12/24/2023, 13.54
Send to a friend

Peace, justice, and freedom for Asia this Christmas

by Gianni Criveller

AsiaNews Editor-in-Chief Fr Gianni Criveller offers his Christmas greetings. “From Myanmar to Gaza, via Iran, Hong Kong and many other places, the peace promised on the night of Bethlehem is a task that has yet to be achieved but involves us personally. God loves women and men of good will who suffer for freedom and peace. Our thoughts go out to them this Christmas.”

Dear Readers of AsiaNews,

This is my first Christmas greeting as editor-in-chief of this agency that tells the story of the life of communities in Asia every day. I address this wish to you with mixed feelings; alongside the joy of Christmas, my soul is filled with concern, sorrow, and indignation.

I feel concern for the many situations of poverty that still make life hard for families, communities, and peoples on the great Asian continent. Young people, especially young women, are forced to leave their families to find work elsewhere, where they are often exploited and prevented from realising the legitimate projects of every young couple: build a family and a safe and dignified life for themselves, their spouses, and their children.

It is a Christmas of sorrow for the victims of wars, terrorism, and violence. AsiaNews follows them closely: the war by Myanmar’s military against its own people, whom PIME missionaries love with particular sympathy; the endless and bloody war in Ukraine (which we follow through our Russian World newsletter); and the horrific war in Gaza, a never-ending massacre that began after the atrocious violence of 7 October in Israel. The victims, as never before, are above all children and their mothers, and women as women.

Unfortunately, the list of conflicts does not stop there; and to name just a few, there is still no peace in Nagorno Karabakh, Yemen, and Syria; violence in Iraq and Afghanistan continues in other forms.

And we are outraged, as well as concerned and saddened by the grave violations of religious, political, and civil liberties in too many countries and regions of Asia. How can we fail to mention with indignation state violence against women in Iran, and the repressive policies in the provinces of Tibet, Xinjiang, and the city of Hong Kong.

The latter is the city of my mission, where I spent most of my adult life (and where I live). On AsiaNews, we told the stories of women and men of this wonderful city whose lives have been turned upside down by the relentless application of the oppressive national security law introduced on 1 July 2020.

I have brave, nonviolent friends, whom I respect and love, who will spend yet another or their first Christmas in prison. I cannot, in all sincerity, celebrate Christmas without feeling concerned, sorrowful, and indignant at the unjust fate to which they are subjected for their commitment to the social good moved by their Christian faith.

On Christmas Eve, peace was promised. But such peace has not come. More than a prophecy, it seems to be a task yet to be accomplished, and one that involves us personally. And this is the reason why we publish AsiaNews every day and ask for your support to continue this work.

The words spoken in the sky over of Bethlehem were, in the past, rendered with the expression 'peace on earth to men of good will'. Today it is preferable to translate them as 'peace to those whom God loves'. Little changes: God loves women and men of good will who suffer because they are committed to the cause of freedom and peace. Our thoughts go out to them: May this be a Christmas of freedom and peace for them. You can be free even if you are in chains. Saint Paul said so, and before him, Jesus himself bore witness to this: He was arrested, tried, and convicted even though he was innocent. I repeat: you can be free even behind bars; and it is possible to be prisoners of the lies of power even if you are far from prison.

Eight hundred years ago, Francis of Assisi invented the nativity scene to represent the humility and humanity of God, who made himself known as a child, whose name is the Prince of Peace. The baby Jesus that we put in the crib’s manger, the children with whom we celebrate Christmas, bring back to us the smile, faith, hope, and love we need. Peace upon the peoples of Asia, peace upon the Christians of Asia, peace and security upon all children and mothers. Peace in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Gaza. Peace be upon the whole world.

Photo: The light of Christmas brought by the Saint Martin Foundation to poor slum dwellers, promoted by the PIME parish in Bangkok.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57
AsiaNews, our unbiased window on Asia
01/10/2023 13:42
More migrants drown off Yemen’s coast
11/08/2017 20:05
Extraordinary Missionary Month inspires HK Church history explained in Catholic institutes
25/03/2019 17:10
Cardinal Chow, hope for Hong Kong and a bridge to China
10/07/2023 16:45


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

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