In Asia, a Poor Church Faces Hurdles

Analysis of Philippine Archbishop Morelos

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico, OCT. 13, 2004 ( In Asia, a continent where the Church is a minority and poor, faith in the Eucharist gives much hope, says a Philippine archbishop.

Archbishop Carmelo Morelos of Zamboanga delivered that message when addressing the International Eucharistic Congress being held in Guadalajara.

In commenting on the lights and shadows of Eucharistic faith in Asia, Archbishop Morelos said that the Church there regards itself poor on many counts.

First, in terms of numbers: It has remained a very small minority in numbers, which is marginalized and poor. Its voice often goes unheard, the archbishop said.

Second, «we must admit» as a Church that «we have many failures,» whether historical or present, he said. In many cases, he said, Christianity was implanted by the use of force and with the support of colonials.

The lack of fidelity and appropriate formation among Church leaders has caused much harm, the archbishop acknowledged.

Third, Christianity is often seen as a foreign religion, despite its origin and early history being Asian, he said.

Yet, the Philippine prelate sees hope in the very poverty of the Church.

«Did God not choose those who are poor in the world to make them rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? The celebration of the Eucharist is very simple and poor. It consists, ordinarily, in offering bread and wine. This simplicity and ordinary form highlights very important values in our world of today,» Archbishop Morelos said.

He pointed out that, in its poverty, the Church in Asia is able to identify itself with Jesus, poor and humble. In contemplating the face of Christ in Eucharistic adoration, Asian Christians are able to identify themselves with their Teacher who by suffering and dying conquered the powers of death itself, the archbishop added.

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