In behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, I gladly welcome Your Eminences and Your Excellencies to this Seminar of Asian Bishops’ Conferences on Christian Unity.
This gathering of Asian Bishops on Philippine soil is the first of its kind because it is convened no less by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity whose President is His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, who will help us address a pastoral concern, an emerging challenge which is presented in Asia today by the growth of Pentecostal and Evangelical communities. This particular concern and challenge gains more prominence because in Asia Christians are in a minority – majority of whom are in the Philippines.
Our theme “Search for Christian Unity: Where we stand today?” is an occasion for lively spiritual communion of brothers in the faith. We can help one another understand the internal and external causes of the growth of Pentecostals and Evangelical communities and what they teach us about Catholicism and Christianity, and how their presence can be a positive opportunity for renewing our Catholicism.
During the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” last January 21, 2007 the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us “that ecumenism is a profound dialogical experience, a listening and speaking to one another, knowing one another better; it is a task within everyone’s reach, especially when it concerns spiritual ecumenism, based on prayer and sharing which is now possible among Christians” (L’Osservatore Romano, January 24, 2007).
The spirituality of communion which we shall live in the coming two and a half days will be as described in the theme of the 2007 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (MK 7/37).
Needless to say, Christ can do all things: he can open the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the heart, the mind to achieve the great fruits of Christian Unity. Better still, he is with us and we with Him!
of Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Seminar for Asian Bishops’ Conferences
February 8-10, 20076
Pius XII Catholic Center