15th Asian Liturgy Forum
October 17-21, 2011
The delegates to the 15th Asian Liturgy Forum from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand met in Taipei from October 17 to 21, 2011 to study the challenges and possibilities of inculturating the rites of Christian funeral in the context of our respective countries and cultures. After discussing the reports from our member-countries, we are glad to share our conclusions.
1. We believe that the inculturation of the rites of funerals should be based on the requirements of the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, art.81 that “the rite of funerals should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions of various regions.”
2. We stress the importance of the rites of passage found in our local cultures that have resonance in our Christian tradition of journey from baptism to eternal life with reference especially to viaticum, final commendation, and funerals.
3. In situations where the local Church prefers to celebrate funeral liturgy, especially the Mass, in accord with the typical edition it might be pastorally beneficial to integrate, where possible, certain local elements of funerals, e.g. color of vestments, gestures, decorations, songs, musical instruments, and symbols.
4. To facilitate the process of inculturation we recommend a study of the local practices and traditions of funeral rites with the assistance of local experts in sociology, cultural anthropology, music, theology, and liturgy.
5. Due importance should be given to the role of the community in the celebration of funerals especially in the absence of a priest so that continuous prayers may be offered at the time of sickness, death, wake, burial, and beyond. We recommend that the local episcopal commissions on liturgy compose appropriate prayers for such occasions.
6. We emphasize the need for catechesis on the Church’s doctrine concerning death and the afterlife and the future resurrection in Christ. The catechesis should also speak about reincarnation and superstitious beliefs that are incompatible with our Christian faith.
7. We encourage the conferences of bishops in our region to take advantage of the wide margin for inculturation offered by the Rite of Christian Funerals especially as regards the development of local funeral liturgies on condition that the basic elements of Christian funeral contained in the typical edition are maintained.
We owe the success of our meeting to the generosity of Bishop Martin Su, D.D., President of the Commission for Sacred Liturgy, Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, and to the efficient collaboration of Fr. Charles Pan, CM, and his staff.
That in all things God may be glorified.