When in 1974 the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) gathered for the first time in plenary assembly in Taipei, the Asian bishops articulated their vision of a “local church.” It is no secret that the esteemed Filipino theologian Catalino Arevalo, S.J., had a prominent role in the drafting of that vision. That vision of local church has since become a morning star that through the past forty years has guided the renewal of the Church in Asia. The present reflection is a tribute to Fr. Arevalo who superbly articulated the thoughts of the Asian bishops. It also describes the path of dialogue among local churches in the renewal of the Church in Asia. Vatican II and the Code of Canon Law use the words “particular church” to refer to a diocese. The term describes a “section of the People of God entrusted to a bishop … so that it constitutes one particular church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active.” On the other hand, in the understanding of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), the term “local church” involves the contextualizing of the particular church among a specific people with their culture(s). In this understanding, a "particular church" is not a “local church” simply by situating it in one “locality” or by entrusting a section of the People of God to a bishop. For a particular church to become “local” in a real sense, it has to be localized; it haste go through a process of immersion, of being rooted in the local culture(s) of the people. In this presentation, that is the meaning of “local church.” As much as possible, the testimony on the dialogue between local churches will come mostly from the Asian bishops themselves.

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