10/09/2013, 00.00
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A Symposium for the evangelization of Asia and 10 years of AsiaNews

by Bernardo Cervellera
John Paul II’s prophecy is still true: Asia is the continent to be evangelized in the third millennium. Exports, trade, tourists come and go from the Asian continent along with poverty, refugees, rumors of wars. The West tends to favor only the economic approach and profit, but the problems of Asia concern Europe and the world. Religious freedom, beyond fundamentalism and secularism , is a guarantee of integral development and of true humanism.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Today, at the Pontifical Urbanianum University, an international symposium organized by AsiaNews is being held to deepen our understanding of the present and the future of Asia and to celebrate 10 years of our online news agency.

Before the superiors of PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions ) even thought about running a daily online news agency, I had tried to get work as a special correspondent in Asia, particularly in China . The response from several newspaper editors was : Asia is too far away, too distant. It only took a few months to break down this barrier towards the East: in an instant, because of globalization , we were invaded by Asian commodities and businessmen , tourists, travelers and the poor of Asia. At the same time , transfers of production lines to places with cheaper labor increased and European exports found new markets. And as if that were not enough, in recent years wars, refugees, the search for raw materials have forced us to deal with this giant.

10 years later we can say that AsiaNews.it was born to correct the stymied and provincial vision of a Europe that closes in on itself, and especially to awaken interest in the West for Asia and its evangelization.

Time has confirmed how right our intuition was, in borrowing from the missionary desire and momentum of John Paul II, who already in the World Youth Day in Manila (1995) had prophesied that "Asia is the continent to be evangelized in the Third Millennium " .

In truth, it must be said that too often the West has turned to Asia only driven by profit and economic opportunities , enjoying the stability of the authoritarian governments of the continent as a guarantee of peace of mind , more revenue, a clamp on terrorism.

The problems of pollution , corruption , slave-labor, refugees who have soared in step with the industrialization and urban sprawl seemed to be a " collateral victim " , a hot potato that we could casually leave the Asians to deal with . But in recent years we have witnessed the same problems at home, noting that the world is one and the family of nations is one. The criterion of profit, of one-dimensional man creates similar and opposing problems here and there: human slavery, or the eradication of the workers' human dignity. The spiraling unemployment we are painfully witnessing in Italy and in Europe is the result of Western appeasement towards the exploitation of labor in Asia, terrorism is the result of a deafness to the question of respect for rights and freedom that comes from populations of Asia .

For this reason AsiaNews has focused on the religious freedom of individuals and communities: it is the basis of all human rights , the pivot on which the dignity of every man, who is created by God , turns. A God of freedom and encounter. Guaranteeing religious freedom will ensure coexistence between groups and nations and help avoid both fundamentalism , where one religion dominates another, and secularism , where the contribution of religions to society are marginalized, according to the teaching of Benedict XVI.

In this we need to remember the great contribution that the Churches of Asia are giving the entire world with their witness and martyrdom, particularly many Western Churches that are somewhat dazed by a growing relativism and lazily living off past glories. The Churches of Asia, despite being numerically small, "give of their poverty" and with their evangelizing force have already responded to Pope Francis' call to move out to the existential and geographical margins of society.  All of this is an invitation to learn from them, but also to take part in the evangelization of Asia, by offering the greatest treasure: the salvation that was given to us by Jesus Christ, the source of a true humanism to all four corners of the globe. And AsiaNews, this tiny tool of mission, is a bridge and a door to "go out ." We thank God for these 10 years, we thank Mother Teresa , to whom are agency is dedicated and all you our readers and friends who support us with your help and your prayers .


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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”