SAMPHRAN (24th October 2006)

By Crescenzio Cardinal SEPE
Archbishop of Napples
Special Envoy of the Holy Father at the Asian Mission Congress


Your Eminence Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu;
Father Vorayuth Kitbamrung, Secretary of the Catholic Commission for the Clergy;
Dear Fathers.

As Special Envoy of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI at the just concluded Asian Mission Congress, I have the pleasure to bring to you his paternal greetings and blessing. My visit to you today was not on my official programme but when the Nuncio told me of your august gathering, which is an annual event, I deemed it necessary to find a space to come and greet you.

Your Eminence, dear Fathers, after some few days in your country, coupled with the experience I had when I came here two years ago, I can say that I have understood some qualities of this great nation. In fact, I easily felt at home with your people, and the more I visited different parts of your country, the more I realized how deep your affection and hospitality are.

At the end of the aforementioned Asian Mission Congress, I am charging you, dear brothers, in the name of the Holy Father, to continue with an invigorated impetus the mission entrusted to you, as pastors of the people of God, because the mission which Christ entrusted to his Church is still very far from being over. He wants us to continue to consolidate our faith and to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Mt 28:19).

During the Mission Congress, your country played the vital role of the centre of mission in Asia, assembling about a thousand delegates from different parts of this great continent. In the name of the Holy Father, I congratulate you on the successful organization of the historic event.

We pray and hope that through the fruits of the Congress on Telling the Story of Jesus in Asia, the Church in your country and the rest of Asia will discover.

- how to give good witness

- how to represent the Asian Face of Jesus,

- how to make Him known in an Asian way,

- and how to be open to the surprising ways Jesus may be manifested in Asia (Objectives of the Asian Mission Congress; cf. Proposal: A M C, Appendix 1).

Furthermore, we pray that the Congress will be a stimulus to, proclaim Christ by living like him in the midst of the neighbours of other faiths and persuasions, and to do his deeds by the power of his grace. Although the Catholic Church in your country, as in many parts of Asia, is but a little flock, far from withdrawing into a ghetto, you especially you priests, are challenged to be leaven and salt in the society; indeed, as Lumen Gentium puts it, “what the soul is to body, let Christians be to the world” (n. 38). John Paul II emphasized in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia that this type of Geniune Christian witness is needed especially now because people today put more trust in witness than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories (cf. nn. 42-44). In this way you will continue to put out into deep water (duc in altum) and pay out the nets for a catch, in order to get men out of danger and bring them to life (cf. Lk 5:1-11; John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millenio Inuente, 6 January 2001, esp. nn. 1, 58&59). Although it is a demanding mission, the Church in Asia cannot stop to tell the story of Jesus among its people.

Through the incentives of the Mission Congress, I wish and pray that you and your faithful will always feel called and sent to carry out this mission of Christ ad gentes, everyone in accordance with his specific functions and charismas.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests and Woman of the Eucharist, through her intercession, help and accompany you in your ministry.