Manila (Agenzia Fides) – The Covid-19 pandemic and the prolonged lockdown imposed in many countries have added difficulties and suffering to the populations in many States of Asia. With the health crisis affecting large sectors of the populations, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, missionaries, religious priests and Catholic laity, in many nations, are doing their best to help individuals and communities, with a great commitment to solidarity. Members of the Catholic Church in Asian countries continue to help those in need because charity is born of faith and is the first means of evangelization.
The opportunities and challenges of the missionary work of the Catholic Church in Asia, the largest and most populous continent in the world with 4.46 billion people (2016), are always new. In Asia - the continent where all major religions originated, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism - there are about 350 million Christians and it is estimated that by 2025 the number could increase to 460 million. However, the faithful remain a minority in most of the 48 countries (and are a majority in countries such as the Philippines, East Timor, Russia). The Catholic Church in Asia is called to live the faith in Jesus Christ and to proclaim the Gospel, therefore to carry out its evangelizing mission, in a continental context characterized by: a minority community from a numerical point of view; in a broad pluralism of religions, cultures and traditions. In this context, the factor of the pandemic has been added which has brought economies and society to their knees and which has challenged the mission of the Catholic communities. (...) - continues