Thursday, June 21, 2007

Common Witness in Contemporary Asia

20.6.07 ASIA UCAN Document - Joint Statement Of CCA, EFA, FABC: 'Our Common Witness'

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN) -- Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical delegates have approved the following statement on their deliberations at the fourth seminar of the Asian Movement for Christian Unity, recently concluded in Kuala Lumpur:


Joint Statement
The Fourth seminar of the Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU IV) was held on 11 to 14 June 2007 at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 24 participants, representing the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), and the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia (EFA), took part. Earlier AMCU seminars (Hong Kong, 1995; Bali, 1997; Chiang Mai, 2001) were jointly sponsored and organized by CCA and FABC. The participation by representatives of EFA in AMCU IV was the result of discussions carried out at the Asian chapter of the Global Christian Forum in Bangkok on 21-23 September 2006.

The theme of AMCU IV was "Our Common Witness in Contemporary Asia" and focused on the importance of Christians of all Churches and Christian communities to be united in responding to the social, political, and religious realities of Asia today. The participants shared their personal faith journeys and then examined the possibilities of joint Christian witness of faith in the context of the social challenges of injustice and discrimination and in the milieu of Asia's religious and cultural plurality.

The participants agreed that Christian commitment must lead the Christian Churches in Asia to take a prophetic stand against any form of discrimination, such as that of caste, class, race, and gender, as being incompatible with the teaching of the Gospel. God's message to humankind, as enunciated by the prophets and expressed in God's word in Jesus Christ, affirms the equal human dignity of all people and condemns as sinful those human attitudes and deeds that oppress and discriminate among persons.

The common witness that Christians are called to make against patterns of oppression includes self-examination and self-criticism to become more aware of the ways in which sinful structures have also become engrained in the life of Christian communities in Asia. To be credible, Christians must oppose injustice and exploitation, not only when the victims are themselves Christian, but also in those instances where those who suffer discrimination are the followers of other religions or of no religion, and in cases where the perpetrators of injustice are fellow Christians. Christian witness, based on the Gospel imperative of loving service to others, must focus on the needs of the most vulnerable such as victims of natural calamities, oppressive regimes, and all forms of degradation of human life and should confront problems like global warming and other environmental concerns.

Faced with the multiplicity of religions in contemporary Asia, the participants of AMCU IV sought to define some elements of common Christian witness. Faith in Jesus Christ must be proclaimed in full respect for the beliefs and practices of others. Witness to Christian faith should never be carried out by putting down or denigrating the faith of others. Genuine Christian witness understands faith in Christ to be liberation from patterns of human sinfulness and which arises from a free and joyful response to God's grace.

In the light of the various challenges facing the churches, the participants call upon the component bodies (CCA, FABC, and EFA) to address together the following concerns. One challenge is that of forming Christian youth in a commitment to build Christian unity. A second challenge is that of making our parish communities and pastors to be focal points for deeper involvement in the search for full visible Christian unity.

The three bodies can concretely promote Christian unity by getting to know one another better through mutual discussions and invitations to assemblies and plenary sessions, by engaging in joint projects such as the Asia Conference of Theological Students (ACTS) and the Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS), and by undertaking joint actions such as summer camps for Christian unity for young people. Mutual cooperation and activities at national and local levels are also to be strongly encouraged.

The participants expect to hold the next seminar for the Asian Movement for Christian Unity (AMCU V) in the middle of 2009.

Christian Conference of Asia
Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences
Evangelical Fellowship of Asia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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