VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Gospel must be presented in Asia in ways that resonate with “the Asian soul” so that it will not be perceived as a foreign import or confused with secular ideals from the West, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“By speaking the truth with love, you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism,” he said in a June 6 audience with Catholic bishops from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
The bishops were on their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican, a series of consultative meetings made about every five years.
The Pope said Asia represented fertile ground for evangelisation since “the peoples of Asia display an intense yearning for God”.
“If the faith is to flourish, however, it needs to strike deep roots in Asian soil, lest it be perceived as a foreign import, alien to the culture and traditions of your people,” he said.
The Pope gave St Paul the Apostle as an example of an “outstanding teacher and courageous witness to the truth of the Gospel” in missionary lands.
Like St Paul, the bishops “are called to present the Christian faith in ways that resonate with the ‘innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul’ so that people will welcome it and make it their own,” he said, quoting Pope John Paul II’s 1999 document “Ecclesia in Asia” (“Church in Asia”).
The Pope also encouraged them to continue their commitment to inter-religious dialogue and proclaim the “unfathomable riches of Christ”.
By engaging in open and honest dialogue with Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus – who make up the majority in their countries – the bishops can get the Gospel message across to more people and “help to promote a unified vision of the common good”, he said.
The Pope said he believed that would help promote freedom of religion and social harmony among different ethnic groups, which in turn would foster peace and the common good.