06/01/2021, 11.20
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Together, giving a voice to the Asia of those who are neither rich or powerful

by Mario Ghezzi

The new director of AsiaNews: "In Cambodia I learned that even a small seed sown can give birth to a new way of looking at reality. I would like the same thing to happen to those who come across all of our news. PIME's thanks to Father Cervellera bound for Hong Kong ".

Dear friends of AsiaNews,

As of today I take up the baton from Father Bernardo Cervellera as the director in charge of this news agency that tells the story of Asia in its thousands of faces, which are very significant for the future of the Church and the world.

I take on this role with an inevitably different profile to that of Father Bernardo: I am not a journalist, but like him I am a missionary of PIME, an institute that since its origins - now more than 170 years ago - has Asia in its heart and aspires to help its peoples and cultures encounter the Gospel.

I personally lived this challenge for almost 20 years in Cambodia, on the outskirts of a city like Phnom Penh, marked by a painful past but also by many other contradictions that cross today's world. Right there, starting with the little ones, I saw, however, that even where no one had ever heard of Jesus, a small seed sown can give birth to a new way of looking at the reality that surrounds us.

And it is precisely what I would like AsiaNews to generate every day in anyone who comes across our reports with their comprehensive account of Asia today. Called to choose a path for the future of this agency - founded by the unforgettable father Piero Gheddo in 1986 and then built up by Father Cervellera to become the authoritative voice it is today - the general management of PIME has decided to entrust it not so much to me as a person, but to the Foundation that I preside over as director of the Center for Missionary Culture and Animation which from Milan supports the work of the institute all over the world.

To some it may seem a simply administrative step. I, on the other hand, like to see in this full-fledged inclusion of AsiaNews in the PIME Foundation a specific task: every day on this site we tell about Asia not for the exotic taste of proposing stories from distant countries. We do not even do it to keep a flag planted in a region of the world where so many clouds are gathering today. If we talk about this continent it is only to give a voice to a humanity that from Hong Kong to the mountains of Thailand, from Myanmar to the existential peripheries of Tokyo, is speaking to us today. Together with these peoples, on mission, we have rediscovered the liberating power of the Gospel of Jesus even where Christians are a small, often persecuted, flock. And it is with them that we understood that the world becomes hopelessly poorer if it only chases those who are rich and powerful.

I have never been a journalist and I do not think I will become one now: in choosing to entrust the agency to the PIME Foundation, the general management of the institute also showed us the way to a closer collaboration between AsiaNews and Mondo e Missione, the historic magazine of PIME in Italy. The journalistic professionalism of the editorial staff of the PIME Centre in Milan will therefore be integrated with those already present within AsiaNews, in the awareness that communicating information is a demanding task that requires skills.

For this reason, under my responsibility, the daily editorial coordination of the agency is now entrusted to Giorgio Bernardelli, a journalist who has important experiences in the field of Catholic information. The editorial office moves from Rome to Milan, but maintaining unchanged the relationship with all the correspondents from Asia and with the other collaborators from Italy who have helped Father Cervellera in recent years to make AsiaNews a voice known and respected throughout the world.

PIME has every intention to support this experience, which we all believe is an important asset. There will obviously be some news, as is logical when there is a change at the helm of an editorial staff. But our consistent reporting on news from Asia, attention to the theme of religious freedom in all its forms, our sharing of the experiences of the local Churches, the stories of how the Gospel generates hope even in the most forgotten contexts, will continue to be the hallmark of AsiaNews.

My personal thanks and those of all PIME go to Father Bernardo for the dedication with which he carried out his service in this agency. As he himself wrote, it was 18 years of mission on a complex frontier like that of communication. We are sure that the same passion for the Gospel will also accompany him in his new ministry in Hong Kong, in that Chinese world that he loves so deeply.

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