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Report on my participation, as invited delegate from IMWAC, to the AYA/ATF (Asian Youth Academy/ Asian Theology Forum) held in Suratthani (South Thailand) on August 17 to 27, 2016.

The conference in 2016The last AYA/ATF meetings took place:

In 2013 in Changmai (northern Thailand) Didier Vanhoutte participated as IMWAC representative

In 2014 in Manila (Philippines)

In 2015 in Kerala (South India)

In 2016 in Suratthani, the specific themes were the following :

Youth Forum (AYA): “Solidarity with Migrants suffering poverty and inhumane living conditions.

Asian Theology Forum (ATF): “Sustainable development and integral ecology for peace on Asia”

General purpose of AYA/ATF as defined by Paul Hwang, main responsible of event organization.

Paul Hwang is director of the Center for Asia Peace and Solidarity under Woori Theology Institute, Chairperson of Theological Committee of Pax Romana- ICMICA, co-creator of ALL (Asian Lay Leader Forum)

Young lay activists in Asia are being called to strengthen their Christian identity as they embrace their local, traditional cultures, histories and religions. Although it is a complex work, it is necessary work. For Catholics to succeed in justice activities they need to cooperate with other religions similarly seeking a more just world order. This is yet another reason Asian lay Catholics need solid formation. Inter-religious work begins with solid Catholic formation. It is why AYA/ATF program put much emphasis on “Triple Dialogue” of FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conference) namely dialogue with the poor, diverse religious and cultural traditions in Asia, as well as Christian spirituality. Unfortunately, because of a lack of resources, they don’t get adequate support from their Church. In some cases they have been largely abandoned by some ones in the Church hierarchy who do not understand or do not agree with the idea of “the People of God” from Vatican II and Pope Francis’ vision of the “synodal church”. While our Church eagerly provides support for seminarians who want to enter the priesthood, it does very little for young lay leaders in great need of Catholic formation.

Read more: Report on the AYA/ATF meeting - 2016

'A re-thinking of the church’s official position is long overdue. The progressive Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, recently issued a lengthy and detailed rebuttal to Humanae Vitae, which has done so much harm in the fifty years since it was issued — harm not only to women, but to the church itself. To date, the statement has been signed by more than 80 scholars, ethicists and scientists.' (Huffington Post)

'Former Irish president Mary McAleese is supporting a campaign by a Catholic think tank to persuade the Vatican to revoke its 48-year-old ban on contraception.' (The Times)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Local bishops have an obligation to welcome new movements and communities and guide them, while the groups have an obligation to obey the local bishop and avoid the appearance of setting up a parallel church, said a new Vatican document.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's letter to bishops around the world on "the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts in the life and mission of the church" was released June 14.

The hierarchical gifts -- teaching, sanctifying and governing -- are those conferred with ordination. The charismatic gifts refer to those given by the Holy Spirit to groups or individuals to help them live the faith more intensely and to share the faith with others through missionary activity and acts of charity.

Read the article

Read Iuvenescit Ecclesia

Francis must now accelerate his ongoing reform and development of the Synod of Bishops so that, by law, it becomes the primary structure to assist the Bishop of Rome in his ministry of universal governance. The monarchical model on which it is currently based is not only an anachronism at this stage of history. More crucially, it is an overly centralized model that is inadequate for governing a 1.2 billion-member worldwide church.

Read Robert Mickens' article in NCR

Fr. Hans Kung says Francis responded to request for free discussion on infallibility dogma

Radio Vatican report:

Nach Aussage von Hans Küng selbst hat Papst Franziskus auf sein Schreiben geantwortet, mit dem der Tübinger Theologe eine freie Diskussion über das päpstliche Unfehlbarkeitsdogma gefordert hatte. Wie der Onlinenachrichtendienst National Catholic Reporter (NCR) berichtet, habe Papst Franziskus ihm über die Berliner Nuntiatur einen Brief zukommen lassen, in dem die Anrede „Lieber Mitbruder“ handschriftlich verfasst sei und in dem er sich offen für eine Diskussion zum erst seit 1870 geltenden Unfehlbarkeitsanspruch ex cathedra zeige.

Den Brief selbst wolle Küng aus Gründen der Vertraulichkeit nicht herzeigen, doch er sei begeistert über die Öffnung, die Papst Franziskus bereits mit der Veröffentlichung seiner apostolischen Exhortation Amoris Laetitia und nun auch mit der Antwort auf seinen Aufruf zur Diskussion gezeigt habe. „Das ist der neue Geist, den ich mir stets vom Magisterium erwartet habe“, zitiert NCR Küng. „Diesen neuen Freiraum, so meine Folgerung, gilt es zu nutzen, um die Klärung der in der katholischen Kirche und Ökumene umstrittenen dogmatischen Festlegung voranzutreiben“, betont Küng. Dem Papst gelte für diese neue Denkfreiheit „mein tief empfundener Dank“, berichtet auch die Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA) unter Berufung auf den Theologen.

Read more: Papst antwortet auf Küng-Schreiben

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Tuesday that the clergy should serve lay people and not make use of them and spoke out against clericalism, calling it one of the greatest distortions affecting the Church in Latin America. His comments came in a wide-ranging letter reflecting on the role of the laity that was addressed to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.  The Pope’s letter was a follow-up to the commission’s recent Plenary Assembly whose theme was “the indispensable role of the lay faithful in the public life of Latin American countries.” In his letter, Pope Francis explained that he wished to follow-up the discussions and reflections that emerged during the Plenary Assembly in order to prevent them "from not bearing fruit." 

He urged the clergy to look closely at the people and lives of the lay faithful and avoid falling into the trap of adopting certain slogans on their behalf that seem well-meaning but in practice don't succeed in supporting the lives of our communities. Pointing to the example of a famous phrase “it’s time for the laity,” he noted that in this particular case, that clock has ground to a halt.

Read more: Pope Francis: Clericalism distorts the Church