Posted Monday, August 30, 2004 at 11:25 a.m. CDT|
FABC assistant secretary general resigns
Ed Malone praised for 'unique understanding of Asian ways'
By THOMAS C. FOX
Maryknoll Fr. Edward F. Malone, whose tireless work over 30 years as assistant secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences helped bring vitality to the organization, has resigned from the post.
Malone announced his resignation in a letter dated Aug. 27. "I wish to inform all my associates that I have decided to retire from all my local occupations, including those here at the FABC Secretariat office in Hong Kong." Malone wrote.
"Given my age, I have decided, principally on health grounds, to return to my homeland and to begin another 'way of life,' " the 76-year-old priest wrote.
"As I take leave of all of you, I ask your prayers. I wish to thank each one personally for the kind friendship, communion and fraternal cooperation we have experienced throughout the years. I shall never forget you. Some day may we all meet in heaven, with our Lord, and our church."
Malone's resignation letter was not unexpected. Malone, who worked from Hong Kong, was in Daejeon, South Korea, Aug. 15 for the eighth plenary session of the FABC. He greeted a few early arrivals for the meeting but took ill a few hours later and returned to Hong Kong. Some who saw him said he looked fatigued.
His absence from the proceedings moved the participants to compile a "Hearts for Father Malone" booklet containing scores of messages hand written by cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, religious and laypeople.
One was by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India. He wrote: "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your great service to the FABC for so many years. You were the main pillar that sustained the FABC. May God reward you! I am grateful to you for your personal interest in the Syro-Malabar Church."
The cardinal was acknowledging Malone's care for one of two Oriental-rites in India, both much smaller than the Latin-rite Catholic Church. In a way, Malone's sensitivity to "other" rites in India reflects his characteristic concern for "the other" in many other areas of church life
During the weeklong plenary, speculation grew regarding a possible replacement for the man whom the Asian bishops had looked to since 1972 to keep the organization running smoothly.
For three decades, as assistant to the secretary general, the highest elective office in the FABC, Malone was the glue of the organization. Among the many tasks he performed, he kept the FABC documents and helped organize training sessions for bishops to develop their pastoral skills.
His unique understanding of Asian ways meant he could facilitate Asian gatherings without interfering with the directions and decisions taken by the Asian bishops, a number of his FABC friends agreed in recent days. Yet his energy level had dropped in recent years. Malone had called upon Malaysian Brother Edmund Chia to help organize the latest FABC plenary assembly, on the family, which ended Aug. 23.
A Malone replacement has not yet been announced.
Editor's Note: For more about Malone, read the report from Day 6 of the conference: History is told in human stories.
[Fox is publisher of the National Catholic Reporter and author of Pentecost in Asia, a book about the Asian churches. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]