08/03/2006, 00.00
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Asian youth urge families to bear witness to the Gospel

by Kevin Wang
The conference's draft mission statement is released today. Its key topic is the family, source of strength for young people. For the first time young Turkmen participate in the even. Young East Timorese are however prevented from coming by their country's internal strife.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Asian families are called "to bear witness to the Gospel" despite "daily difficulties like poverty, emigration and environmental degradation," said the draft mission statement presented by young Catholics gathered in Hong Kong for the 4th Asian Youth Day.

The event, which involves some 800 participants from 20 different Asian countries, saw the arrival for the first time of young people from Turkmenistan. However, delegates from East Timor were unable to attend because of the political situation in their country. And only half of mainland China's 60 registered participants were able to make it, something which Cardinal Zen blames on local provincial government.

"They were blocked by the local governments," the prelate said on a press conference on July 27, "which considers this joyous event as an anti-China political activity."

The final statement from the conference will be ready for Saturday, when it will officially come to a close. But one of its key points remains the family. In fact, the draft copy said: "We believe that the source of our strength is the family."

Mgr Rolando Tira Tirona, archbishop of Infanta (Philippines) and chairman of the Youth Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Asia (which sponsored the event hosted by the diocese of Hong Kong), also spoke about the issue.

"On this Asian Youth Day, young Asians affirm with vigour the immense importance of a harmonious family life to ensure a healthy, meaningful and mature growth process for youth. Called to live in a continent of unending conflicts and many serious threats to the sanctity and meaning of family life, Asia's youth dares to assert that they can be a source of hope for Asian families."

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