Asian Church holds ‘Bishops Meet’ to renew communication mission
Asian Catholic media professionals descend on Thailand for the 28th annual Bishop’s Meet to share their desire to help the Church communicate the mercy and joy of the Gospel.
Bishops, priest, and lay people from across Asia converged on Bangkok to forge a path forward in the Church’s mission to communicate the Gospel effectively and courageously with all the means of modern media.
Around 30 delegates met at the Don Bosco Home in the Thai capital for the 28th annual FABC-OSC Bishops’ Meet, on 20-24 November.
Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, and Dr. Nataša Govekar, director of the Dicastery’s Theological-Pastoral Department, joined the Asian Church representatives for the five-day event.
Cardinal Charles Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), attended the Bishops’ Meet, along with Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak, the Archbishop of Bangkok.
Building relationships as missionary disciples
Dr. Ruffini spoke on the topic of “Communication in the Synodal Church” and expressed the Holy See’s desire to engage in mutual support with local Churches.
He recalled that the Synodal Church is more about building relationships than about the mere transmission of communication.
The Church, said Dr. Ruffini, is a community of evangelizing disciples, emphasizing that Christians are called to be missionaries in the digital era.
“It is always beautiful to meet in person and to find the time to share thoughts, concerns, and dreams,” said Dr. Ruffini, in an interview shared with Vatican News.
He invited Church communicators to engage with social media in hopes of building personal encounters.
“What I am understanding these days is that from Asia, from the East, let's say, we can learn a lesson: that Eastern culture knows how to understand that everything is united, how to see beyond appearances,” said Dr. Ruffini.
Christian communicators in the digital realm
On the first day of the event, young communicators from across Asia joined the FABC-OSC Bishops’ Meet for an online session of the “Faith Communication in the Digital World”, a project run by the Dicastery for Communication.
The young people hailed from the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, and Thailand.
The Faith Communication project seeks to prepare young people for the communication challenges they will face in their respective vocations.
With the help of mentors, young communicators gain awareness of their own identities in order to help them communicate better in a culture of respect, dialogue, and friendship.
Dr. Govekar also presented the Dicastery’s 34-page document, “Towards Full Presence: A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media”.
The document, released in May 2023, offers an invitation for Catholics to “live in the digital world as ‘loving neighbours’ who are genuinely present and attentive to each other on our common journey along the ‘digital highways’.”
Telling the Gospel story of mercy and joy
Cardinal Sebastian Francis, the Bishop of Penang in Malaysia and Chairman of the FABC’s Office of Social Communication, noted that this was the first FABC-OSC in-person meeting in several years.
“Communication is our way of life, our way of relating with one another,” he said, adding that Asians are “basically storytellers, and we have a story to tell.”
He expressed his confidence that young digital missionaries will be able tell the Gospel story of mercy and joy.
“There are so many young people, in Asia particularly, who are becoming part of this mission and part of this story and who are going forward, going ahead of us even to evangelize, to share this story of the Gospel with Asia,” said Cardinal Francis.