.- Receiving members of the post-synodal council of the Special Assembly for Asia, held in April and May, 1998, Pope John Paul II said that "to announce the Gospel in depth in Asia, it is necessary for all believers to penetrate every aspect of life with their faithâ¦especially where they suffer and are not free to profess their faith, waiting patiently for the day there will be full religious freedom." He said that until the advent of religious freedom âthe 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.â
The Pope said that "in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural situation of Asia, where Christianity is still too often seen as foreign," the Apostolic exhortation, âEcclesia in Asia,â has yielded fruiful dialogue.
He said that the high number of young people from Asia is "reason for optimism because the new generations, filled with promise, are available to dedicate themselves totally to a cause, and a challenge because unfulfilled dreams can only generate disillusionment."
"In addition," stated John Paul II, "the Church intends to contribute to the cause for peace in Asia, where various conflicts and terrorism cause the loss of many human lives. During the Synod, the Synod Fathers looked with apprehension at the Holy Land, 'the heart of Christianity'" where "the hot spots of war have only grown larger and it is therefore urgent to build peace."
He noted that the synod for Asia emphasized that dialogue "is a characteristic mode of the Church's life in Asia," and indicated that this extends to dialogue within the Church, with other Christian communities and with "the cultural and religious values of different peoples."
"Do not be discouraged," he exhorted, "because the flock in Asia is small. The efficacy of evangelization does not depend on numbers. ... 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."