Pope Francis returns to Asia this week, where crises are priming the ground for the kind of church he is working to grow.
This is the Philippines, where "the Christian story and Christian symbols have played a very important role in everyday life."
"It's not new for us. ... It's not a revolution. It's an affirmation of various intuitions of the church in Asia and of the universal church."
Philippine church and government leaders are preparing the country for Pope Francis' visit with spiritual guidance for the faithful and precautions about crowd control.
Hundreds of people who gathered at a public square here for a rally against the death penalty lit candles and joined in singing "Heal the World" to close a historic dialogue on human rights and respect for the dignity of life.
It may have ended months of work for the first Asia Pacific dialogue on the theme "No Justice without Life." But Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr. and other speakers pointed out that much work remains for Filipinos to foster dialogue on the death penalty and ensure that the country's laws do not again allow executions.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said the synod was more than divorce and gay unions -- the impact of poverty was a major concern.
The church must widen its reach to gays and divorced Catholics, said the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in an Oct. 21 statement after the Synod of Bishops on the family, called for a merciful approach to ministering to the faithful by emulating Christ and not casting stones at sinners.
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Global Sisters Report: Theologian Agnes Brazal is a member of Ecclesia of Women in Asia, which works to make female theologians equal partners in the church.