The Pontifical Council for Culture organized a study day on the continent and its problems. Prof. Thomas Hong-Soon Han poses the question: "Happiness is the cause or effect of development?". Lack of religious freedom is "another form of poverty."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - On March 10, in Rome a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture with Asian ambassadors accredited to the Holy See took place. Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, who heads the dicastery’s office for Asia, Africa and Oceania, told AsiaNews: "The intent of organizing such a meeting was to reach out to every Asian culture through the representatives of the different countries, to promote and strengthen already existing ties with governments so the Christian faith would have its impact on the Asian cultures".

The idea was first born in 2009 from a small Christmas gathering, and hasdeveloped into a study day with a discussion of various topics. Fr. Mascarenhas has moderated the event, which was attended by Msgr. Savio Hon Tai Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Msgr. Paul Tighe of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Msgr. Paul Phan Hien, of Justice and Peace, and Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo of Cor Unum.

The keynote address was given by Prof. Thomas Hong-Soon Han, South Korea's new ambassador to the Holy See. Han, a former professor of economics, posed the question: "Happiness is the cause or effect of development?". He spoke of the widening gap between the developed and developing countries. The richest 20% of the world’s population consumes over 76% of the worlds resources, while the poorest 20% just 1%. The Korean ambassador highlighted respect for life as a key aspect of global development, particularly in Asia, where 86% of the 46 million abortions are performed each year worldwide, take place. And another central aspect of this development is religious freedom: "The vast majority of people in Asia do not have the right to religious freedom," which is, according to Han, "another form of poverty."

Fr. Mascarenhas told AsiaNews that "the fundamental task is to establish intercultural awareness, which is a dialogue between cultures, avoiding extremism and indiscriminate mixing of religions. means, each culture lives in its own world often in isolation, often in conflict. In short a ghettoisation or a clash of cultures. Interculturality on the other hand means an integration of peoples".