On the heels of Pope Francis’ continuing invitation to allow ourselves to be surprised by the love of God that is always new, thirty-two bishop friends of the Focolare from Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Japan, Taiwan and Sri Lanka, gathered to meet in Seoul, Korea on May 22 – 25 in order to immerse themselves in a living experience of the “Church-communion.”
The nations of the Asian continent vary in language, ethnicity, religion and traditions, and the situations being lived by the Church also vary widely. The bishops saw in this variety of forms and situations an opportunity for mutual enrichment: “We gave much time for spiritual communion and getting to know each other,” they write. “It revealed a great wealth of life that is producing many concrete experiences that arise from living the Gospel in many different settings: seminaries, parishes, among the marginalized, the disabled and the poor. Love for Jesus in our brothers and sisters was the motivation that urged us to draw near to our neighbours, seeking to soothe their wounds.”
They also reflected on the New Evangelization. This asks us for a personal conversion and a new proclamation of God’s love to the Asian people through dialogue with the wide range of religious traditions. It also calls for radical openness to those who suffer.
The final Mass concluded with a solemn pact of mutual love and the commitment to love the other’s diocese as one’s own truly seemed to crown the sharing they had experienced. Many of the bishops promised to make better use of the rapid means of communication such as Skype and video-conferences.
Moderator of these gatherings of Bishop Friends of the Focolare, Archbishop of Bangkok, Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, described how the experiences made in the daily conquests of life created brotherly relationships of deep communion among the participants, allowing them to experience the presence of the Risen Christ among all. This presence gave new joy and strength for taking up the ministry of service in each one’s diocese, with the love of pastors who are near to their flock, following the example shown to us by Pope Francis.