10/01/2023, 13.42
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AsiaNews, our unbiased window on Asia

by Gianni Criveller

Father Gianni Criveller, a missionary who carried out his ministry for years in Greater China, is the new editor-in-chief of AsiaNews. In greeting readers, he writes that, while taking on a “precious legacy and demanding responsibility”, the agency “will continue to inform you and reflect upon Asia”, a multifaceted continent, “with great loyalty to the Catholic Church of which we are a part, and which we wish to serve. We believe in the Gospel of peace, God's great gift to the peoples of Asia.”

The first day of October officially marks a change in our agency. PIME’s General Directorate appointed Father Gianni Criveller as the new director of the PIME Missionary Centre in Milan. In such capacity, he also becomes editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, taking over from Father Mario Ghezzi. A missionary who has long carried out his ministry in Greater China, Father Criveller is already known to AsiaNews readers for his thoughtful analyses. By his side, Giorgio Bernardelli will continue as managing editor, coordinating the work of the newsroom as he has done since the summer of 2021. What follows are the new editor-in-chief’s greetings to the readers.

Dear AsiaNews readers,

I turn to each one of you with great sympathy and consideration. To follow a news agency about and from Asia is, in itself, a sign of great human sensitivity and insightful attention to the prospects of the world. Asia is not simply the biggest continent on earth, but is also the sum of various continents that only have in common the name Asia. In fact, we are confronted with profoundly articulated and different human, cultural, religious and economic realities.

AsiaNews’s ambition is to open not one but many windows on these realities. Not only news, but also insights and analyses. We cover 46 countries and regions. Red Lanterns (for the multifaceted Chinese world), Russian World, Gateway to the East, Indian Mandala, Ecclesia in Asia, and Asia Today are windows, to use this image again, for those who want to know more and inside the news.

As director of the PIME Missionary Centre in Milan, I become responsible for the editorial management of this agency, together with that of the paper and online magazine Mondo e Missione, which shares many things with AsiaNews: PIME ownership, same offices and part of the newsroom staff, and contributors. The coordinator Giorgio Bernadelli is the managing editor.

AsiaNews was founded in 1986 by Piero Gheddo, a pioneer in missionary journalism; never forgotten, he continues to inspire us with his foresight, courage and enthusiasm. I remember well that until the 1990s, AsiaNews had an office in Hong Kong. Its soul was Giancarlo Politi, a missionary who paved the way for trips to post-Maoist China and news about a Catholic Church that had survived political persecution.

The agency moved to Rome in 2003, headed by editor-in-chief Father Bernardo Cervellera. With his generous dedication, Fr Cervellera greatly expanded its reach, in four languages, with readers from about 180 countries connecting every week.

Over the years, under Fr Cervellera, the agency grew in authority and influence in debates on Asia, making it an essential point of reference for those who seek objective information about the continent.

Fr Cervellera has many merits, above all the focus on religious freedom. I often collaborated with him by sending commentaries on the situation of Christians in China, on the relationship between China and the Vatican, and on the events in much-loved city of Hong Kong.

When Father Bernardo Cervellera went back to the Hong Kong mission in 2021, the PIME General Directorate decided to move the agency to Milan, and entrust it to the skilled journalists of the PIME Missionary Centre.

It has been a difficult challenge and the outcome was not given in advance, but the agency has continued to grow in recent years attentive to the issue of religious freedom and the exciting and difficult journey of Asia’s Christian communities, and it continues to broaden its information services and analyses. Dear readers: continue to read, support and promote the agency.

I am well aware of the precious legacy and the demanding responsibility entrusted to me. I take it on with simplicity, aware of my limitations, but encouraged by two things. The first is my long missionary activism in Asia. Living in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and the People's Republic of China between 1991 and 2017 has given me a unique and clear understanding of Greater China, its people and its demands.

My work with PIME and in academe has led me, in a not unsubstantial way, also to Myanmar, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal and India. My life has thus been closely linked to Asia, its peoples and Churches. After my missionary service in Italy, I wish to return to Asia.

The second reason that encourages me is the cordial cooperation of the managing editor, Giorgio Bernardelli, the journalists in the newsroom, and other contributors. We will continue to inform you and reflect upon Asia, without biases or ulterior motives, trying to be honest and sincere in everything, with great loyalty to the Catholic Church of which we are a part, and which we wish to serve. We believe in the Gospel of peace, God's great gift to the peoples of Asia.

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