Pope's Secretary of State Looks at Upcoming Asia Trip

Francis Will Travel Next Week to Sri Lanka, Philippines

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The Pope next week heads to Asia, the continent called “the cradle of the great religions of the world,” where the Church “is a little flock in the midst of such a vast reality.”

The Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke about the trip in an interview held at the Vatican Television Center, in collaboration with L’Osservatore Romano

The Church in Asia assumes an important mission in “charitable activities in the field of health and of education,” and in the dialogue between religions, “fundamental today for peace in the world and which, consequently, is a duty of all religions,” he said.

In Sri Lanka, the Cardinal singled out in particular for the Church “a bridge function,” also because “in this task the Church is facilitated by the fact that she gathers members, faithful from the two main ethnic groups, the Tamil and the Sinhalese and, therefore, the Church knows somewhat what is in the heart of each one and knows also the expectations; therefore, she can fulfil this task, this function of reconciliation, of dialogue and of collaboration.”

Cardinal Parolin said a symbol of the “bridge Church” is the shrine of Madhu, which the Pope will visit, located in a region of Tamil prevalence.

“The shrine of Madhu is known, appreciated and visited also by members of other religions, not only by Catholics,” specified Cardinal Parolin.

However, the wounds of the Civil War in Sri Lanka are not yet altogether healed.

“As he did on February 8, when meeting with the Sri Lankan community in Saint Peter’s, I think Pope Francis will recall all these painful events, the many tears, he said, that were shed because of the violence and cruelty of the conflict. Not so much to reopen wounds, but rather to launch a look to the future,” reflected the secretary of state.


Shifting attention to the Philippines, Cardinal Parolin said: “With this trip, in fact in continuation with that of Korea, the Pope wishes to concentrate the attention of the Church on this reality and, at the same time, to place himself in [their] nine-year project, which is leading to the celebration of the fifth centenary of the arrival of the Gospel in the Philippines, in 1521. And this year is the year dedicated to the poor.”

Moreover, the cardinal recalled that “the Philippines are also somewhat at the center geographically: suffice it to think of the many important meetings held there, beginning with the visit of Blessed Paul VI in 1970, which then gave origin also to the establishment of the Federation of Asian Episcopal Conferences.”

He also mentioned the high number of young people from other parts of Asia who go to the Philippines to study at its Catholic universities and “the irradiation of Filipinos in the world.”

Therefore, the “potentialities of evangelization” of the Philippines are “multiple,” added Cardinal Parolin, concluding that what is “important is that the Church in the Philippines receives this message and this impulse given by Pope Francis to be an outgoing Church – a Church that feels the task of evangelization and of proclamation of the Gospel.”

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