PHILIPPINES – ASIA – VATICAN Asia-Pacific university students with Pope Francis to ‘build bridges’ of dialogue

Students from Catholic universities in the region will meet “virtually” tomorrow with the pontiff as part of the initiatives organized by “The Building Bridges Initiative.” The topics will refer to issues and problems related to spirituality and the social sphere. The Card. de Mendonça stated that young people have the task of bringing together “realities that are apparently distant and different from each other.”

Manila () – University students from across Asia-Pacific will meet tomorrow “virtually” with Pope Francis, to engage in a dialogue focused on initiatives and work aimed at “building bridges” between different peoples and cultures. Young people from the Jesuit Manila University will participate representing the Philippines, who will be joined by the Australian Catholic University (Brisbane, Australia), the Fu Jen Catholic University (Taipei, Taiwan), the Sogang University (Seoul, South Korea) , Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan) and Universitas Sanata Dharma (Yogyakarta, Indonesia). Many of them, such as the Philippine University, refer to the Jesuit order.

You can attend tomorrow’s meeting organized by “The Building Bridges Initiative” by clicking the link

About 9% of the world’s Christians reside in the geographically large and religiously varied Asia-Pacific. In that region Christians generally constitute a small minority (1% in Thailand and Japan), except in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, where they are a considerable majority (85% and 97% respectively). The unequal distribution of the Christian population and the religion they profess in such a varied regional framework contributes to the faith experiences of young people being incredibly different.

Professors accompany students in 12 work groups, collaborating with university colleagues from the Asia-Pacific region. These groups of students come from different countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Students enrolled in different faculties participate in the program, such as computer science, chemistry, philosophy, theology, psychology, economics, physics and law. In particular, five students from five different Jesuit-run universities – Manila, Naga, Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro – met and discussed topics and problems related to spirituality and social issues, in preparation for the virtual “summit.” with the Pope next June 20.

The meeting is part of the initiatives organized by the “Building Bridges Initiative” (BBI), a project of Loyola University of Chicago (LUC, Jesuits) in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and education, inspired by Pope Francis’ invitation to “synodality.”

In a message he sent the day before the meeting to the participating students, Card. José Tolentino de Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for culture and education, points out that his presence and his function is to build bridges, referring precisely to the name of the initiative. Furthermore, in the perspective of tomorrow’s event and taking into account the philosophy that inspires it, young people must increasingly be “an element of dialogue, of mutual knowledge, that brings together apparently distant and different realities.”

The meetings, “in person or virtual, are very valuable moments to build bridges – when they do not yet exist – or to strengthen them – when they already exist but the need to consolidate them is felt,” explained the cardinal. All the more so precisely when it comes to a bridge with the pontiff. I think – continues the Card. of Mendonça – that this is the most important and the most difficult thing.” “Being available to others – he warns – requires overcoming a self-referential attitude, measuring excessive communication through social networks, welcoming the brother at our side and opening “Finally, I invite you, young people, to experience – concludes the prefect’s message – the joy of building bridges here and now, especially in places where Christ and his message are still practically unknown.”

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