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Meeting highlights the significance of lay organisations

PATTAYA (SE): The second annual gathering of Ecclesial Movements in Asia was held from November 25 to 27 at the Redemptorist Centre in Pattaya, Thailand, highlighted the important role that lay organisations play in the pastoral role and evangelical mission of the Church in society.

Meeting under the theme, Mission in Asia–New Evangelisers for the New Evangelisation, the gathering was convened by the Office of Evangelisation of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the Fraternity of Ecclesial Movements in Asia.

It focussed on the widespread culture of secularism, the increase in narrow forms of faith, such as sects and various expressions of fundamentalism, which the 28 delegates reflected paint an unpleasant picture of religion for wider society.

The gathering also looked at the increasing number of people migrating across international borders in search of work, which it said is causing families to be uprooted and cultural roots to be forgotten.

The delegates added that new media technology is also making an impact on the way people think, act and relate to one another.

The gathering acknowledged the need to expect rapid change to continue, highlighting the need for lay movements to bring the attention of Christians to emerging issues that require special attention, such as the rapid ageing of many societies.

The conveners of the gathering, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, from India, and Filipino Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, urged the gathering to heed the call of the Church for a new evangelisation and to take courage in forging new paths, which requires a fresh discernment and novel approaches, in order for the Church to respond meaningfully in the changing circumstances. 

Chun Boc Tay, from the Focolare Movement, pointed out the need for ecclesial movements to live the reality of the Church as a communion, to be united in diversity and one in Jesus, while maintaining the character of their own charism.

Shelley Ee, from Worldwide Marriage Encounter, added, “I… am motivated by Bishop Thomas’ concluding advice that lay missionaries need to be relevant and creative in responding to the times and to respect the individual by paying attention to their worries and situations.”

Manoj Sunny, the coordinator of the evangelisation office, said the purpose of the gathering was to make an in-depth study of and reflect on the Lineamenta of the Bishops’ Synod on the New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in Asia. 

The meeting agreed that meeting annually is proving to be an important step, as it gives recognition to the need for continued fellowship and reflection on mission.

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