Jukka Helle
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NOTE: The present study is an updated version of my 2018 doctoral dissertation. The first version analysed the contexual theology of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) from 1970 to 2012. The present version includes a postscript which covers the period 2012-2020, the era of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Had I not arrived in Thailand in July 1995, I might have completed my doctoral dissertation many years ago. However, if that had happened, I would have never come across the fascinating theme of Asian Catholic theology. So, after all, I have no complaints, but rather joy and satisfaction.

Along my over 20-year journey on Asian highways and roads less traversed,

I have been blessed to have inspiring people as my mentors, guides and friends. Among the most important and inspiring is the late Benedictine father Anscar Chupungco, who first invited me to visit the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in the southern Philippines, of which Fr. Anscar was the director. It was he, together with the late Thai priest, Fr. Paisal Anamwat, who then invited me to attend the FABC-related Asian Liturgy Forum (ALF). Many times since my first participation at ALF in 2005, I have been the sole non-Catholic attendee in the annual meetings of the ALF. The Asian ecumenical friendship and hospitality I received from the ALF friends to a “separated brother” has been impressive. I recall that it was in an ALF meeting where I first heard of the FABC. The principal impetus to study the FABC writings comes from these contacts.

ข้าพเจ้าขอบคุณพี่น้องคริสเตียนในประเทศไทย โดยเฉพาะพี่น้องในสภาคริสตจักรลูเธอร์แรนในประเทศไทย ขอบคุณสำหรับมิตรภาพ ความอบอุ่น และทุกความร่วมมือ ที่ข้าพเจ้าได้รับจากพี่น้อง ตลอดระยะเวลาที่ข้าพเจ้าได้ร่วมรับใช้พระเจ้ากับท่านพี่น้องเหล่านี้ได้สอนให้ข้าพเจ้าได้เข้าใจความหมายของความเป็นคนเอเชีย และความหมายของความเป็นคริสตชนไทย

ข้าพเจ้าหวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า หนังสือเล่มนี้จะสามารถช่วยท่านผู้อ่าน เรื่องวิธีการนำความเชื่อและคำสอนคริสเตียน เข้าสู่วัฒนธรรมและบริบทไทย ยิ่งกว่านั้นอีก ข้าพเจ้าหวังว่า ในอนาคต ข้าพเจ้าจะมีโอกาสร่วมมือและร่วมรับใช้กับพี่น้องอีก

Academically, I am most indebted to my principal supervisor Professor Miikka Ruokanen who has always been supportive. His advice and critique were invaluable to my study. Docent Jyri Komulainen, an expert in Catholic and Asian theology, has contributed much of his time and expertise in helping me. Dr. Edmund Chia of the Australian Catholic University (Melbourne) has helped greatly in making this book much better that what it would have been, had I not had the benefit of his knowledge of the topic. He has been critical, but always in a gentle manner I have come to associate with my colleagues in Asia.

The skill of my language checker Dr. Grant White in making my “Finglish” into proper English has been impressive. He not only corrected my language, but also made many remarkable observations with regard to my theological argumentation. He has always been ready to help and support me throughout the process.

Special thanks go to the pre-examiners of my doctoral dissertation. Professor Stephen Bevans, an expert in the field of contextual theology and the theology of the FABC, was both critical and encouraging in his assessment of my manuscript. He gave me confidence to pursue this project to the end. Thanks also to him for agreeing to serve as my opponent in the public examination. Docent Juhani Forsberg’s knowledge of Catholic and ecumenical theology

was helpful.

Dr. Tiina Huhtanen was kind enough to read my manuscript and provided very helpful comments. In addition, a fellow student of mine, Dr. Raimo Kuismanen (who successfully defended his own dissertation a few weeks before me) read my manuscript and gave several insightful thoughts which helped me.

My bishop, Docent Jari Jolkkonen, has followed my project with interest and enthusiasm and encouraged me to persevere until its completion.

A special word of thanks goes to Ms. Angelic Que who kindly assisted me by making copies of several FABC-related doctoral dissertations stored at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines. Maraming salamat.

I wish to thank my family for their support. My dear wife and long-time companion Leena has never lost her unwavering trust in me getting this finished. She has also kept me in constant touch with everyday realities. Our already grown-up children have followed their father’s work with interest. My late father, who sadly passed away in March 2017, together with my mother, have always given their heartfelt support to their children’s studies.

I also wish to mention the comforting and faithful presence of our pet dog Nana during the long hours of writing in solitude.

I dedicate this dissertation to my late father Erkki, an avid theologian in his own right.

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