ASIA NEW EVANGELIZATION ¡@Part II
Fr. Yan Po Tak
|What is "NEW" in today's Asia and its Evangelization||Asia remains and is becoming younger and younger. The youth of Asia are the people who will receive the Gospel of Jesus and who will become the new Evangelizers.||
|History Of Christianity in Philippines||Today¡¦s Evangelization in the Philippines has the primary goal of ¡§dialogue¡¨ between the Catholic majority and a Muslim minority. The endless war between these two communities is in line with endless religious wars elsewhere in Asia||
|History Of Christianity in Vietnam||Catholicism was a late-comer to Vietnam after Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism came on the scene. Catholicism has developed for about 400 years or so. The Catholic Church has spread quickly in Vietnam.||
|History Of Christianity in Korea||One of the most interesting chapters in the history of Catholicism in Korea concerns its beginnings in the land. Unlike many other countries, where the Christian religion was first brought by foreign missionaries, in Korea, it began with a kind of "self-study" (self-directed study) of Christian literature by some local people.||
|History Of Christianity in Japan||Tens of thousand of Christians were tortured and killed. These martyrs are the guarantee of the deep roots the Church has in Japan.||
|History Of Christianity in China||Overseas Chinese have always been a powerful source of renewal for the motherland. Christian Overseas Chinese have their unique Evangelization commitments.||
|New Ev in a New Asia:||di Nobili had the important approval and support of his own religious superiors (the Jesuit Society in Rome) and of his bishop. Eventually, Pope Gregory XV gave his approval to the movement, and so it flourished, and brought to the Christian Faith thousands of high caste as well as low caste Hindus.||
|All Christians in Asia (Catholic, all other Christian Denominations, the Orthodox, etc.) should join forces and consider the impact of their Evangelization efforts from the viewpoint of a "New Asia".||
|All Asian religions should create an atmosphere and a culture of mutual trust, respect, and cooperation, and become a model-sign of hope for a New Asia.||
|We have become a tightly knit global society; the key word for our global era is "interdependence." Our religious beliefs and moral principles must be lived in today' s world||
|We are forced to stay together; to live together; or we will all perish together!||
May 29, 2003
|C.||WHAT IS ¡§NEW¡¨ IN TODAY¡¦S ASIA AND IN ITS EVANGELIZATION.|
|1.||¡§New¡¨ is Asia itself. The peoples of Asia, to whom we announce the Gospel, are new. They are no longer a group of nations independent of one another and dependent on individual foreign colonial powers. Today, the countries of Asia form a community of free nations deeply inter-connected, interdependent.|
poverty and illiteracy remain the major problems in Asia, the progress of
education and the expansion of wealth increase (especially in some regions)
at a most spectacular pace. This creates new thinking, new life styles,
new expectations and new social problems.
And as Asia is taking up a free market economy, so in Asia, as in other parts of the world, we have the phenomenon of the establishment of a consumer society. Consumerism does affect many vital Asian virtues and traditions.
|3.||Asia remains and is becoming younger and younger. The youth of Asia are the people who will receive the Gospel of Jesus and who will become the new Evangelizers.|
|4.||Development, as it is understood and planned too often almost everywhere, creates a myriad of ecological, health, social and ethical problems.|
|5.||This new emerging Asia will inevitably challenge its own traditions and religions. The rapid changes in life styles, thinking, contacts with the international community through mass media, and present-day working conditions will put to the test traditional religious practices. These religions will have to undergo a deep reform and renewal if they wish to be able to continue serving the people of today¡¦s Asia.|
|6.||With trade, there is a flow of capital, of technology, of manpower, of contacts of heads of governments , and the exchange of telecommunications. The traditional insurmountable distances, mountains, rivers, deserts, that kept Asian nations apart in the past, are no longer barriers in the New Asia. In Asia there are today more than 35 Asian magazines, published in Asia for Asians. There are Asian Radio and TV stations.|
important still is what is new in Asia is the ¡§Evangelizer¡¨.
The prime evangelizers in Asia are the Asian churches themselves. Evangelizing Asia is the primary concern of the community of Asian churches. In the past, it was the concern of foreign missionaries from other churches. These missionaries founded the churches and then began a localization process to train local people to run the various particular churches. This process went on at different speeds in different places. Often it went too slowly. The Indian and the Filipino Churches very early had their own local clergy and bishops. As for the Chinese Church, although the first Chinese priest, Gregory Luo Wen Zao, was ordained in Manila in 1654, and then became, in 1685, the first bishop of Nam King, but we must wait until 1926, when six Chinese bishops were consecrated in Rome. In 1942, the first Korean bishop was consecrated. In 1940, all bishops in Japan were Japanese. In 1969, Bishop Francis Hsu became the first Chinese bishop of Hong Kong.
Today in Asia, there are young, vibrant particular Churches, with their Bishops and clergy.
In 1970 (November) some 200 Asian bishops gathered in Manila, and, in the presence of Pope Paul VI, founded the Federation of Asian Bishops¡¦ Conferences (FABC). It is worth recalling the prophetic message of these Asian Bishops at the conclusion of the Assembly:
¡§We see the face of an Asia at long last coming to birth as a true community of peoples. Barriers, which have so long isolated our nations from one another, are falling one by one; and the desire grows among us to know each other and to find each other as Asians, sister-nations among whom relationships of friendship and trust, of collaboration, sharing and genuine solidarity, may be wrought firmly and lasting.¡¨
Members of the FABC, as of January 2000, included the following Catholic Bishops' Conferences: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ten Associate members are from: Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, Mongolia, Nepal, Siberia (Russia), Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Today in Asia, there are about 90 million Catholics. And together with all other Christian denominations, there are approximately 130 million Asian Christians. These are the evangelizers of Asia today! And they are doing this work of evangelization as a minority group!
(Compare the percentages recorded: 2.42% Catholics in Asia with the 63.24% in the Americas, and the 39.97% in Europe, and the 12.74% in Africa).
In 1998, the first continental Asian Synod was held in Rome. For the first time in the history of the Church, Bishops from all over Asia, (including the Middle East and Central Asia), and from Asian Churches of different rites, all came together to consider the New Evangelization needed in the New Asia of today.
The Asian Churches today are conscious of having received from Jesus the
mission of incarnating the Christian Gospel into the Asian reality and of
making the Gospel speak at grass-root level, especially to the poor of Asia.
Only the Asian Churches can truly rediscover the Asian roots of Christianity, understand and announce the Word of God within an Asian context, make Christian liturgy and prayer a path for Asians to encounter God!
is again ¡§new¡¨ in the Asian churches is a new missionary spirit. These churches
not only announce very effectively the Gospel to their own peoples (in Korea,
there is an average every year of about 150,000 baptized adults; in Indonesia,
there are about 100,000 baptized every year, counting both adults and children),
but to other Asian peoples as well. Asian countries are sending their own
missionaries to other parts of Asia and of the world. In 1995, the president
of the Korean bishops, Bishop Kim Lam Soo, said:
¡¨So far we have treated ourselves as a young church and concentrated on evangelization of ourselves. But now, we are a grown-up church; therefore, we have to work for the evangelization of other countries. In my opinion, our Lord is pouring abundant graces into the Korean church for its special mission to neighboring countries. Especially, Koreans have a great responsibility for the evangelization of China, because we received the gift of faith through the Chinese two hundred years ago. Today, we are in a position to pay off our debt of gratitude for the faith.¡¨
While Asian churches welcome foreign missionaries into their own communities, they, in turn, today send out their own missionaries, priests, sisters, lay people who leave their own churches and go to other countries, other churches to announce the Gospel. This is a sign of the maturity of the ¡§Catholicity¡¨ of the Asian Churches.¡¨
India, with such a small Catholic community, has 2,000 missionaries abroad, priests, nuns and lay people. The Philippines has 600 missionaries. In 1983, the Indonesian church sent the first Indonesian missionaries to Papua New Guinea. Japan with a very small Catholic community, has 350 missionaries working in 54 countries. Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore have both religious and lay missionaries in other countries. The Churches of Asia are becoming more and more missionary, taking up the full responsibility of evangelization, not only to their own people, but to all nations, to the end of the earth.
In the old era of evangelization in Asia, we have seen how small centers
of evangelization were established by foreign missionaries, such as Goa,
Malacca, Macao. These were both receiving and sending communities of evangelizers.
In the new Asia, the particular Churches, the parishes, local religious and lay missionary communities, are continuing that same spirit of Evangelization to the end of the earth.
|11.||A new method of evangelization is strongly taking place in Asia: Dialogue among Asian religions is happily substituting the attitude of ignoring one another, or disparaging, or even fighting with one another. This mutual respect and desire to share more and to cooperate for a better Asia is nurtured by the belief that a sparkle of the Divine is present in each religion.|
|12.||Also a new attitude among various Christian communities is growing stronger and stronger. More and more Christians in Asia realize how important is the unity of all Christians. The division of Catholics and Protestants was a European thing, an historical event in Europe. And it is only within the European historical situation that this split can be understood. This religious aberration was brought into Asia by the missionaries of various Christian denominations: Catholics and non-Catholics who came to Asia during the colonial era. Now the colonial era is gone. A new Asia is here. And all Christians must understand that their division is one of the greatest obstacles to evangelization in Asia. The urgency of unity of all Christian denominations is what makes this evangelization new.|
must also be the ¡§content¡¨ of evangelization. The Gospel, of course, is
always the same Gospel of Jesus. But at different times, in different places,
the evangelizers incarnate this message in the context of the local circumstances.
Different aspects of the same Gospel touch the hearts of different people.
Mercy, universal love, peace, life, nature, human virtue have, in Asia, distinctive cultural connotations. The proclamation of Jesus¡¦ Gospel confirms all these values and in a sense fulfills them by identifying them with the nature of God: God is Love. Jesus became Man. In Calcutta, in the house of Mother Theresa where people who are dying are provided with a chance of a dignified death, Mother Theresa wrote on a wall the words of Jesus: ¡§This is my Body.¡¨ The poor people, those who suffer, are the Body of Jesus; and by loving and serving them, we believe and love Jesus.
In 2002, at the end of a seminar on Evangelization in Asia, a group of Asian bishops from 17 Asian nations, urged Asian Churches to implement what they collectively decided during the 1998 Asian Synod in Rome. The bishops went on to stress a few fundamental points regarding Evangelization in Asia:
Christ must remain the central message of all Evangelization in Asia.
" As the Synod discussion of the complex realities of Asia unfolded, it became increasingly obvious to all that the Church's unique contribution to the peoples of the continent is the proclamation of Jesus Christ.¡¨ (EA10)
proclamation must be joyful, patient and progressive.
"If the Church in Asia is to fulfil its providential destiny, evangelization as the joyful, patient and progressive preaching of the saving Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ must be your absolute priority".(EA 2)
Evangelization must spring from a prayerful heart
¡§The heart of the particular Church must be set on the contemplation of Jesus Christ, God-made-Man, and strive constantly for a more intimate union with him whose mission she continues. Mission is contemplative action and active contemplation.¡¨ (EA 23)
Evangelization must be holistic (it must address both spiritual and material
Lest prayer be divorced from human promotion, the Synod Fathers insisted that "the work of justice, charity and compassion is interrelated with a genuine life of prayer and contemplation, and indeed it is this same spirituality that will be the wellspring of all our evangelizing work".(EA 23)
some special circumstances, Evangelization can be carried out only ¡§in the
silent witness of life¡¨
¡§In this regard, however, a particular circumstance in the Asian context demands attention. The Church realizes that the silent witness of life still remains the only way of proclaiming God's Kingdom in many places in Asia where explicit proclamation is forbidden and religious freedom is denied or systematically restricted.¡¨ (EA23)
must be ¡§inculturated¡¨.
¡§In the process of encountering the world's different cultures, the Church not only transmits her truths and values and renews cultures from within, but she also takes from the various cultures the positive elements already found in them. This is the obligatory path for evangelizers in presenting the Christian faith and making it part of a people's cultural heritage.¡¨ (EA 21)
must respect all cultures, because there lives the Holy Spirit.
¡§It is good to remember at this point what was said repeatedly during the Synod: that the Holy Spirit is the prime agent of the inculturation of the Christian faith in Asia. The same Holy Spirit who leads us into the whole truth makes possible a fruitful dialogue with the cultural and religious values of different peoples, among whom he is present in some measure¡¨. ( EA 21)
¡§inculturated¡¨ Church, becomes a better sign of Evangelization.
¡§Conversely, the various cultures, when refined and renewed in the light of the Gospel, can become true expressions of the one Christian faith. "Through inculturation, the Church, for her part, becomes a more intelligible sign of what she is, and a more effective instrument of mission." (EA 21)
|The same document, invites all Asian bishops to organize within the coming two or three years, an Asian Missionary Assembly.|
|14.||The social commitment of the Asian Churches is not new. The Church has always been the first to foster education, health care, child care. The hundreds of schools and universities, hospitals and youth-training centers are a concrete proof of the Church¡¦s social commitment. What is new today is the new Asian context, within which the Church must operate|
what has happened in the last few decades, it is evident that all Asian
nations do not develop at the same pace. There are some areas where development
has been faster. One of these areas is the so-called ¡§Confucian area¡¨ (China,
Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, + Taiwan-Hong Kong).
More contacts between these Churches, more sharing and mutual help, more reconciliation, could make the Church a more credible sign of hope in the Asian context.
|16.||A United Asia is not a reality yet. It is only a new dawn for this concept. If this dream is to be shared by more and more Asians (especially the young), it will no longer be a dream, but it will become a reality. At present, all Asian religions should cooperate in creating a new culture, a culture of love and respect, of tolerance and hope. This is a basic principle and would make the birth of a New Asia a reality: a New Asia for a new world, a United Asia for a united world, a Peaceful Asia for a peaceful world, a Free Asia for a free world.|
the first millenium, Christianity from Asia spread to Europe.
In the second millenium, Christianity from Europe spread to Africa and to the Americas.
The third millenium is the time of Asia: the Christian communities in Asia will live the Gospel and make it the leaven for a new Asia.artyrs stand as a symbol of courage and hope.
May 15, 2003
HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE PHILIPPINES.
The Philippines is the only ¡§Catholic country¡¨ in Asia, and with its 66 million Catholics (82.5% ), they make up the larger part of the 2.42% Catholics in Asia).
There are 77 million Filipinos who live on some 700 of the nation's 7,100 islands. Cultural differences are many among the nation's more than 75 ethnic groups.
The last phase of migration before the arrival of the Spanish was of Muslim traders from Indonesia. These people were politically organized in territorial states under the authority of sultans. The Muslims had firearms and by the 1500s, they had penetrated and converted the Sulu archipelago and most of the island of Mindanao. They had also established a colony in Manila.
The Spanish (who had only recently expelled their own Muslim population from Spain) soon put an end to further Muslim expansion in the Philippines. (The Chinese are a large community, especially in some urban areas of the Philippines). In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan claimed the land of the Philippines for Spain. This rule was to last for several centuries. In the Spanish-American War (1898), the Spanish were defeated, and one of the ¡§spoils of war¡¨ was the Americans occupying the Philippines. The rule of the United States lasted from 1898 until the years following World War II. There was a four-year interruption due to the Japanese Occupation (1941-1945). The Philippines became an independent country on July 4,1946. Besides selecting Manila to be the capital of the colony in 1571 (it had a very fine natural harbor and rich lands surrounding the city) the Spanish rule had two lasting effects on Philippine society: the near universal conversion of the entire population to Roman Catholicism and the creation of a landed elite. Regarding the first effect (conversion to Roman Catholicism), it must be noted how the religious Orders as the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Jesuits and others, when they realized that they were unable to extirpate the indigenous people of their pagan beliefs by coercion and fear, they then let Philippine Catholicism incorporate a deep substratum of native customs and rituals. Regarding the second effect (landed aristocracy), this came about with the introduction of the Spanish system of ¡§land-lords¡¨, who were the Government¡¦s representatives in rural areas. In many villages the ¡§land-lord¡¨ and the ¡§clergy¡¨ were on the same social level. The creation of a privileged landed-holding elite on whom most of the rural population were dependent as landless tenants introduced a class division into Philippine society. This remains today as one of the perennial sources of social discontent and political strife in the country.
Today¡¦s Evangelization in the Philippines has the primary goal of ¡§dialogue¡¨ between the Catholic majority and a Muslim minority. The endless war between these two communities is in line with endless religious wars elsewhere in Asia, but not in line with ¡§religion¡¨, and not in line with the future of a New Asia.
May 1, 2003
OF CHRISTIANITY IN VIETNAM.
¡§Indefatigable missionary Alexander de Rhodes was finally expelled in May 1630 from Vietnam leaving behind at least 50,000 Catholics trained by Vietnamese catechists and a cultural heritage that no Vietnamese nowadays will do without. His name continues to be dear to our collective memory because thanks to him we are the only country in the Far East to have a Roman alphabet.¡¨ With these words, a writer close to the communist government of Vietnam, remembers the great French Jesuit, Alexander de Rhodes, who from Macao (the same house from where Ricci had begun his journey to Peking) went to Vietnam. He worked there for 17 years. His main contribution to Vietnamese culture was his Romanization of the language. For centuries, Vietnam had been a vassal state of China. It was only around the year 1428 that Vietnam became truly independent from China.
Once independent , Vietnam continued using Chinese characters (administration, examinations) but felt the need to create a new form of writing to express spoken Vietnamese. In the past, Chinese characters were used to write theVietnamese spoken language, but that made the writing more difficult than Chinese itself! Alexander de Rhodes began the hard and toilsome work of transcribing spoken Vietnamese by using Latin letters. After a long process of correction, and over many generations, the spoken Vietnamese language, with its six tones, was perfectly rendered into a written form, and could be easily learned by the common people. An understandable written language does much to eradicate illiteracy. This bi-cultural language formulation circulated first only within the Church. Later on, it was used by the first Vietnamese writers and by newspapers. It was "officially" recognized as the written language of the nation at the beginning of the twentieth century. Alexander de Rhodes published his Vietnamese-Latin-Portuguese dictionary in 1651. The Jesuit died in 1660. Catholicism was a late-comer to Vietnam after Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism came on the scene. Catholicism has developed for about 400 years or so. The Catholic Church has spread quickly in Vietnam. Church records reveal that by the early 20th century, the number of believers in Vietnam was already numbering nearly one million. And the Evangelization method of forming entire ¡§Catholic villages¡¨ had already taken place from the earliest days. In some regions of the country, dozens of villages were totally Catholic in population.
Unfortunately, Vietnam had to face countless threats initiated by various colonial powers. The Church was caught often in the middle of endless wars. After the Portuguese, then came the French, who were to rule from 1887. The French would rule the country until they were defeated by the Vietnamese army under the leadership of the ¡§Father of Vietnam, Hochi-minh. During World War II, the Japanese occupied Vietnam. After the war, the Americans came to Vietnam. In 1954, the Geneva Accord had split Vietnam into the North (under Communist regime) and the South (American allied). The Vietnam war between the North and the South went on for almost 25 years, until 1975, when Vietnam was reunified under communist government. This is now a long and painful period of reconstruction and of opening up to the world community. Vietnam has become a member of ASEAN, and has diplomatic relations with the European Union(1990) and USA (1995).
Today, the Catholic Church in Vietnam is alive and well.. The faith of the six million Vietnamese Catholics has been tested throughout the nation¡¦s history. As in all Asian Churches, thousands of Vietnamese martyrs stand as a symbol of courage and hope.
April 1, 2003
OF CHRISTIANITY IN KOREA
Today, in all of Asia, only about two percent of the population is Christian. And, while Christians are to be found in virtually every Asian country, it is South Korea that has witnessed the most spectacular and historically significant Christian expansion, This growth has taken place particularly over the past three decades---the period of the country's remarkable modernization. The introduction of Catholicism into Korea took place in 1784. It was followed by the arrival of Protestant missioners in 1884. Christianity has proceeded to become--after Buddhism--the largest religion in the country. Today about one third of South Korea's 45 million people are Christian--11 million Protestants and 3 million Roman Catholics.
Since the early 1960s, when South Korea's Christians scarcely topped the one million mark, the number of Christians, particularly Protestants, has increased faster than in any other country, doubling every decade. By 1994, moreover, there were over 35,000 churches and 50,000 pastors, making the South Korean Church one of the most vital and dynamic in the world. One of the most interesting chapters in the history of Catholicism in Korea concerns its beginnings in the land. Unlike many other countries, where the Christian religion was first brought by foreign missionaries, in Korea, it began with a kind of "self-study" (self-directed study) of Christian literature by some local people. About 1770, a Korean envoy to China, Chong Tu-won, brought back to Korea Matteo Ricci's Tianzhu shi-yi (The True Doctrine of the Lord of Heaven). A group of Korean scholars studied the Catholic literature with hopes of learning about Western civilization. Then, in 1783, these scholars asked the son of an ambassador to China, Li Sang-hun, to visit the Catholic missioners in China and to absorb all he could about this Western religion. Li sought out the missionary priests in Peking. They were more than happy to give instruction about Catholicism, and some of the envoys were baptized in the process. Upon his return to Korea in 1784, (with the books and the articles about Christian doctrine, which were given to him by the priests in Peking), Li distributed the Christian literature to the scholars. Soon they began to discuss their newly-found religion among friends and neighbors, thereby laying the foundations of the future Catholic Church in Korea. These scholars became the Evangelizers and the foundation of the Korean Church. Despite the suspicion of the general populace concerning their new religious beliefs and their new way of life the new converts began preaching Catholicism openly, and instructing their followers in the catechism. There were many Baptisms. This aspect of the history of Christian missions is noteworthy, because it was the Koreans themselves---lay people---who initiated and performed the missionary activities and many other functions of the Church. The rapid spread of Catholicism among intellectual circles was not, however, without opposition. Most intellectuals and government officials were against the new religion, believing that it was a threat to the teachings of a Confucian society. They thought that many elements of Christian doctrine conflicted with the basic ethical and ritual principles of Confucianism. The most controversial issue at the time was the question of ¡§veneration of ancestors¡¨. According to an instruction from the Bishop in China, Christians were not to participate in those rites. (From this, the importance of Ricci¡¦s prophetic vision on this matter can be clearly seen.) Social and political issues (most scholars who adhered to Catholicism belonged to a faction that was considered subversive by the ruling authority at the time) contributed to the beginning of open persecution against Christians. Catholicism was associated ¡§with many hideous crimes, including the suspension of traditional customs, destruction of morality, the abolition of ancestor worship, heresy, the use of magic spells and incantations, and subversive anti-state activities.¡¨ At times, international political and military events were causes of persecution. When Korea had to face the military threat of Western powers, Christianity became identified with the Western "gunboat diplomacy". Foreign Catholic missioners, who were residing illegally in Korea, were perceived by the government to be agents of foreign powers. Persecutions were fierce, and martyrs numbered by the thousands. During these difficult times, the ¡§lay¡¨ characteristic of the Korean Church emerged strongly: the laity carried out the work of visiting and encouraging other Catholics, and by doing most of the Evangelization works. And in spite of the continuing persecution, Church leaders in Korea made numerous requests to the Bishop in Peking to send a resident priest for Korea.
Although Chinese churches themselves were burdened by a shortage of priests, there was one priest, Father Chow nga-kok, who came to Korea from China in 1831, thus intensifying the bond between the two Churches. An equally significant development at that time, at least from the perspective of the Korean Church history, was the sending of three young Koreans to Macao for studies in theology. Two of these were ordained to become the first native Korean priests.
Mar 5, 2003
OF CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN.
Japan remained for centuries a very reclusive society. The first Portuguese traders reached Japan in 1543. The Japanese rulers were pleased to trade with them. This welcome helped the first Portuguese missionaries to enter into Japan. Francis Xavier arrived in Japan in 1549 with two companions. His preaching did meet with some success, although his efforts were hampered by the lack of language ability.
Because of the ¡§trade connection¡¨, missionary activities were concentrated on the southern island of Kyushu, especially the Nagasaki region. However, there were other Christian communities established elsewhere as well. The success of this first Evangelization in Japan reached its peak in 1579, when six ¡§Daimyos¡¨ (local Lords) were converted to Christianity. The number of baptized Catholics at one time was around 100.000. Later this number reached 300.000. Christianity was well accepted at the highest levels of society. Aware of this spirit of great enthusiasm concerning Catholicity, the then regional superior of all the Jesuits in Asia, Fr. Alessandro Valignano---who knew and fully supported Matteo Ricci¡¦s Evangelization method in China, particularly the use of the printed word (Ricci had a vast publication of books in Chinese, which could be read by Japanese as well), during his visit to Japan in 1582, together with three Christian ¡§Daimyos¡¨ in Kyushu, arranged for a visit by young Japanese Catholic youth (four young boys, aged 12-13 from a Jesuit Seminary in Japan, and 16 more Catholic young boys). to the courts of Pope Gregory XIII, and King Philip II of Portugal. Father Valignano¡¦s intent was to present the young Catholic Community of Japan to Europe, and also to gain some spiritual and financial support from the Pope and from the King. The travelers reached Portugal in August 1584. The King warmly welcomed them. In March 1585, when they reached Rome, Pope Gregory XIII received the young envoys and showered them with gifts. The party then traveled elsewhere in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The mission left Portugal in April 1586, and arrived back in Nagasaki more than four years later (July 1590). However, during the mission's absence, the political situation in Japan, had changed. The military rulers (mainly for political reasons and because of the fear of this new religion spreading in Kyushu) had already issued an edict for the expulsion of all Jesuits from Japan. Although this edict was neither obeyed nor enforced immediately, it did indicate the end of a favorable reception for Christianity in Japan. When the mission to Europe returned to Japan, the four young boys were able to publicize what they had learned about Europe only in the area surrounding Kyushu.
Nevertheless, European interest in Japan had been greatly aroused by the visit of the mission. The following years were marked by a more and more growing repressive attitude of the rulers towards Christianity. Open persecution erupted. . Tens of thousand of Christians were tortured and killed. These martyrs are the guarantee of the deep roots the Church has in Japan. From 1638 until 1859, missionaries were not allowed into Japan. Those missioners remaining in Japan were all killed or expelled. For more than two centuries, Japan entered a period of isolation. It is a remarkable part of Church history in Japan to note that in 1865, when some missionaries managed to return to activities in Japan (although Christianity was still under edict) a group of people at Nagasaki publicly identified themselves as Christians. Soon various communities of these ¡§hidden Christians¡¨, were discovered in the nearby regions. Located in more remote areas, where the government surveillance was at it's weakest, these communities preserved their religion in secret for more than two centuries.
After the defeat of Japan in World War II, there was a so-called ¡§Christian revival¡¨, but it was short-lived. In 1990, Christians numbered some 1,075,000 or less than 1 percent of the population. There were 436,000 Catholics identified with 800 parishes in 16 dioceses. Protestants numbered 639,000 associated with nearly 7,000 churches.
Feb 28, 2003
OF CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA
There exists the same historical evidence that Christianity has ancient roots in China as well.
the year 635, we find evidence of the first community of Christians in Chang-an,
the then capital of China. They were said to be from the Syrian Church and
came possibly from Persia. The emperor, Tang Tai-Chung, welcomed them, and
they evidently formed a strong community. In Chinese, they were called "Jinh-jau",
the "religion of the light". They left a number of books (the
first Christian literature in Chinese), religious relations carved on a
beautiful stone stele (now kept in the Xi-an museum) and hundreds of artistic
crosses (the first example of Christian art in China)
From this historical evidence, it may be concluded that they were a community of monks from Persia. Their Evangelization method was ¡§the monastery¡¨. A community of contemplative persons, using their own liturgy and living their own community life, apparently was the first method by which these ¡§missioners gave witness to Jesus¡¦ Gospel in China.
Here is how Pope John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Exhortation, Ecclesia in Asia (1999), speaks of this first Evangelization in China: ¡§Persian merchants took the Good News to China in the fifth century. The first Christian Church was built there at the beginning of the seventh century. During the T'ang dynasty (618-907 A.D.), the Church flourished for nearly two centuries. The decline of this vibrant Church in China by the end of the First Millennium is one of the sadder chapters in the history of God's People on the continent¡¨.(Ecclesia in Asia, 9)
|b.||In the year 1246, history records that Franciscan priests were at the court of the emperor. In 1294, a Franciscan priest, Giovanni da Montecorvino, was consecrated as the first Archbishop of Peking. From Montecorvino¡¦s letters to his superiors in Italy, it seems that the Franciscan Evangelization method was presented directly for the conversion of the ¡§listener¡¨. From additional information contained in the same letters, we understand that often the ¡§listener¡¨ was a member of ¡§Jinh-jau¡¨ Church. For that reason, divisions arose between the two Christian communities: the ¡§Jinh-jau¡¨, who had been in China for over 600 years, and the new community being formed by Montecorvino and his associates.|
third Evangelization era in China began with the arrival of the Jesuits
in Asia: in the year 1542. At that time, St. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa
(India). Three years later, he went to Malacca (present-day Malaysia). From
Malacca, Xavier moved to Japan. And from Japan, he wanted to evangelize
China. The Jesuit arrived on the island of Shang Chuan, not too distant
from the coast of south China. He waited there for an opportunity of entering
China; but, unfortunately, Xavier died there in 1552. The Evangelization
method of St. Francis Xavier was more charismatic. It seems that crowds
were attracted by the miracles performed by the great missioner. The China
mission activities were continued by Matteo Ricci and his fellow Jesuit
priests and brothers. It was in 1582 that Matteo Ricci arrived in Macao,
where he started his preparation (both culturally and spiritually) to enter
China. After a long journey (demanding great physical and spiritual stamina),
Matteo Ricci, in 1601, finally settled in Peking. He believed that Evangelization
in China had to start with the highest authorities in order to get established
and to reach to the ordinary people. The goal to be achieved was to first
Evangelize the emperor and the scholars!
Matteo Ricci¡¦ fame as a scholar and a scientist from the West, and his strong method of Evangelization ( he was called the ¡§bonze from the West¡¨), enabled him to receive the emperor¡¦s favor. The emperor accepted Matteo Ricci¡¦s gifts ( religious paintings, clocks, world map, etc.) and gave the Jesuit permission to reside at the imperial court as an ¡§honorary mandarin¡¨, and with a mandarin¡¦s honorarium (court support).
Many of the outstanding scholars of the time (Xu guang-qi, Li zhi-zao, Yang ting-yun, to mention a few) became Christians and were baptized. Never before was China so open to accept the Gospel, and never before had the emperor showed such respect and esteem for Westerners. With the death of Matteo Ricci in Peking (May, 11, 1610), the emperor issued a decree allowing, for the first time in Chinese history, the burial of a foreigner on Chinese soil.The tomb of Matteo Ricci in the cemetery in Peking (where other Jesuits are also buried together with Chinese priests) is a good symbol of how deeply Matteo Ricci¡¦s Evangelization method had taken roots in China.
It is obvious that with activities and positive influences of Matteo Ricci,(he was only 57 years old when he died) two worlds---Europe and China---until then both unknown and suspicious to each other, drew more close, and two cultures met in many ways. Matteo Ricci translated the Chinese classics into Latin for Europeans to study and admire. He sent many of his Chinese writings to Europe ¡§just to admire the beauty and complexity of this culture, even without understanding its content¡¨.
Unfortunately, what followed after Ricci¡¦s death, was the saddest chapter in the history of Evangelization in China. Soon after Ricci¡¦s death, the controversy over his Evangelization method erupted violently. Other missionaries, of different religious congregations, attacked Ricci and the Jesuits in general, for allowing ¡§Chinese superstitions¡¨ and practices to find their ways into the teachings of the Church.
The specific points contested were:
It is interesting to read the historical accounts of the discussion between Emperor Kangxi and the Pope¡¦s delegation regarding the controversy of Chinese rites.
The emperor asked the delegation: ¡§Since when are Chinese rites not in accordance with Christian morality? Before or after Matteo Ricci?¡¨ The emperor proved to know Matteo Ricci¡¦s writings much better than the Roman delegation! After the condemnation of Ricci¡¦ practices, the door that he had worked so hard to open, was shut once again. All missionaries were expelled, except some Jesuits who remained in Peking with special permission from the emperor. But Ricci¡¦s memory in Chinese history is there to stay, and can not be erased so easily. His contributions to mutual understanding and respect, his personal holiness, and his wisdom are part of a treasure in the history of Asian Evangelization. Ricci, of course, does have his limitations too. These limitations were due in part to his complete isolation from Europe. The Jesuit believed that to gain complete trust by the Chinese people, he had to remain in China until his death. That he did. Contacts with Europeans, especially Portuguese, would have created suspicions among the Chinese. Therefore, his only contacts with Italy were by his letters to his superiors and friends. (Ricci adds a bit of humor in his written words when he writes: ¡§At times it takes six or seven years to get an answer to a letter. When I realize that I have kept writing letters to dead friends, I don¡¦t want to write any longer!¡¨ In those days it took two to three years for a letter from China to arrive in Italy!) In another letter he wrote: ¡§Publication of books is very important in China, but all the reference books I have with me are those in my memory¡¨. (And he had an extraordinary memory, but he could not recharge it!) His theological thinking reflects the prevailing theology taught in seminaries of his times. Then, there are people, who have accused Ricci of using his scientific knowledge only as a bargaining tool to get what he wanted from the Chinese authorities.This has been proven to be a false accusation. After all advantages and disadvantages are considered, Matteo Ricci remains the most innovative Evangelizer in China in the history of mission activities, and remains admired in both worlds even today as a true bridge between two worlds! Today¡¦s Evangelization in China lives with the long and controversial historical past. Evangelization to China began almost 1400 years ago. It is interesting to note what Ricci¡¦s disciples exclaimed at the news of the discovery of the famous ¡§jinh.jau¡¨stele. (Ricci had died by then). They said: ¡§The Good News our master Ricci taught us about Jesus, Chinese people had already heard it, 1000 years ago!¡¨
Although it seems that Christianity may have never succeeded in making a deep penetration into Chinese culture and society, nevertheless, it is there to stay. The strength of the Christian Faith rests in the believers. The 12 million Catholics (or more) and the more than 20 million Protestants, are too precious a national patrimony to exclude it from the main cultural, economic, and spiritual streams in China.
The old Marxist analysis of religion is antiquated, and the old critique of Communism has drastically changed. What China needs today is that all of its national energy, both economic and spiritual, be directed to the renewal of Chinese society. Christianity has its contribution to offer to China today as it had in the past. To deny this truth is simply turn a blind eye to reality! The younger generations are now ready to accept Christianity as an integral part of the Chinese way of life. As evidence of this reality, consideration must be given to the millions of Chinese Christians who are now scattered all over the world (especially the younger generations). They are looking at China with a hope to be able to make their own personal faith contributions for their people. Overseas Chinese have always been a powerful source of renewal for the motherland. Christian Overseas Chinese have their unique Evangelization commitments.
Feb 13, 2003
HISTORY OF ASIAN EVANGELIZATION goes back to the very dawn of Christianity.
Jesus is Asian, and the first Christian Communities were all in Asia: Jerusalem,
Antioch, Ephesus, etc.
It was only around the year 50-52 that Paul and his companions ventured for the first time into Europe (to Macedonia, Athens, Corinth). Later Peter and Paul founded the Church of Rome (Peter was martyred in Rome around the year 64-67).
It was in Asia that the great Asian missionaries spread the Gospel to peoples all over the continent.
US CONSIDER THE HISTORY OF SIX SOUTH-ASIAN CHURCHES:
INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN, KOREA, VIETNAM, PHILIPPINES.
|1.||The first Christian Community in South East Asia was established in India (in the southern Indian state of Kerala). An ancient tradition relates that the Apostle Thomas went to India around the year 52, and there baptized the first Indian Christians, who call themselves (even today) ¡§Christians of St. Thomas¡¨. In Madras, the alleged tomb of the apostle Thomas is greatly venerated. This tradition finds support in the historical records concerning a group of about 400 Syrian Christians , who, in the year 345, settled in that region of India and found a number of ¡§Christians of St. Thomas¡¨, who, after centuries, were still practicing their faith. From then on, the early Christian converts (¡§Christians of St. Thomas¡¨) as well as the new Christian settlers from Syria came to be known as ¡§Syrian Christians¡¨. The entire Christian community, thereon, adopted the rites and liturgies of the Syrian Church of Antioch and became a part of that ancient Patriarchal See. From such small beginnings, the Christian Community of Kerala grew up into its present stature regardless of the many difficulties it encountered along the way. Unfortunately, for many historical reasons, this ancient Indian Christian Community eventually split into different denominations. The ¡§Syrian Christians¡¨---of all denominations---today number 5 million. According to a census made in 2001, one-fourth of all Indian Christians trace their beginnings to the State of Kerala. Of a population of 32 million people in Kerala, there are around 6.2 million Christians (around 20% of the population). Many more Kerala Christians reside outside the state.|
|When the Portuguese came to India in 1489, they found this strong Christian community well established there. The Portuguese, however, tried by every means possible (at times even by force) to latinize the liturgy of this ancient Christian Church, which had long continued with their own ancient oriental liturgy. The Portuguese were THE colonial power, and at the same time they had received, from Pope Alexander VI in 1493, secular authority over all missionary activities in the Eastern region of the newly- discovered world. (The Pope had entrusted the western regions of the then known world to Spain). The Portuguese determined that by ¡§Latinizing¡¨ the Church of India, and by creating ¡§Latin dioceses¡¨, they could place the Church more under their control (away from the dominance of the ancient local Syrian Church), and thereby nominate their own Bishops. (They had to present the names of the persons selected to be Bishops to the Pope for approval).|
|In 1560, the Portuguese established the ¡§Inquisition for India¡¨ in Goa. Many people died as victims of this political ploy. The Christian God, in whose name these things were done, was considered by many of the people of India as a punitive God of vengeance and wrath. It was only in 1812 that the Inquisition was abolished. It was then that all religious cults were allowed to enjoy equal toleration. In a report sent to Rome in 1613, Fr. Robert de Nobili, an Italian Jesuit (who had the same vision and spirit of Matteo Ricci), wrote that the Portuguese not only endeavored to Christianize the people of India, but that they also tried to Latinize them. The colonizing Portuguese wanted all people of their colonies to wear the same dress as theirs; to eat the same food as the Portuguese even though, for example, the people of India did not eat meat (a cultural practice abhorrent to the Indians of those days). Robert de Nobili realized that the ¡§Portuguese way of Evangelizing¡¨, could help the Church make greater progress in the Portuguese trade centers and inside many of the Portuguese enclaves This approach made the Church appear to be an organization of the privileged and the powerful. Practically no contact was made or attempted to be made with the more respectable classes of the Hindus, especially outside Portuguese territories. Robert de Nobili (like Matteo Ricci in China) saw that, in order to start a dialogue with the Hindu Brahmins, he had to adopt their mode of life and so had to cut himself off completely from his fellow missionaries. He worked in Madura. He acquired a complete mastery of Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit. He translated into Sanskrit or composed therein many prayers and several longer works, especially an abridgment of Christian Doctrine and a life of Our Lady---all in Sanskrit verse.|
|He pointed out to his superiors that the "religious" faith should not be confused with "civil" customs. To be Christian does not imply one must eat beef, or drink wine, or to wear sandals made of leather. All of these matters would alienate all castes of India! De Nobili decided to live separately. He adopted the saffron dress and wooden clogs; abstained from meat, fish, eggs and wine; ate only vegetarian food; marked his brow with sandal paste and wore the sacred thread across the breast as the priestly Brahmin caste did. The Jesuit priest allowed his converts to retain their cultural mode of living and practicing their ceremonial ablutions. >From the very beginning, de Nobili's work met with stiff opposition, both from the Hindus and, even more so, from his fellow missionaries, and many of the ecclesiastical authorities. Nevertheless, di Nobili had the important approval and support of his own religious superiors (the Jesuit Society in Rome) and of his bishop. Eventually, Pope Gregory XV gave his approval to the movement, and so it flourished, and brought to the Christian Faith thousands of high caste as well as low caste Hindus. But the Church in India was not prepared fully to accept such dramatic changes. Most of the missionaries---a few enlightened Jesuits and one or two others were exceptions---were short-sighted and narrow-minded concerning the innovations to the liturgy and rites, and so the movement was doomed to fail. In the 18th century, the opposition hardened. Pressure was brought to bear on the Holy See and its representative to suppress the movement. Step-by-step, Rome succumbed to the opposing pressures, and from time to time the Popes or their representatives decreed against the various practices de Nobili had introduced. The death blow to the de Nobili ¡§openness¡¨ was administered by Pope Benedict XIV in 1744. This Pope abolished all innovations and practices as non-compatible to Church practices.|
Jan 27, 2003
Let us ask
a straightforward fundamental question about Asia:
comparison with the economic development of Europe may shed significant
light on the subject, because Asia, in many respects, is now walking in
the same footsteps that Europe took before becoming a "European Union."
Before the E.U. was officially formed, for example, Europe's industrial production was due in large measure to very few economies (Germany, France and England), and gross domestic product per capita varied widely across the continent.
European leaders understood the necessity of creating a "European Common Market", where know-how, production and wealth should be more evenly distributed, thus bettering the gross domestic product per person across the continent.
a glance at Asia: today reveals that only three economies in Asia---China,
Japan and India---impact the greater share of Asian imports / exports and
the gross domestic product. Together, they account for nearly three-quarters
of Asia's GDP.
And, although the Asian GDP, as a whole, is larger than that of the European market or the United States, at a closer examination, it reveals a high degree of inequality regarding the distribution of wealth. This is evident when comparison is made with the gross domestic product per capita to Europe.
In 2001, the United Kingdom and France had a GDP per capita of $22,800 and $24,400, respectively. (In the United States, the GDP per capita is $36,200). Compare these figures with some Asian economies: In Japan it is $24,900, but in Vietnam only $1,950. In China the figure is $3,600.
This means that in economies with a lower GDP per capita, fewer consumers are able to purchase what they produce. As a result, overall growth in Asia will be constrained in the long run by the inability of these economies to create a growing group of consumers---both within their own national borders, and also within the Asian region as a whole.
Since the formation of the European Union, the nations of Europe have benefited by providing a more even distribution of wealth and by cultivating greater consumer demand at home. The EU has invested in and provided much better access to education. It attempting to cultivate a business culture that initiates innovation, promotes risk taking and free thinking.
The results of these efforts are: better economic cooperation, the narrowing of income gaps, and the stabilization of politics, corporate governance and civil law.
Asia have what it takes to become an "Asian Union"?
The answer is "Yes", definitely---but significant hurdles must be overcome.
|Asia today has a strong regional economy. It has considerable resources, that can be used to help distribute wealth more evenly, to create markets of demand, and to create communities that attract and retain the necessary talent to gain competitive advantage in the global marketplace.|
|Cooperation among Asian nations is increasing at all levels: economic, defense, tourism, culture, and also in politics.|
|There are a number of Asian nations now eager to create an "Asian Common Market". China is leading this path.|
|But in too many Asian nations, access to critically-needed education-in particular higher education-is limited to relatively few people. In Indonesia and China, for example, less than 10% of the population has access to post-secondary education. By way of contrast, 39% have this access in Singapore; 30% in Japan; and almost 25% in South Korea. The figures become even more disturbing: in Thailand, 69% of the population has only an elementary-level education or less. In Indonesia, Vietnam and China. that number is around 50%.|
|Many of the hurdles encountered on the way to achieving the goal of a "United Asia", are cultural in nature, and therefore require a transition that is far more complicated than simply solving problems through the infusion of money. What is more crucial is the necessity that more and more Asian people and Asian leaders must believe in the ideal of a "United Asia", and have in their hearts this vision: to have the strong political will and patience to achieve that unity, and to persevere and be ready to pay the price for it!|
|The rediscovery of a common Asian culture and "soul" will always be the essential spiritual foundation of any "Community of Asian Nations". In the great diversity of Asian nations, their languages, cultures and religions, Asia, as such, will discover its inner unity. This unity in diversity will serve as a guarantee for peace and stability in the region and in the world.|
|All Asian religions must seriously consider this new-emerging "United Asia" as the main challenge in their roles as stabilizing spiritual entities.|
|All Christians in Asia (Catholic, all other Christian Denominations, the Orthodox, etc.) should join forces and consider the impact of their Evangelization efforts from the viewpoint of a "New Asia".|
|1.||Young-old Asian Population.|
is the youngest continent on earth, and is becoming younger and younger.
The average Asian¡¦s age is 17 years old. This is due in part to the relatively high birthrate in some regions, and early mortality rate. In Cambodia, life expectancy is below 50 years of age, and in India it is around 60 years. China is the ¡§youngest country¡¨ in Asia.
However, at the same time, especially in the most industrialized countries, one can see severe demographic imbalances. Japan is a good example. In Japan, life expectancy is 84 years of age, and the birth rate is quite low. The result is that Japan is the ¡§oldest country¡¨ not only in Asia, but in the whole world.
Longer life expectancy and an aging population will increasingly burden the various social-welfare systems as these are currently structured. Fewer and fewer young working people will have to provide for a larger and larger number of retirees. An over-aged society may suddenly lack highly-qualified young workers, especially in the dynamic information and communication sectors, which are marked by technological innovations and rapid changes in know-how. This demographic phenomenon has acted as an obvious brake to economic development in Western countries---Germany is a case in mind. Now Asia begins facing the same problem!
|2.||Traditional Respect for Nature vs. Savage Development.|
people have an inborn sense of the ¡§Divine¡¨ existing in Nature. Harmony
must be kept among all living creatures. In Japan, the temples of Kyoto
are scattered all over the hills. The temples are built of wood and look
more like trees in the forest rather than configurations of buildings. Nature
is not invaded and harmony is kept. But, leave that oasis and walk down
the hill: highways cut through beautiful scenery, traffic jams are many,
pollution is everywhere! This is the price of progress!
Many Asian nations are too willing to sacrifice their natural treasures (forests, rivers, land) in exchange for ¡§progress¡¨!
One side-effect of this ¡§progress at any price mentality¡¨ is the neglect of rural areas and the rising of mega-cities, where people are crammed together in hope of a better life.
|3.||Ancient Cultures and High-tech vs. Widespread Illiteracy.|
can rightly boast of having very ancient cultures and religions.
Buddhism and Confucianism have spread all over South East Asia and have laid down the foundation for an ¡§Asian culture¡¨. Asian people are very eager to learn, and consider higher education as the most important goal in life ( Japan and Korea have, in percentage, the highest number of Phds (people with doctorate degrees) in the world!).
Objectively considered, Asia today is the world¡¦s greatest reservoir of people with knowledge, energy, and the willingness to work and improve themselves and their own countries.
But at the same time illiteracy is a very common phenomenon in Asia.
Take India as an example. India enjoys a relatively high level of education in some areas. This explains the high number of excellent Indian engineers employed in Silicon Valley. Illiteracy in India is estimated to be at 58%!
In China, over 120 million Chinese now use mobile phones and this figure is expected to double by 2005. In Shanghai, 90% of all apartments are linked to fiber-optic networks, far more than in most industrial countries. And Internet use is rapidly expanding. In the year 2000, four million Internet hook-ups were registered and by 2005, this figure is expected to jump to 85 million.
But China has 27% of its population classified as illiterate!
The United Nations, in a report on the Asian situation, states:
¡§ In many parts of Asia, the human achievements accomplished in the 21th century have made no mark. The rural poor continue to carry the burden of contaminated water, hunger, and malnutrition. They stand by helplessly as their babies die. For those who survive the first year, the average life-span may be barely more than half that enjoyed in richer countries or in the richer sections of their own countries.¡¨
Related to this topic of Culture vs. Illiteracy, there exists also the problem of lack of a common language, not only for the whole of Asia, but often in the same country.
Besides Hindi and English, India has another 17 official languages!
|4.||Religious Tolerance vs. Ethnic Conflicts.|
the one hand, it is an undeniable fact that ¡§tolerance¡¨ is an Asian virtue,
and that Asian religions and ethical teachings promote tolerance. Asians
have been traditionally suspicious of Europeans, who are said to ¡§behave
as violent people¡¨.
But in India, the land of ¡§non-violence¡¨, soon after independence in 1947, Hindus and Muslims began a fierce civil war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, uncountable homeless people, extensive destruction, and millions of refugees on the move.. The result was the splitting of India and the beginning of a new Muslim country, Pakistan.
In 1971, in the same Pakistan nation, another civil war raged between the Bengali Muslims and the Pakistani Muslims. Again, there were: thousands of deaths and another flood of refugees. The people of Bengal then formed a new Muslim nation, Bangladesh.
In Indonesia, ethnic conflicts between Muslims and Christians have caused chaos in the nation. In the Philippines, Muslim and Catholics have been fighting each other for decades.
|5.||Integration vs. Regionalism|
entry of China and Taiwan into the WTO was a milestone along the way of
integration for Asia into the world community, and the establishment of the AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area on January 1, 2002---six years ahead of schedule) was a sign of inter-regional integration¡¦s growth.
Asian leaders understand very well that their economic growth requires both integration with the global market and at the same time integration with other nations in the region.
Trade existing between Asian nations, Asian tourists visiting other Asian countries, an exchange of capital, better information exchange and labor cooperation between neighboring countries, and the abolishing of many barriers between countries---all these developments are important confidence-inspiring indications of the growing uniformity of general economic conditions in Asia and thereby increasing stability for the region as a whole.
ASEAN+3, which includes South Korea, China and Japan, is perfectly in line with this general development of Asia.
Asian nations have realized quickly (especially after the ¡¦97 financial crisis), that their successes will be judged domestically, but the principal forces of that success are in the regional and in the international realms.
However, on occasion, and often suddenly, old regional rivalries resurface and threaten the stability of the region, thereby putting its economic development in jeopardy. It is evident, then, .how fragile that development can be!
|6.||Asia needs a "new culture", which has deep roots in the past, is growing in today's soil, and bears fruits for the future generations.|
|The participation of all Asian religions, in the field of healing old wounds, in fostering communion among people, in expanding education, and in selecting as critical priority the care for the poor and the needy, will be an essential duty and a mission! All Asian religions should create an atmosphere and a culture of mutual trust, respect, and cooperation, and become a model-sign of hope for a New Asia.|
Jan 12, 2003
Since childhood , we have been taught that mankind is one big family, and
that the sufferings and joys of one nation should be shared by all. Think
of the solidarity shown in the cases of natural disasters occurring in some
remote areas on our planet. The wisdom of our ancestors has transmitted
to us a vision that: ¡§Under heaven there is only one Home.¡¨
Today¡¦s media can make us almost instantly present to events that are geographically very distant from us. At times, news of events are shown to the global audience even more quickly than to the local people. Never before has mankind become so conscious of being a global village where everyone knows everything about everyone!
is a very practical and concrete concept that directly affects peoples¡¦
lives. From an economic point of view, our interdependence is self-evident.
Today¡¦s economy is global. Economic upheavals in one region are immediately
felt all over the world. A labor strike in one country will affect the economy
of many other countries.
No country today, no matter how politically, economically or militarily powerful, is safe from the dangers of poverty and social discontent brewing halfway around the world. Local matters can explode onto the global scene overnight. In this sense, nothing is truly local anymore. No person can say, ¡§I mind my own business. I have no time to take care of other people.¡¨ The nature of social responsibility has drastically changed in our era, when the degree of global interconnectedness is constantly rising. Take the example of a corporation that does business in a certain global region. Besides ¡§its own business¡¨, the corporation must also consider the concerns of local people, because, if these local issues are left unresolved, they will start waves of local discontent, that can quickly result in global consequences.
We have become a tightly knit global society; the key word for our global era is ¡§interdependence.¡¨ Our religious beliefs and moral principles must be lived in today¡¦s world
your neighbor as yourself¡¨ is the main commandment given by Jesus to his
followers. Often in the past, these words were understood to mean: ¡§doing
charity¡¨ to the needy close to oneself, or helping people whom I knew, whenever
I could or wanted, without any social responsibilities.
In today¡¦s global society, ¡§my neighbor¡¨ may be the person or persons whom I do not know, and who may live geographically far from me, but who are connected with me and with whom I, too, am interdependent. Helping my neighbor is no longer seen as a mere religious good deed, but rather as part of my social responsibility and perhaps the only means for global survival.
we say (and very often we do), that in today¡¦s society knowledge and experience
are the keys to success, we must never forget that ¡§knowledge¡¨ in our era,
where everything is interconnected, cannot be taken in the narrow sense
of technological know-how for a better job performance.
It would be futile to have very knowledgeable technocrats, who lack an understanding of the modern world and of their social responsibilities in it. A moral vision of the world and an acquisition of virtues must be part of the spirituality of every technocrat.
In this respect, religion can make its unique and necessary contribution.
Limiting our scope of discussion to South-East Asia (which is the direct topic of our conversations), we can say that the four traditional Asian world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam), plus Confucianism, have molded an Asian culture, which has become the common spiritual substratum of all Asian nations. This spiritual habitat, so to speak, is the ideal soil where Asian virtues grow. The traditional hard-working, future-oriented, pragmatic, family-oriented, knowledge-seeking, etc. ¡§Asian way¡¨, thrives on that Asian spiritual soil. Let that soil erode, and Asia will become a duplicate copy of any other industrialized region.
mutual interdependence enables us to see clearly that we are all together
on this earth---either to live together or to perish together!
Our interdependence is not based primarily on values stressed in worldly matters (political, economic, military), but on what is spiritual. Without a strong spiritual foundation, any economic development becomes uncontrollable, and can easily spiral into greed, egoism, divisiveness, and in the end: self-destruction!
The Spirit of Evangelization is the sharing of spiritual wealth to all peoples of the world in order to become the guarantee of a healthy and holistic sustainable development.
Jan 5, 2003
Asia New Evangelization Part I was written before the 1997 Asian financial
crisis and the world economic slowdown that followed. Those were the "golden
days" of the Asian miracle. The Asian tiger nations were leading a
booming economy, and Asia was on its way to affirm its importance on the
Those were the days when many economists were enthusiastically proclaiming that the 21st century would be an Asian century!
Then suddenly, after the shock of the financial crisis, the fierce attacks on the
globalization concept, and the September 11 tragedy, these same enthusiasts seem to cast doubts on the "Asian way".
It is an undeniable
fact that in the last 6 or 7 years, Asia has undergone a new change. While
the tiger nations are slowly struggling to regain their leading positions,
other Asian nations are spending most of their resources to cope with
social unrest and political instability. At the same time, many Asian
leaders are becoming more and more aware of the inherent contradictions
of the Asian situation: the uneven spread of knowledge and wealth (only
some nations, or only some parts of the same nation, share in equality
the benefits of the economic renewal). Economic developments, without
a concomitant spiritual, cultural, and moral basis, may create rather
than solve problems; the positive and negative effects of the globalization
of the market and other cultural and moral issues, such as democracy,
freedom, environment, sustainable progress, etc., all of these issues
require analysis, collective wisdom and collective action.
Evangelization --Part II aims at continuing the conversation on today's
from a religious point of view: How can Asian religions in general (and in particular for us Christians, how can Christianity) make contributions for a healthy and integral development of Asia?
First let us recall some important facts about Asia.
has been said often that "The Mediterranean is the ocean of the past;
the Atlantic is the ocean of the present; and the Pacific is the ocean of
This cliche has some truth in it. In the past, Europe has been the predominant continent. During the colonial period, European countries expanded their cultures and influence over most of the world. Today, the United States of America is considered the leading economic and military power of the world. Asia has been for centuries a dormant continent. However, today all of Asia's hidden potentials are bursting forth at a breath-taking pace.
|There are about 3.7 billion people (or more than 60%of the world's population) who currently live in Asia. They are mainly young people. In 2010, Asia will account for two-thirds of the people in the world below the age of 35. China has the youngest population in all of Asia. These people have a great determination to learn, to remain open to innovation and technology, and to work hard in order to improve their standard of living.|
peoples of Asia are more prepared, than anywhere else in the world, to embrace
the most advanced technologies, especially in the areas of information and
In China, for example, over 120 million Chinese use mobile phones and this figure is expected to double by 2005. In Shanghai 90% of all apartments are linked to fiber-optic networks, far more than in most industrial countries, and Internet use is rapidly expanding. The "Transrapid¡L (the so-called "Levitation trains") are further indications of the extent to which the people of China have embraced modern technology in innovative transportation systems.
|We can say that all over Asia, high-tech is demanded by consumers and pushed by industries. It is also clear that Asia is not only importing high-tech from more advanced countries, but also that Asia is becoming a center of producers of high-tech products for the world market.|
Taking China as an example of the "New Asia" today, the country
has become the seventh-largest economy and the eighth-largest trading nation
in the world.
According to the World Bank, the Chinese economy will account for 25% of the total world economy by the year 2025---ahead of America (20%) and India (13%).
|Asia's future has already begun. When we think of the future of a new world order, our thoughts inevitably turn to Asia. If Asia succeeds in becoming a peaceful, well integrated, unified community of nations, the world has solid hope for world peace. If Asia can overcome its contradictions of extraordinary cultural and religious traditions on one hand, and illiteracy on the other, extend more broadly the pockets of wealth and knowledge existing in the midst of dire poverty, and apply more rigorously high moral standards and virtues in the midst of widespread corruption, disregard of legality, then Asia's integration with the world community will be truly beneficial to all!|
important result of the formation of a "New Asia" could be: the
financial crisis of 1997, the resulting world economy slowdown, the tragic
events of September 11, the new way of looking at "globalization",
these events have made us more keenly aware of how deeply interrelated all
of the world's population is, and how interrelated our economies are. Our
global consciousness makes us see that what happens in New York, Beijing,
or Argentina affects the whole world. We are forced to stay together; to
live together; or we will all perish together!
This consciousness of interdependence will spur all Asian nations to accelerate the pace of integration, and will help these countries to find in their common cultural and moral heritages the basis for sustainable development that benefits all!
In this process, the active participation and contribution of all Asian religions will be an essential and a fundamental one. Without an impact from religions, the whole process would be put in jeopardy.