Pope Meets Asian Bishops
Pope Francis entered the Chapel of Haemi Shrine two minutes before the scheduled 11 o'clock meeting accompanied by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of Federation of Asia Bishop's Conferences, Bishop Peter Kang U-il, President of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and Chair of the Committee for Papal Visit to Korea, Bishop Basil Cho Kyu-man, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Committee and other Bishops.
Asian Bishops welcomed the Supreme Pontiff with big applauds as the Pope responded with eye contacts and nodding while shaking hands with those near him.
As soon as the Pope approached the Pontiff's chair near the altar, he opened his black suitcase himself and pulled out his speech. The speech was not placed in a hardcover folder but a plain A4 paper placed in a plain vinyl folder.
The afternoon prayer was led by Most Rev. Lazarro You Heung-sik of Daejon Diocese followed by a welcome address from His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of FABC. Cardinal Oswald made a report on the current situation of Asia, stressing that relations among family members are weakening due to secularism and materialism and that tendency of individualism and negligence of life is increasing.
The Cardinal also remarked that, "Your Holiness has shown us the image of Jesus and inspired us through your holy message,” and that, “We will strive and put continuous effort to deliver the message of Jesus so that people will better understand and love Jesus to become His followers. We will fulfill this through our words, our life and our ministry.”
Today the Federation of Asia Bishops' Conference consists of 27 member countries, among which 19 countries hold Bishops' Conference while 9 countries are associate members without a formal Bishops' Conference.
Pope Francis turned to Cardinal Oswald and listened carefully to the welcome remarks.
The Pope stood up holding his speech and moved towards the place where the Cardinal made remarks, not to the podium that had been prepared for him. It was just in front of the Pope with a standing microphone without the podium. As Bishop Lazarro You Heung-sik swiftly moved the podium for the Pope next to the microphone, the Pope smiled and placed the A4 speech on the podium and started his address in a soft voice, making eye contacts with each and every one of the Bishops.
Pope Francis appraised and said, "I thank the Federation of Bishops Conference for your sound and enhanced pastoral ministry in solidarity with Churches in every part of the country,” and urged that, “The beginning of dialogue stems from clear recognition of one's own identity and from the appreciation towards others."
Pope urged that we are challenged by various forms of secularization; in particular, "By three, which are relativism, superficiality, and temptations to find easy ways for solution rather than to seek for rules and regulation.”
Pope Francis added, “Our fundamental identity is rooted on our faith in Jesus,” stressing that, “Our lives should be Jesus Himself (Philippians 1.21), so let us prepare to speak without hesitation or fear, “From Jesus, about Jesus”.”