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Of Fork and Spoon or Fingers and Chopsticks: Interreligious Dialogue in Ecclesia in Asia

  • Edmund Chia (a1)


The Synod of Bishops for Asia which was held in Rome in April 1998 aroused much interest. The long awaited Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Asia (EA), was finally released in November 1999. Its reception is the topic of the present article. At issue is the tension between the proclamation of Christ and interreligious dialogue in Asia. The Asian bishops are unanimous in upholding the importance of evangelization but have different understandings of how that should be carried out. Rome insists on the “one and only” way it knows. The present article looks at this dialogue between Rome and Asia.



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1 Zenit News Agency, Rome, 21 March 2000.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Cardinal Paul Shan, General Relator, Synod of Bishops for Asia, “Presentation of Ecclesia in Asia in New Delhi,” Boletín Eclesiastico de Filipinas 76/816 (January-February 2000): 136.

5 Prior, John, “Unfinished Encounter: A Note on the Voice and Tone of Ecclesia in Asia,” East Asian Pastoral Review 37/3 (2000): 259.

6 Amaladoss, Micheal, “The Mystery of Christ and Other Religions: An Indian Perspective,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 63/5 (May 1999): 327.

7 Shan, 125.

8 Amaladoss, Michael, “Ecclesia in Asia affirms tradition, ignores Asian search,” Asia Focus: Commentary, 26 November 1999, p. 3.

9 Prior, 257.

10 Prior, 258.

11 Amaladoss, , Asia Focus: Commentary, 3.

12 Prior, 258.

13 On the colonial baggage of Asian Christianity, see Chia, Edmund, “Asia's Contribution to Christianity,” Asia Focus: Commentary, 10 March 2000, p. 3.

14 Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, “A New Way of Being Church in Asia,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 63/12 (December 1999): 888.

16 Ibid. 889.

17 Ibid. 888.

18 Ibid. 889.

19 Ibid. 888.

20 Ibid. 890.

22 Ibid. 891.

23 For a discussion on the “less evangelical” stance that FABC took, refer to Chia, Edmund, “The ‘Absence of Jesus’ in the VIIth FABC Plenary Assembly,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 63/12 (December 1999): 892–99.

24 Paul, John II, “Presentation during the signing and publication of Ecclesia in Asia,” New Delhi Cathedral, 6 November 1999, No. 5.

25 “A Renewed Church in Asia: A Mission of Love and Service,” Final Statement of the Seventh Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Plenary Assembly, Samphran, Thailand, 3–13 January 2000.

26 For a more thorough discussion on the evolution of Asian theologies of religion, see Edmund Chia, “Interreligious Dialogue in Pursuit of Fullness of Life in Asia,” FABC Papers No. 92k, Seventh Plenary Assembly: Workshop Discussion Guide, Hong Kong, January 2000.

27 John Paul II, 6 November 1999, No. 6.

28 “A Renewed Church in Asia.”

30 Arokiasamy, , “Editorial,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 63/12 (December 1999): 880.

31 John Paul II, 6 November 1999, No. 2.

32 Paul, John II, “Meeting with Representatives of other religions and other Christian Confessions,” New Delhi Vigyan Bhavan, 7 November 1999, No. 1.

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  • ISSN: 0360-9669
  • EISSN: 2050-8557
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