Listening to Indigenous Peoples and Talking as Church from Where We Are is a reflection on the responses of 23 synod synthesis reports of bishops’ conferences in Oceania and Asia, highlighting the voices and experiences of indigenous communities and how the Church seeks to engage, as well as the proposals for change.
A small synodality team from the River above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN) secretariat put together this document with key people from the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) and the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) with accompaniment from the RAOEN Steering Committee and Extended Consultative Group.
Nine reflection points emerged on the shared realities in Oceania and Asia and can be a basis for further discussion:
1. The economic, political, social, and religious history and context of each country is acknowledged in reflections, limitations, and scope of action.
2. There is much hope expressed by indigenous and local communities for greater welcome and cultural inclusion in a new way of being Church.
3. The call for community engagement entails involvement in the concerns and celebrations of the different cultures in the region.
4. There is much to learn from Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) and how these might operate in the context of the indigenous and how a better dialogue might form with greater participation.
5. The Church is called to appreciate human vulnerability in personal and family trials, particularly when accompanying the poor.
6. Human-environmental vulnerability now defining the lives of millions is acknowledged as an integral reality by the local to the universal Church.
7. To enable greater cultural inclusion and response with care for Creation, there is a need to focus on reflection and growth in self-identity, engagement in community, and formation for mission.
8. There is a call to put more emphasis on the liturgy of the Church and not just practices, to find more creative ways in how Indigenous Peoples feel at home in gatherings. 9. The Church is reawakening in giving importance to the need for new types of ministries and new ways of including people and being Church.
This document is shared from Oceania and Asia during the Synod of Synodality process that is now in the Continental Stage, with the call to Enlarge the space of your tent (Isaiah 54:2).
This document will be submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod with the hope that the learnings and reflections can be integrated as the Church continues its synodal journey. In connecting with these stories and voices, new ways of being Church are sought.
This effort to contribute is a humbling experience and one that enriches the context for reflection on how the Church is renewing its commitment to the Cry of the Earth, the Cry of the Poor, and the Cry of the Spirit.
This story is originally published in RAOEN.