By Jojo M. Fung SJ


n a post 911 global era that witnesses an unprecedented escalation of militaristic violence sanctioned by political leaders to resolve conflicts, dialogue is being increasingly foregrounded as a viable means for fostering mutual understanding amongst the religions and nations. Asia, with its unique yet plural religious and cultural traditions, is no exception. It is a contested geographical locality and geopolitical site where the different degrees of conflicts are being staged, resisted and negotiated by the peoples of different histories, cultures and religions.

    In this paper, I like to postulate that dialogue is indeed integral to the evangelizing mission of the Church in Asia. I like to state from the onset that my explanation arises from a particular Catholic lens that make constant reference to the documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference. In the first section, I like to describe the context of the Christian presence in Asia so that this postulation is situated within a particular time and space construct known as Asia. Then in the second section, I will proceed to explain that dialogue is couched in an emerging theology that is borne out of the life-struggles of the people of Asia as they live the Christian message. The Asian approach to contextual theology calls for the use of three important hermeneutical moments, i.e., the commitment and service to life, the dialectical social analysis, and the critical introspection contemplation that enable FABC to enunciate insightful theological principles that facilitate dialogue. In the third section before the conclusion, I will explain the holistic approach to dialogue in three related points that highlight the importance of dialogue of mission Inter Gentes, dialogue as a common quest for harmony and finally, dialogue as a Kin-dom-centered-evangelization.


Asia is home to some 50 nations and 3.5 billion people, numbering two-thirds of the world’s population, where Christians made up more than 2 per cent of the entire population of Asia.

On the other hand, Asia is a continent of ancient and diverse cultures, religions, histories and traditions. Asians of the diverse religions manifest a reverential sense of the mystery and the sacred, a spirituality that regards life as sacred and discovers the Transcendent and its gifts even in the hustles and bustles of everyday mundane affairs. While it is a continent laden with sufferings due to diseases, communal violence, natural disasters, poverty, malnutrition, overpopulation and economic globalization, it is at the same time a continent awakening to realize its new responsibilities.

The Christian presence, albeit a seizable minority todate, stands in the line of ancestry that dates back to the colonial times of the 15th till 18th centuries when the gospel came to Asia via the “power of the gun” in an era that witnessed the mercantile expansion of European powers to the rest of the world- Latin America, Africa and Asia.


One of the ways to understand Christianity in Asia is in terms of an umbrella-like network known as the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and its emerging theology of dialogue in the context of Asia.

(i) Theology in Context. The theological and pastoral reflections of the FABC arises out of the lived-experiences of the Church wherein the biblical faith or the text and context are always in critical conversation with each other for reasons that the everyday life is a constant interaction between the Church leaders and the believers, the Christians and the people of Asia. By lived-experiences, we mean the everyday life of Asians in their joys and sorrows as couched in the socio-cultural-religious-political realities of Asia.

The lived-experiences are contextualized and hence there is a need to grapple with the word ‘context.’ Doughlas J.Hall (1994:84) understands contextuality in theology as “the form of faith’s self understanding that is always determined by the historical configuration in which the community of belief finds itself. It is this world which insinuates the questions, the concerns, the frustrations and alternatives, the possibilities and impossibilities by which the content of faith must be shaped and reshaped, and finally confessed.” For Stephen Bevans (1992:1), it is “a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit of the Gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and the social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.” In addition to the two loci theologici of Scripture and Tradition, Bevans (1992:2) added a third, viz., human experience for “theology that is contextual realizes that culture, history, contemporary thought forms, and so forth are to be considered, along with scripture and tradition, as valid sources for theological expression.”

Hence, in the pursuit of a contextualized Christian Gospel, there is a greater awareness, in the words of Jerome Crowe (1997:153-4), that “the gospel can only be experienced and communicated in the form of a particular human culture” for “there is no such thing as a ‘pure’ gospel, untainted by incorporation into a human culture, because the gospel is not a system of divine truths existing somewhere outside this world and untouched by human feelings, language, and customs but God’s self-involvement in the concrete circumstances of a people’s history and culture.”

(ii) Commitment and Service To Life. This emerging theology motivates the church in Asia to exercise and embody the first hermeneutical moment as an unwavering commitment and service to life which arises out of holistic view of life that is no less laden with a traditional sense of reverence which perceives God’s Spirit as active in the diverse and pluralistic Asian milieu.

“We Asians are searching not simply for the meaning of life but for life itself. We are striving and struggling for life because it is a task and a challenge. But life is a gift too, a mystery, because our efforts to achieve it are far too short of the ultimate value of life. We speak of it as becoming – a growing into, a journeying to life and to the source of life (FABC VI, art. 9).
“Ours is a vision of holistic life …We envision a life with integrity and dignity, a life of compassion for the multitudes, especially the poor and needy. It is a life of solidarity with every form of life and of sensitive care for the earth.” (FABC VI, art.10).
“We see the work of theology in Asia a service to life. It has to reflect systematically on themes that are important to the common journey of life with other peoples of Asia, to the life of Christians and their Churches in Asian …To do this service in a way that is pastorally relevant and fruitful to life, spirituality and mission of the disciple-community, theology has to start from below, from the underside of history, from the perspective of those who struggle for life, love, justice and freedom. Theologizing thus becomes more than faith seeking understanding, but faith fostering life and love, justice and freedom. It is in this way that theology becomes a dynamic process giving meaning to and facilitating the Asian journey to life. It becomes part of the process of becoming and being Church in Asia. (Being Church in Asia, arts. 48-50).

In relation to this emerging theology that commits the Asian Church to the service of life are a number of theological principles. Amongst them are the (i) Mystery of Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery that underlines God’s solidarity with humankind, especially the poor and marginalized, as well as (ii) God’s participation in the experience of pain and suffering in their daily lives. The FABC adopts an important theological perspective that considers the experiences of daily living as the privileged locus where God is to be found and encountered, because God has made a deliberate choice to be identified with the Asian peoples, especially the poor and the marginalized.

Flowing from the theological principles is the pastoral principle that ‘What we are with the people is more important than what we do for them.’

“The Christian community, it seems to us, must live in companionship, as true partners with all Asians as they pray, work, struggle and suffer for a better human life, and as they search for the meaning of human life and progress. Because the human person created in Christ, redeemed by Christ and united by Christ to himself is the way for the Church, the Church must walk along with her/him in human solidarity. (FABC V, art. 6.2, emphasis is mine) “The Lord of history is at work in that world of poverty. Seeing the Lord in the poor, making sense out of his action among them, discerning the direction of his action among them – this we felt deeply within us was the more specific challenge we have to face.” (BISA VII, art. 20)

Active solidarity “calls for more than mere sympathy, empathy or occasional encounters of theologians, bishops and other pastoral leaders with the daily lives of the Asian peoples, especially the poor and marginalized. But, it calls for personal commitment, deep immersion and experiential participation in the lives of our people, not as outsiders who drop by to visit, but as insiders who are bound in solidarity with them” (Tan 2003:9) so that we do not just merely work for them “but with them, to learn from them their real needs and aspirations (FABC I, art. 20).

(iii) Dialectical Social Analysis. For the Asian Church to be effective in the commitment and service to life, FABC calls for a second hermeneutical moment: the dialectical social analysis, carried out through reading the ‘signs of the times.’ Using this moment, the Church identifies the challenges in Asia, always in dialectical tension with who we are as Church in Asia. First, there are positive challenges: Asia is a continent of ancient and diverse cultures, religions, histories and traditions wherein there is deep interiority (“a sense of being hugged by the divine”), that inherent (even latent) reverential sense of the mystery and the sacred, a spirituality that regards life as sacred and discovers the Transcendent and its gifts even in mundane affairs, in tragedy or victory, in brokenness or wholeness, a continent awakening to new and gigantic responsibilities.

In addition, there are the negative challenges: poverty and the inequitable distribution of wealth, economic dependency; unjust trade and aid conditions; unfair economic policies which discriminates against labour; landlessness and the destruction of the rural economy and small family farms; unemployment and underemployment; poor working conditions and inadequate wages; dehumanizing plight of slum dwellers, landless peasants and migrant workers; unjust exploitation of workers; child labour; marginalization of indigenous peoples; unjust exploitation and discrimination of women; exploitative tourism (including sex-tourism); prostitution; disintegration of traditional Asian societal and family structures; drug abuse; unbridled consumerism; ethnic minority discrimination; caste discrimination; religious strife; racial strife and communalism; human rights violations; war, increased militarization and nuclear proliferation; terrorism; violence arising from religious fundamentalism and fanaticism; the plight of refugees; unrestrained exploitation of natural resources; pollution, environmental and ecological damage; as well as social and cultural dislocation.

Underlying such challenges are structural factors such as: secularization; modernization; urbanization, illiteracy; untrammeled market forces of globalization; non-suitability of Western laissez faire capitalism; economic exploitation by huge business conglomerates and transnational corporations; export oriented industries which neglect the needs of the poor; corruption which is engendered by a “get-rich-quickly” mentality; oppressive socio-political structures such as feudalism, colonialism, neocolonialism, communism; and dictatorial and totalitarian governments.

By way of an analytical self-critique in the theological consultation, the FABC acknowledges the double marginalization in terms of first, the Christian gospel and second, the Asian local churches due to the marginal impact of the gospel message in the lives of many Asians. Moreover, the Asian Church has remained a church that is implanted in Asia by colonial-era missionaries, dominated by the existence of pervasive Eurocentric ecclesial structures, and still foreign in its theology, lifestyle, worship, western-trained leadership, Christian rituals often remain formal, neither spontaneous nor particularly Asian, with a recognizable gap between leaders and ordinary believers in the Church, with members of other faiths, a powerful priestly caste with little lay participation. Futhermore, the seminary formation often alienates the seminarians from the people, and the biblical, systematic, and historical theology as taught are often unpastoral and unAsian. (Theological Consultation, art. 13)

(iii) Critical Introspection Contemplation. The dialectical social analysis leads to what the FABC terms as the third hermeneutical moment: the critical introspection contemplation which then enunciates a clear theological realization that the great religions of Asia are “significant and positive elements in the economy of God’s design and salvation. In them we recognize and respect profound spiritual and ethical meanings and values. Over many centuries they have been the treasury of the religious experience of our ancestors, from which our contemporaries do not cease to draw light and strength. They have been (and continue to be) the authentic expression of the noblest longings of their hearts, and the home of their contemplation and prayer.” (FABC 1, art.14)

The moment leads the FABC to make not just a preferential for the poor and the marginalized, but also a preferential option for Asian cultures, spirituality and religiosity, in recognition of the fact that the Asian milieu is defined both its varying degrees of economic poverty as well as its multifaceted religiousness. The FABC seeks to draw upon the spirit of compassion and interiority, asceticism and renunciation, as well as intuition and mysticism of the religiosity of the Asian peoples to underscore the pursuit of integral human liberation.

The dialogue that the FABC calls for is thus a triple dialogue with the Asian Cultures, Religions and the Poor. The FABC understands dialogue as an Asian trait that involves “a process of talking and listening, of giving and receiving, of searching and studying, for the deepening and enriching of one another’s faith and understanding (BIRA, art.11), with the stated objectives “to promote mutual understanding and harmony” (BIRA 1, art.15), “to promote whatever leads to unity, love, truth, justice and peace” (BIRA I, art.16) and “sharing the riches of our spiritual heritages” (BIRA 1, art.17).

Such a triple dialogue, I must hasten to add, includes the traditional religions of Asia, and it entails a dialogue with the many poor, the diverse cultures and belief-systems of these ancient religions.

Based on own contextual efforts at theologizing in relation to my ethnographic field research and experiences,  I have advocated some criteria of re-valuation and evaluation of the many indigenous cultures, with particular reference to indigenous shamanism. The condition sine non qua prior to any theological efforts at re-valuation and evaluation, I contend, must be based on the principle of kenosis and pleroma wherein one must be able to immerse oneself in the life-struggles of indigenous peoples in order to be filled with a more adequate understanding of their life-worlds from within.

Based on the first principle, I have enunciated three fundamental criteria. They are (a) indigenous epistemological power of making a moral distinction between what is evil (a disservice) and good (a service) to the indigenous communities (Fung 2005:237); (b) the rite of passage as sacred and should be valued in themselves; and (c) the rituals are efficacious insofar they bring about the desired good for the individuals and the community as a whole.

(iv) Theological Principles For Dialogue. FABC enumerates the following principles to enable dialogue in the Asian context:

•    The first theological principle: “It has been recognized since the time of the apostolic Church, and stated clearly again by the Second Vatican Council, that the Spirit of Christ is active outside the bounds of the visible Church. God’s saving grace is not limited to members of the Church, but is offered to every person. God’s grace may lead some to accept baptism and enter the Church, but it cannot be presumed that this must always be the case. God’s ways are mysterious and unfathomable, and no one can dictate the direction of divine grace.” (BIRA II, art.12)
•    The second theological principle: Yet dialogue does not preclude but necessitates the proclamation of the Christian gospel since there are moments when “we shall not be timid when God opens the door for us to proclaim explicitly the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and the answer to the fundamental questions of human existence.” (FABC V, art.4.3)
•    The third theological principle: However in Asia, proclamation calls for the witness of Christians and of Christian communities to the values of the Kin-dom of God, a proclamation through Christlike deeds. For Christians in Asia, to proclaim Christ means above all to live like him, in the midst of the neighbours of other faiths and persuasions, and to do his deeds by the power of his grace.” (FABC V, art.4.1)
•    The fourth theological principle: “dialogue and proclamation are complementary. Sincere and authentic dialogue does not have for its objective the conversion of the other. For conversion depends solely on God’s internal call and the person’s free decision.” (BIRA III, art.4)
•    The fifth theological principle: “While proclamation is the expression of its awareness of being in mission, dialogue is the expression of its awareness of God’s presence and action outside its boundaries…Proclamation is the affirmation of its awareness to God’s action in oneself. Dialogue is the openness and attention to the mystery of God’s action in the other believers. It is a perspective of faith that we cannot speak of one without the other.” (Theses on Interreligious Dialogue, art.6.5)
•    The sixth theological principle: “Christian communities in Asia must listen to the Spirit at work in the many communities of believers who live and experience their own faith, who share and celebrate it in their own social, cultural and religious history, and that they (as communities of the Gospel) must accompany these others “in a common pilgrimage toward the ultimate goal, in relentless quest for the Absolute,” and that thus they are to be “sensitively attuned to the work of the Spirit in the resounding symphony of Asian communion.” (FABC III, art. 8.2).
•    The seventh theological principle: Religious pluralism is considered by the Asian bishops “as a grace and as a God’ given call to be co-pilgrims along with the believers of other religions in search of Truth in love.” (Fernando 2000:865)

In addition, I have enumerated six theological principles for the evaluation of indigenous cultures and their belief-systems.

•    The first theological Principle: Creation is good and suffused with the splendor of God’s presence. So is the multiple worlds of indigenous cultures;
•    The second theological Principle: God in the person of Jesus has come to bring healing to the world, including the cultures and belief-systems of indigenous peoples;
•    The third theological Principle: God has created all persons and things good and they are pleasing in God’s sight. So too are the shamans who ritualizes the healing and deliverance;
•    The fourth theological Principle: Through the resurrection, God’s effort becomes insurmountable and God brings about wholeness and fullness of life to creation and humankind. God can do the same through indigenous healing rituals;
•    The fourth theological Principle: All of Creation is suffused with God’s life-giving and life-sustaining Spirit and the indigenous cultures and belief-systems too;
•    The fifth theological Principle: indigenous shamans who ritualize based on the belief-systems are best evaluated according to the gospel injunction of the sound tree that produces good fruits.

Such a dialogue in Asia has to be carried out as “equal partners” amongst fellow Asians:

“We enter as equal partners into the dialogue in a mutuality of sharing and enrichment contributing to mutual growth. It excludes any sense of competition. Rather, it centers on each other’s values.”  “Like Jesus, “We enter as equal partners into the dialogue in a mutuality of sharing and enrichment contributing to mutual growth. It excludes any sense of competition. Rather, it centers on each other’s values.”  (FABC 1, art.12)

And understandably, such a dialogue is amongst Asian of diverse cultures:

“Each culture not only provides us with a new approach to the human, but also opens up new avenues for the understanding of the Gospel and its riches. When the Gospel encounters the tradition, experience and culture of a people, its hitherto undiscovered virtualities will surface; riches and meanings as yet hidden will emerge into the light.” (Theses on the Local Church, 20-21)

     And finally, amongst Asian of diverse religions:

“Religions, as they are manifested in history, are complementary perceptions of the ineffable divine mystery, the God-beyond-God. All religions are visions of the divine mystery …We religious believers are co-pilgrims, who share intimate spiritual experiences and reflections with one another with concern and compassion, with genuine openness to truth and the freedom of spiritual seekers. In this process, we become increasingly sensitive to human suffering and collaborative in promoting justice, peace and ecological wholeness.” (BIRA V, art. 6)

     A dialogue that is inclusive of the many poor among the many cultures and religions:

“Poor, not in human values, qualities, nor in human potential. But poor, in that they are deprived of access to material goods and resources which they need to create a truly human life for themselves. Deprived, because they live under oppression, that is, under social, economic and political structures which have injustice built into them. (BIRA I, art.19)

And “like Jesus, we ‘have pitched out tents’ in the midst of humanity building a better world, but especially among the suffering and the poor, the marginalized and the downtrodden of Asia. In profound ‘solidarity with suffering humanity’ and led by the Spirit of life, we need to immerse ourselves in Asia’s cultures of poverty and depravation, from whose depths the aspirations for love and life are most poignant and compelling.” (FABC VI, art.14.2)


Dialogue, when it is holistic, calls for mission inter gentes, directed towards a sense of harmony in Asia so that the end-goal of evangelization is the actualization of the Kin-dom of God  in human history.

(i)    Dialogue as Mission Inter Gentes. According to Jonathan Tan (2004:84), the mission strategy of the FABC is “missio inter gentes” for reasons that the Church (a) will never dominate Asia in the manner Christendom dominated medieval Europe; (b) the church has to become truly rooted in the Asian milieu, then a missio inter gentes  approach would be perfectly at home within the diverse and pluralistic Sitz-im-Leben of Asian cultures and religions.” He added, “rather than proclaiming “to” (ad) the nations in the hopes of getting them to abandon their religions in favour of the Christian gospel, the FABC bishops have chosen a mission paradigm that seeks to “immerse” the local churches in the diverse and pluralistic Asian Sitz-im-Leben, sharing life in solidarity with the Asian peoples and serving life, as Jesus had done.

In this way, “the focus of the Asian local church’s missio inter gentes is identified with Jesus own mission of bringing about the Kin-dom of God among his people” in a manner that they collaborate with God’s ongoing mission (missio dei) of bringing about the Kin-dom of God through their life witness and threefold dialogue with the Asian peoples and their cultures, religions and marginalizing life challenges.” (Tan 2004:91)

(ii)    Dialogue as A Common Quest For Harmony. The FABC realizes that dialogue is a means that enables the diverse religions and cultures of the various nations to work towards harmony in Asia. The FABC emphasizes that the quest for harmony is authentically Christian, yet quintessentially Asia, viz., harmony appears “to constitute in a certain sense the intellectual and affective, religious and artistic, personal and societal soul of both persons and institutions in Asia.” (BIRA IV/1, art. 13)

“Harmony can be perceived and realized at various levels: harmony in oneself as personal integration of body and mind; harmony with the Cosmos, not only living in harmony with nature, but sharing nature’s gift equitably to promote harmony among peoples; harmony with others, accepting, respecting and appreciating each one’s cultural, ethnic and religious identity, building community in freedom and fellowship; harmony in our collaborations as a means of promoting harmony for all in the world; and finally harmony with God or the Absolute or whatever we perceive as the ultimate goal of life.” (BIRA V/2)

True harmony must create space and acceptance of diversity in richness and unity in diversity.

“Harmony does not consist in the leveling off differences in order to arrive at consensus at all cost. Avoiding controversies and bypassing disagreements do not pave the way to harmony. To say that all religious are the same is simplistic and does not promote honest dialogue, but to argue that religions do not meet at all would block any creative interaction.” (BIRA V/3, art.7).

Such a true harmony has its foundation in God and in the Trinity.

“God is the source and summit of harmony. God is the foundation and fulfillment of it” (Asian Christian perspective on Harmony, art. since the “marvelous mystery of unity and communion of the Trinity is the model as well as a powerful challenge in our efforts to create harmony in all areas of life” (BIRA IV/11, art.7)

(iii)    Dialogue As A Kin-dom-centered-Evangelization. The FABC is clear that “the focus of the Church’s mission of evangelization is building up the Kin-dom of God and building up the Church to be at the service of the Kin-dom. The Kin-dom of God is therefore wider than the Church. The Church is the sacrament of the Kin-dom, visibilizing it, ordained to it, promoting it, but not equating itself with it.” (Theses on Interreligious Dialogue, art.6.3)

As a result of this understanding of evangelization in relation to the holistic notion of dialogue, the FABC “views salvation history of the Asian continent as embodied in the history, religions, cultures, challenges, aspirations and hopes of its many people. (Tan 2004:89) Thus FACB enunciated two soteriological principles: (a) “salvation history did not begin with the coming of Christianity to Asia. Rather, it recognizes the Father’s and Spirit’s presence and saving activity in and through Asian religious traditions which preceded the coming of Christianity to Asia and which also continue as an integral part of ongoing Asian religious history”; (b) the “deep soteriological underpinnings of Asian religions and philosophies that have inspired multitudes of Asians are not evil, but from God. Hence, the FABC is unequivocal in asserting that the wisdom of Asian philosophies and the soteriological elements of Asian religions are all inspired by the Holy Spirit working outside the boundaries of the institutional Church.” (Tan 2004:92)


The Final Statement of the 7th FABC Plenary Assembly is worth our pondering in contemplative silence before the unfathomable presence of our infinite God:

“As we celebrate the Great Jubilee of the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour, and the Holy Doors of churches are being opened, we look at the image of the door and are gladdened to rediscover our calling to enter into the community of Christ’s disciples and to share in his life and mission. It is through the same doors that we now go out into the world of peoples of Asia and into their struggles and joys, which are also ours.” (Eilers 2002:15)

Dialogue is that door that opens the believers of the Asian Church to the incomprehensible wonders of the Lord whose Spirit beckons us to “come and see” and “taste the goodness of the Lord” in the profound reverence and insights of our fellow pilgrims in Asia.

Dialogue is the trail that many committed believers in Asia blast so that many other generations of believing pilgrims are able to sojourn forward together so that they actualize the distant dream that a world of harmony is not only possible but ours to enjoy as we live to appreciate more fully the multiple realities of our people in Asia.

  Sept 24-29, 2006.
  TCMA Conference, 
  Perth, Australia.

Out of the 2 per cent of Christian presence, some 97 million are Catholics, with East Timor, ranking as the nation with 95% of Catholics and the Philippines, second with 83%.

The FABC began in 1970 with the papal visit of Pope Paul VI. FABC consists of 14 full-member countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, East Timor, Japan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar, Paskistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, and 10 associate-member countries: Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Siberia, Tadjkistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The FABC convenes in Plenary Assembly, the highest body, with the participation of all presidents and delegates of member conferences once in every four years. The FABC operates under the principle of collegiality (governs the Church together) and subsidiarity (that decisions are to be responsibly made at the different levels of the life of the Church). To-date seven plenary assemblies have been held: FABC I: Evangelization in Modern Day Asia (Taipei, Taiwan, 1974), FABC II: Prayer – Life of the Church in Asia (Calcutta, India, 1978), FABC III: The Church – A Community of Faith in Asia (Bangkok, Thailand, 1982), FABC IV: The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in the world of Asia (Tokyo, Japan, 1986), FABC V: Journeying Together Toward The Third Millennium (Bandung, Indonesia, 1990), FABC VI: Christian Discipleship in Asia Today: Service to Life (Manila, Philippines, 1995), and FABC VII: A Renewed Church in Asia on a Mission of Love and Service (Sampran, Thailand, 2000). The recent FABC held its 8th plenary session in Seoul Korea, from August 18-24, 2004 with the theme: Family In Communication. Communication In The Family. Under the aegis of the FABC, there are different institutes: BILA- Bishops’ Institute for Lay Apostolate, BIMA – Bishops’ for Missionary Apostolate, BIRA – Bishops’ Institute for Interreligious Affairs, BISA – Bishops’ Institute for Social Action, BISCOM – Bishops’ Institute for Social Communication, FEISA – Faith Encounters in Social Actions, and the FABC Office of Theological Concerns. Each of these institutes produces its own documents and position papers as well to nurture the life of the Catholic Church in Asia.

I began my field research among an indigenous people of Sabah (former British North Borneo) known as the Muruts, a name which literally means ‘hill people’ since 1999 till 2006.

See Fung 2003:100, endnote 12. “Fully accepting the theological richness of the term basiliea translated as the Kingdom of God, I like to use a more Asian- and-gender-sensitive term called the Kin-dom, for kins denote the idea of family and extended family relationships in Asia. Furthermore, in the Christian sense, all of us are related to each other by virtue of the fact that we are created in God’s likeness and image.