The Pontifical Council for the Laity will hold a Congress for Asian Catholic Laity on the theme: “Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today”. The Congress will take place in Seoul, Korea from August 31 to September 5, 2010 at a conference center adjacent to the Cathedral. This initiative arises within the Pontifical Council for the Laity’s practice of periodically organising regional congresses for Catholic laity with their bishops according to geographical and cultural areas with the purpose of strengthening the ties of the local Church with the Chair of Peter. The decision to focus on Asia expresses a missionary concern for a continent that, while rich in ancient traditions, culture and religions, is now emerging as a key player in an age of immense transformation. Above all, this choice manifests the Church’s pastoral attention for Asian lay Catholics who are called to witness to Jesus Christ in communion with their pastors, and to proclaim the Gospel of Christ as a universal gift of salvation.
This Congress is being organized in collaboration with the Lay Commission of the Korean Catholic Bishops Conference and national councils for the laity. Participants at this event will consist of the official delegations Salmost all headed by a bishopS from twenty of the Asian countries that form part of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) together with representatives from the FABC. There will also be thirty-five delegations representing lay associations, ecclesial movements and new communities that are recognized by the Holy See and have a significant presence in Asia. All together, congress participants will total some four hundred people.
The two opening conferences, “Two thousand years of the Church’s mission in Asia: waves of evangelization, holiness and martyrdom” and “Jesus Christ, a gift for Asia: prerequisites, tasks and challenges of evangelizing today”, will serve to set the general framework of the Congress. The entire afternoon session of the first day will offer the national delegates the opportunity to share the pastoral concerns of their respective countries and the different initiatives that they are undertaking. The second day will open with a conference on “The vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the light of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Christifideles laici” and, after some remarks from the floor, will be followed by a talk on “Christian formation and lay missionary efforts in Asia”. A subsequent panel discussion will touch on various themes pertinent to Asia: Christian initiation and the ongoing formation of the laity; the Christian witness of the laity in different sectors of society; testimonies of Christian charity at the service of the poor; the work of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue; lay efforts in favor of the inculturation of the Gospel. The following day’s conferences and discussion will revolve around the theme of religious freedom which is of crucial importance in Asia. There will also be ample time for deepening reflection on some specific areas and priorities within the work of evangelization: the renewal of the parish; the pastoral care of the family; the identity and mission of Catholic schools; the role of women in the Church and in society; the participation of Catholic laity in politics and in the workplace.
Lastly, after a conference on “The new season for associations of lay faithful”, ecclesial movements and new communities will share experiences regarding their evangelization efforts in Asia. The work of the Congress will draw to a close the following day with a conference on the active role that the laity are called to exercise within the mission of the Church as “witnesses of hope for the good of the people of Asia” and this
will be followed by some final concluding remarks. The program will be further enriched by an exhibition on the Jesuit missionary to Asia, Matteo Ricci, including the viewing of a documentary film about his life.