The value of Christian faith for the continent that is the undisputed protagonist of the economic and political world. The problem of religious freedom and the gift of martyrdom. The conclusions entrusted to the Card. Rilke. AsiaNews to bring daily reports on progress.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - From August 31 to September 5 next 400 lay delegates from all the Catholic communities of Asia will gather in Seoul for a conference entitled "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia today." The initiative was convoked by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in collaboration with the Korean Church Commission for the laity.

The Vatican department already has the tradition of holding regional conferences. This one in Asia is however urgently needed, also because Asia is witnessing a growth in the number of baptized and Christian communities. At the same time the continent is becoming a (if not "the") star in the new world political and economic scene, often with styles that are far removed from respect for individual dignity and opposed to Christianity.

The Congress will begin with a Eucharistic celebration and continue with a series of interventions: History of the Church in Asia; evangelization and the gift of Jesus Christ for Asia; the testimony and commitment to religious freedom on the continent. This latter issue has been entrusted to the director of AsiaNews, Fr Bernardo Cervellera. Another issue, one that is very much alive and present in Asia today, is that of martyrdom. The same Korean Church is inspired by the witness of the martyrs in its catechesis.

Personalities from the Pontifical Council have been invited to speak on the laity in the mission of the Church (Bishop Josef Clemens) and new associations of the lay faithful (G. Carriquiry). Card. Stanislaw Rylko, chairman of the department, has been entrusted with the concluding statement. Each session will allow for round table debates and open floor discussions and presentations on the life of the faithful in various Asian countries. The discussions will serve to deepen some areas and priorities for evangelization: the renewal of parishes and pastoral mission of the family, the identity of Catholic schools, evangelization and pastoral care of youth, the role of women in the Church and society, lay participation in politics and workplaces.

The Congress closes Sept. 5 with a Eucharistic celebration in Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul, and the delivery of the missionary mandate to all participants. AsiaNews will follow the daily developments of the Congress with a correspondent on the ground.