Archbishop Kikuchi: In tune with the Pope and Card. Filoni for mission in Japan

The Bishop of Niigata and President of Caritas Japan comments on yesterday’s papal message sent to the bishops of Japan. The journey stages of Card. Filoni, which will also touch Fukushima. The question of the relationship with the Neocatechumenal Way is still "unresolved".

Sep 19, 2017

By Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi
"The Pope's message is an encouragement for all of us" to "rethink our attitude towards the mission ad gentes": The bishop of Niigata and president of Caritas Japan comments to  AsiaNews on yesterday’s papal message which Card. Fernando Filoni brought and read in front of all the Japanese bishops gathered in the nunciature in Tokyo. Also appreciated for the value placed on  the charismatic movements, even if it there remains "an unresolved issue with one of these movements." The reference is to the contrasts that had occurred in the past with the Neocatechumenal Way. Card. Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will also go to Fukushima and Sendai to see the Church's commitment to tsunami victims.

The Cardinal Prefect has arrived Tokyo yesterday and at 6 pm, Sunday evening, had an official reception of the message of Holy Father to Japanese Bishops on the occasion of the Cardinal Prefect's visit to Japan.

Most of Japanese Bishops were there at the Chapel of Nuntiature in Tokyo to receive the message and welcome Cardinal Filoni. Unfortunately, the strong typhoon Talim prevented some Bishops from South to travel to Tokyo.

At 6 pm as we had sung hymn of Holy Spirit in Japanese, Cardinal Filoni first expressed his joy and hope of his first visit to Japan and said it is the Pilgrimage for him as he would visit Japanese Martyrs' Holy places and also Tsunami hit area. 

Then he read the message of Holy Father in Italian. We received Japanese translation from the Ninciature.

After the message was officially handed over the the president of the Episcopal Conference of Japan, Archbishop Takami, we all proceeded to have evening meal together.

First and most, we are happy and grateful to receive personal and such intimate message from Holy Father. I thought it would be the announcement of Holy Father's visit to Japan but it was not. That was a bit of disappointment.

I am happy that Holy Father is in good knowledge of the history of martyrs in Japan which is precious gift to present Church community in Japan. Also I am grateful that Holy Father commended our efforts of inter-religious dialogue and protection of the creature. I was sure Holy Father is in understanding of our position against Nuclear energy policy in Japan after Fukushima disaster.

I am also delighted to read that Holy Father correctly pointed out our challenges in Evangelisation in Japan as a small minority community in the society. We quite often think these challenging situation in the society against Evangelisation is too huge to change, but the message of Holy Father is encouragement for all of us, not only for Bishops but for all of us in the Church community in Japan to re-consider our attitude towards to the mission ad gentes.

We believe that our charitable efforts in past 6 years in Tohoku area since 2011 disaster organised by entire Catholic communities in Japan and supported by Caritas Japan would be one of shining example of being light of the world through our own action among suffering. I hope Cardinal would have good chance to witness this reality when he visits Sendai on Friday. I will be there and will take Cardinal close to Fukushima area where we are still running volunteer base.

Then the point would be the last part talking about movements. As it is quite well known that Japanese Bishops have unresolved issue with one of these movements for quite sometime. We had number of exchange of opinions between Holy See and even with Holy Father.

I think I have to make it clear, at this point, that we, Japanese Bishops, are in full understanding and agreement with what Holy Father mentioned in his message to us about the charismatic importance of these movements. We are not denying existence of particular movement in the Universal Church. But what we are saying is these movements, whoever it is, quite often creates division among small communities of Catholics in many places in country like Japan where, sometimes, only 10 people in Sunday Mass are considered "many" by a parish priest. We are just hoping that these movements would have courage and willingness to discuss their modus operandi in their activities with local Bishops.

So today Cardinal will fly to Fukuoka and will meet with our Theology seminarians there, Then he will continue to Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Osaka and on Friday to Sendai. He will meet our Philosophy seminarians in Tokyo on Saturday, then will celebrate Mass with all Bishops in Tokyo Cathedral on Sunday.

He will have one full day to discuss all the issues on evangelisation in Japan with Bishops on Monday before he leaves for Rome on Tuesday.

Bishop Isao Kikuchi, SVD

Bishop of Niigata. --Asia News

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