C. M. Paul, SDB
ROME, Italy – The Gregorian Foundation and the “Jacques Maritain” International Institute organized a two-week Course for Diplomats of Asian Countries with the theme “The Catholic Church and the International Policy of the Holy See.” Thirty two diplomats from 16 Asian countries took part in the sessions held in Rome and Turin, 11-23 May.
The diplomats came from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
India, China and Pakistan miss out
The ones who failed to respond to the invitation were the giants of the continent: India and China. Pakistan wasn’t present either. But the organizers – led by Jesuit Fr Franco Imoda, the previous rector of the Gregorian – maintain that they are satisfied nonetheless.
Indian diplomat’s absence for the course could be due to the change of guard. The new Indian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mrs. Chitra Narayanan presented her credentials to the Holy Father only on 29 May.
In Asia, where Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, or Islam are dominant, Christianity (Catholicism) is by and large regarded as “foreign,” so Christians (Catholics) are in the minority, with some notable exceptions. In Japan, for instance, the proportion of Catholics consistently stays a bit below 0.5% of the population. Yet Japan could be the first Asian country to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1942. (Vatican started to send a Nuncio to Tokyo in 1919, 23 years prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations).
Indian Salesians Make Three Contributions
Two Indian professors from Salesian University Rome (UPS) Philosophy Faculty presented papers. While former Dean and senior professor Dr Scaria Thuruthiyil (INN) presented two papers entitled: The Engagement of the Catholic Church for Education (13 May in Rome) and The Catholic Church and Inter-religious Dialogue with Hinduism (19 May, Turin), Faculty Secretary and professor Dr. Joshtrom Kureethadam (INH) was among a panel of three speakers on “The Corporate Social responsibility and the Environmental Problems.”
This is the third course held for diplomats. First two courses were held for diplomats from Mediterranean and Middle East countries as well as African countries.
Vatican: A Moral and Intellectual World Power
The Japanese ambassador to the Holy See H.E. Mr Kagefumi Ueno credits Vatican to be a moral and intellectual world power equipped with the best network for the diffusion of messages and power of information. In Rome since 2006, he is an eminent Buddhist thinker of Shintoist education.
“We wish to introduce the various aspects of the Catholic Church, such as: the international legal status of the Vatican City; the ways in which the various organization of the episcopate throughout the world and at the level of the local Churches; the diplomatic activity of the Nunciatures; the humanitarian and diplomatic action of the Holy See in favour of peace; ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue; representation at the international organizations; and relations with the Asian world,” explains secretary General of J. Maritain International Institute Dr. Roberto Papini.
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