Rome (AsiaNews) - A few weeks ago, I and AsiaNews received the Vittorino Colombo Award, which is given in memory of the great Catholic statesman who built international ties with many countries, including China, without hiding his Christian identity. Angelo Caloia, president of the Vittorino Colombo Foundation, in mentioning the motivations for this year's choice, said that our work fits well with the features Benedict XVI attributed to the new evangelisation: "Having courage, the 'peaceful courage' of Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa of Calcutta; being in communion with the Church and in solidarity with its pastors; joyfully announcing the message of God; and feeling the urgency of a mission that is 'too important' to 'lose time'."
Although the comparison with Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa is overstating the case, it does suggest something about the heart and spirit with which we promote evangelisation through the media.
Maximilian Kolbe, who was a journalist and a missionary in Japan before sacrificing his life in Auschwitz, said, "The task of a Catholic journalist is not to convert people, but to offer readers ideas so that their appreciation of the Christian faith and the Catholic Church can grow."
With AsiaNews, we try to show why we are Christian, today more than ever, when reason is abandoned in favour of emotions or positivist rationalism that aprioristically rejects the religious dimension as useless and irrational. In the testimonials we publish every day, we show that it is impossible to understand people and social phenomena without their religious dimension. The latter is a force for progress and not the cause of the "conflict of civilisation".
As for Mother Teresa, our readers know that she is our site's patron saint, that we turn to her for our needs and those of evangelisation. Mother Teresa, "icon of mission for the 21st century," as Pope John Paul II described her, bears witness to the fact that the Catholic mission does not coincide with that of a non-governmental organisation.
"We are not social workers," she said in an interview. "We love Christ," and for this reason, "we take care of Christ, we wash Christ . . .". Hence, a Christian's fullest identity unites with the deepest love for people, irrespective of religious, ideological or cultural divisions.
Mother Teresa is also the symbol of women's contribution to society and the Church: selfless love, intrinsic tenderness, and hope amid darkness and wreckage.
All this has become our inspiration, as we seek and communicate, always, the signs of hope even in the most horrible situations of death and oppression. Indeed, if we continue to speak out against the humiliation so many women suffer in the Muslim world, we also show their greatness and talents in building Asian societies.
Such thoughts makes us more grateful towards God and you, our readers, on this day when AsiaNews celebrates its ninth year online. With hundreds of millions of hits each year, we have become an indispensable tool to know and understand Asia, its peoples and Church.
In congratulating us, a British reader wrote that the once highly cosmopolitan former British Empire covers so little nowadays of what is happing in Asia, that it makes AsiaNews' reporting and in-depth analyses that more precious.
In fact, AsiaNews continues to row against the current. In a world flayed by economic crisis, where every country is turning inward, selfishly and sometimes violently trying to save itself, we believe instead in East-West solidarity, in helping and learning from one another.
In a world where people live with no memory of God, we show that only religious freedom can help the nations of the world develop in brotherhood.
Dear readers, help us keep our mission alive. Support us and share in what we do.