Asian churches should be clear about their own Christian identity and have empathy in order to truly communicate with individuals and cultures in other Asian countries out of the reach of the Gospel, Pope Francis said Sunday as he spoke to the region's bishops.
"On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all," the pope said in his speech before some 70 Asian bishops in the South Korean west coastal city of Seosan.
"A clear sense of one's own identity and a capacity for empathy are the point of departure for all dialogue."
The bishops gathered at the Haemi sanctuary in Seosan, 151 kilometers south of Seoul, to meet the Holy Father who is on a five-day trip to South Korea. About 1,000 early Korean Christians were executed for their faith during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) at the site.
During the speech, Francis explained that by "identity," he means knowing "who we are, what God has done for us and what it is that he asks of us."
He described the Asian Christian communities as "a small flock of sheep" in the great Asian continent with its vast expanses of land and its ancient cultures and traditions, but nonetheless charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
"In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all," the pope said. (Yonhap)