Pedro Daniel Oliveira
The book Season for Relationships, by University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Visiting Professor Chiaretto Yan, is going to be available at the office of Claretian Publications Macau prior to its official launching ceremony.
His work gives a first-hand account of the Catholic Church and youth in China. “The world is rapidly changing. Evidently, there is a global shift of influence from the West to Asia. China has seen the biggest migration in human history when half of its poverty-laden rural population moved to the cities in the last 40 years and has faced many challenges,” Mr Yan told O CLARIM.
“Those born in the 1980s do not understand the post-1990 or post-2000 youth. In spite of the innumerable and rapid changes leading to a more materialistic outlook of life, the Chinese people has never been as open to Christianity as it is today, a sort of ‘renaissance’ of Christianity since the time of Matteo Ricci.”
Having in mind that Chinese youth are “under tremendous pressure,” he said they have “different kinds of challenges” to face. “They are under pressure since childhood from studies to work till they form a future family, including looking for a life partner.” Despite the “upward economy and technological advancement,” he said, “life is not always rosy and smooth sailing.” Furthermore, given their materialistic view of life, he raised the question: are the youth happy? “It is in this realm that religions have a role to play,” he assured.
“The Government is very concerned about education and has inserted a youth development program as a national goal in the overall plan of the country for the first time,” he stressed. The Church, for the other hand, “is not in a competing position to attract the youth, but could provide a unique contribution in the spiritual and religious realms, so as to greatly benefit young Chinese in the development of their lives.”
Mr Yan believes that “trends are indeed changing in the youth in general and among the young Catholics in China.” He then pinpointed, “It is a season of relationships,” having the vertical one with God and the horizontal one with fellow citizens. “It may turn out to be a season of bountiful fruits if the soil is fertile and the laborers are diligent, taking advantage of the climate change,” he noted. “Youth is the future,” he stressed, because as “agents of change, they will be the ones to shape it.”
Moreover, he added, “How China will evolve and how the Chinese Catholic Church will thrive or fail is in their hands.”
The book Season for Relationships is published by the Claretian Publications Macau in collaboration with New City Press Philippines. Its official release ceremony will be announced in due time. The project was sponsored by the Pontifical Missionary Union in Rome.
Mr Chiaretto Yan lives in Shanghai. Besides his role in USJ, he’s also a visiting professor at several Catholic seminaries in Mainland China, and a research fellow at the Sophia University Institute, Italy.