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Friday, December 7, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - The 11th Meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome on November 20, under the presidency of Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of bishops, according to a communique made public today.

  During the meeting, attention was focussed on "the situation of the Church in the nations of Asia, ... the implementation of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Asia,' ... the influence exercised by the recent post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Sacramentum caritatis' on the various Churches of Asia, and proposals and suggestions for the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly which will have as its theme 'The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.'

  "The debate," the communique adds, "made it possible to create a broad overview of ecclesial life in Asia, and of the living conditions in civil society, which in many ways are favorable to Church activity. Nonetheless various areas of concern were identified, ... deriving from wars, the arms race, ethnic strife, violence, terrorism, repression and the various limits placed on freedom of conscience."

  "The primary victims of persecutions are minorities," the communique notes, "among them Christian minorities who are often forced to abandon their countries of origin, suffering violence also at the hands of fundamentalist groups. The lack of religious liberty takes various forms: limits to communication among bishops and between them and the Holy Father, ... the impossibility of creating episcopal conferences, difficulties in obtaining visas for pastoral card workers, limits on the building of places of workshop, and impediments to [religious] presence in public life."

  The communique also notes a number of positive aspects such as "the fraternal welcome shown to Christians who have fled in fear of their lives; the increase in the number of Catholics in regions where they have, up to now, been scarce; the faithfulness even unto the giving of life, as in the case of the four priests killed in Asia in 2006, ... an increase in vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, so that now Asians themselves have become missionaries to other particular Churches in Asia and on other continents."

  Moreover, "the Church remains open to dialogue with the great religions of Asia, making a notable contribution to tolerance and civil harmony, to reinforcing the State of law and the process of the democratization of society." The Church also exercises an important influence "through her social activities in schools and hospitals, and in favor of human promotion."

  The communique also notes how the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia" is "producing abundant fruits above all through programs of diocesan activities and bishops' pastoral letters," while the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis" is being "effectively disseminated, ... and translated into local languages such as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai."

  The next meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will be held on December 11 and 12, 2008.
SE/CHURCH LIFE:ASIA/ETEROVIC                VIS 20071207 (520)

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