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Vatican holds major conference on faith in Asia

Inhuman and scandalous forms of poverty and exclusion exist, says cardinal

Asia’s rapid growth and increasing inequality as a result are weakening spiritual life and posing a challenge which Asia’s many faiths could and should face together, Cardinal Fernando Filoni said at the end of a major Vatican conference this week. 

Held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University which trains priests from mission areas, the conference on the Asian Church and its future ended on Wednesday with a call for all religions to face these challenges together with a common sense of “authenticity” and “purpose.”

Cardinal Filoni said while economic growth had “increased the material means available” to Asians, this progress has not been followed with an equal distribution of goods.

“Inhuman and scandalous forms of poverty and exclusion [still exist],” he said.

Affluence has also meant problems for spirituality including immorality, lack of attention to human life and suicides, added the cardinal.

In a strong statement on interfaith collaboration, Cardinal Filoni said that dialogue between different religions in Asia had a “social and political color since it is aimed to develop policies and strategies for the common good… promoting a culture of empathy and compassion.”

The conference was aimed at drawing up a blueprint for Catholic missionary action in Asia and included representatives of faiths including Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism as well as experts from Italy, the Vatican and 10 different countries in the Asian region.

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