Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, “The Church in Asia.”
Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II presented in New Delhi, India, on November 6, 1999 to more than 100 Asian Bishops. It is based on the work of the April 19 – May 14, 1998 Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops, one of the regional synods called for by the pope as part of preparations for the Jubilee Year 2000. Published in Origins 29:23 (November 18, 1999): 357, 359-384.
“Every particular church must be grounded in the witness of ecclesial communion that constitutes its very nature as church. The synod fathers chose to describe the diocese as a communion of communities gathered around the shepherd, where clergy, consecrated persons and the laity are engaged in a ‘dialogue of life and heart’ sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit.(40)
“It is primarily in the diocese that the vision of a communion of communities can be actualized in the midst of the complex social, political, religious, cultural and economic realities of Asia. Ecclesial communion implies that each local church should become what the synod fathers called a ‘participatory church,’ a church, that is, in which all live their proper vocation and perform their proper role. In order to build up the ‘communion for mission’ and the ‘mission of communion,’ every member’s unique charism needs to be acknowledged, developed and effectively utilized.(41) In particular there is a need to foster greater involvement of the laity and consecrated men and women in pastoral planning and decision making through such participatory structures as pastoral councils and parish assemblies.(42)
“In every diocese, the parish remains the ordinary place where the faithful gather to grow in faith, to live the mystery of ecclesial communion and to take part in the church’s mission. Therefore, the synod fathers urged pastors to devise new and effective ways of shepherding the faithful, so that everyone, especially the poor, will feel truly a part of the parish and of God’s people as a whole. Pastoral planning with the lay faithful should be a normal feature of all parishes.(43)” (Paragraph 25, p. 372)
(40) No. 11: AAS 83 (1991), 260.
(41) Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops, Relatio post disceptationem, 3.
(42) Roman Missal: Eucharistic Prayer I for Masses of Reconciliation.
(43) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 10: AAS 71 (1979), 274.