Greeting From Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis, D.D.
Greetings of Christ’s peace and welcome to the webpage for the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs (SCAPA). June 2021 marks a special moment for the Asian and Pacific Islands Catholic (API) community in our country. Three years ago, the Bishops of the United States, during the Annual Spring Assembly, unanimously approved a new document, “Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to our Asian and Pacific Islander Brothers and Sisters,” an official recognition of the nation’s nearly three million Asian and Pacific Island Catholics as one of the fastest growing minority communities in the US.
The document has tremendous significance. It highlights the spiritual and cultural gifts of the API Catholics that enrich the Church. The document offers a pastoral response to their needs that paves the way for their full integration into the life of the Church and for their pastoral engagement as partners in the church’s mission of evangelization. The bishops hoped it will assist dioceses, pastoral leaders and other Catholic groups in the pastoral care of API faith communities in the country.
Interestingly, the document mentions that the API continue to confront “racial discrimination, stereotyping and the clash of values with mainstream United States culture.” It seems nothing has changed. Our nation is experiencing heightened incidents of racial discrimination, hatred, and violence against people of color and recently against minorities especially Asian and Pacific Islanders. We have lost our focus on each other and our love for one another.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, calls us to foster fraternity and social friendship based on the dignity of each person created by God in His image and likeness. He reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters. We may look different from one another according to race, language or religion but our unity in diversity is what God makes us – a faith family and a nation. Whatever differences we have, we live in one world, share a common home, and the same longings for unity, harmony and peace.
There is hope. The word “harmony” is part of the document “Encountering Christ in Harmony.” It is a very common theme and a dominant aspect in API cultures. This cultural trait engages the heart in union with nature, with other people and with the community, strengthening the experience of God’s presence and encounter of the saving love of Christ in our lives and in the world. They share this cultural gift as an antidote to the pandemic of hate, discrimination, and polarization. They teach us to find harmony by encountering Christ in our lives and in each other.
We thank all the bishop members of our subcommittee, consultants, Secretariat of Cultural Diversity staff, as well as the standing Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, API leaders and many others for their valuable support. Let us continue to work and pray together to carry out our mission to build bridges and form faith communities by promoting unity in the midst of diversity. Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, may the good Lord bless our endeavor and the people of God we serve.
Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis, D.D.
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs