Catholicism in Asia

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Above is the graphic that will serve as the introduction for my Minor in Writing capstone project, an interactive essay on Catholicism in Far East Asia. I am studying this topic because I want to better understand some of the issues–particularly those involving politics, inculturation, and evangelization–that affect how the Catholic Faith is lived in this region of the world. In doing so, I hope my project will help my Western audience to become more aware of the unique challenges and hopes of the Church in the East and to better appreciate the global face of Catholicism.

In many ways, I think my graphic is emblematic of my own challenges and hopes for this project as well. For example, I am very excited to consider the aspect of evangelization–how can the Church make new converts in an area that is predominately non-Christian and, in some areas such as China and Vietnam, even hostile to the Faith? Accordingly, I chose as my theme a scriptural quote to highlight this challenge of making the Gospel relevant “To the Ends of the Earth.”

Similarly, my graphic also represents a challenge I am facing in my project. The inscription at the top is the very same scriptural quote in Latin. At first glance, this may seem out of place. Why Latin? Wouldn’t a rendering in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese be more appropriate for a project about Asia? Actually, this is precisely the issue I’m struggling with as I progress in my research. Latin is the official language of the Church, a powerful symbol of the universality and timelessness of the Catholic Faith–whether in Europe or the Americas or Asia. Yet recent times have seen a shift from the uniformity that once characterized Catholic practice and worship to more culture-specific forms, especially in Asia. As a result, this exchange, this interplay, this–to some extent–tension between the Catholic Faith and the culture in which it is lived is sure to become a central theme of my final project.

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