05/06/2008, 00.00
VATICAN – ASIA
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Globalisation and cultural pluralism, challenges to the Church in South Asia

by kalpit Parajuli
The meeting that brought together representatives of various countries and the Pontifical Council for Culture focused on the “disorientation” that traditional cultures face. At stake is how to share the gift of the Good News with our Asian brothers and sisters.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The challenge to the Church that comes from globalisation, cultural pluralism and nationalism and South Asia’s vigorous local religions and cultures and the Church’s response in terms of evangelisation of cultures and engaging in intercultural dialogue were at the centre of a meeting that brought together the Pontifical Council for Culture and South Asian cultural centres.

Held for the first time in Nepal, at the St. John Vianney Pastoral Animation Centre in Kathmandu, the four-day meeting that ended last Friday saw 37 experts—bishops, priests, religious and lay people—from various South Asian countries come together to examine the issue.

For them the first goal is to identify the mission and role that Catholic cultural centres must undertake as laboratories where the Gospel meets cultural values, said the final statement.

Mgr Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council, in a message read by Mgr Pedro Lopez Quintana, nuncio to India and Nepal, noted that today humanity is thirsting for life and truth, peace and happiness, which can be fully quenched by Jesus who is the Way, Life and Truth.

At the meeting, which stressed the centrality of Jesus, the Council itself was represented by its secretary, Fr Bernard Ardura, and by Fr Theodore Mascarenhas.

“We realise,” the statement said, “that under the impact of globalisation, traditional cultures are challenged and marginalized, leading to increasing disorientation in different societies, resulting in helplessness and despair. In this context Jesus offers us hope, and He is the light that dispels darkness and confusion.” Furthermore, participants recognised the problem that “We may be tempted to adapt hasty solutions to our present problems that can in the long run be counterproductive.”

It ends quoting Pope John Paul II who said that the “great question now facing the Church in Asia is how to share with our Asian brothers and sisters what we treasure as the gift containing all gifts, namely, the Good News of Jesus Christ (EA, 19). The Church, the Synod Fathers noted, must be open to the new and surprising ways in which the face of Jesus might be presented in Asia (EA, 20).”

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