05/13/2021, 12.06
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I return to Hong Kong after 18 years of mission with AsiaNews

by Bernardo Cervellera

The editor of AsiaNews bids farewell as he returns to Hong Kong and China, an old and new mission. He gives thanks to God, to the AsiaNews staff, to friends and readers for their generosity. Mission in mass media is the “first areopagus” of contemporary mission.

Dear readers, dear friends,

On May 31, my work as editor-in-chief of AsiaNews and AsiaNews.it comes to an end. The superiors of PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), to which I belong, has decided to destine me to the Hong Kong-China mission, where I expect to arrive in early August. This is not my first missionary experience there, having already served in Hong Kong and China in the years 1990-1997 and even in my years here in Italy I have always carried the passion that I nurture for the destiny of the Chinese people and the Church in my heart.

Regarding my new (and old) destination, some media have speculated about tensions with the Vatican on AsiaNews position regarding the Church in China and on the Sino-Vatican Agreement, which they believe would have forced my superiors to put me at a safe distance.

In reality, my going to Hong Kong and China is a drawing closer to my primary mission, in a hot and bloody spot on the planet today, where people, Christians and religions suffer, and where an authoritarian giant like China spreads waves of unrest throughout the rest of the world.

This is precisely where the salvation and hope that Jesus Christ brought for every man and woman is needed most, even for those who are prisoners of a regime, even for those who build the future of their people on political slavery or on the apparent false freedom of consumerism, which is the flip side of enslavement to mass production and materialism. I am truly grateful to my superiors for this decision.

I am also truly grateful for the 18 years spent working for AsiaNews. First of all to God, who has allowed us to be an instrument to raise the voices of Churches and peoples so often forgotten and victims of indifference, or exploited like tools for profit and exotic pleasure in an East-West dialogue made only of economy and obtuse interest.

I must also thank all the AsiaNews staff with whom I have collaborated, always ready to see and carry out this work as a mission, generously overcoming demands and rhythms of work, offering time, space and friendship to the people of Asia.

The most important thanks is to all of you our friends and readers: in these 18 years AsiaNews has existed and has been able to continue thanks to your generosity, your financial help, sharing with us the idea that our news must be freely available to be shared and not hidden behind "pay walls". Our administrator has calculated that in all these years AsiaNews has managed to live and work thanks to your donations, which have amounted to an estimated 4.5 million euros (without ever having set any subscription price, and with PIME which contributed in all for 500 thousand euros). I can assure you that we have never stopped praying for you, so that your generosity may blossom into fruits of peace and love for the world and for yourself.

AsiaNews' mission is not to make a profit, but to be the voice of the peoples and churches of Asia, in the certainty that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of all mankind and that mankind is the way of the Church. This is why we always look at facts, events, declarations, even catastrophes to understand and determine how we as human beings can be truer to ourselves and even happier in these situations, while always safeguarding the dignity of people, whether they be the poor, lepers, victims of earthquakes and floods or the wealthy tycoons, despots, the violent.

The absolute dignity of every man or woman is based on their being a creature, generated by God. This is why our first battle has always been for religious freedom not only for Christians, but for all faiths.

A journalism that is passionate about man and not about profit can also be prophetic: it senses paths and tracks like a sentinel sent out in advance who then returns to invites others to follow on that path.

Our campaigns have served this purpose. The first was for the liberation of the Christian Savio O'Connor from Saudi prisons. In the openings - some real, others ambiguous - that Riyadh is carrying out, we see the fruit of the shed blood and pain experienced by Savio and other Christians or Hindus.

Another important campaign was "Adopt a Christian from Mosul": born in 2014 to help Christian refugees fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq, it has become the model for many campaigns in favor not only of Christians, but also of Yazidis , Sunni and Shia Muslims, Mandaeans, etc. They are the same communities that Pope Francis visited in Iraq last March.

There have been "smaller" campaigns for the Christians of Orissa, the earthquake victims of Nepal and Indonesia, the flood victims of the Philippines, Chinese students, ... The last, among the most moving, was to free 52 unemployed families from slavery in the brick factories of Kamalpur (Pakistan). There are now several groups in Italy and abroad that would like to continue this work.

My future is not yet specified: pastoral work, cultural work, work in prisons,… Everything will depend on the opportunities that arise after my return to the Chinese world.

The future of AsiaNews and AsiaNews.it is in the hands of my superiors and their desire to look ahead and beyond. I wish Fr. Mario Ghezzi, the newly appointed director of AsiaNews, an attentive missionary in Cambodia, every success and I pray that he will continue our mission in the field of communication which - as Saint John Paul II said - is "the first areopagus" of contemporary mission (Redemptoris Missio , no. 37).


Pictured: A picture of the South China Sea from the Pime House in Hong Kong.

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A Symposium for the evangelization of Asia and 10 years of AsiaNews
Evangelizing Asia, evangelizing in Europe
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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”