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‘Asia is taking its rightful place in Church,’ says cardinal

From left, Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, and Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit of Bangkok hold press conference for the FABC General Conference in Thailand on Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo by Roy Lagarde/CBCP News)

The Catholic Church is supposed to be universal and Pope Francis is making that word finally mean something with the recent appointment of a number of Asian cardinals, the region’s top church leaders said.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay said that while naming cardinals is the pope’s personal decision, it also shows that he is a “very universal” shepherd.

“It’s an indication of Asia taking its rightful place in the Church,” Gracias responded to a CBCP News question about the predominantly Asian appointments to the College of Cardinals early this year.

The press event took place on the 12th day of the ongoing general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences at the Baan Phu Pastoral Center of the Bangkok archdiocese.

Gracias also hinted that the pope wants to “internationalize” the Church “and give a message that that Church is not Eurocentric”.

Besides, according to him, “the pope likes Asia”, drawing smiles from other panelists.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, for his part, said the pope has really been giving attention to people who are in the “peripheries”.

And Asia, said the FABC president, is among those “forgotten by the world”.

“I think It’s one of the reasons that his (pope) focus and attention is to the poor and the marginalized,” Bo added.

Pope Francis in August this year created 21 new cardinals including six from Asia— India, Singapore, East Timor, South Korea, and Mongolia.

With the six new cardinals from Asia, the region’s number of cardinal electors who will choose the next pope rose to 21— five are from India, two from the Philippines, and one each from Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Laos, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Indonesia, Mongolia, Singapore, and East Timor.

The continent now has the second highest number of cardinal electors to choose the next pope, after Europe.

To date, 82 of the 132 cardinals eligible to participate in the conclave were appointed by the 85-year-old Argentinian pontiff. - Roy Lagarde


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.