Pope Francis

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The religions of the vast continent face the challenges of globalization

2013-04-19 L’Osservatore Romano

"The globalization of the world and the rapid processes of social, economic and cultural transformation put fundamental questions to the historical beliefs that have developed in Asia. The basic question can be expressed in these words: how can we pass on our patrimony of beliefs, values, and expressions of worship in today's specific contexts, in which age-old traditions coexist de facto with new cultural forms, determined by the dissemination of technology at all levels, by spreading urbanization, by the imbalance in the processes of economic development in various nations, and by the economic and political interconnection between States and socio-cultural blocs? In the past the way led most frequently from the West to the East; today I would say a new trend is crystallizing. It moves from East to West, and this is not only because of migratory flows, tourism or business. Societies have opened up and many barriers have been surmounted, whether or not political and religious corporate elites like it. Actually, I must say that the Great Wall of China was never really effective as a means of political and military defence but was certainly far more so in terms of symbolism and identity. Cultural tradition is of course the mother of all knowledge and often of identity, but today it is harshly tried by contemporaneity. What synthesis will result from it? It should be said that this synthesis is acquiring a form, even if we do not always succeed in perceiving it outright. Therefore, what society will we have? How will religions be able to respond? There is no doubt that from now on we will not only be listening to Asia, which implies the attitude to Asia of the non-Asian (one way), but to an Asia that hears and will make itself heard (two way), and will also tell us what paths lead to faith."