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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Tagle to Asian Church: ‘Evangelize through personal encounters’

From the Website of CBCP

Tagle to Asian Church: ‘Evangelize through personal encounters’

WASHINGTON D.C., March 6, 2015—The Holy Mother Church can effectively carry out its mission of evangelizing the Good News in the modern world through personal encounters with the faithful and by being in solidarity with the poor and the suffering, a high-ranking church official said.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (Photo: CBCPNews)
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Monday stressed the importance of human interaction in battling social evils hounding the modern world, noting that it is through “penetrating cultures, and entering the heart and the mind of the human person” that evangelization may genuinely be achieved.
“It is part of the mission of the Church in Asia to show the richness of the Gospel in its universally valid truths, values, open to all human beings. But this should happen in human interactions, for in Asia, part of the culture is the person,” Tagle said as he delivered the Cardinal Dearden Lecture at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“It is evangelization, that big word, happening through dialogue, but dialogue happens through human interaction, making the other person feel that he or she matters, that he or she in his or her culture matters,” he added.

Asian context

The cardinal noted that evangelization through personal human encounters is a great challenge faced in Asia where ancient religions prevail, with Christianity only comprising a “tiny minority” of its population.

“We have to admit, even up to now, in some parts of Asia, Christianity is perceived as alien to Asian cultures,” Tagle said, noting that even if Asia as the largest continent holds two-thirds of the world’s population, only 3% of its populace comprises Christians, with the half majority coming from the Philippines.
With Asia suffering from various societal evils such as poverty, migration, sex tourism, and human trafficking, among many others, there is a greater need for close human encounters to engage with people and become agents of reconciliation.

The lecture was held in time for the 50th promulgation anniversary of Gaudium et Spes (Latin: “Joy and Hope”), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World released by Vatican II in December 1965.

The document lays out the church’s relationship to a rapidly changing society and engagement to the modern world.

Years after its promulgation, Asian bishops began to meet regularly, and despite their small number, they remained true to their mission of evangelization by “listening to the faithful and by respecting the long-held values of ancient Asian cultures,” the prelate said.

Pope’s culture of encounter

Tagle noted that the Church’s mission of evangelization through close human encounters can be attained, as manifested by Pope Francis during his visit to Sri Lanka and Philippines last January.

“I saw at close range some of the directives of Gaudium et Spes being lived out in evangelization by Pope Francis,” Tagle said, specifically noting the Supreme Pontiff’s acts of blessing disabled people, visiting street children living in an orphanage, and listening to the stories of typhoon Haiyan victims who lost their loved ones.

The Filipino cardinal added that Pope Francis “pays attention to reality” as exemplified by his “attentiveness to human beings.”

Tagle, who noted that he heard groans from the Holy Father as he listened to the stories of the faithful, said the Pope was “actively sharing in their suffering and expressing solidarity with them.”

“He was not just a teacher. He was a listener,” Tagle said of the Pope, adding that it is only through actual encounters with people that one may achieve solidarity with those who are poor and suffering.

“And he was learning through the faith of these people who suffer. We cannot pretend that we have all the answers. The poor and suffering, they have a wisdom unique to them. Every human person can be a teacher to all of us,” he added.

Conditions of trust

Tagle urged the faithful to “create conditions of trust, fraternity, and sorority” so they may fight the poverty of loneliness brought by “excessive protection of privacy” and “lack of trust” among people.

“We are called to be in solidarity with the suffering and the poor. An evangelizing moment comes when you encounter people, real people,” Tagle added. “Evangelization can never neglect concrete men and women.”
The lecture, which was sponsored by the Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies, is held annually in honor of Cardinal John F. Dearden, archbishop of Detroit, for his role in spreading the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Tagle received his licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology in 1987 and 1991 respectively, both from the Catholic University. He also received an honorary doctoral degree in theology from the same institution in May 2014. (Jennifer M. Orillaza/CBCP News)

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