Franciscans to establish Bangkok human rights centre

The Australian Franciscans have played a key role in developing a proposal announced today for a Franciscans International office for the Asia-Pacific region in Bangkok.

An assembly of Franciscan leaders unanimously agreed to the proposal at a meeting in Bangkok earlier this month following more than two years of consultation in which religious and lay members of the Australian Franciscan Family made a significant contribution.

A Franciscan Friars statement says that the consultation included a detailed needs assessment of grassroots Franciscans working in the Asia Pacific region and made an evaluation of four cities as possible sites for a regional Franciscans International office.

According to Fr John Quigley, the Executive Director of Franciscans International in Geneva, "The decision to open the Asia-Pacific office reflects a major development in the history of Franciscans International, the only common ministry of the Franciscan Family, and an important, new inter-Franciscan endeavour at the international level."

At a June 2005 meeting in Singapore, convened by the Australian Franciscan family, a Steering Committee was established and funded by 12 Franciscan superiors from the region.

The group called for a Feasibility Committee to make a study over six months and interview Franciscan workers and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) throughout Asia and the Pacific.

At the assembly this month, 50 Franciscan sisters and brothers, including 11 superiors, from 35 entities in 12 countries in Asia and the Pacific, called unanimously for the opening of the office and collectively assumed responsibility for the project to be implemented in three phases.

Franciscans International hopes to have the Asia-Pacific office approved by the International Board of Directors of Franciscans International in the coming months and aims to open a fully functioning human rights training office within two years.

Media Release (Franciscans International 20/7/06)

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20 Jul 2006