Rectors Aim to Strengthen Role of Asian Shrines

Nov 13, 2003 09:30 AM EST

Rectors of Asian shrines plan to establish associations at the national and continental level to give greater emphasis to evangelization through their religious facilities.

The above was expressed in a statement issued at the end of the first Asian Meeting of Shrine Rectors, held in Manila from Oct. 21-25.

The meeting, attended by representatives of 51 shrines of 14 Asian nations, reflected the vitality and attraction of Asian shrines, not only among Catholic communities, but also among believers of other religions.

"The Shrine: Place of Welcome and Encounter," was the theme of the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers together with the Commission on Human Mobility of the Philippine bishops' conference.

For Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, council secretary, "welcome" and "encounter" are meaningful terms for the shrines because "in welcoming many people -- including of other religions -- and in being an occasion for reciprocal exchange of gifts, they are placed in the front line of the continent's evangelization," he told Vatican Radio.

In their final statement, the rectors expressed their commitment to "explore the immense possibilities of inculturation and dialogue that arise from pilgrimages, religious meetings, liturgical celebrations, manifestations of popular devotion, charitable assistance, and even the very architecture of churches and shrines."

"We accept the challenge to open wide horizons of dialogue between cultures and with other religious groups, with the firm hope of attaining the authentic revelation of Christ," the statement said.