Evangelization of Asia Depends on Christian Witness, Says Pope

Meets With Bishops Participating in Asian Synod

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The future of evangelization in Asia depends on the authenticity of its Christians, says John Paul II.

The Pope addressed the challenges that Asia presents to the Church when he met today with members of the postsynodal council of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, which was held in the Vatican from April 19 to May 14, 1998, in the context of the Church’s preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000.

The proposals that resulted from that synod, whose theme was «Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia,» were summarized by John Paul II in the postsynodal exhortation «Ecclesia in Asia.»

«To announce the Gospel in depth in Asia, it is necessary for all believers to penetrate every aspect of life with their faith,» the Holy Father said.

In places in Asia where Christians «suffer and are not free to profess their faith, the Kingdom of God must be proclaimed with ‘a silent witness of life,’ carrying the cross and following in the footsteps of the suffering and crucified Christ, waiting patiently for the day there will be full religious freedom,» he added.

The difficulties faced in Asia «should not lead to discouragement, as the efficacy of evangelization does not depend on numbers,» the Pontiff said.

«After Pentecost, the apostles and a limited number of disciples were sent to preach the Gospel to the whole world,» John Paul II reminded them. «Christ taught us that what is small and hidden to the eyes of men can obtain unhoped-for results thanks to the omnipotent intervention of God.»

«May Christians of Asia continue to follow Christ faithfully, may they continue to spread with all commitment the gift of his peace and love,» he exhorted.

The Holy Father said that in Asia «dialogue is the characteristic way of the life of the Church,» and he appealed for Christian commitment to peace in the continent «where a series of conflicts and terrorist attacks have caused the death of numerous human lives.»

Finally, the Pope recalled that the synod for Asia manifested its concern for the situation in the Holy Land, «heart of Christianity, and loved by all the children of Abraham.»

«Unfortunately, in these years the powder kegs of war have increased; therefore, it is urgent to build peace,» he concluded.

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