Crucial Crossroads: Dialogue Between Faith and Culture in the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2005 »Volume 42 2005 Number 1 2 »Crucial Crossroads Dialogue Between Faith And Culture In The Federation Of Asian Bishops Conferences

by Andrew Recepcion

Andrew Recepcion, mission director for the archdiocese of Nueva Caceres, Philippines, teaches missiology and systematic theology at the Major Seminary, Naga City, Philippines. He holds an MA in Theology from the Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City, Philippines, and a PhD in Missiology from the Gregorian University, Rome. He is a member of the National Mission Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Philippine Association of Catholic Missiologists. 


One may have the impression that the Second Vatican Council is something of the past and its documents are taken as a mere collection of theological and pastoral reflections on the life of the Church as it confronts the challenges of history and reads the signs of the times. On the contrary, the Second Vatican Council is a wellspring of renewal for the Church and a constant point of reference for ecclesial praxis. When one takes a closer look at ecclesial praxis, one discovers that faith and culture always go hand in hand; that faith and culture are inseparable in the life of the Church, in the life of every Christian. No faith exists in a vacuum. Faith is lived within the context of culture. Gaudium et Spes (GS) points out that "the mystery of the Christian faith provides…an outstanding incentive and encouragement to fulfill…even more eagerly and to discover the full sense of the commitment by which human culture becomes important in man’s (sic) total vocation" (GS, 57).2In other words, culture is indispensable in the full realization of the natural and supernatural destiny of humanity.3

The Second Vatican Council in its major documents consistently tackled the relationship between faith and culture in the different dimensions of ecclesial and Christian life. The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy inSacrosanctum Concilium (SC 1963:38) spoke about the adaptation of liturgy according to cultural exigencies.Unitatis Redintegratio (UR 1964:14), the Decree on Ecumenism, highlighted that there are different forms of acceptance of the apostolic tradition thus undergirding that the transmission of faith has always been received in the context of culture. Ad Gentes (AG 1965:10), a decree on the missionary activity of the Church, indicated that the incarnation is the way by which the Church inserts itself or enters into a particular culture. It also affirmed that there are hidden seeds of the Word in every culture (AG, 11 and 12). It was Gaudium et Spes (1965), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, that gave special attention to and focus on culture particularly on the relationship between Gospel and culture (GS, 53). Gospel and culture are intertwined but there is a process involved in the way the Gospel renews, corrects, purifies, completes, and nourishes the culture (GS, 58). In other words when faith and culture meet, culture is transformed and faith is expressed in the way of the culture. This is precisely what evangelization of culture means. However, it wasEvangelii Nuntiandi (EN 1975), though not a Vatican II document, that deepened the insight into the evangelization of culture by emphasizing that cultures should be evangelized profoundly by going to the roots of a culture (EN, 20, 62, and 63). The emphasis is on the culture of the evangelized and not the evangelizer. Thus, a dialogue between faith and culture actually expresses itself in the relationship between the evangelized and the evangelizer.

It is worth noting that though Vatican II documents did not deal extensively with the dialogue between faith and culture provided seminal insights and perspectives on the relationship between Gospel and culture; between faith and culture.

It is significant to reflect on the relationship between faith and culture in the documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) as the Church continues to understand itself vis-à-vis the realities of the Asian world within the context of a plurality of cultures and a Christian minority. After 40 years of Vatican II, it is worth revisiting the crucial crossroads of faith and culture as experienced by an Asian and understood from an Asian optic.


The nature of this work is tentative in the sense that it only intends to indicate a perspective on the process achieved by FABC in carrying out the dialogue between faith and culture and some prospects to broaden this dialogue. With this in mind, I am very much aware that my task is not so much to repeat the FABC documents but to understand them from a framework that I see best captures the dialogue between faith and culture in Asia today.4

The orientation of FABC since its foundation (Asian Bishops’ Meeting, 1970) on the occasion of Paul VI’s pastoral visit to the Philippines in 1970 is pastoral. This implies that the coming-to-birth of the FABC was an experience of pastors gathered together in order to see more clearly the face of Asia. For 30 years, this transnational body of pastors has consistently carried out its momentum and has contributed significantly to the reawakening of communion and solidarity among the local churches in Southeast Asia through dialogue with cultures, religions, and people. Dialogue is the word that calls to mind the program, orientation, and experience of the FABC since 1970 until today. It can be noted that the pastoral agenda of FABC find resonance in Ecclesia in Asia. This proves that the journey started by this transnational body of pastors has gained acceptance not only in the Asian region but also in the local churches beyond Asia.

The constant leitmotif of the FABC documents was a critical reading of Asian realities from the Asian view of the world and authentic faith in Jesus Christ in order to continue Jesus’ commitment and service to life. In other words, operative in FABC documents is a Contextual Theological Methodology, that is, theologizing at the service to life.5 Jonathan Yun-ka Tan capsulizes this method saying that "the FABC’s contextual theological methodology begins with praxis (as exemplified by its commitment and service to life) and culminates in praxis (as demonstrated by its quest for triple dialogue and harmony) and commences all over again with praxis (i.e., its quest for triple dialogue and harmony leads back to its commitment and service to life) in a kind of methodological spiral. Within this methodological spiral, it operates within a creative tension between the vertical and horizontal dimensions of theologizing, such that its internal coherence with the catholicity of its 2000-year heritage together with its external coherence with the Asian Sitz-im-Leben defines the hyphenated character of all Asian local churches: all Asian local churches are authentically Christian yet truly Asian: they are always Asian-Christian" (Tan, 574).

I cited a long reference on the FABC’s methodology with the intention of establishing first of all that the theme of dialogue between faith and culture is not a fruit of a priori process of reflection but an outcome of restlessness and anxiety of pastors to understand the way of being church in Asia today. The series of workshops6 and statements on dialogue between faith and culture (cf. BIRA I, II, III, and IV/1-12) indicate the creative tension between faith and culture in Asia. Faith and culture are crucial crossroads for Asia today. The message of Cardinal Paul Poupard to the participants of the Pan-Asian Seminar on Inculturation and Education pointed out "how deeply committed is the Holy Father to this crucial crossroads of human meaning and religious vision."7

Operational Notions and Basic Presuppositions

The final statement on the dialogue between faith and cultures in Asia, held in Manila in 1996 gives us the FABC’s operational notions on faith and culture, on the divine and human, on religion. The basic presuppositions come as the search for a common ground through which Asian cultures and religions can encounter.

Faith and culture are understood as a meeting of two mysteries, human and divine. The mystery of the divine is a common quest for the infinite and absolute beyond the transient and contingent human events yet permeates every form of existence (DCFA-FAPA II, 2). The mystery of the human is discovered in the multiplicity of cultures by which people express their lives, hopes, and fears (ibid.). The encounter between these two mysteries is made possible through religion (ibid.).

Culture is understood in a comprehensive way through which people live and organize social relations. Culture also provides the context for understanding reality and for expressing religious faith (ibid., 12). Culture as a context for faith means that "no faith is ever born in a void or in a vacuum. Faith is conceived in the womb of culture, there it is born and there too it is nourished and grows" (Popard, FABC-OESC, 48). Religious faith is something dynamic since it evolves towards divine fullness. This dynamism of faith is better grasped from a basic faith-content of other Asian religions: openness to the sacred in primal religions; the reality of pain and suffering as caused by selfish desires in Buddhism; openness to the invisible and its superiority to the material world in Taoism; vision of life as unfolding rather than dominating nature and the perfectibility of the human person by love (jen) in Confucian tradition; one ultimate divinity expressed in diverse human beings in Hinduism; oneness of God in Islam (DFCA-FAPA II, 6-11). Christians must dialogue with people of all religions in Asia (ibid., 6) but this dialogue should provide an opportunity to learn positive elements in other religions and it should give a challenge to every Christian when confronted by the alternatives of other religions (ibid., 12).

There are points of convergence in all religions: a) respect for life and creation; b) need to build a common human community. The recognition of a higher moral law that rests upon God is a point of integration of faith and Asian culture (ibid., 17 and 20).

Foundational Principles of Dialogue Between Faith and Culture

The founding pastors of FABC at the Asian Bishops’ Meeting (Manila, 1970) aptly expressed in prophetic clarity the need for dialogue as a voice that challenges since "we have not incarnated the Christian life and enfleshed the church in ways and patterns of our respective cultures and thus kept it alien in our lands."8 The first principle that needs to be understood is the nature of dialogue itself, that is, the process by which the Asian Church understands and experiences this dialogue.

The Nature of Dialogue

The documents constantly repeat a caution that dialogue should not be a monologue. This means that dialogue needs to have two indispensable processes, viz., internal dialogue and external dialogue (DCFA-FAPA II, 3). Nevertheless, these two movements are complementary. There is only one dialogue with two essential aspects. Internal dialogue means the love and acceptance of oneself, without being blind to one’s imperfections. This requires knowing well one’s culture from within thus avoiding any underestimation or overestimation of culture. External dialogue means welcoming the other without fear and being willing to open oneself to see the beauty and truth in the other (BIRA IV/10, 20). In other words, the external nature of dialogue shuns any exclusivity or centrism.

Consistent to its methodology, the FABC highlights the specific character of dialogue for Christians in Asia vis-à-vis the dominant Asian reality with the massive presence of diverse religious traditions and ideologies, widespread poverty, and political oppression. For Christians, dialogue becomes an urgent priority. However, it requires of every Christian a sincere conversion to Jesus Christ, that is, a profound encounter with the person of Jesus thereby giving a powerful testimony to the evangelical culture, and an authentic experience of harmony in pluralism and strength in powerlessness (DFCA-FAPA II, 3). In fact, every Christian should acquire a stance of receptivity in the midst of pluralism (receptive pluralism) [BIRA IV/3, 16] in which there is a relationship of dynamic tension with fellow Christians through ways of mutual information, inspiration, support and correction. It is only in this way that a real dialogical attitude becomes a lifestyle (BIRA IV/6, 6) experienced through the openness to one’s neighbor. This openness is the capacity to share one’s spiritual resources as people stand before the great crises of life and death, as people struggle for justice and human dignity and as they yearn for peace (BIRA IV/6, 3). In other words, in dialogue, a Christian enters into a reciprocal relationship with fellow Christians and with neighbors of other faiths and this relationship becomes a process of learning and growth (ibid.).

The Christian nature of dialogue follows the very nature of dialogue delineated above. But it becomes distinct in the sense that Christians need to dialogue with their own cultures in order to discover the seeds of the divine message and in this discovery they make take root, grow, and bear fruit in their cultures. This inward stance of Christian dialogue helps Christians to dialogue with the cultures of others in order to be challenged to expand their horizons, reexamine prejudices and preconceptions, learn to respect others and ways of living different from their own (DFCA-FAPA II, 3). What matters indeed is to be firmly rooted in one’s faith while remaining open to others (ibid., 14).

The Language of Dialogue

The documents reiterate that dialogue is not a matter of talking or words. It is not even a tool or an instrument to understand the other. It is first of all listening. This is the core of the dialogue between faith and culture. However, listening should be reciprocal and it is in the reciprocity of listening that both faith and culture are enriched. The language of dialogue primarily consists of "resonating with awe and profound reverence with which the other experiences the sense of the divine" (BIRA IV/12, 44). Aside from this primary dimension, language is also understood as a written or spoken communication (ibid., 43).

Dialogue is entry into the other’s language for it is the soul of culture (ibid., 42). Language is a bridge to hearts and across cultures. It is a lifeline that knits together minds and hearts despite differences and diversity (ibid.). As mentioned in general terms above, language has two dimensions that need to be taken into account for a meaningful dialogue between faith and culture. The first dimension is the written or spoken communication that entails a sufficient familiarity with the ordinary language of our partners in dialogue (ibid., 43). Familiarity with language also requires knowledge of myths and lore and symbols of a given culture since these cultural elements give vibrancy to a language and enrich relationships. In fact, genuine communication is possible only when the hidden content of these words is uncovered and allowed to flow. This happens through the deft use of parables and symbols familiar to the partners in dialogue (ibid.). The second dimension is being at home and this is much deeper and more precious in the sense that what is communicated is a feeling of being at home in the inner world of the other by seeing and relishing as the other feels and relishes. As cited earlier, it is resonating with awe and profound reverence with which the other experiences the sense of the divine (ibid., 44). Transparency and utter truthfulness are imperative in dialogue (ibid., 45).

The Content of Dialogue

The content of the dialogue between faith and culture is not so much "doctrines of faiths" and "cultures" but "persons" (cf. DCFA-FAPA II, 4). In this sense what makes dialogue authentic is also the profound encounter between persons rooted in their faith and alive in their cultures (ibid., 32). It is also indicated quite pointedly that faith expresses itself in the culture. The fundamental ground for any dialogue between faith and culture is the life of the persons in dialogue. The expressions of this ground come as a consequence.

For Christians, it is their personal and profound encounter with Jesus Christ, the one and only Savior that influences the way they communicate and express their faith in their cultures. What they communicate in dialogue is not primarily the "tenets" of faith but an experience of encounter with Jesus Christ. In this way, the evangelical culture permeates the diverse Asian cultures not with doctrines but with the very person of Jesus Christ himself. Christian faith is local in the manner it expresses itself in a given cultural context but universal in its theological content who is Jesus Christ himself. The interior search for harmony and Asian sensitivity in a world where everything is connected would often suggest that more than the content expressed in words is the content that comes to be understood in fecund silence and collaborative action at the service to life (ibid., 12).46

Attitudes in Making Dialogue

Freedom and welcome are crucial in attaining a culture of dialogue. Welcome means the vulnerability to the demands of truth that is either pleasant or unpleasant. Freedom is the capacity to enter or withdraw, to appreciate or even to honestly dissent. There is risk involved in dialogue but there is also promise (BIRA IV/12, 45). What matters is empathy together with realism and this involves trust that brings about healing, especially of the suppressed memories of the past bitterness (ibid., 46).

When freedom and welcome as basic dispositions are ascertained, then the following specific attitudes are better understood and put into practice: a) affirm and confirm the positive values in cultures; b) preserve and defend cultural values; c) critically challenge cultures in order to discern the good, true, and beautiful; d) transform or even reject cultural values that dehumanize and in this way cultures are evangelized though respectful of the freedom and dignity of each person (DFCA-FAPA II, 4).

The first two specific attitudes (a and b) make us conscious that in every culture there is a deposit of values and treasuries of traditions. This consciousness is in fact a recognition that there is "something good in the worst of us," there is something bad in the best of us, for we have the strengths of our weaknesses and the weaknesses of our strengths (Poupard, FABC-OESC, 47). The last two specific attitudes (c and d) call on faith to preserve culture from self-destruction by dispelling the darkness that can at times enshroud culture (ibid.).

There are pitfalls or dangers in the dialogue between faith and culture, viz., arrogance, naivete, and false irenicism (DCFA-FAPA II, 15). To avoid these dangers, there is a need for commitment. It is one thing to make a commitment and it is another thing to keep a commitment. The FABC understands commitment to dialogue as flowing or coming from a Christian’s faith in Jesus Christ. This commitment calls for a deepening of faith instead of giving up one’s faith in Jesus Christ or bracketing it in view of making some compromises (ibid., 9-10). In other words, there is a great demand for sincerity in dialogue, that is, "while firmly adhering to our commitment…it is indispensable…that we enter into the religious universe of our dialogue partner and see his or her sincere and unflinching faith-commitment" (BIRA IV/7,11).

Significant Shifts in Themes

The basic orientations with regard to dialogue between faith and culture have been shown above. It is worth noting that the Bishops’ Institute of Interreligious Affairs (BIRA) has consistently deepened the theme on dialogue. BIRA I-III have pursued the dialogue between Christians and followers of each of the great religious traditions of Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. The themes of BIRA IV/1-12 have been focused on a theology of dialogue and each institute continued the fundamental themes of the past institutes with some important thematic shifts. These shifts are significant because they have indicated the development of the FABC’s reflections on dialogue through the years.

It seems to me that with regard to dialogue between faith and culture, BIRA IV has moved into three significant directions that can enlighten and deepen the reflections of DCFA. These directions are: the spirituality of dialogue in the light of dialogue of life, the new way of being Church in Asia, and a theology of harmony.

Towards a Spirituality of Dialogue

A spirituality of dialogue is located within the framework of difficult and painful situations as well as threats to life. In an atmosphere of animosity brought about by injustice and violation of human rights, dialogue means powerlessness and vulnerability because from a position of power, one can only negotiate about terms while from a position of weakness, one can truly communicate his or her trust in the other (BIRA IV/7, 15). "Trust is most real when there looms the possibility of betrayal" (ibid.) but the same trust means "to open one’s heart and to speak one’s mind with courage and respect" (ibid.). Experience attests that the Spirit has often used powerlessness and vulnerability to effect mutual forgiveness and reconciliation among individuals, families, and communities (ibid.). Thus, a spirituality of dialogue risks being wounded in the act of loving for dialogue "demands a deep spirituality which enables man (sic.), as Jesus did, to hang on to his faith in God’s love even when everything seems to fall apart…it demands a total Christ-like self-emptying so that, led by the Spirit, we may be more effective instruments in building up God’s Kingdom" (BIRA IV/7, 16).

Confronted by threats to life like massive poverty, militarization, discrimination against women, women and children prostitution, poverty, political conflict and economic desperation, graft and corruption, cultural imperialism,9 obviously means facing these threats to life. In other words, those of different faiths are summoned to live and work together for a more human world (BIRA IV/12, 12).

The spiritual journey in dialogue begins in silence, begins with a silent sharing of life. This journey takes on this process (BIRA IV/12, 113):

Many moments of silence
FRIENDSHIP Contemplative search for the
sources of true life
True friends are
best placed to stand
together in confronting
the great human issues Conversation of what matters
and problems. most in life

The process shown above is the way that every Christian needs to take in order to live up to the spirit of dialogue. Indeed, from silence it ends in true friendship. But this true friendship is "most likely to occur between people who are able to recognize and admit to each other their weakness and inadequacy but who also recognize that they are gifted, gifted perhaps in very different ways…gifts as something to be shared, to be given, to be received and to be responded to" (ibid., 14).

A spirituality of dialogue is not simply any spirituality for it is essentially Christian. The unique character of Christian spirituality is that it is incarnational and Trinitarian (ibid., 36). As incarnational it takes the form of a spirituality of kenosis: powerlessness, continual purification from self-centeredness; growth to self by openness to others, dying to self in order to have fullness of life (BIRA IV/12, 36). As Trinitarian it takes on the communitarian and Eucharistic dimensions.

We can therefore say that a spirituality of dialogue is a "transformative spirituality for it entails a journey, a walking together with our brothers and sisters of faith" (ibid., 39) and as brothers and sisters of faith, this walking together needs discernment, a fathoming of the depth of love and the demands of life in a situation of pluralism and patience and humility in the struggle for transformation (ibid.).

Horizons for a Theology of Harmony

The theme of harmony is a crucial one for the FABC (BIRA IV/11, 1). Harmony "seems to constitute in a certain sense the intellectual and affective, religious and artistic, personal and societal soul of both persons and institutions in Asia" (BIRA IV/1, Sampran Thailand, 1984). Still further, the Madras consultation affirms "that harmony and culture of wholeness are characteristics of Asian peoples…"(BIRA III, 1982).

In spite of the forces of fragmentation in Asia today like the instrumentalization of religion for political reasons, religious fundamentalist forces, and so on (ibid., 3), one can still find sources of harmony as experienced in the growing spirit of patriotism, in the break- down of traditional barriers of division and hostility, in initiatives that reach out to neighbors of other faiths, and so on (BIRA IV/11, 4-5).

Asian traditions are resources for a theology of harmony. There are traditional cultures and heritages inspired by a vision of unity. For example, the universe is taken as an organic whole with a web of relations knitting together each and every part of it. Nature and the human are not antagonistic but are considered as chords in a universal symphony (ibid., 6). Thus, the whole reality is maintained in unity through a universal rhyme. There is a unity of reality reflected in the human person in which the senses, consciousness, and spirit are organically linked. Sensitivity in human relationships, close ties of love and cooperation in families are highly valued in the cultures (BIRA IV/11, 6).

The Trinitarian paradigm in the marvelous mystery of unity and communion serves as one of the sources of inspiration for a theology of harmony (ibid., 7). But this Trinitarian inspiration also serves as a powerful challenge (ibid.) in the efforts to create harmony in all areas of life. Another source of inspiration is creation that portrays a "story of humankind which, with its rich variety of peoples and races is called to move towards unity as their ultimate goal, transcending all divisions, conflicts and strifes caused by sin" and this goal is no other than "a new heaven and new earth where men and women will live in a blissful and reconciled harmony among themselves, with God and the entire creation" (ibid., 8).

The sources of inspiration are actually tempered by a common quest for harmony in the worlds of Asia. One such concern is the acceptance of diversity as richness, the ecological task, the promotion of human dignity (ibid., 12-14). Therefore "all religions should draw resources from the Asian traditions, and sustained by their respective faith-convictions, should engage themselves jointly in the attainment of harmony" (ibid., 11 and 12).

More than an intellectual enterprise, a theology of harmony should be a fruit of attitudinal changes. In the Asian vision of reality, there is an intimate correspondence between the exterior world and the inner world of the self; one reflects the other. From this view of reality, harmony presupposes integration and wholeness within oneself. However, this integration and wholeness can only be realized in the measure that a person overcomes egoism through an attitude of detachment and selfless service (ibid., 11 and 17). This project towards integration and wholeness is not alien to Asian cultures for in fact one can find the values of interiority, detachment, compassion, and peace embedded in them (ibid., 18).

The prospect of a theology of harmony is first of all seen from an experiential horizon. This means that harmony cannot be reduced to an exterior and objective order for what is involved here is the whole person: heart, sentiment, and mind. So harmony must be "in the first place an experience and sharing of experience" (BIRA IV/11, 19). But this experiential base does not mean exclusivity. On the contrary, harmony needs an all-embracing and complementary way of thinking (ibid., 20) inspired by a global and universal concern (ibid., 21).

A New Way of Being Church

The Church is called to be a community of dialogue. This dialogical ecclesial model is the way of being Church (BIRA IV/12, 48). In fact, "a Church that stands with sisters and brothers of faiths in confronting issues of life and death will necessarily be transformed in the process" (ibid., 50). In other words, it will become inculturated at a level which includes but goes deeper than changes in ritual and symbol (ibid.). Such a church may at last become a Church of Asia and not simply a Church in Asia. Only then may the Church be perceived as no longer an alien presence (ibid.).

This model of the church, more than being a conceptual framework, should be alive in the life of every Christian. However, this needs a change of consciousness on the part of every Christian. This change of consciousness can only happen when the internal life and structures of the Church are dialogical (ibid., 54). This renewal from within means that the voiceless members within the Church: youth, women, and the poor, the majority of humanity in Asia, would find their true voice. Unless this voiceless humanity becomes true voices then dialogue beyond the Church’s boundaries will remain deeply flawed (ibid.). A song entitled Voices that Challenge vividly captures this challenge:

Call us to hear the voices that challenge,

Deep in the hearts of all people!

By serving your world as lovers and dreamers,

We become voices that challenge!

For we are the voice of God!


Voices that challenge:

The children who long to be heard and respected!

The lowly and broken destroyed by oppression!

The old and the fearful who hope for a new day!


Voices that challenge:

The lives and cries of the poor and the silenced!

The young ones who dream of a world free of hatred!

The sick and the dying who cry for compassion!

Voices that challenge:

The ones who seek peace by their witness and courage!

The women who suffer the pain of injustice!

The people with AIDS and those plagued by addiction!

The prophets and heroes who call us to question!

The healers who teach us forgiveness and mercy!

The victims of violent abuse and aggression!

The Christ who gave his life that we might live! (Haas 1995)

These voices that challenge invite the Asian Church to truly become a participative Church; welcoming these voices would mean accepting the discomfort of reciprocal listening in order to creatively participate in the dialogue of life and faith; in the dialogue of faith and culture.

All life has a pilgrim character (BIRA IV/6, 6) and life will always have to stop at the crucial crossroads of faith and culture.


1. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) is a transnational body comprising 14 full members’ conferences: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as ten associate members: Hongkong, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Siberia, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The highest body of the FABC is the Plenary Assembly that is convened once every four years. To facilitate the notes of references, the author has basically based the study on the two collected volumes of the FABC’s important documents from 1970–1996. These volumes are compiled in 2 collections: Rosales and Arevalo 1992 and Eilers 1997. Citations in this work have been taken mostly from the first volume which will be cited hereinafter as FAPA I. The Final Statement on the Dialogue Between Faith and Cultures in Asia: Towards Integral Human and Social Development (Manila: 14 January 1996) published in the second volume will be cited hereinafter as DCFA-FAPA II. The Bishops’ Institute for Interreligious Affairs (BIRA I-IV) series will be cited hereinafter as BIRA with the corresponding paragraph numbers. The references to the message and keynote address of His Eminence Cardinal Paul Poupard will be cited hereinafter as Poupard, FABC-OESC.

2. Gaudium et Spes, 57. Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, 1981 edition.

3. Hervé Carrier observes that the cultural approach of Vatican II provides a new way of looking at society and the Church becomes more sensitive to the signs of the times. See Carrier 1987:1437-53.

4. There are other conceptual models or frameworks for understanding the dialogue between faith and culture. See for example Kraft 1972 and Bevans 1992.

5. Words in quotes are from the article of Tan 2000:541-75.

6. An important workshop was held in Manila, Philippines (14 January 1996) on Dialogue Between Faith and Cultures in Asia: Towards Integral Human and Social Development, FAPA II (1992-1996): 21-26.

7. His Eminence Cardinal Paul Poupard, Message of His Eminence Cardinal Paul Poupard, Pan-Asian Seminar on Inculturation and Education in the New Evangelization of Asia, (Philippines, 24-30 November 1993), Rooted in Cultures…Fruitful in Christ, FABC-OESC (2 February 1995): 5.

8. Asian Bishops’ Meeting (ABM), Message of the Conference no. 17 (29 November 1970), FAPA I (1970-1990): 3-10.

9. FABC 5th Plenary Assembly’s Final Statement, July 1990.


Bevans, Stephen

1992 Models of Contextual Theology (New York: Orbis Books).

Carrier, Herve

1987 "Il Contributo del Concilio Alla Cultura" in Vaticano II: Bilancio e Prospettive Venticinque Anni Dopo (1962 - 1987).

Eilers, Franz-Josef (ed.)

1997 For All the Peoples of Asia, Volume 2: Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Documents from 1992 to 1996 (Quezon City: Claretian Publications).

Haas, David

1995 "Voices That Challenge," in Blest Are They, Volume 1 (Chicago: GIA Publications Inc.).

Kraft, Charles H.

1972 Christianity in Culture (New York: Orbis Books).

Rosales, Gaudencio B. and C.G. Arevalo (eds.)

1992 For all the Peoples of Asia: Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, Documents from 1970-1991(Maryknoll: Orbis Books).

Tan, Jonathan Yun-ka

2000 "Theologizing at the Service to Life, The Contextual Theological Methodology of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC)," Gregorianum 81/3.