Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver to Attend Synod of Bishops for Asia

Thursday, April 09 1998

exner(Ottawa – CCCB) Archbishop Adam Exner, O.M.I., of Vancouver, has been named a delegate to the upcoming Synod of Bishops for Asia by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. The Special Assembly will take place in Rome from April 19 until May 14, 1998. The theme chosen for the Synod is Jesus Christ the Saviour and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia: “That They May Have Life and Have It Abundantly” (John 10:10).

Archbishop Exner’s appointment was among 23 bishops and priests from around the world who will be full members of the Synod, 16 priests and a religious woman who will assist the bishops as experts, and 39 others who are observers. The Vancouver Archbishop called the appointment “significant for the Church in Canada and for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Archbishop Exner went on to say that the appointment also has “a special significance for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, which has such a high percentage of people from Asia.” “In the city of Vancouver, English has become a minority language,” he added. “Fifty-seven percent of the population does not speak English at home, thirty percent speak Chinese and the rest speak 138 different languages.” The majority of the other languages are oriental. This multiple Asian cultural mixture is reflected in our parishes which often have parishioners from fifty to sixty different countries.” “The opportunity to learn more about the Church in Asia, and about its concerns and pastoral approaches, will be most helpful,” he remarked.

Also named as delegates to the Synod were Bishops John S. Cummins of Oakland, Calf., and Francis X. Di Lorenzo of Honolulu. One of the auditors or observers who was appointed today was Sister Mary Nirmala Joshi, M.C., Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity in India, the successor to Mother Teresa.

The Instrumentum Laboris, the Special Assembly’s working document, says that Asian Catholics must help their neighbours see Christianity not as a western import but as the key to the fullness of life. While three-quarters of the world’s population reside in Asia, only three percent are Catholic. The working document sets down as one of the key questions “How can the Church in Asia explain that Christ is the one and only saviour and unique mediator of salvation, distinct from the founders of Asia’s other great religions?”

The Synod for Asia is one of a continuing series of special assemblies for the different continents of the world called by Pope John Paul II in light of the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. It will bring together bishops from the Middle East; the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union; Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka; the Philippines; as well as the Far East and Southeast Asian nations.

Last fall, the Synod for America was held in Rome in which the Canadian delegation of 14 bishops and one priest played an important role. They were supported by a team of Canadian experts and observers. Previous to that, a synod was held for Africa. Next year, special synods will be held for Europe and Oceania.