The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) is the fulfillment of the dream of the Bishops of Asia when they met together for the first time in 1968 in Manila soon after the Vatican II. As the Asian bishops came to Manila again during the visit of Pope Paul VI in 1970, the proposal took more concrete steps to set up this Federation. They forged ahead with their plans for the FABC as local Churches in Asia grappled with the question of how to proclaim the Gospel in a "new world” born after the colonial period.
The statutes of the FABC were approved by the Holy See in 1972. This voluntary association of Bishops’ Conferences in Asia was formed "to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good." Taking renewal in the Church as the overarching theme of its structure, reflection and activities through the past four decades, the FABC has discerned what the Church in Asia must do to be the Light, the Salt and the Leaven for the masses of Asia so that the message of Jesus Christ who said “I came that the World may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10/10) may become relevant.
One of the main instruments of achieving its goal is the FABC plenary assembly held every four years. The assembly usually brings together about 100 bishop-delegates and a large number of theologians and experts to study particular themes, pray together and draft statements that is relevant for the church in Asia.
The first FABC plenary assembly in 1974 issued its first statement and recommendation under the title “Evangelization in Modern Day Asia”. It recommended to use dialogue as the approach to evangelization in Asia where Christians comprise only two to three percent of the population in most countries. Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, who served for many years in India's troubled northeast region and currently chairs the FABC’s Office of Evangelization, advocated an approach that involves "whispering the Gospel to the soul of Asia." FABC documents have detailed an approach to evangelization through dialogue at three levels: with a people’s culture (inculturation), with a country’s religions (interreligious dialogue), and with the poor.
Cardinal Rosales the emeritus Archbishop of Manila said: "Without the FABC, individual local Churches would find it hard to solve problems that are shared by other Churches". One of the theologians from India, Father Felix Wilfred presented in volume 1 of the book "For All the Peoples of Asia," the strategy of "implementing the grand vision of the FABC." For more information on FABC, please visit our website: www.fabc.org.
The Functions of FABC:
Alive to the reality of the fresh winds of renewal that was blowing in the Church, the Bishops realized the need for setting up a permanent structure by which Asian Church leaders could gather regularly to share their experiences and develop among themselves what local Churches could do to translate the vision of Vatican II into the lives of the Peoples in Asia. Hence the function of FABC was defined as follows:
- To study ways and means of promoting the apostolate, especially in the light of Vatican II and post-conciliar official documents, and according to the needs of Asia
- To work for and to intensify the dynamic presence of the Church in the total development of the peoples of Asia
- To help in the study of problems of common interest to the Church in Asia, and to investigate possibilities of solutions and coordinated action
- To promote inter-communication and cooperation among local Churches and bishops of Asia
- To render service to Episcopal Conferences of Asia in order to help them to meet better the needs of the People of God
- To foster a more ordered development of organizations and movements in the Church at the international level.
- To foster ecumenical and interreligious communication and collaboration.
Based on the logic of local Churches, the decisions of the Federation are without juridical binding force; their acceptance is an expression of collegial responsibility.
FABC functions through a hierarchy of structure consisting of the Plenary Assembly, the Central Committee, the Standing Committee, and the Central Secretariat.
The Plenary Assembly, the supreme body of FABC, is composed of all presidents of member-conferences or their officially designated Episcopal alternates, Bishop-delegates elected by the member-conferences, associate members and members of the Standing Committee. The Plenary Assembly meets in ordinary session every four years.
The Central Committee, composed of the presidents of member-conferences or their officially designated Episcopal alternates, oversees the implementation of the resolutions and instructions of the Plenary Assembly.
The Standing Committee, composed of five Bishops elected from different parts of Asia, implements the resolutions and instructions of the Central Committee. It provides direct guidance and support to the Central Secretariat and other organs of FABC.
The Central Secretariat is the principal service agency and an instrument of coordination within the FABC and with outside offices and agencies. To assist the Central Secretariat are nine Offices each handling specialized ministry/area of concern:.
- Office of Human Development
- Office of Social Communication
- Office of Laity
- Office of Theological Concerns
- Office of Education and Student Chaplaincy
- Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
- Office of Evangelization
- Office of Clergy
- Office of Consecrated Life
Since 2011 a desk for ecological concerns has been set up to address this important issue.
The contribution of FABC through its General Assembly and offices will be presented in the next issue.
Fr. Raymond Ambroise
Office of Social Communication,
Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC-OSC).
FABC PLENARY ASSEMBLIES
FABC I: Evangelization in Modern-Day Asia
- Taipei, Taiwan, 22-27 April, 1974
Participants: 50+ Bishops, 100 Priests& others
(Bishops-delegates from 14 Episcopal Conferences & 18 countries)
FABC II: Prayer - The Life of the Church of Asia
- Calcutta, India, 19-25 November, 1978
Participants: 44 Voting Bishops, 11 non-Voting Bishops, 28others
FABC III: The Church - A Community of Faith in Asia
- Samphran, Thailand, 20-27 October, 1982
Participants: 37Voting Bishops, 20 non-Voting Bishops, 81 others
(Delegates from 16 countries of East Asia, from 12 of 14 Conferences and from Hong Kong & Macau)
FABC IV: The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in the World of Asia
- Tokyo, Japan, 16-25 September, 1986
Participants:41 VotingBishops, 36 non-Voting Bishops, 82 others
FABC V: The Emerging Challenges to the Church in Asia in the 1990s: A Call to Respond
(New Way of Being Church)
- Bandung, Indonesia, 17-27 July, 1990
Participants:50 VotingBishops, 36 non-Voting Bishops, 70+ others
FABC VI: Christian Discipleship in Asia Today: Service to Life - Manila, Philippines, 10-19 January, 1995
Participants: 58 Voting Bishops, 119 non-Voting Bishops, 67 others
FABC VII: A Renewed Church in Asia: A Mission of Love and Service
- Samphran, Thailand, 3-12 January, 2000
Participants: 70 Voting Bishops, 25 non-VotingBishops,98 others
FABC VIII: The Asian Family Toward a Culture of Integral Life
- Daejeon, South Korea, 17-23 August, 2004
Participants: 59 Voting Bishops, 25 non-voting Bishops, 38 others
FABC IX: Living the Eucharist in Asia
- Manila, Philippines,10-16 August, 2009
Participants: 65 Voting Bishops, 27 non-Voting Bishops, 43 others
Văn phòng Truyền thông của FABC