Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The Church in Asia could remain forever a small flock, but it has many martyrs, most of them without a name. It is in fact a Church of the nameless, of those who professed and continue to profess the Name that is above all names, Jesus Christ," said Card Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in concluding his address today at the AsiaNews International Symposium on Mission in Asia: from Pope John Paul II to Pope Francis.
For the young prelate, the message Asian Churches can offer the world is that a "small" church can be a "great" witness of faith. In fact, "We in Asia are used to be a small flock," het said. "Yet, numbers do not always indicate the vitality of the Church in life and mission."
"However small it may be, a community is still a Church, the presence of God's people. Missionary joy can be experienced even in a situation of humble minority. An inexplicable force comes from faith, flowing dynamically in weakness and suffering. "
Speaking more specifically about the Philippines, Card Tagle said, "Our nation is affected each year by an average of 20 typhoons, not to mention frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and large-scale corruption. It is not surprising, therefore, that millions of people are poor."
Yet, for the prelate (and Pope Francis), the poor are not just in "need of help"; they are also "great teachers of the faith" full of "stories of hope and courage".
Faced with such challenges, the mission of the Church in the Philippines has expanded to include closeness to the poor (food, healthcare, education, health, jobs), social work and protection of Creation in accordance with the social doctrine of the Church, and the use of media, not just radio and TV, but also social networks, which have become a new Areopagus.
In the Philippines, new players have emerged in the field of mission. Millions of Filipino migrants have joined priests, lay people, Fidei Donum, missionaries ad gentes, movements, filling "the churches of the nations where they work", in Japan, Korea, Middle East, China, experiencing work and mission in unity.
The cardinal also showed how the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI's encyclical Ecclesiam suam, the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops (FABC), that of John Paul II, and Francis' trip Korea have helped the Churches of Asia understand and experience the mission not as a "triumphant conquest", but as a proclamation of Jesus Christ in dialogue. This way, mission can bear fruit beyond the Church's enclosure, humanise society and bring the faith closer to Asia's ways of thinking.