Wednesday, August 6, 2014
6th Asian Youth Day ( AYD)
Shortly, we will have the Asian Youth Gathering in Korea and the presence of Pope Francis. “Asian Youth, Wake up! The Glory of the martyrs shines on you.” This is the theme for the the week that begins on the 10th of August and concludes on the 17th. The young people will be staying with Korean families during the the first 3 days: experiencing Korean culture and sharing the faith with Korean families. The program proper will begin in the Daejeon Diocese on Wednesday.
The Catholic Times has devoted a number of articles to the meeting in the recent issue. In 1995 speaking to the Asian bishops Pope John Paul II said: “Just as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted in the soil of Europe, and in the second in the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium, great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent of Asia.”
One of the articles shows that this understanding of Asia has some objective facts to support it. In the Vatican Statistical Yearbook for 2012: from 2005 to 2012, in the Americas we had a 5.3 percent increase and in Europe a 1.3 percent increase but in Africa a 20.4 percent increase and in Asia a 11.4 percent increase in the number of Catholics. In the number of priests, religious male and female, and seminarians we see more growth than the West.
In Asia over two thirds of the population is under 25 years of age. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Church in Asia # 6: "Asia is the earth's largest continent and is home to nearly two-thirds of the world's population, with China and India accounting for almost half the total population of the globe. The most striking feature of the continent is the variety of its peoples who are 'heirs to ancient cultures, religions and traditions'. We cannot but be amazed at the sheer size of Asia's population and at the intricate mosaic of its many cultures, languages, beliefs and traditions, which comprise such a substantial part of the history and patrimony of the human family."
Asia has problems with poverty, illiteracy, oppression, and with the many different religions and cultures there is much anguish. Some countries compare well in material development with the West while others are developing or live in poverty. Felix Wilfred a priest from India is quoted as saying the emphasis we are putting on material advancement is making us insensitive to the plight of the poor, the need to understand, and our duty to help.
The different youth gatherings, both in the world and by continent show the thirst the young have for spirituality. This opportunity in Korea where the young of the Asian countries will meet, eat, sleep, and share their lives and faith experiences is an effort to become closer to Jesus and to witness to him.
Words from the Apostolic Exhortation On the Church in Asia, concludes the article: "The Christian formation of young people in Asia should recognize that they are not only the object of the Church's pastoral care but also "agents and co-workers in the Church's mission in her various apostolic works of love and service."