Fr. Gheddo: Ten years of AsiaNews
by Piero Gheddo
The news agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions was established to "provoke" the Churches in Europe and Asia to mission, to report the facts and testimonies from the most populous continent in the world and nourish in many the desire to dedicate their lives to Christ and Asia. A book on the history of AsiaNews and its many success stories.

Milan (AsiaNews) - To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Asia News ( ) news agency, an international symposium on the theme "Ten years of Asia, Ten years of our history", was held in Rome on October 9, 2013, at the Urban University of Propaganda Fide.  Pope Francis even sent a message of good wishes and blessing through his then Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the symposium was addressed by important personalities from the vast Asian continent. The Cantagalli Publishing House in Siena has now published a commemorative volume , with messages of congratulations and thanks especially from Asian bishops, the papers delivered at the Symposium and a selection of articles that have been published by the agency, relevant to various situations and events in Asia over the last ten years. Overall, this volume is a comprehensive, updated and relevant overview of Asia from every aspect: political , economic, religious, cultural and of the young Asian churches ("Asia , the challenge of the third millennium - ten years of Asia News" , Cantagalli, Siena, p. 211, E13.00) .

The site is now published in four languages ​​- Italian, English, Chinese and Spanish - and , if funding can be found, even in Arabic on the back of requests from Catholic bishops and the Eastern Churches in the lands of Islam.  Moreover, AsiaNews gives daily reports on the activities and texts of the Pope and the Holy See.  The director of AsiaNews, Father Bernardo Cervellera PIME , was editor of " Mondo e Missione" [World and Mission] in Milan for eleven years (1978-1989); a missionary in Hong Kong (1989-1995); professor of the history of Western civilization at  Beida University in Beijing (1995-1997); director of the agency Fides of the Pontifical Mission Societies (1997-2003) and finally, director of AsiaNews at the PIME General House in Rome ( Via Guerazzi , 11). Its, allow me to say, worldwide success is certainly due to Father Bernardo's journalistic flair and organizational skills, but also to the fact that AsiaNews is the only agency of Christian inspiration specialized on Asia and the great religions, with correspondents in almost every Asian nation.  Moreover, it has a great readership among the very young and ancient Asian churches alike, while the Chinese edition is popular among the Christians of China. So, why does PIME publish this newsagency that focuses on Asia? For two reasons:

 1) Our missionary institute has been present in Asia since 1855 (five years after its birth) and has founded thirty dioceses in India, Bangladesh , Hong Kong, China and Burma , with 17 martyrs (plus one in Oceania) and fifty bishops , and today is also present in other countries of Asia and Oceania : Japan, Philippines , Thailand , Papua New Guinea , Taiwan and Cambodia. At the PIME General Assembly on Vatican II (1971-1972) , the ad gentes and the Asian vocation of the Institute was reaffirmed even though, after the Second World War, we accepted other missions from the Holy See in Africa, North America , Latin America and Oceania ( where the first missionaries were sent in 1952 ! ) . Today, the most urgent task in Asia is to make the young Asian communities aware of their missionary vocation.  In reality, these communities already send priests and nuns in service to other churches. AsiaNews on-line helps in this task.

2 ) In the PIME General Assembly of 1971 to 1972 (on the outcome of Vatican II ) we realized that in its missionary zeal since Vatican II , the Italian Church was exclusively oriented to Africa and Latin America , the Italian Churches' information service almost totally ignored the Asian continent home to about 60% of the earth's population and 80% of all non-Christians! Thus, the Assembly decided to engage PIME's resources in providing information on the countries, religions and churches of Asia. Thus ISA (Institute of Asian Studies ) was born in Milan in 1973.  ISA produced a number of studies , books, conferences, courses of study for missionaries to Asia, it organized tours for visitors and Christian monks, etc. . , and in November 1986 published its first fortnightly magazine titled "AsiaNews", that came out with two supplements quarterly ( "China today" and "Islam today") with in depth reports, journals, interviews and testimonies.

AsiaNews enjoyed a modest success even among the secular press, not just for its coverage for breaking news, but also for the synthesis of articles on current events and situations in Asian countries and religions, inter-religious dialogue and the missionary journey of the churches in Asia.

Finally , in 2003 , Father Cervellera, fresh from his experience in China and then Fides, brought AsiaNews online, allowing it to reach a worldwide readership and importance, in the hope that it may help nourish in many the desire to devote their lives to Christ and Asia.