MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 18, 2009 ( Asian bishops are giving priority to fostering a personal and intimate relationship with Christ by way of renewed fervor at Mass, according to the closing statement of their 9th plenary assembly.

The seven-day assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) was focused on "Living the Eucharist in Asia" and ended Sunday.

"In this sacrament, the God of unity comes to permeate and envelope our life -- personal and societal, bringing the gift of union with him and with one another," the concluding message recalls. "Our celebrations should generate in everyone the courage to build authentic communities that reconcile, forgive, minister to the poor and the marginalized."

The bishops gather in plenary assembly every four years. The closing statement from this meeting was published Sunday.

The prelates affirm that "love made perfect in self-sacrifice by Jesus, and renewed in the Eucharist, calls forth nothing less than a lifestyle of sacrificial love. This alone can bring about true harmony and peace."

"Asia’s soul thirsts for universal harmony," the statement continued. "The Eucharist responds to this quest. Each and every Christian and every community must become what they celebrate: unity in diversity."

The bishops and delegates called the faithful to become "contemplative listeners and ponderers of the Word," following the example of the Virgin Mary.

"Our brothers and sisters of other religions in Asia have great devotion to their sacred books, and they chant and interiorize the Word," the prelates recalled. "This culture of listening is a further invitation to become men and women who cherish and devote themselves to the Word and to the breaking of the bread."

The Asian bishops went on to make an invitation to nourish hope and a sense of mission.


The 117-member gathering concluded Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Francis Arinze, retired prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, who attended the assembly as the papal delegate.

In his homily, the cardinal emphasized five elements in the sacrifice of the Mass: Eucharistic faith and reverence; "Ars celebrandi"; Word of God and Eucharist; Eucharistic celebration and Inculturation; and the role of the bishop.

"At this Eucharistic sacrifice," he said, "we beg God to accept our efforts, to bless them, to correct what needs to be modified, to fructify what has been well done, and to bring us all home ready to live and share what we have received."

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On the Net:

Statement from 9th plenary assembly:

Text of Cardinal Arinze's homily: