Mystery. The Spirit's task is to make all peoples into the image of Jesus Christ in His obedience to the Father's will, and thus recreate the image of God in persons so that they can find the fullness of communion with God.

In this, there is a salvific cycle and not salvific parallels: the Father sending the Logos and the Spirit into creation and then into Israel; the same Spirit accompanying the life and death-resurrection of Jesus; and Jesus, in turn, sending the same Spirit into His disciples in a definitive salvific act. The Spirit is at work in the proclamation of Jesus Christ, recreating each person in the likeness of Jesus Christ so that all may share in the life of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

The presence of the Spirit in creation and human history was not an end in itself, isolated from the mission of Jesus Christ. The salvific presence of the Spirit in humanity was to lead all peoples into the full participation of the life of God in Jesus Christ His Son. All divine activity--creative, salvific, and sanctifying--is always the activity of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Spirit. It is only by way of appropriation that a particular activity can be said to be carried out by one person of the Trinity or another. Thus, wherever the Spirit is present, the Logos is also present. But this secret, saving presence is now made manifest in Jesus Christ and His Church as St. Paul states: "The mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now made manifest to the saints" (Col 1:26). As minister in God's divine plan, St. Paul was to preach so "that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known... " (Eph 3:10).

The Fathers of the Church repudiated a division of the economy of salvation into three epochs, and under the direction of one of the divine persons. All three are involved, they asserted, in each and every divine operation.(27) It can be concluded that the salvific presence of the Spirit with His manifold gifts among the peoples of Asia is meant to lead all to Jesus Christ and to be made into His image.


21. On the one hand, there can be rejoicing at whatever saving truth and grace the Spirit has bestowed on Asian peoples in their deep sense of religion, philosophies and cultures, as John Paul II says: "Every form of the Spirit's presence is to be welcomed with respect and gratitude...."(28) These manifestations of the Spirit are approached with great respect. On the other hand, it must be admitted that the Spirit is present in all peoples for the purpose of leading them to Jesus Christ. As a result, the Church has proclaimed Jesus Christ--and continues to do so--so that all the peoples of Asia might receive from Him the fullness of the Spirit and arrive at the fullness of salvation, which is participation in the life the Trinitarian God.

The mission of the Logos and the Spirit in the history of humanity and its religions, far from nullifying or rendering the mission of Jesus Christ in any way marginal, is precisely to lead to Jesus Christ. Pope John Paul II says as much in the following words: "He (the Spirit) therefore is not an alternative to Christ, nor does he fill a sort of void which is sometimes suggested as existing between Christ and the Logos."(29) The "seeds of the Word" sown by the Spirit become ripe for eternal life through the Word incarnate, crucified and risen. The mission of the Spirit and the Word in history constitute one, single mission. The universal salvific will of God and the particular salvific will of God revealed in Jesus Christ complement each other. If the universal were not there, human beings would not be able to receive the particular; and if the particular were not there, the general would have no substance or credibility.

The universal plan of God for salvation and wholeness of life takes a concrete shape and human form in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ. Vatican II had this in mind when it declared: "The universal plan of God for the salvation of mankind is not carried out solely in a secret manner, as it were, in the minds of men, nor by the efforts, even religious, through which they in many ways seek God in an attempt to touch him and find him... their efforts need to be enlightened and corrected...God decided to enter into the history of mankind in a new and definitive manner, by sending his own Son in human flesh...."(30)

All this is very true of the Asian situation. That is why the Church in Asia has and wants to proclaim Jesus Christ to Her brothers and sisters on the continent so that they may be enriched by the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ. In turn, the Church shall be enriched by the profound seeds of truth and goodness present among them through dialogue. In this regard, Pope John Paul II has this to say: "Indeed, it is always the Spirit who is at work, both when he gives life to the Church and impels her to proclaim Christ, and when he implants and develops his gifts in all individuals and peoples, guiding the Church to discover these gifts, foster them and receive them through dialogue".(31)




Fulfillment and Fullness of Life

22. Jesus Christ is God's Good News of salvation to the whole world. Faith teaches that God sent Him into the world to save humanity and that He is truly the Son of God. He came so that all peoples may have life, and have it in all its abundance. He came from God; but He also came from the Asian continent. He experienced Asian conditions and realities. He was born poor in a stable. He was a refugee in Egypt. His life was constantly threatened from its very beginning. He lived by the work of His hands. He went about doing good. He was an itinerant messenger of God, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, a reign of peace between God and all human beings.

Faith proclaims that Jesus Christ is the fullness of life, truth and goodness. All the hopes and longings of the human heart find fulfillment in Him. All spiritual yearning for healing and wholeness, freedom and justice, human dignity and love find their fulfillment in Him. Equally in Him are fulfilled the religious quest and longing for final liberation, fulfillment and freedom from all types of ignorance, liberation from sin and freedom from all selfishness which is the source of all sin and evil in the world. He attained all these things through His perfect gift of Himself to God the Father in his kenosis or "emptying of self" in obedience even unto death. The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee that God the Father has put His seal upon the mission of Jesus Christ to humankind, a mission of redemption and salvation to all peoples of the world. Pope John Paul II teaches us: "In this definitive Word of his revelation, God has made himself known in the fullest possible way. He has revealed to mankind who he is. This definitive self-revelation of God is the fundamental reason why the Church is missionary by her very nature. She cannot do other than proclaim the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself."(32)

Jesus Christ is not only the fullness of the revelation of God, but also the fullness of the revelation for each person. The fullness of the divinity was pleased to dwell in Him as Paul says: "For in him all the fullness God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col 1:19-20). In Him humanity reaches it highest possible expression. Jesus Christ is the new, definitive and perfect definition of what each person is. In this sense, He is the fullness of the revelation of man, as Vatican II has very aptly put it: "Such is the nature and the greatness of the mystery of man as enlightened for the faithful by the Christian revelation. It is therefore through Christ and in Christ, that light is thrown on the riddle of suffering and death which, apart from his Gospel, overwhelms us."(33) Pope John Paul II reiterates the fact that the definitive meaning of man becomes clear in the Person of Christ through His death and resurrection: "Christ the Redeemer fully reveals man to himself... The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly... must draw near to Christ... The Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored to man his dignity and given back meaning to his life."(34)

Jesus Christ: One and Only Saviour

23. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father to bring life and wholeness to humanity. The traditional term for this act is "redemption". Jesus is God's wisdom for human salvation as Paul tells us: "...but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:23-24).

According to Christian revelation, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. In other words, all salvation is through Him and in Him. He alone mediates it. This need not be an obstacle to other ways of mediating salvation: "Christ's one, universal mediation, far from being an obstacle on the journey towards God, is the way established by God himself...."(35) The mediation of salvation by Jesus Christ does not exclude that other forms of mediation share, in different ways and degrees, in His one and only mediation. Instead, from this perspective they acquire a new meaning and value. It must be stated, however, that they are not a mediation parallel or complementary to His.(36)

Various contemporary Christologies have a positive value: they offer assistance in re-reading the Gospels and the New Testament and in applying them to the present. These Christologies seek to take into account the social implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Where such re-reading of the gospel might help to shake off any spiritual and social lethargy, self-satisfaction or complacency in presenting the person of Christ, the re- writing of the Gospels based on social, political and cultural agendas would be an injustice to the faith. History teaches that such re-readings are soon discarded with the ideologies that inspire them. The Gospels need to be re- read with the Apostles, the early Church, the Magisterium of the Church, the cultures and peoples of the Asian continent and never unilaterally.

The above problem does exist in Asia today as the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences acknowledges in its documents. For example, the Introduction to the book For all the Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1970 to 1991 says that it is no secret that radical questions have been raised about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in the history of salvation and the so called "myth of Christian uniqueness."(37) This has been re-stated recently in the Fifth Plenary Assembly of FABC: "These theologians may be in the minority, but they are a vociferous minority. The inner inspiration, the driving force, the motivation for Christian mission--which are inseparably connected with the affirmation of the uniqueness and centrality of Christ as Saviour--must be safeguarded."(38)

Adapting the Christian faith to the cultures of Asia is not to mean proclaiming a partial Jesus Christ or a Jesus Christ reduced to human and cultural requirements. While Asian christologies must interpret Jesus Christ for Asians, as has been done by others during the twenty centuries of the Church's existence, all christologies must be measured against the faith of the Apostles, the apostolic Church and the testimony of the New Testament. No sectarian or partial christology can do justice to the true Jesus Christ of the Gospels. He is more than a social reformer, a political liberator, master of a spirituality, champion of human rights, or saviour of the marginalized.


Proclaiming Christ

24. God's offer of salvation is not a set of doctrines, however lofty, nor a code of ascetical principles. It does not arise from the worship which human beings offer to God. It is a unique gift from God because it is the person of Jesus Himself. In Him divinity and humanity meet in a salvific union. He accomplishes salvation in Himself, and thus accomplishes salvation in His Person. In fact, St. Paul explicitly states: "... Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30).

The Church's faith in Jesus Christ is born of Her experience of the Risen Lord and the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In this way, Hers is a faith in a Trinitarian God as witnessed by the earliest tradition of the Church and the Scriptures. It is not the result of a theological-christological journey necessitated by Hellenistic philosophy or any later philosophies. The formulation of this experience into credal formulas and dogmatic propositions took a long time, but the constant point of reference was apostolic tradition and the Scriptures.

The Church cannot abandon Her faith in Jesus Christ for the sake of a false inculturation or irenicism, despite the fact that Asia has such a wide variety of cultures and religions. If She did, the Church would not be true to Herself. It must be admitted that a Trinitarian faith may indeed be a stumbling block to cultures which are so diverse. Yet, if this Faith is lived in love, service and humility, it will receive increasing acceptance, as it has at all times in the history of evangelization. This lays a heavy responsibility on Church leaders that they become truly Christ-like in their lives. A life of witness wins hearts, not theoretical doctrines.

By His life, words, passion, death and resurrection, Jesus revealed also what human redemption-salvation means and how it is to be attained. Therefore, the event of Jesus Christ has a universal application beyond the borders of the Church. This is the reason why the Church wants to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world: because She believes that in Him human salvation finds its fulfillment and through Him salvation comes to all.

Asia's multi-cultural and multi-religious society is looking for the truly human, for total liberation from all oppressive forces and for wholeness of life. Jesus Christ is the One Who offers all these and more. Asian peoples have always welcomed saints, sages and seers who brought them the message of truth and life. There is no doubt that Asia will increasingly welcome Jesus Christ provided that the Church's members seek to become men and women of God who have seen and touched what they proclaim as St. John put it: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life... we...proclaim to you..." (1 Jn 1:1-2).

This work of proclamation is done not from any earthly motive, but to share with others the new life which Jesus brought and the fellowship enjoyed in the Church. The Church seeks to proclaim Christ because She has experienced God's saving love. John states again, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). The Church does this because She wants to share with everyone the fellowship She enjoys with the Triune God: "... that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us" (1 Jn 1:3). Such fellowship will only add to-- and not in any way take away--Asian fellowship.

Salvation offered to all

25. Salvation in Jesus Christ is offered to all. It is not the privilege of any particular group of people, because salvation comes from God and is gratuitously given. Jesus sent His disciples forth with the command to proclaim it to all peoples: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations" (Matt 28:19). Wherever human beings accept it in their hearts in obedience to God's law and live it in charity, somehow they participate in Jesus' obedience and love. While God wills that all peoples come to the knowledge of His Son through faith and baptism, He also wills that His salvation not be withheld from those who do not know Him, through no fault of their own, because of historical and cultural reasons. He offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in His Paschal Mystery.(39)

The Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ consists in His passion, death and resurrection. This mystery flows from His supreme obedience to His Father and His love for His disciples and all peoples. Wherever people are obedient to God's will and show love for their neighbour in concrete acts, they participate in their own way in Jesus' Paschal Mystery. At the same time, the work of following and imitating Christ is rendered difficult because of the presence of sin. God's grace is needed. Such grace is offered to all through the Holy Spirit, but it is always remains the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Salvation in Jesus Christ has a newness and power of its own because it is God Who offers it. Its ultimate goal is participation in the very life of God. It concerns the salvation of the whole human person. It answers the heart's deepest yearnings. Hence, it is to be proclaimed to peoples of all religions, races, nationalities and cultures, peoples of all times and in all places. There can be no changes or additions to God's saving plan in Jesus Christ for humankind: Christus heri et hodie, ipse et in saecula, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8).

This is the faith of the Apostles, the faith of the martyrs of the first centuries, the faith of Christians of all times. This is the faith of tens of thousands of martyrs among the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. This is the faith which is preached, even in the difficult cultural situations of Asia. Along with St. Peter, the Church bears witness to Her Lord with the words: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16).

The Church offers to the peoples of Asia Her unique and greatest treasure, Jesus Christ. Whatever else the Church offers is only because of Jesus Christ. Pope John Paul II emphasizes that "it is the light of Christ which enables the Church to proclaim boldly the dignity and fundamental rights of each and every person in the face of great injustices. It is the love of God revealed in Christ which leads you courageously to apply the Church's social teaching to the real life-situation of the peoples of Asia and to foster social progress and a wider material and cultural development. It is service of Christ which sustains your educational and charitable institutions...."(40)

The peoples of Asia are looking for liberation and fullness of life. Such a quest for freedom, dignity, communion and fullness of life can find its fulfillment only in Jesus Christ, as the Asian Bishops stated in their First Plenary Assembly at Taipei: "Its our belief that only in and through Jesus Christ and his Gospel, and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that these quests can come to realization. For Christ alone, we believe, is for every man 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life' (Jn 14:6), 'the true light that enlightens every man...' (Jn 1:9)."(41)

While the Church praises God for His salvific presence and activity among the Asian peoples, She is not unaware of the presence of sin and its effects at every level of Asian society, keeping hundreds of millions of people slaves to many social evils. In this context She wants to proclaim to the peoples of Asia the dignity, the freedom and the peace that Jesus Christ has won. He has shared the humble state of the Asian people. He took upon Himself the human condition in all its weakness and raised it to the right hand of God in glory and fullness of life. His Gospel has always been a leaven in every society. His Gospel has inspired tens of thousands of missionaries-- despite their human limitations--to go to Asia to work for all peoples, especially the illiterate, the sick and the poor. The Church is convinced that by offering Jesus Christ She is offering the leaven of human dignity in all its temporal and eschatological dimensions.

Jesus Christ is at the centre of the Church's life and ministry. He is at the centre of the lives of each of Her members because He is the way to God and salvation. He is at the centre of Her ministry because the Church's ministry consists in offering Jesus Christ to the peoples of Asia. Jesus Christ is the twofold way--to God and to the peoples of Asia--as John Paul II states: "Jesus Christ is the chief way for the Church. He Himself is our way 'to the Father's house' and is the way to each man."(42) In Jesus Christ the Asian quest for salvation will find its temporal and eschatological fulfillment. In this regard, John Paul II said to the Bishops of Asia: "The salvation with which you are concerned as bishops is the salvation achieved and offered by Christ: the salvation of the whole person, a salvation that is complete and universal, unique and absolute, full and all-embracing. The Christian apostle is not just a social worker; nor is the Christian faith merely an ideology or a humanistic programme."(43)




To Bring All Things to Fulfillment

26. The salvific design of God does not end in the mission of the Son and the Spirit. Once their mission was accomplished, its saving effects had to be made available to all peoples of all times. This was done in the establishment of the Church, the community of believers in Jesus Christ brought together by the ministry of Jesus and the work of the Spirit. The community of disciples came into existence by the power of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit."(44)

The Church is the necessary corollary to the mission of the Son and the Spirit and their saving activity in the world. It is in no way an appendix to their mission, or something marginal or complementary. The Church is the necessary and essential consequence of the divine salvific mission: "Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but it is a sacrament...."(45) Her only purpose is to continue the saving mission of the Son and the Spirit in the world. Her mission is unique in several ways: to be the bearer of the words of Jesus, and the channel of the salvific effects of His death and resurrection so that people at all times can be brought into contact with the saving words and deeds of Jesus and find their salvation: " her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present and spread the mystery of communion of the Holy Trinity."(46)

In the Church the saving design of the Father, the saving words and deeds of Jesus and the saving power of the Spirit are kept alive, made present, lived and proclaimed. The Church is entrusted with the saving mission of the Son through the Spirit. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples after the resurrection: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit...'" (Jn 20:21-22). This means that the mission of the Church is analogous to the mission of the Son since Her purpose is to carry on His mission.

The presence of the Spirit in the world, in cultures and religions is intended to lead all to the mystery of Jesus Christ: "The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ...."(47)

The Church's primary mission cannot be different from the mission of the Son received from the Father through the Spirit. The mission from the Father was primarily to communicate His divine life to all through the Son in the Spirit. The Father sent the Son so that all may have life and have it in all its abundance. It is clear from the New Testament that the life to which Jesus referred is primarily the life of the Spirit. It is eternal life or the life of grace.

The Church is born of the mission of the Son through the Holy Spirit. From the day of Pentecost, the mission of Christ becomes the mission of the Church.(48) The Church on earth has a twofold mission: to be the kingdom of God as Jesus was, and to proclaim it and bring it about in the hearts of all peoples. Her mission is to be the kingdom, to grow into its fullness and be at its service. That means the Church is daily called to become more and more the Reign of God by Her constant listening to the word of God, by celebrating the mystery of Jesus in the Eucharist and the sacraments, in prayer, contemplation and works of charity and justice. On the other hand, She goes out to proclaim the Kingdom very concretely, that is, by proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Kingdom, and invite all to accept Him in faith.(49)

The Church is thus the sign and instrument of God's Reign to all peoples of the world for God wills that all peoples be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth through the one mediator, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tm 2:5).

The Church is born of mission and for mission. This is the reason why the Church is said to be missionary by Her very nature.(50) Her existence flows from mission and it leads Her into mission. This is the reason why Pope Paul VI repeated the words of the Synod Fathers at the Third Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1974): "We wish to confirm anew that the mandate to evangelize all men constitutes the essential mission of the Church."(51) This sense of mission derives from the God's own communication of His Trinitarian Life to the Church.

Mission in the Mystery of Communion

27. The Church is primarily the mystery of God's loving salvific design.(52) Before everything else, the Church is the locus of His encounter with humanity in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Church is the community where God realizes His plan of love and salvation, where He reveals the inner mystery of His life and communicates it to people. The Church is essentially not an organization, a welfare establishment, or an efficient enterprise, but the mystery of Trinitarian communion: "'O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!' God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life."(53) God's saving plan in Jesus Christ stems from this Trinitarian love: "It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church."(54)

The Church's communion with the life of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the basis of the life of the Church and Her mission. The koinonia between the Father, the Son and the Spirit leads to ecclesial koinonia, fellowship, communion. The Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of 1985 spoke of the ecclesiology of communion as the central insight of all the conciliar documents and the motivating force of all post-conciliar renewal. The Synod's final statement sums up the main points of such an ecclesiology: 1) The ecclesiology of communion is founded on the Trinitarian communion; 2) the Church, the people of the new covenant, is the sign and binding force of the communion between God and humanity; 3) the Church is essentially a communion of all the disciples of Jesus in Him and among themselves; and 4) the Church is the locus and symbol of the communion of all peoples.

Participation in Trinitarian communion binds all the members of the Church into a unique communion which is called the Body of Christ. But the Church has a human dimension and thus subject to the sin of division. Many divisions in history have wounded the communion of the Churches in Asia. Thus, inter-ecclesial relations have been marred for centuries between Churches of different liturgical and ecclesial traditions, ecclesiastical jurisdictions, missionary methods and pastoral care. These wounds have been partially healed, but a complete healing has yet to come about. Wherever communion is weakened, the Church's witness, evangelizing value and effectiveness are also weakened.

What Pope John Paul II said to the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church regarding ecclesial communion and constant dialogue with the bishops of the Latin Church is applicable to the whole Church in Asia in some way or other: "The first form of communion is that which unites all the believers in Christ, children of the one Church of Christ. All things must be undertaken in an atmosphere of trust and common purpose, examining the various situations with objectivity and seeking to resolve them in a spirit of heartfelt collaboration. Conflicts must be banned, since no good can come except from love.(55)

Most Church communities of Asia are composed of different ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social groups. In most countries of Asia, homogenous communities are rare. Thus migrant Chinese, Philippino, Korean and Indian Christians form part of the local Christian communities in many parts of Asia. Again, tribal and non tribal Christians, multi-tribal communities, Dalit Christians and non-Dalit Christians form part of many Christian communities. Tensions and rivalries among the various groups of Christians that make up these heterogeneous communities as well as those between clergy and laity are a counter witness to the very essential nature of the Church as communion with the Trinity and with each other.(56)

Credible witness of the Church as communion depends on overcoming the above-mentioned divisions so that She can be an effective sign and instrument of communion to the peoples of Asia. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici has so well expressed: "...communion begets communion: essentially it is likened to a mission on behalf of communion...Communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other, to the point that communion represents both the source and fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion.(57)


Mission to Others

28. Communion with other Christian Churches in bearing common witness to Jesus Christ is very important today. In the past, the hostilities and rivalries between Catholics and various ecclesial communities of the Reformation in Europe were brought into Asia in the wake of colonial expansion. The Particular Catholic Churches in Asia have a special duty to develop an ecumenical spirit in Asia in bearing common witness to Jesus Christ.(58)

As the Third Millennium approaches, the Church in Asia seeks to put off the burdens of disunity and walk towards greater unity, if not to complete unity. This calls for a sincere examination of conscience, acceptance of responsibility for the mistakes of the past, in which, at times, all sides were involved.(59) All believers in their own way are responsible for the sins of division in the Church, past and present. All need to repent for the eccelsial communion that has been painfully wounded during the past thousand years and beyond. All need to grow towards greater Christian unity.(60)

The Church in Asia is a "little flock", a very small minority, except for the Philippines. She lives among hundreds and thousands of Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic brethren and followers of Traditional Religion. The Church in Asia has a very special task to be a sacrament of unity among the followers of all religions. Communion is fostered by true dialogue, a theme often stressed in many FABC documents in the past.(61)

The Church must become truly universal, catholic. To be catholic is the very nature of the Church. It is a gift from the Lord. While the Church has a very special communion and hence a unity of Her own, She is not an exclusive communion and unity. It has to be an inclusive unity since God's Spirit and His Word, the Logos, were already present in the world, leading everything to its final end: the character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord Himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods under Christ the Head in the unity of His Spirit.(62)

Communion with the Holy Trinity should not weaken the already existing communion and harmony with the brethren among whom She lives. This is what Pope Paul VI has said: "The Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. They carry with them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God, a quest which is incomplete but often made with great sincerity and righteousness of heart. They possess an impressive patrimony of deeply religious texts. They have taught generations of people how to pray."(63)

In Her evangelizing activity the Church seeks to heal the age-old divisions in Asian society by Her own example of lived communion, thus showing that unity is possible. Again, She searches out means for promoting such communion among peoples through dialogue and collaboration.(64)

Hence Christian mission is respectful to all religions and their followers. In the past, Christian mission with its proclamation of Jesus Christ and conversion also meant at times alienation from one's own people and culture. Christian mission is not meant to be an alienation, but a greater communion and harmony with all brethren. The ultimate scope of all mission is communion with God and one another: "The ultimate purpose of mission is to enable people to share in the communion which exists between the Father and the Son."(65)

Mission as the Sacrament of Unity

29. The Church is often called the Kingdom of God, that is, the Reign of God. Christ's life is lived in the community where His teachings are accepted and lived out. Through the power of His death-resurrection and His Spirit, the Church is able to accept the will of the Father and have love for one another as Jesus did. Through His obedience even unto death, Jesus became the perfect Kingdom or Reign of God. Likewise, in following Christ the Church is called to become the Reign of God.

The life of Christ is communicated to the Church through the word, sacraments and Christian living in order that the likeness of Christ may be formed in believers gradually: "All members of the Church ought to be formed into Christ's image, until He is formed in them" (cf. Gal 4:19).(66) This is the primary vocation of the Church, to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as St. Paul relates: "For those whom he (God) foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8:29).

The Church is the community on which the light of Christ has shone and from which the light of Christ is reflected to the world. Significantly, Vatican Council II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church begins with the words: "Lumen gentium cum sit Christus... (Since Christ is the light of all nations...)."(67) The Church is called to be the light of Christ to the world. She has no other light of Her own: "The Church has no other light than Christ's; according to a favourite image of the Church Fathers, the Church is the moon, all its light is reflected from the sun."(68) The Church exists to bring the light of Christ to all peoples of the earth: "...She eagerly desires to shed on all men the radiance of His which brightens the countenance of the Church."(69)

To the extent that the Church is conformed to the image of Christ, She is the Church and also able to become a light to the nations. Her primary mission is to be the likeness of Jesus Christ and to strive ever more to be so. In this sense, the Church becomes a sacrament of Christ. That means somehow the Church is an efficacious sign of Jesus Christ. Those who sincerely seek His face can recognize Him in the face of the Church community. In Her and through Her, they can hear His word, experience His love, mercy, pardon and goodness. This is what the Council intends when it says: "By her relationship with Christ, the Church is a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind...."(70)




Renewed Understanding

30. It is true that evangelization today has acquired a wider meaning than in the past. Evangelization is a complex reality and has many essential elements such as witnessing to the Gospel, working for the values of the Kingdom, struggle for human liberation and promotion, dialogue, mutual sharing of the God-experience, inculturation, dialogue with other religions, etc..(71)

In every age, the accidentals of the mission of the Church--the way it is inculturated and its methods--undergo change. There is always need for a new evangelization. But Jesus Christ remains the centre and summit of Her mission and proclamation.

For several theoretical and historical reasons, an opinion has been expressed from some quarters in Asia during the last three decades that the age of mission is over. Now is the time for dialogue and inculturation. Radical pluralism of religion and salvation seems to become a dogma itself. At times, one's culture is so absolutized that conversion is looked upon as violence done to the other. Others claim that the Church's mission is only the proclamation of the values of the Kingdom, human promotion and liberation.

Referring to such tendencies, Paul VI already in 1975 reconfirmed the need and urgency for the proclamation of Jesus Christ: "We wish to point out, above all today, that neither respect and esteem for these religions nor the complexity of the questions raised is an invitation to the Church to withhold from these non-Christians the proclamation of Jesus Christ."(72)

The Message of Evangelization: Jesus Christ

31. Jesus Christ is the Father's Word to the world for the life the world. Jesus Christ is the saving proclamation of the Father to the world. Likewise, Jesus Christ is the proclamation of the Holy Spirit to the world. At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan the Father and Spirit in different ways proclaimed Jesus as the beloved Son sent into the world for the salvation of all (cf. Mt 3:13-17). The Church's primary duty, then, is to proclaim Jesus Christ for the life of the world.

The primacy of the proclamation of Jesus Christ in all evangelizing activities has been repeatedly stressed by the Council and the Magisterium of the Church because it is of the essence of the faith and the very continuation of the saving event of Jesus Christ. Proclamation is of the very essence of the Church's Trinitarian experience of God. Abandoning proclamation is to abandon this unique God-experience. Thus, Paul VI wrote in explicit terms: "There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom, and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed."(73)

The diverse elements of evangelization are held together by the central element of proclaiming Jesus Christ: "The proclamation of Jesus Christ is the centre and the primary element of evangelization without which all other elements will lose their cohesion and validity."(74) Evangelization, then, is primarily about God's offer of salvation in Jesus Christ, which can be accepted or rejected. One may not pick and choose. The reason for the necessity, urgency and motivation for the proclamation of Jesus Christ lies in the fact that it is in Him that God's salvation is offered. Pope Paul VI makes this very clear in Evangelii nuntiandi: "Evangelization will also contain--as the foundation, centre, and at the same time summit of its dynamism --a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift from God's grace and mercy."(75)

The reason for this insistence on Jesus Christ is not a sectarian fad because God's salvation is not an immanent salvation, as Pope Paul VI continues to say. It is not meeting man's material or even spiritual needs. It is not restricted to the framework of temporal existence and all human yearnings. Salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ exceeds all these limits to reach fulfillment in a communion with the one and only divine Absolute: transcendent and eschatological salvation which has been already realized in Jesus Christ.(76)

Agents of Evangelization

32. In the first centuries the Church considered Herself to be the subject of mission. Emphasis has recently been placed on this original understanding of the Church as missionary. If the Church is missionary by Her very nature, then the whole Church is missionary. Thus, for example, the entire community at Antioch was involved in sending Paul and Barnabas to evangelize the Nations.(77) The implication--as John Paul I mantains--is that what was done in the beginning of Christianity is valid and urgent for the Church's mission today. The universal mission of the Church is entrusted to the universal Church, and every individual Church is sent to all peoples.(78)

Within the Church community, the primary agents of mission are the bishops, for Jesus gave to the Twelve Apostles the mandate to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel (cf. Jn 20:21; Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15; Lk 24:47, Acts 1:8).(79) Bishops are consecrated for a mission to the whole world.(80) Missionary activity is the greatest and holiest duty of the Church.(81)

In the current theological, missiological and missionary situation of Asia, the proclamation of Jesus Christ is the central issue of the faith and life of the Church. It is encumbent on the Pastors of the Church to give priority to proclamation in all their pastoral planning. They must be seen primarily as evangelizers and only secondarily as administrators. This is what the Apostles said about proclamation: "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables... But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:2-4). The phrase "word of God" in this passage is not meant to refer to a homily or sermon, but to the proclamation of Jesus Christ in the strict sense of the word.

Every priest shares with the bishop in the universal mission of the Church ad gentes. "The spiritual gift which priests receive at their ordination prepares them not for any limited and narrow mission, but on the widest scope of the universal mission of salvation 'even to the very ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8). For every priestly ministry shares in the universality of the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles."(82) Their mission transcends the boundaries of their parish, diocese, country or Church sui iuris and are called to preach the Gospel to the whole world. This is true especially, as Pope John Paul II says, especially in areas where Christians are a minority.(83) Each priest should have the "heart of a missionary."(84)

It is a very heartening thing to note that many Particular Churches in Asia have already established Missionary Institutes to send missionaries to other countries, even though they themselves are in need of missionaries in their own countries. Asian bishops have a particular responsibility to promote missionary institutes and to be generous with their personnel for mission areas.(85)

Religious Orders, Congregations and Missionary Institutes have played a very remarkable role in the evangelization of Asia from the very beginning. Consecrated Life is a very privileged means of evangelization, as Paul VI states.(86) Persons consecrated by religious vows can dedicate themselves fully to evangelization work because of their radical choice of the evangelical counsels, their total availability, their capacity for originality in missionary methods--as the history of mission shows--, their spirit of generosity and their easy mobility.(87)

Asia has been, and still is, blessed with relatively large numbers of vocations to the Religious Congregations and Missionary Institutes, especially Religious of Brothers and Sisters. Among them, there is an immense evangelizing potential for mission yet to be fully exploited. Vatican II and the Magisterium of the Church ask Religious Institutes of active life to consider broadening traditional apostolates to include missionary activity: "Whether they pursue a strictly missionary goal or not, such Institutes should ask themselves how willing and able they are to broaden their action in order to extend God's Kingdom."(88)

Mission ad gentes is especially relevant for the laity in Asia since the field of evangelization is so vast and because of many cultural and social problems. It is their task to bring the Gospel to millions and millions of people who do not know Jesus Christ yet.(89) To carry out this duty and privilege of being truly missionary requires a look at present mentalities and ways of functioning in the Particular Churches in Asia, especially at structures and programmes for the formation of the laity.

The institution of missionary catechists in Asia goes back to the XVI century. Since then they have made an immense contribution to the first evangelization, catechumenate and the preparation of people for the various sacraments. Without their contribution the Church in Asia would not be what it is today. Consideration needs to be given to this institution, especially in the area of formation structures and adequate financial security.(90)

In the Asian context, Christian families have a special role to play in the evangelizing mission of the Church. Women and youth also have a special role to play, since they can have access to social groups which oftentimes professional missionaries cannot approach.

The Holy Spirit is always at work in the Church, inspiring new movements for Christian living and mission. Among them are Basic Christian Communities, the Focolarini, Charismatic Movements, etc. Their evangelizing and missionary potential is still to be utilized to the full. There are several such ecclesial movements in Asia today which can be involved in the mission ad gentes. Pope John Paul II says that they are an essential and undeniable element in the establishment of new Churches.(91) The Pope recommends them to every one's pastoral and missionary attention: "I therefore recommend that they be spread, and that they be used to give fresh energy, especially among young people, to the Christian life and to evangelization, within a pluralistic view of the ways in which Christians can associate and express themselves."(92)

The Church in Asia awaits a missionary renewal in which every one will become aware of being the subject of mission: bishops, diocesan priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters and every section of the People of God.

Paths of Evangelization

33. The evangelizing mission of the Church depends entirely on its credibility given by the witness of life of the evangelizer. Jesus came as the living witness of God's love and forgiveness. The first Christians preached the Gospel by the testimony of their lives and by word of mouth. Many missionaries in Asia in the past have borne heroic witness to God's love and compassion in the midst of their people. The Particular Churches in Asia are called to be witnessing Churches.

Jesus' first missionary command to His disciples was to be His witnesses: "...and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). There is no mission without adequate witnessing. Asian people are not moved by logic, doctrine or authority, but by the power of witness and holiness.(93) Pope Paul VI called witnessing "the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization."(94)

Christian mission in Asia calls for individual and community witnessing in being Christ-like as well as doing deeds which are Christ-like.(95) Jesus is called "the faithful witness" (Rev 1:5) and "the faithful and true witness" (Rev 3:14). The Church in Asia seeks to be a faithful and true witness of Jesus Christ so that She can carry out Her mission effectively.

The first disciples of Jesus went out on their mission armed only with the power of the Spirit and the word of God: "And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message..." (Mk 16:20). The word of God first spoken, then written down as "scripture" and again proclaimed, had at all times primacy of place in evangelization. The word has a power of its own for the Gospel; it " the power of God for salvation..." (Rom 1:16). All preaching, including missionary proclamation needs to be nourished by the word of God.(96)

The missionary is one who is deeply in love with the word of God, meditating on it and proclaiming it with the conviction of one who lives by the word of God. Asian peoples love their scriptures. They also have a fascination for the Bible. Hence, the word of God and the Bible are at the centre of all evangelizing activity.

The secret source of the power and effectiveness of the saving mission of Jesus was His daily contemplation of and communion with the Father in prayer. Mission is contemplation in action. This is particularly true in a continent where the God-experience is priced more than religious doctrine or works. Hence, if the missionary has no deep God-experience in prayer and contemplation, the missionary will have little spiritual influence and fruitfulness.

Pope John Paul speaking of his experience of Asian religions says: "My contact with representatives of the non-Christian spiritual traditions, particularly those of Asia, has confirmed me in the view that the future of mission depends to a great extent on contemplation."(97) The Church in Asia needs a true missionary spirituality of prayer and contemplation. A truly religious person readily wins respect and following in Asia. "Prayer, fasting and various forms of asceticism are held in high regard. Renunciation, detachment, humility, simplicity and silence are considered great values."(98)

The importance of prayer and contemplation in Asia as a way of mission in Asia is underlined again in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Consecrated Life: "This will make it possible to bear witness to the vitality of the traditions of Christian asceticism and mysticism and will contribute to interreligious dialogue."(99)

God's offer of salvation to humankind is always a question of dialogue. God spoke in a human language and used symbols to communicate His saving message and life through His Son Jesus Christ. The entire mission of Jesus was a constant dialogue with humanity. The Church can carry out Her mission only in the way God's mission to humanity was carried out in Jesus Christ.

The whole mission of the Church is, therefore, one of dialogue. Dialogue is a part of the work of evangelization because it is a means of mutual knowledge, enrichment and communication of the saving message and life of Jesus Christ.(100) In true dialogue there is a giving and receiving. In dialogue the Church receives the religious and cultural riches of the nations and in turn gives them the saving riches of Jesus Christ.

Even though dialogue is essential and forms part of every evangelizing activity of the Church, it does not exhaust the whole reality of evangelization, nor is it a substitute for mission ad gentes, and much less is it to be seen as something in opposition to the proclamation of Jesus Christ.(101)

In the Asian context, dialogue is of primary importance for the future of Christian mission, since it has to do with millennia-old cultures and religions. The Church in Asia, therefore, must enter into ever deeper dialogue with the great religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Traditional Religion without, at the same time, falling into syncretism, ecleticism or a relativization of the Christian faith.(102)

Another path to be considered in the mission of evangelization is inculturation. St. John begins his Gospel by saying that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). The Incarnation is the ultimate foundation and pattern of all inculturation of the Christian faith. The Gospel and all that it implies must become truly incarnate in every culture and among every people so that the Gospel can evangelize cultures and peoples. Hence, inculturation implies incarnating the Gospel in a culture, and the Gospel, in turn, evangelizes culture by purifying it from all that is sinful and dehumanizing, and by enobling all that is good and positive in it.

Such a twofold inculturation is an urgent need in Asia so that the Gospel may not appear to be an alien body. Inculturation goes far beyond mere adaptation. It is a true incarnation: " means the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures."(103) This is a process that is profound, all-embracing, difficult and slow. It is a true symbiosis between the culture and the Gospel. One cannot overestimate the importance of inculturation in the context of the cultures and history of Asia, since it is essential for the Church to become "an intelligible sign of what She is and a more effective instrument of mission."(104)

Jesus made His spiritual mission evident and intelligible through His words and deeds. The Church, following the example of the Master, is committed to human liberation and promotion in all Her evangelizing activities. This ought to be so in a very special manner in Asia where hundreds of millions of people still live in inhuman poverty. Massive poverty is one of those Asian realities that should re-define and modify the concept of evangelization in Asia.

All FABC documents from Taipei to Manila have underlined the importance of human liberation and promotion in the evangelizing activity of the Church in Asia. The Church in Asia is called to be on the side of the poor who "struggle to overcome everything which condemns them to remain at the margin of life: famine, chronic disease, illiteracy, poverty, injustice...situations of economic and cultural neo-colonialism...."(105) Solidarity with the poor, involvement in their struggle for justice, reawakening the consciences of society to the needs of the poor and works of charity are all means of expressing the integral salvation which God offers to humanity in Jesus Christ.(106)

Formation to Mission

34. A truly Catholic theology of mission needs to be fostered in all seminaries and formation centres of Religious in Asia. This is vital for the future of mission in Asia. What is required is a mission theology in keeping with the twenty centuries of Christian tradition and the clear Magisterium of the Church. If the christological and eccelsiological foundations of Christian mission are weakened, then Christian mission will suffer. Sometimes the radical pluralism of the West is repeated in a new language in Asia: "All this has a debilitating impact, as far as a not-insignificant sector of the Church is concerned, on the motivation for mission as well as on missionary vocations themselves; seminarians studying are also affected."(107)

Along with a positive mission theology, there is need for a missionary formation in Asian seminaries and formation centres. A mission oriented formation will not only be theoretical but also include exposure to real mission work or proclamation, understanding of mission history, mission methods of the past, knowledge of Asian religions, their sacred texts, customs, etc..

Missionary formation calls for a renewal of the sense of mission as the Fifth Plenary Assembly of FABC in Bandung has clearly pointed out.(108) The vastness and complexity of the Asian continent, the difficulties of evangelization, and the paucity of means create a grave problem for evangelization. But, they are also challenges and opportunities for the disciples of Jesus Christ and call for a renewed sense of mission.

Ultimately, mission is the missionary. In all formation to mission, the person of the evangelizer is the secret to the success or failure of mission. Jesus identified Himself entirely with His mission. In the same manner, the evangelizer or missionary must identify with all that mission should be. When the missionary is a living witness of a person forgiven and renewed by Jesus Christ, mission receives credibility.


Mother of the Church

35. It is significant that Mary assisted at the beginning of the Church on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out on the Apostles and the disciples of Jesus. The Acts tells us that the eleven were gathered together in the Upper Room in prayer: "All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren" (Acts 1:14). The scene is significant because the Church has always been accompanied by the motherly presence and example of Mary, the Mother of the Lord.

The Church in Asia, gathering together on the eve of the Third Millennium and awaiting a New Pentecost, turns to Mary, the Mother of Church. There are two reasons for doing so: primarily because Mary, through the mystery of her Virgin birth, is the Mother of the Lord, and secondly, because she became, in virtue of her sufferings at the foot of the Cross, mystical Mother of all believers.

The dying Lord Jesus gave Mary as mother to John his disciple, to accompany him in his pilgrimage of discipleship and apostleship. John the Evangelist tells us: "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother...When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home" (Jn 19:25-27). Likewise, the Church, the Lord's disciples, looks to Mary as Mother.

Mary was the first to receive the Gospel, the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ brought by the angel Gabriel from God.(109) Without reservation she gave her unconditional and irrevocable "Amen". After her example, Christians seek to accept the Gospel and all its values into their personal lives. Secondly, Mary shared the Good News in love and service with Elizabeth and Zacharias. Through acts of love and service, the Church's members wish to be servants as well--interiorly and exteriorly--to other Christians and to non-Christian brethren.

Model of Evangelization

36. From the very beginning of the Church, Mary has been part of Catholic evangelization. It is enough to read the Fathers of Church to see how they spoke of Mary in relation to the Church and the Church in relation to Mary. The entire history of evangelization in every continent and country is accompanied by the figure of Mary. It is said that Thomas the Apostle in his missionary journey brought with him an image of Mary painted by St. Luke! The story contains a message for all evangelizers. The very existence of the legend is a proof that Mary was part of the missionary proclamation of the early Church. Since that time, missionaries everywhere have borne in their person the image of Mary, painted not on wood or canvas but in their heart, depending on the theology of Mary prevalent in their country. These same missionaries have presented Mary to their Christian converts as Mother of Christ and all Believers as well as a Model for imitation and veneration.

Marian shrines abound all across Asia, from the Middle East to the Far East, from India to the Philippines to Korea. Her sanctuaries are visited by millions of non-Christians all across Asia every year. It can be said, therefore, that Mary brings people to Jesus, for her image is inseparable from the Divine Child carried in her arms.

The figure of Mary has an evangelizing and humanizing value. In many Asian cultures, the mother is the object of great respect. Phrases like "Mother India", "Mother God" and "Mother Earth" are frequently heard in Asia. Hence, phrases like "Mother of God", "Mother of the Lord" are no strange names for Asians. They sound in their hearts familiar religious chords.

Again, the figure of Mary can be a very powerful symbol for the liberation of women in Asia. Mary occupies the loftiest and the most exalted place in Christian tradition. She is the model of all that the Church is called to be and will be, as Vatican II teaches: "The Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ."(110) The same Council states that Mary entered into the history of salvation as no one else has done.(111)

Wherever and whenever she is the object of preaching and veneration, she leads peoples to come to her Son. As she made her constant pilgrimage towards the perfect discipleship of Jesus, she invites all to do the same.(112) This is the reason why the Church in Asia in Her evangelizing efforts looks to Mary. The Church in Asia seeks to walk like Mary the same pilgrimage of faith in Jesus Christ; a pilgrimage of hope, awaiting in God's good time the harvest to be reaped from the seeds the Word already sown, and a pilgrimage of charity in humble service and respect for all.

Mary and Missionaries

37. Mary has always inspired the founding of many missionary congregations in the Church. This is particularly true of hundreds of thousands of Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests. Hundreds of local congregations have been inspired and sustained by the example of Mary in her service of love and charity. The Council rightly says: "The Virgin Mary in her own life lived an example of that maternal love by which all should be fittingly animated who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church on behalf of the rebirth of each person."(113) This is something that is characteristic of Catholic evangelization.

The Church in Asia, therefore, looks to Mary for her intercession, example, guidance and strength to carry on Her mission, as the Council tells us: "The Church, therefore, in her apostolic work also rightly looks to her who gave birth to Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin, so that through the Church Christ may be born and grow in the hearts of the faithful also."(114)

On the eve of the Third Millennium, the Church in Asia, therefore, turns to Mary for fresh inspiration, guidance and intercession for Her challenging mission of proclaiming her Son to the peoples of Asia.(115) The Church in Asia is strengthened by her presence in Her unchartered journey into the Third Millennium of evangelization . But on this journey, She proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary.(116)


38. At approach of the Third Millennium the Church of Jesus Christ casts an expectant look to the future to see what might be in store for Her in Asia, and what that same future holds for all the peoples of Asia--Christians as well as followers of other religions. She renders joyful thanks to the Lord for the gift of the Faith, for the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for all the missionaries who brought the Gospel to the Asian continent, beginning with St. Thomas the Apostle. She wishes to recall the memory of the great apostles and martyrs of the Asian continent, St. Francis Xavier, De Britto, Andrew Kim, Paul Miki and his companions, Theophane Venard and the Thai Martyrs, Bl. Joseph Vaz, Bl. Alphonsa, Bl. Chavara Kuriakose and thousands of others.

The Church wants to be a community whose every word and deed bears witness to the fulless of divine life which is Hers because of communion with the Blessed Trinity. As in the early Church, She seeks to preach Christ, and Him Crucified and Risen, so that the riches of His life might be communicated again to those who will open their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit in conversion. The Church encourages all Her members in Asia to use the preparation for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia as an opportunity to join together in the Church's evangelizing mission by pursuing ever more intensely a daily life of spiritual renewal and regeneration, corresponding to each's state in life so that Christ's life might shine forth in a great communal witness. The Church realizes that an important element in the process of renewal is repentance (cf. Lk 24:47). In this regard, She calls upon all Her members to search their hearts and seek repentance for past mistakes and divisions which might have made it difficult for the Asian people to behold the face of Jesus Christ.

As a community of disciples who have received forgiveness through a new outpouring of the Spirit promised by Jesus, the Church desires to bear witness to Her Lord in every part of Asia and in every way of life: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Because of the gift of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Church cannot help being a missionary community, ready to proclaim Jesus Christ to all peoples in Asia without regard for position or state in life.

This proclamation of Jesus Christ is always one of dialogue, a great part of which will require engaging in exchanges with the religions and cultures of the Asian peoples. The Church does this not as a "stranger in the land", but one who is about to begin the Third Millennium of Her life and existence on the Asian continent. In this dialogue, the Church wants to proclaim what God has revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. The message is one of life, life in all its fullness. This is the answer to what all hearts in Asia have been secretly longing for centuries and millennia.

As Servant of the Lord, Servant of the Kingdom, and Servant of the peoples of Asia, the Church desires to continue to put Her proclamation of Christ into concrete actions of love and service to the peoples of Asia in their search for God and in their quest for human dignity and a better life. "As servant of Yahweh and of humanity, the Church will also invite to full participation in the Christian community those who are led to it by the Spirit of God."(117) This service is done in a spirit of compassion for all, especially the poor. In each instance the Church seeks to be like Her Lord, the Good Samaritan, who came to bind and heal the wounds of sin, injustice, oppression and exploitation of every kind. "This compassion will be seen even deeper, and will welcome in each human being--but especially the poor, deprived and oppressed--the very person of Christ, who has united himself to every human being, though he/she may be unaware of it."(118)

As the Great Jubilee Year 2000 approaches, the Church, by way of encouragement and as a sure reason for hope, cannot forget the great moments of evangelization in Asia. The Jubilee is a reminder of the preaching and testimony of the Apostles who for the most part fulfilled their ministry on the Asian continent. This Jubilee period also marks the 7th centenary of the evangelization of China by Giovanni da Montecorvino, the 5th centenary of St. Francis Xavier and the modern mission to Asia, the 4th centenary of the evangelization of the Philippines and the 4th centenary of the Japanese martyrs.(119)

In remembering the past, the Church seeks to move forward in the history of Catholic mission in Asia. The occasion can serve as a new beginning in evangelization: "new" in its attitudes to religions and cultures, "new" in methods and "new" in the paths of mission. This evangelizing mission is undertaken not in a spirit of rivalry or self interest, but in communion and harmony with all the peoples of Asia. In this way the face of Christ will shine through the Church, so that all peoples of Asia can see and believe (cf. Jn 20:8), and thereby experience Christ's love, pardon and grace, and share in the Church's fullness of life, which Christ came to give: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).



1. Describe some of the positive aspects as well as the shortcomings of evangelization in your area in relation to Asian realities, i.e., religious, socio- economic, political, etc.? In light of these realities, what specific areas should receive attention and what specific approaches should betaken by the Church in Her evangelizing mission in Asia?


2. Evaluate the state of the Church's missionary activity in Asia and in your area (structures, programmes, movements, etc.). Mention specific ways to promote and assist the Church's missionary activity in this regard.

3. What is being done for the formation of the agents of missionary activity, e.g., bishops, clergy, religious, seminarians, laity, missoonary institutes, ecclesial movements, etc? According to your opinion, what should be done in this area?


4. What is being done in your area to help members of the Church become better acquainted with the traditions of other religions in Asia. What can the Church learn from Her dialogue with other Asian religions and the knowledge obtained? To what extent can the specific aspects of Asian religions be used and developed in the fulfillment of the Church's mission of bringing salvation to all peoples in Asia?


5. In your area how is the Person of Christ viewed and proposed in the Church's mission of proclaiming Him and His Salvation to the Asian people? Describe ways in which the Church can maintain the centrality of the proclamation of Jesus Christ in very difficult political, social and cultural situations? In what ways can the Church present Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour as well as the universality of salvation in Him?


6. Evaluate in your area the Church's understanding of the need and responsibility of carrying on Christ's mission in the Spirit? How is the work of formation in this regard being fulfilled at various levels of the Church's life. Mention some concrete efforts undertaken by the Church in the mission field in your area and their results. Describe the various elements which should be involved in any future initiatives in this regard.

7. Give an assessment of how Church communion is lived in the local Church in your area. Describe how various Christian Churches give a common witness in their evangelizing activities? How do persons from other religions view these Christian communities? Indicate ways in which Church communities can become more conscious of their unity in Christ and display it more effectively in the Church's evangelizing mission in Asia.

8. What efforts are being made in your area towards fostering greater ecumenical understanding and unity among various Churches and various ecclesial traditions?

9. What is being done by the Church in your area to engage in dialogue with other religions: Hindu-Christian, Buddhist-Christian, Islamic-Christian, Traditional Religion, etc.? What are the different levels at which dialogue is being carried out? What are the concrete results? What should be the concerns of the Church in this area in the future?


10. Describe the extent of inculturation in the various aspects of the Church's life in your area (e.g., Christian theology, liturgy, spirituality, liturgical art, architecture, etc.) and its effects in relation to the Church's mission? What is the contribution of the efforts at inculturation in your area to the universal Church?

11. How is the social doctrine of the Church being utilized in the Church's evangelizing mission of love and service in Asia (human promotion and development, situations of civil war and ethnic conflicts, refugees, migrants, marginalized peoples, etc.)?

12. What has the Church done in your area to use the means of social communications in the Church's evangelizing mission, especially the press, radio, television, film, video, internet, etc? What initiatives need to be taken in the future?

13. How would you describe Marian spirituality and devotion in your area as a means of evangelization and catechesis? In what ways is Our Lady seen and appreciated as the perfect model of Christian discipleship? Give concrete examples of how Marian devotion leads people to a genuine imitation of Jesus Christ?

14. Give any remarks and suggestions on matters related to the synod topic not included in the above series of questions.

Vatican City 1996

(1) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church Gaudium et spes, 1.

(2) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesimo adveniens, 20: AAS 63 (1971) 415-416.

(3) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Delegates, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences -

FABC, Fifth Plenary Assembly , Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p.2.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Cf. UNITED NATIONS, Report of the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo (Egypt), 5-13 September 1994, D, 6.21ff.

(6) JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Delegates, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences - FABC, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 2.

(7) Cf. THE SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes , 1.

(8) JOHN PAUL II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994), p. 219.

(9) Cf. BENEDICT XV, Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, 9: AAS 11 (1919) 445.

(10) Cf. Ibid. 7: AAS 11 (1919) 443.

(11) Cf. BENEDICT XV, Apostolic Letter Maximum illud: AAS 11 (1919) 440-455; PIUS XI, Encyclical Letter Rerum ecclesiae: AAS 18 (1926) 65-83; PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Evangelii praecones: AAS 43 (1951) 497-528; Encyclical Letter Fidei donum: AAS 49 (1957) 225-248; JOHN XXIII,Encyclical Letter Princeps pastorum: AAS 51 (1959) 833-864; PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi: AAS 68 (1976) 5-76; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio: AAS 83 (1991) 249-340.

(12) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 21: AAS 83 (1991) 268.

(13) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 2.

(14) ST. IRENAEUS, Adversus Haereses, 4, 20, 7: PG 7/1, 1037.

(15) ST.BONAVENTURE, In secundum librum sententiarum, 1, 2.2.1: Opera Omnia, Ad Claras Aquas (prope Florentiam), Tipografia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1885, II, p. 44.

(16) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 289.

(17) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 28: AAS 83 (1991) 274; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, 54: AAS 78 (1986) 875-876.

(18) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, 53: AAS 78 (1986) 874- 875.

(19) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary

Activity, Ad gentes 3, 11, 15.

(20) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Visitation of India (1-10 February 1986), Address to Repre-

sentatives of Non-Christian Religions, (3 February - Madras), 2-4: AAS 78 (1986) 762-765.

(21) PAUL VI, Insegnamenti, 1964, II, (Vatican City: Vatican Polyglot Press, 1965), p. 693.

(22) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 16.

(23) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei verbum, 3.

(24) Cf. Ibid., 11.

(25) Cf. Ibid., 9.

(26) JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN, The Arians of the 4th Century, (Longmans: London, 1872), pp. 80-81.

(27) Cf. SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homily on Romans 13:8: PG 60, 519.

(28) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 29: AAS 83 (1991) 275.

(29) Ibid.

(30) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 3.

(31) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 29: AAS 83 (1991) 275.

(32) Ibid., 5: AAS 83 (1991) 254.

(33) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 22.

(34) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis, 10: AAS 71 (1979) 274-275.

(35) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 5: AAS 83 (1991) 254.

(36) Cf. Ibid.

(37) G. ROSALES AND C. G. AREVALO, ed., For All The Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1971 to 1991, (Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications, 1992), p. xxi.

(38) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Report of the Workshop: The Church in Asia and Mission in the 1990's, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17- 27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 53.

(39) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 22.

(40) JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Delegates, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences - FABC, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 3.

(41)FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Statement of the Assembly, First Plenary Assembly, Taipei (Taiwan), 22-26 April 1974, 7: G. ROSALES AND C. G. AREVALO, ed., For All The Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1971 to 1991, (Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications, 1994), p. 13.

(42) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis, 13: AAS 71 (1979) 282.

(43) JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Delegates, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences - FABC, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, No. 59, p. 3.

(44) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 737.

(45) Ibid., No. 738.

(46) Ibid.

(47) Ibid., No. 737.

(48) Cf. Ibid., No. 730.

(49) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 5.

(50) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 2.

(51) THIRD ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS (1974) - "Evangelization in the Modern World", Declaration of the Synod Fathers, 4: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 7 November 1974, p. 3; cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 14: AAS 68 (1976) 13.

(52) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 2ff.

(53) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 257.

(54) Ibid.

(55)" JOHN PAUL II, Discourse at the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, 6: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 17 January 1996, p. 5.

(56) Cf. FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement, Third Plenary Assembly, Bangkok (Thailand), 20-27 October 1982: G. ROSALES AND C. G. AREVALO, ed., For All The Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1971 to 1991, (Quezon City , Philippines: Claretian Publications, 1994), pp. 49- 65.

(57)" JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, 32: AAS 81 (1989) 451-452.

(58) Cf. FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION,Conclusions of the Theological Consultation, Hua Hin (Thailand), 3-10 November 1991, 1-54: G. ROSALES AND C. G. AREVALO, ed., For All The Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1971 to 1991, (Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications, 1994), p. 335-347.

(59) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, 3.

(60) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, 34; AAS 87 (1995) 26-27.

(61) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC , For example, Statements from the Third Plenary Assembly, Bangkok (Thailand), 20-27 October 1982; Fourth Plenary Assembly, Tokyo (Japan),16-25 September 1986; All-Asia Conference on Evangelization, Suwon (Korea), 24-31 August 1988; Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990; Sixth Plenary Assembly, Manila (Philippines), January 1994.

(62) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 13.

(63) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 53; AAS 68 (1976) 41.

(64) Cf. BISHOP'S INSTITUTE FOR INTERRELIGIOUS AFFAIRS ON THE THEOLOGY OF DIALOGUE - BIRA IV/12, Statement of the Final Assembly, Hua Hin (Thailand), 21-26 February 1991, 1-58: G. ROSALES AND C. G. AREVALO, ed., For All The Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Documents from 1971 to 1991, (Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications, 1994), pp. 325-334.

(65) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 23; AAS 83 (1991) 270.

(66) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 7.

(67) Ibid., 1.

(68) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 748.

(69) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 1.

(70) Ibid.

(71) Cf. FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement , All- Asia Conference on Evangelization, Suwon (Korea), 24-31 August 1988: FABC PAPERS, No. 64, p. 20-23; PAUL VI , Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 17-21: AAS 68 (1976) 17-20; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 17, 52-59: AAS 83 (1991) 264-265, 299- 308.

(72) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 53: AAS 68 (1976) 41-42.

(73) Ibid., 22: AAS 68 (1976) 20.

(74) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement, All-Asia Conference on Evangelization, Suwon (Korea), 24-31 August 1988,6: FABC PAPERS, No. 64, p. 20-21.

(75) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 27: AAS 68 (1976) 23.

(76) Cf. Ibid.

(77) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 61: AAS 83 (1991) 310.

(78) Cf. Ibid., 6: AAS 83 (1991) 310.

(79) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 23.

(80) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 23; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 61, 63: AAS 83 (1991) 309-312.

(81) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church Christus Dominus, 1ff.

(82) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests Presbyterorum ordinis, 10; cf. Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 39; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 67; AAS 83 (1991) 315.

(83) Cf. Ibid.

(84) Ibid.; also Guide to Pastoral Activity of Priests, CEP, 1989.

(85) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 66: AAS 83 (1991) 314; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 23-27.

(86) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 69: AAS 68 (1976) 58-59.

(87) Cf. Ibid.; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 69: AAS 83 (1991) 317; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad gentes, 40.

(88) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 69: AAS 83 (1991) 317.

(89) Cf. JOHN PAUL II,Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, 35: AAS 81 (1989) 457; Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 71: AAS 83 (1991) 318.

(90) Cf. Ibid., 73-74: AAS 83 (1991) 320-322.

(91) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, 35: AAS 81 (1989) 458.

(92) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 72: AAS 83 (1991) 320.

(93) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 41: AAS 68 (1976) 31-32.

(94) Ibid., 24: AAS 68 (1976) 21.

(95) Cf. FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990, 4.1: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 34.

(96) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei verbum, 21.

(97) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 91: AAS 83 (1991) 338.

(98) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Report of the Workshop: A Spirituality for Our 1990's, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59 , p. 57.

(99) JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, 8: AAS 88 (1996) 383.

(100) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55: AAS 83 (1991) 302-304.

(101) Cf. Ibid.

(102) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the Delegates, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences - FABC, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 4; Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55-56: AAS 83 (1991) 302-305.


(104) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 52: AAS 83 (1991) 300.

(105) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 30: AAS 68 (1976) 26.

(106) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 58-60: AAS 83 (1991) 305-309.

(107) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Report of the Workshop: The Church in Asia and Mission in the 1990's, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17- 27 July 1990: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 53.

(108) Cf. FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement, Fitfh Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990, 3: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, pp. 31-33.

(109) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 53.

(110) Ibid., 63.

(111) Cf. Ibid., 65.

(112) Cf. Ibid.

(113) Ibid.

(114) Ibid.

(115) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 92: AAS 83 (1991) 339.

(116) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, 25ff: AAS 79 (1987) 393ff.

(117) FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES - FABC, Final Statement, Fifth Plenary Assembly, Bandung (Indonesia), 17-27 July 1990, 6.3: FABC PAPERS, no. 59, p. 36.

(118) Ibid., 6:4; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio,14: AAS 83 (1991) 262-263 ; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 22.

(119) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, 25: AAS 87 (1995) 21.