This past month was a busy time for discussions on evangelization. Both Catholic papers devoted space to the meetings on this issue. The Missionary Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life (MISAL) met in Korea to discuss common issues. They meet every two years, and this year the Korean Foreign Mission Society were the sponsors. This is the second time the meeting was held in Asia. In the past it was only the MISAL societies of Europe and the States that would meet, but since 1998 it has included all the societies in the Catholic world. Every other year, the missionary societies of the three continents of Europe, America and Asia meet to exchange information on mission.
Another meeting was under the sponsorship of the Federation of the Asian Bishops Conference. It was a workshop of the Institute of Theological Animation (BITA IV), held in Thailand. The topic was, "Youth in Asia: Challenges of Fundamentalism and Relativism."
The Peace Weekly and Catholic Times both commented on the workshop, stressing that fundamentalism is not only a problem in Islam but also within Christianity. Atheists are also pushing scientific fundamentalism, which has reached a level that can't be ignored. Both of these position need to have a pastoral response.
This type of workshop is conducted every 5 years in Asia, with a special topic selected and researched for the meeting. This year 30 bishops from 8 countries and 50 theologians attended.
Fr. Park, a theologian from Korea, spelled out in his talk the negative effect scientific fundamentalism and relativism is having on youth. He said, "My happiness, my fulfillment is what the young are searching for; the absolutes of religion no longer interest the young. To follow the teaching of Catholicism and endure uncomfortableness and sacrifice is no longer of concern. The conflict that scientific fundamentalism is having with religion is causing the young to have an aversion to religion."
Religious fundamentalism with it it confrontational, narrow and cliquish understanding of what truth is and the fundamentalism of the scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking are very similar. This attack on religious fundamentalism has great attraction, says Fr. Park, for the young.
He emphasized that the "Apologetics of the past no longer serves its purpose; the Church is going to have to be a living example of authenticity. "The solution will require, he said, the faith of the martyrs and convincing arguments showing that theology and science need not be incompatible but can be companions in the search for truth.