Evangelizing Asia, evangelizing in Europe
by Bernardo Cervellera
New evangelization can be nourished by encounters and relationships with the Churches of Asia, among the most persecuted, but also among the most vibrant and growing. Many young people, visiting missions, have decided to dedicate their lives to evangelization. Missio ad gentes and new evangelization go hand in hand.
Rome (AsiaNews) - AsiaNews has decided to open a new branch of its activities: in addition to its editorial commitment, to information about what is happening in society and in the churches of Asia, we have opened a "travels" section, offering our readers not only the possibility of "reading" about Asia, but of seeing and touching it. Although aided by a highly professional travel agency, our proposal is not "touristy", but missionary. We would like those of you for whom photographing monuments, temples and forests is not enough, but who desire to encounter the living Church of the country you visit. This choice will really help you learn more about the cultures and peoples of Asia and in more exciting ways. The program features trips to China, the Holy Land, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Korea, etc ..., always providing advance notice on our site www.asianews.it.

We think that these trips are an opportunity for mission. Those of you who have been able to visit a Christian community in China or India can not but be amazed at the vitality and joy that the faithful of these communities express, despite knowing and suffering great difficulties and persecution for their faith. Their joy and pride of being a Christian is such that it becomes infectious spreading among friends, relatives, colleagues and friends at school or work. We can not forget that the churches of Asia are among the most persecuted, but also those that are growing at the fastest rate worldwide (along with those in Africa). In just eight years (from 2000 to 2008) they increased by 15.61%. In comparison, during the same period, the Churches in Europe grew by 1%.

An encounter with our brothers and sisters can lead us to share a little of their labors, to be in solidarity with them, with their poverty, but it also gives us the opportunity to be infected by their enthusiasm and certainty of faith. Many young people, visiting a mission for the first time, have chosen to nurture the relationship with the priest or faithful they met, passing from economic and cultural aid to the gift of life: they have become missionary priests.

These words of Blessed John Paul II remain true today: " For missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! "(John Paul II, Enc. Redemptoris Missio, 2). And right after that he says: " it is in commitment to the Church's universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support."

Concern for the "new evangelization" marked the life of the Polish pope, but, moreover, it has become program with Benedict XVI, so much so he instituted a separate department for it. In his Message for World Mission Day, which this year is celebrated on October 23, he states that the task of evangelizing non-Christian "has not lost its urgency." He adds: " And this is not all; an increasing number of people, although they have received the Gospel proclamation, have forgotten or abandoned it and no longer recognize that they belong to the Church; and in many contemporary contexts, even in traditionally Christian societies, people are averse to opening themselves to the word of faith. A cultural change nourished by globalization, by currents of thought and by the prevalent relativism, is taking place. This change is leading to a mindset and lifestyle that ignore the Gospel Message, as though God did not exist, and exalt the quest for well-being, easy earnings, a career and success as life’s purpose, even to the detriment of moral values".

In short, Benedict XVI puts mission ad gentes and new evangelization on the same working level. All missionaries working abroad must also care for the reawakening of the faith in their country of origin, and all Italian Christians need to care for the evangelization of the world. Wherever a Catholic heart beats - in Italy, India, China - there is momentum in the universal mission.