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The Church in Asia “amid this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations”

ICC Note

“The primary victims of persecutions are minorities, among them Christian minorities who are often forced to abandon their countries of origin, suffering violence also at the hands of fundamentalist groups…”

December 7, 2007 Vatican City (AsiaNews) – An image of Catholicism in Asia is emerging from the 11th Special Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, that of a Church living “amid this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations,” confronted with situations in which religious freedom is lacking, persecuted at times, but also one in which both faith and vocations are growing, this according to a news release from the Vatican today.

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“The primary victims of persecutions are minorities, among them Christian minorities who are often forced to abandon their countries of origin, suffering violence also at the hands of fundamentalist groups. The lack of religious liberty takes various forms: limits to communication among bishops and between them and the Holy Father, Bishop of Rome, the impossibility of creating Episcopal conferences, difficulties in obtaining visas for pastoral card workers, limits on the building of places of workshop, and impediments to [religious] presence in public life.”

In a sense the meeting reiterates the conclusions reached by the Asia Mission Congress held in October 2006 which found that, out of 52 Asian countries, at least 32 of them limit one way or another Christians’ mission. Muslim countries (from the Mideast to Pakistan , Indonesia , and Malaysia ) almost always set up obstacles for those who want to convert and prevent or limit church construction. India and Sri Lanka are increasingly opting for anti-conversion laws. In Central Asia, except for Kazakhstan , religious freedom is limited. In Communist states ( China , Laos , Vietnam , North Korea ) the authorities are making it hard to set up bishops’ conference or simply ban them. They also stop local Catholics from having relations with the Pope, or go as far as persecuting the Church. Israel makes entry visas hard to obtain.

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