Katsuzo Ishimaru is a curator at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and an internationally renowned artist. A survivor of the 1945 atomic bomb, he followed Francis's journey to Japan. For him, “Politicians must listen to his message of peace”.
A survivor of the Hiroshima bomb expresses her gratitude to the pontiff for his visit, his words and his "smile".
Katsuzo Ishimaru, a world-famous artist who survived the 1945 atomic bomb, looks at Pope Francis’s visit to Japan. Living with terror has influenced his art, and now he hopes for a "revolution" on the part of young people, who must go back to a life in contact with nature. Artificial intelligence, pollution and global warming are challenges that "must be addressed immediately”.
Reviewing the stages of his recent trip to Thailand and Japan, Francis reiterated his condemnation of nuclear weapons. " today the serious threat, in more developed countries, is the loss of the meaning of living. The first victims of the void of the meaning of life are young people ”. A prayer for Albania hit by an earthquake. Next Sunday Francis will go to Greccio, the place where St. Francis made the first crib and who will write a letter dedicated to the crib.
Francis last meeting at Jesuits’ Sophia University before leaving Japan to return to Rome. Although in Japan "Christians are a minority, their presence is felt". "Despite the efficiency and order that characterize Japanese society, it is perceived that something more is desired and sought: a deep desire to create an increasingly human, compassionate and merciful society."
Dialogue, solidarity and a rethinking of a society conditioned by careerism were the central themes of the afternoon of the penultimate day of Pope Francis' visit to Japan, marked by the celebration of Mass at the Tokyo Dome, in front of over 50 thousand people, by the visit to the Prime Minister and the meeting with the country's political, civil and religious authorities.
People show wonder and gratitude for Pope Francis’s visit to Japan whilst Catholics bear witness to the solace of faith. Fr Lorenzo Manerba has been a missionary in the Land of the Rising Sun for 46 years.
Francis met the victims of the "triple disaster", as it is known in Japan referring to the earthquake, the tsunami and the 2011 nuclear accident. To young people, "things are important, but people are indispensable". "We must all unite against this culture of bullying and learn to say: enough! It is an epidemic you must find the medicine for it yourself ".
Francis in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From Nagasaki a message on nuclear weapons, in Hiroshima, next to the arch that marks the point where the bomb fell, "Never again war, never again the clash of arms, never again so much suffering!" .
First Mass by Pope Francis in Japan, in the city that experienced the nuclear holocaust, which caused 100-200 thousand deaths. Raise "our voices" to defend the innocent, choosing "compassion as the authentic way to shape history ".
Pope Francis visits and prays before the Martyrs Memorial on Nishizaki Hill. A place that tells "the darkness of death and martyrdom, but also the light of the resurrection". The Japanese martyrs who inspired the Pope's missionary vocation. "Continuously make the evangelizing zeal burn". Appeal for religious freedom in Asia and the world.
Francis recalled that as a young man he wanted to come as a missionary to the Land of the Rising Sun. "In Japan the Church is small and Catholics are a minority" (536 thousand, 0.4 percent of the population), and evangelization requires commitment to "a humble, daily witness and dialogue with other religious traditions ". No mention of the crisis that Hong Kong is experiencing in telegrams to the heads of state of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Tomorrow Pope Francis will be in Nagasaki visiting the Japanese Martyrs Museum. For the director, Fr. Domenico Vitali, who has spent 55 years in Japan, the Museum is an important element in the history of the country: "The martyrs brought another vision of the world". In secular society, everyone is very busy: there is no time to educate children.
After Bangkok, the pontiff will visit the most significant places in Japan. The Archbishop of Vasai looks at the similarities between the Indian and Japanese Churches. Both countries were evangelised by Saint Francis Xavier. In Thailand and Japan the number of Catholics is insignificant, but the Church is present through its service.
The story of Setsuko Hattori, a 92-year-old lady who survived the atomic bomb. Due to a bone marrow disease, Setsuko will not be able to attend Mass with Pope Francis on November 24th. "Through my poor life many people have come to know the Catholic Church".
Nabeshima Tomohisa, 52, kannushi (chief priest) of the shrine of Yutoku Inari in Kashima (Saga prefecture, Kyushu island, speaks of his hopes linked to the visit of Pope Francis to Japan (November 23-26). "Although of different religions, we have the same heart and the same desires to express: above all the gift of peace for the world". "Christianity is a religion of foreigners but Christ and Mary are like our uncles and aunts who live next to us".
Francis's video message on the eve of the trip he will take in the Land of the Rising Sun and Thailand. "I trust that my visit will encourage you along the path of mutual respect and encounter that leads to a secure and lasting peace, which never turns back upon itself. Peace is beautiful. And when it is real, it does not retreat: it defends itself with every ounce of strength."
Iwao Hakamada, 83, spent 48 years on death row for a quadruple murder he probably did not commit. For Catholic and civil society activists, the Pope's embrace would put the spotlight on the death penalty in Japan.
The Archbishop of Tokyo writes to AsiaNews about the urgent issues in Japan today as it awaits the visit of Pope Francis. The no to atomic weapons from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but also a message for the dignity of life for disabled, immigrants and hopeless people. In the country, with fewer and fewer children and more and more elderly, there are over 20 thousand suicides a year.
The program of the visit is published. After John Paul II, Francis will be the second pontiff to visit the two countries.
After John Paul II, the second pontiff to visit the two Asian countries. The program of the first stage yet to be defined. The Pope will visit Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where he will pray for the victims of the atomic bomb. Fr. Marco Ribolini, PIME missionary, reflects on the meaning of the visit for Thai Catholics.