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Japan: archbishop calls for pause in Neocatechumenal activity

Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada

Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada

The Neocatechumenal movement should halt their activities in Japan "for a while" in order to reflect and prepare the ground for a new dialogue with the Japanese Church.

This is the advice given by Most Rev Peter Takeo Okada, Archbishop of Tokyo, in a message published on Friday. Archbishop Okada states that for 20 years, the bishops have had to deal with problems arising from the presence of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan. He stresses that the problems created by the Neocatechumenal movement in Japan have saddened him, particularly in seeing the "division, conflict and chaos that the movement has brought among us."

The statement by Mgr Okada come less than a month after a meeting at the Vatican between some Japanese bishops, Neocatechumenal representatives, members of the Roman Curia and the Pope.

At that time, the Secretary of State opposed the decision of the Japanese Bishops' Conference to impose a five year ban on the activities of Neocatechumenates. The meeting suggested some steps for greater dialogue between Neocatechumenal members and the bishops, leaving the pastors of each diocese to decide how to integrate them into the Church's mission.

Archbishop Okada stressed that what he says is not a decision for the entire bishops' conference, but only for his diocese.

In his message, the Archbishop calls for Neocatechumenals to reflect on the emergence of an evangelization "more suited to the needs of the population of Japan." Several prelates accuse the Way of operating in mission countries without a thorough inculturation. Neocatechumenals members often claim the pastors of the Church in Japan concentrate on practising dialogue rather than on announcing the Gospel.

Archbishop Okada suggests that members of the Way rethink their missionary style, recalling the wounds that plague the country, such as the 30 thousand suicides per year. He suggests Neocatechumenals focus primarily on caring for the sick and disabled. So far their main commitment has been to the new evangelization and catechesis.

Source: AsiaNews/Japanese Bishops Conference


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