Today, the feast of All Saints, the AsiaNews site (www.asianews.it) is two years old. The monthly bulletin, launched in 1986 by Fr Piero Gheddo, is still published today, consulted by thousands of experts and universities.
The transition to a website of daily news has borne fruit. Statistics bear this out: from 2003 until today, website hits have climbed from 157,499 (in November 2003) to 4,338,451 per month, for a monthly total of around 250,000 visitors to the AsiaNews site alone. Our news is taken up and distributed by many other sites and media: from the BBC to the Times, from the South China Morning Post to the Washington Times, from the National Catholic Register, to Avvenire, Giornale, Espresso magazine, the Corriere, Repubblica, Liberazione. There is also daily collaboration with Catholic and Protestant sites, including Catholic World News, Zenit, ICN, Christians Today, Christian Monitor, and so on.
An Italian reader wrote to us: "In the panorama of today's media, obscure and unable to affirm a truth which does not merely represent biased interests, AsiaNews is an essential source of information which succeeds in linking a strong Christian identity with a desire of encounter and comparison with the other".
In effect, our readers come from different cultures and parts of the world. The highest percentages come from the USA (30%), from India (30) and from Europe. Appreciation comes to us from Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Lebanon, Pakistan and China (13%). One Chinese Catholic told me: "Thanks to your work, Christians of the underground Church as well as the official church have found themselves faced with an authoritative source which speaks to them about the pope, about the Church in the world and about persecution which the faithful are subject to, and this is uniting them even more."
Benedict XVI's invitation to the four Chinese bishops from the official and underground church comforts us because we feel we are heading in the same direction as the pontiff. And being an instrument of unity for the Chinese Church also comforts us, while the government spends money and energies seeking to obscure our site: thank God the Chinese faithful have found a way of overcoming the obscuration filters imposed by Beijing. At the same time, we have been told by high-ranking personalities in Beijing that members of the Communist Party not subject to web censorship find our site "instructive" in understanding the mentality of Catholics.
On the dialogue front, beyond ideological and confessional barriers, there are two new factors to highlight this year:
1) the interest which Christian and Muslim personalities have in freedom and human dignity in Islamic countries: from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Indonesia come appeals to inform the world not only about the persecution of Christians, but also about the abuses of human rights suffered by Muslims;
2) the growing interest which the economic world has in information offered by AsiaNews about companies, human rights and freedom of worship. More and more, people who want to invest in India, China or the Middle East seek our advice and experience: this is a sign that the "only profit" wall is being breached.
In the world of globalization, which offers floods of information, but only a little solidarity, AsiaNews stands out: for us, informing also means sharing the suffering of those imprisoned for their faith, sustaining those who experience natural disasters (like the tsunami or the Kashmir earthquake), crying out for those whose voice is gagged by fundamentalist or totalitarian regimes.
It is precisely for these reasons that our information, which describes the "resistance" of man in the name of truth and love, always offers signs of hope. Help us to keep it alive and to spread it.