Rorate Caeli

FABC to call for the use of Asian symbols, melodies and values at Mass

FABC Plenary's Closing Mass

From the Union of Catholic Asian News' report on the FABC's plenary's closing document:

Participants approved the scheme for the assembly document presented by Filipino Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus, chairman of FABC’s Office of Theological Concerns.

He will be writing the document summarizing the assembly discussions and pastoral recommendations addressing concerns and challenges related to living the Eucharist in the region.

Bishops had reported that in Asia there are “death-dealing” and “life-giving” forces at work that impact the way people live their faith and celebrate the Eucharist.

Among the life-giving forces is the renewed faith found in small Christian communities, increased Bible sharing and interest in interreligious dialogue.

Bishops in the plenary talked about forms of worship and adoration in their areas, and a “hunger” for the Eucharist in places such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Mongolia and Timor Leste.

In Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and other places, such hunger cannot be satisfied due to a lack of priests, they noted. There the people have not been given enough catechesis and information about their faith and the Eucharist, while in places such as India and Pakistan they suffer from religious fundamentalists who prevent Christians from practicing their faith due to centuries-old misunderstandings.

The bishops also proposed extensive discussion of the Eucharist as a medium of reconciliation, especially amid war and ever-increasing nationalism.

Other bishops want the final document to include discussions of growing problems of materialism, family separation due to forced migration caused by wars and unemployment, loneliness that leads to depression and suicide, and equal treatment of all, especially women and children.

Bishop Tagle said the paper will aim to present these using prayers, rites and symbols used in the Mass.

Voting delegates approved Bishop Tagle’s outline in principle and authorized members of the central and standing committees to approve the final paper that he will submit to FABC Secretary General Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato within a month.

The plenary assembly message distributed to participants at the end of the meeting issued a call to community saying, “We cannot celebrate the Eucharist and at the same time maintain, practice or tolerate discrimination based on religion or race, culture or language, caste or class.”

The message recommended “devout listening to the Word every day at home as a family, especially on the eve of Sundays to prepare for the Eucharist.” Pastors and church workers were reminded to help heal those who experience “the trauma of hopelessness” through the Mass.

The message also called for the use of Asian symbols, melodies and values “to make our celebration create a resonance in the depths of Asia’s heart.”
The theologian whose work has dominated the FABC proceedings, Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Ordinary of the Diocese of Imus in the Philippines, is often spoken of in Asian Catholic circles as a future Cardinal or even as a future prefect of some Curial dicastery. A member of the International Theological Commission from 1997-2003, he is both a professor in some of the Philippines' leading liberal theological schools as well as the host of some religious programs on Philippine TV. With his charismatic personality he has managed to attract much attention in some international gatherings in recent years, most notably in the last two Synods of Bishops. A man to watch...


Lucius said...

What does this mean? Is there a generic "Asian symbol"? Can you just willy-nilly incorporate alleged local "symbols" in the Mass? This is very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

This is why the return to the Old Latin Mass is soo important. It worked for 1970 years and should be returned completely to the entire church.

finecrown said...

The article does not explain what FABC stands for. I'd like to be an expert, but what I am to learn will be found only in sources such as yours.

Dr. Herbert R. said...

This is liturgical chaos. This is precisely the situation in the church prior to St. Pius V's codification of the Roman Rite. Each diocese has each own brand of liturgy. But Pius V and the Council of Trent imposed uniformity in order to arrest growing heresies that may crept in some liturgical forms.

Mark said...

I don't understand this argument. I had some brief experiences with eastern religion, Hinduism and Buddhism especially, and I am concerned that the meaning of symbols is not the same in eastern belief systems as in the West. Here is one instance where cultural appropriation may not actually work.

I've got nothing against cultural inculturation (when properly done), whether that be liturgical dancing in Africa, or the Madonna and Child looking distinctly oriental in Shanghai, but I would be very concerned if Our Lord ends up being some kind of pseudo-arca-vigraha (idol of worship) in, say, Hindu cultures, and if we adopted things like the highly stylised and symbol laden worship patterns of Hindu/Buddhist puja.

Aristotle A. Esguerra said...

Music experiment: play a melody using only the black keys on a keyboard. Hear how the melody generated sounds "Asian" (specifically, Chinese).

(All modes of Gregorian chant include these pitches, without exception, and employ two more white keys besides.)

Rick DeLano said...

Well, we see how much influence Cardinal Arinze's admonitions have had on the golden genius of Asian inculturation.

This thing is not going to get solved by dialogue, folks.

Either Peter steps up and governs, or sooner or later either the peg becomes round, or the hole becomes square.

Dan Hunter said...

I wonder how this will go over with the Holy See and the FSSPX in The Orient.

I wonder how all this will fit in to the Gregorian Rite of Mass.

Just wondering.

Peter Kim said...

"Asian symbol" will most probably end up being like this:

The statue of Jesus sitting like Buddha, instituted by Fr, Daegun Andrew Bang at the Catholic Church in Suwon diocese. Actually, this statue has caused a lot of counfusion and controversy among Korean Catholics. And the bishop of Suwon diocese ordered Fr. Bang to remove the statue from the Church but he refused.

Liberal Catholics call this kind of cultural mixture as "interreligious dialoue" or "inculturation".

Anonymous said...

I don't believe there is such a thing as ''Asian culture'' because Asia inhabits 5 000 different cultures that have always been competing for almost as many years.

So, this is just a prankster who is trying to re-create liturgy on his own. A prankster among many pranksters, not somebody special. That just means more circuses and more clowns.

Anonymous said...

Again and again the problem is the same :
an inadequate episcopate.

This deplorable FABC summit is nothing but a pitiful remake of the scandalous CELAM of 2006 when a vast majority of Latin-American bishops slapped the pope in his face.
If Latin-American bishops can laugh at a pope, Asian bishops can make a mockery out of His delegate cardinal Arinze.

I remember that in this blog some esteemed contributors were pleading that the removal of Abp Ranjith from Rome would, in itself, be a miracle remedy to cure the whole Asian episcopacy from its deeply rotten theology and twisted pastoral orientations.
If this was His Holiness plan, we can see already that it is a complete failure and ... by the way the good archbishop played apparently no role within FABC and is not even created a cardinal.
It's not one good archbishop isolated in Colombo that is urgently requested but dozens if not hundreds everywhere else, not only in Asia, although the doctrinal corruption brought by the so-called interfaith "dialogue" is especially poisonous for the Catholic faith in this continent.


Stéphane said...

"...places such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Mongolia and Timor Leste." Timor Leste, what's that? In Portuguese, it's ok but... fala portugues, senhor? In English it is called "East Timor". Just as we say Italy and Hungary, not Italia and Magyarország, there is no reason to say "Timor Leste" in English. There is something ideological about the use of endonyms when exonyms exist.

Jordanes said...

Maybe UCAN's decision not to translate "Timor Leste" is ideological, or maybe the Asian author of that article doesn't know Portuguese and didn't know that "Timor Leste" is the Portuguese name for that nation. If the translator didn't recognise it as "East Timor," he wouldn't be able to translate it into English. Or maybe the writer wanted to show off his knowledge of East Timor's Portuguese name. Who knows.

Not that this matter has any importance. Let the UCAN writer have his stylistic idiosyncrasies, or let UCAN's stylebook have its particular arbitrary rules. It's nothing worth complaining about, and has nothing to do with matters of the Catholic faith in Asia.

Paul said...

Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle D.D gave a catechetical talk last year at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, Canada: The Eucharist, the life of Christ in our Lives: Spiritual Worship and Aunthentic Adoration (warning: pdf).

Video of the same, I believe.

His comments on the Eucharist, upon a quick first review, strike me as orthodox and as more in line with the mind of the Church than what I typically hear said of Asian bishops.

Peter Kim said...

Actually, inspite of the local bishop's opposition, the Jesus-Buddha hybrid statue was sent to Rome as a gift to Pope John Paul II. Bosco Seong Youm, Korean ambassador to Vatican and an advocate of liberation theology, played a major role in the process. He was quite adroit enough to use his political position to justify the controversial statue against the local bishop's will. I do not understand how he could be appointed to the ambassador to Vatican. He is the Korean translator of "Liberation Theology" by Gustavo Gutierrez and "Does God exist? An answer for today" by Hans Küng.

There is another controversial statue installed by Fr. Bang. It was ordered to be removed from the Church by bishop Choi of Suwon diocese but Fr. Bang refused.

This statue is so-called Blessed Virgin Mary exposing her breasts. This statue was also sent to Rome and installed at the Korean embassy in Vatican. The ambassador proudly introduced the figure of mother exposing her breasts as a traditional Korean culture. The truth is that there were some occasions of uneducated mothers exposing her breasts in public but it was not at all recognized as an elegant custom none the less laudable or holy demeanor.

All these controversial parodies have been tragically carried out in the name of "inculturation" and "interreligious dialogue".

Peter Kim said...

I correct my comment: "The truth is that there were some occasions of uneducated mothers exposing her breasts in public but it was not at all recognized as an elegant custom nor as a laudable holy demeanor."

Anonymous said...

I am from Malaysia. It all starts at the seminary especially the College General. What they teach all total heresy !

The seminary is in a real need of an apostolic visit

Peter Kim said...

I think some aspects of inculturation movement are related to 'liberation theology'. I read an article (Bosco Seong Youm, "Asian Churches' contribution to religious tolerance of Christianity", Theological Perspective, Kwangju Seminary, South Korea, Fall, 2001), which defines inculturation and interreligious dialogue as a movement against "cultural imperialism". The author also criticized "Dominus Iesus" as a provocative document against "The Spirit at Work in Asia Today" (May, 1997), which was composed by the Office of Theological Concerns of FABC and approved at the Bishops Institute for the Theological Animation (Thailand, May 12- 17, 1997)

Asian liberation/liberal theologians recognize Vatican as an imposer of imperialistic Roman culture to Asian countries. This is the one of the reasons why they abhor traditional liturgy, which they consider as a liturgy against cultural pluralism. No wonder they adopt Hans Kung's dissenting theology as a major reference for the inculturation and interreligious dialogue. I think many abuses plagued in NOM and clerical defiance against Vatican could be understood in that context, at least in Catholic Churches in Asia.


1. Bosco Seong Youm, "Asian Churches contribution to religious tolerance of Christianity", Theological Perspective, Kwangju seminary, South Korea, Fall, 2001 (I doubt this article was translated into English):

2. UCAN Interview - Former Vatican Ambassador Valued Opportunity
To Express Respect, Love To The Pope:

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"I don't believe there is such a thing as ''Asian culture'' because Asia inhabits 5 000 different cultures that have always been competing for almost as many years."

You've hit the nail on the head!

I myself as a Filipino Catholic feel closer to Latin America and Spain than to the rest of Southeast Asia.

English Pastor said...

The deep-seated problem with erroneous inculturation is that it is almost always a cultural mix, rather than authentic inculturation; it becomes a simple adoption of pagan culture into the Mass which disorders the liturgy, rather than an adaptation of a culture to the Mass. Such erroneous inculturation introduces elements that are inconsistent with the faith; a faith that all cultures and peoples have a right to know, love and celebrate authentically. The Asian Bishops are planning somthing that will disorder the Faith which belongs not only to them but to Catholics of all times and all places. In some sense, the liturgy must transcend culture, not be modelled upon it.

Timothy Mulligan said...

Symbols mean something. Pre-existing symbols are already loaded with meaning. If they need to be introduced into Catholic life in Asia, that means that they developed outside Catholic life. I have to conclude that we are seeing a Trojan horse. (An apt Western symbol!) More syncretism. Less Catholicism. And perhaps the Abomination of Desolation.

Andreae said...

Carlos...if you will, what's the theological and liturgical leanings of Bishop Tagle? Is he faithful to the Magesterium and to the Holy Father? Is he favorable to Traditions? Does he subscribe to any hermeneutics (continuity or rapture)? Please enlighten us. I remember a priest from the Phil. once said that he's being tabbed as the successor to Cardinal Rosales.

Peter Kim said...

“Devout listening to the Word every day at home as a family, especially on the eve of Sundays to prepare for the Eucharist.” - FABC

It is very good practice to read and meditate the Holy Bible everyday but there are some trends that too much emphasis on Bible has lead to suppression of Holy Tradition simply because it does not literally appear in the Bible. Holy Tradition is often considered as a barrier to Ecumenism.

FABC's emphasis on Bible reading should not result in neglecting Holy Tradition. In that sense, the revival of TLM in Asian countries is as much urgent as daily Bible reading. The recovery of sense of Holy Tradition will provide right context in proper interpretation of Vatican II and in implementation of true inculturation and ecumenism.

hoija said...

There was plenty of good "inculturation" in Asia before Vatican II.

Peter Kim said...

The primacy of Latin and Gregorian Chant, which was proclaimed in Vatican II should be realized in Catholic Churches in Asia. Having said that, I would like to share some part of Pope Pius VI's encyclical promulgated in strong advocacy of Gregorian Chant. I found the text at:

Papal Encyclical Quod Aliquantum of Pius VI, to Cardinal Rochefoucauld and the bishops of the National Assembly of France, March 10, 1791, on the subject of the infamous Civil Constitution of the Clergy:

"The Gallican Church, in far distant times, had established a rite and maintained it carefully. This rite gave to ecclesiastics raised to the dignity of canons of honorable functions a means of nourishing piety, arousing the faithful's devotion and attracting them by means of chant and the splendor of ceremonies to fulfill their religious duties and thereby merit new graces. But the National Assembly, in a single decree, not without grave scandal has nullified, suppressed and abolished this rite. On this point, as in all other articles of the decree, it adopted the principles of the heretics, especially the senseless opinions of the Wycliffites and of the Centuriators of Magdeburg, who rose up in rage against the use of ecclesiastical chant and dared to deny its antiquity.

We can only advise the authors of that decree to read attentively the anathemas pronounced by the Council of Arras in 1025 against the adversaries of ecclesiastical chant, so that a healthy shame may make them stop and think. "Who can doubt," says the Holy Council, "that you are not possessed by the unclean spirit, seeing that you reject as superstition the use of psalmody established in the Church by the Holy Spirit? The clergy were not inspired by games and profane amusements to produce the tone and modulation of religious music, but by the Fathers of the Old and New Testament. Those who pretend that the chanting of psalms is foreign to divine worship, must be ejected from the bosom of the Church; such innovators agree perfectly with their head, the spirit of darkness, the source of every iniquity, who tries to denaturalize and corrupt the meaning of the Sacred Scripture by malignant interpretations."

"Finally, if the glory of God's house, if the majesty of worship is degraded in the
kingdom, the number of ecclesiastics will necessarily lessen..."

cf. Hayburn, Papal Legislation on Sacred Music, p. 113. (For the decrees of the Council of Arras in Latin, see Mansi et al, Sacrorum Conciliorum, Vol. XIX, p. 452 (electronic page 295), Chapter 12.)

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of Asian layfolk are happy with the Novus Ordo liturgy, with or without incultration. Most of your posts are dreamworld ones.

Anonymous said...

These are very evangelical bishops; but I fear that the simple catholics of those regions are mostly caught in an infantile piety.

Peter Kim said...

"The vast majority of Asian layfolk are happy with the Novus Ordo liturgy, with or without incultration. Most of your posts are dreamworld ones."

1) In case of South Korea, there are a group of laypeople (they are not SSPX) who do have interests in Traditional liturgy. They have been studying TLM even before the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. The laypeople already unofficially finished translating 1962 Latin Missal to modern Korean language. Clergy, however, does not care that much and even despise TLM as obsolete, outdated and only offered by SSPX.

2) Many Korean Catholic musicians are capable of and prefer singing Latin Gregorian Chant and sacred polyphony. There are many good musicians who studied in Rome and have insights in sacred music.

The problems lie in majority of clergy who believe that Mass music setting should be easy vernacular congregational singing. So most of the time, the Church choirs sing the Latin Gregorian chant and polyphony in secular recitals outside of liturgy. What a waste of sacred music!

3) The education of leading theologians and clergy has been a problem too. When theologians finish education in Europe and America, they usually get high positions in the Church. I saw leading theologians who studied Hans Kung and liberal theologies in German-speaking countries started implement liberal ideas on the Church and dogmas. Another priest studied feminism at Fordham University and spread the idea of women priest ordination. There has been very minimal criticism on it.

4) Korean Catholic Church history started from laypeople. The Catholic Church in Korea began by lay scholars who voluntarily studied and accepted Catholic faith as true religion even before Western missionaries came in. In imitation to the faith of the ancestors, I wish laypeople can achieve rebuilding of the Church.

Peter Kim said...

"These are very evangelical bishops; but I fear that the simple catholics of those regions are mostly caught in an infantile piety."

Asians had been quite happy about TLM for a long time before Vatican II. The traditional liturgy is the liturgy that made fruits of numeours martyrs in Asian countries. I do not believe they happily laid down their lives because of "infantile" piety.

I am more worried about blind acceptance of 'sophiscated' dissenting theologies from western countries.