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East Asia Evangelization Center holds symposium in Rome

Conference discusses how Jesuit adaptationist policy helped spread the Gospel

ucanews.com reporter, Seoul

ucanews.com reporter, Seoul

Updated: May 09, 2019 04:48 AM GMT
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East Asia Evangelization Center holds symposium in Rome

The East Asia Evangelization Center holds a symposium at Jesuit headquarters in Rome on April 30. (Photo supplied)

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The East Asia Evangelization Center in South Korea traveled to Rome for a symposium to discuss Jesuit adaptationism.

The conference, held at the Jesuit headquarters on April 30, also discussed authentic Asian theology and the history of missionary work in Korea and Asia.

The center is based at Cheonjinam Shrine, known as the birthplace of Korean Catholicism by lay scholars. The Jesuit adaptationist approach influenced the “triple dialogue” evangelization methods presented by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

The adaptationist policy of Jesuits in countries such as China and Japan works not by unilaterally proclaiming the Gospel but by understanding the local culture first and spreading the Gospel with a view to cultural sensitivity. It is highly praised as a model for new evangelization.

During the symposium titled “Early modern civilization of East Asia and adaptationism of the Church,” six young Korean scholars presented papers on themes such as “Francis Xavier and the birth of adaptationism” and “Change of Japanese society in middle and modern ages by Jesuits.”

Pope Francis sent a congratulatory message saying: “I will pray for fruitful discussion and results in the symposium with goodwill. I hope this symposium offers a chance to discern an effective way of proclaiming the Gospel in the Asian context considering various pastoral needs in the region.”

In a keynote speech, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, stressed the importance of the work of the Korean Church in the evangelization of Asia.

“From the view of Rome, Korea is on the periphery, but Korea stands at the center of growth. Not only growing in economic terms, I hope the Church in Korea grows spiritually and academically and infuses new youthfulness and a new global spirituality to the Universal Church and the world,” he said.

Father Pius Kim Dong-won, director of the center, said the symposium’s aim was not to boast of academic results or to gain recognition but to remember the missionary work of the Universal Church for faraway countries and to thank it.

“The main factor for the growth of the Church in Korea is that lay scholars voluntarily understood and experienced the value of the Gospel thanks to the adaptationist mission policy,” he said.

“For the evangelization of Asia, we need adaptationist work to sow the seeds of the Gospel in cultural contexts, efforts for unity with the Universal Church and the generous attitude and support of the Universal Church.”

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