11/01/2013, 00.00
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Pope blesses AsiaNews at ten

by Bernardo Cervellera
We have had ten good years, going from hundreds to millions of readers. In this period, we have upheld our Christian identity and felt close to every situation in which people are humiliated and persecuted. Our friends include Orthodox, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists. By presenting the stories of Christians in Asia, we can help the Christians of the West.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Dear friends, readers and supporters of AsiaNews, today our website turns ten. Allow me to thank God and Mother Teresa, our patron saint and iconic figure for the mission in the Third Millennium, for letting us undertake this journey, which has been full of joy and glad tidings, but also political and economic hurdles.

At a symposium held almost a month ago attended by many friends, ambassadors, bishops and cardinals, and other leading figures, we briefly evaluated our agency's work. Starting with a readership that numbered in the hundreds, we have now reached millions, directly on our website or indirectly through others who pick up and relay our news stories.

The highlight of our tenth anniversary is Pope Francis's message, issued a few weeks ago, in which he sent us his greetings and blessing. Coming from the "end of the earth", the Pope's blessing validates our work for the Church and Christ himself, placing in the right perspective our daily, multitasking effort. This way we have been able to listen to the Churches of Asia, and share their suffering and persecution, helping us to understand the highs and lows of Asia's economic development. The latter may have boosted GDP figures but also multiplied the humiliations in which legions of Indians, Chinese, and Vietnamese - many of them our personal friends - sink every day.

The papal blessing gives us the certainty that the path to redemption has begun and that our nearness to Asian events allows through History's leading character, the one who won. For this reason, our pages and stories - although they are about marginalisation, pain, and suffering - are always a flower of hope.

In addition to bringing solace, the Pope calls on us to go one step further. He urges us "to intensify our efforts in raising missionary awareness and activity," to spread "the Gospel's salvific message to the fringes of the world," to strengthen "the close communion among local Churches, [which is] intimately connected to Peter's successor," and be "more generous in helping one another".

To some extent, we have been doing this work for years, pushing global society to take to heart the fate of persecuted Christians; sending aid to earthquake and tsunami victims; supporting the education of Asian seminarians, priests and nuns; funding young people, whether from China or Pakistan, going to World Youth Days.

Pope Francis' call drives us to greater determination, to a more radical certainty. To "reach all the fringes of the world", we must "come out" as the pope repeats continuously. Coming out means that we have no ultimate homeland anywhere, that we are called to build a nest and live in every land as if it were our own home.

From this point of view, it is clear that our goal is not to build a "publishing empire," or a large media company. Our aim is to be a simple tool in the service of Christian witness in favour of mankind and Asia.

This "coming out", this "uprootedness" and "homelessness" actually mean greater rootedness in Christ and the Church. AsiaNews has never concealed its Christian identity in order to please the dominant secular and relativist world. Instead, through our affiliation with the Church, we feel every problem of the world as our own and look sympathetically to all of its cultures, albeit conscious of their ambiguities. We do the same for the suffering of those who are humiliated, and rejoice at every step taken towards the truth, or whenever someone discovers Christ's love and converts.

It is no accident that the friends of AsiaNews include Protestants, Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and many people seeking the truth.

Such a radical task entrusted to us by Pope Francis needs our prayers and determination. It also, dear friends, needs your prayers, determination and solidarity.

Thank you for standing with us. For our part, we hope that through our service, the flow of faith and witness of so many Christians in Asia may become an incentive, a source of solace and fruitful promise even for the many deserts found in the secularised world of the West.

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