Tokyo (AsiaNews) - On the
morning of April 20, the garden of the Apostolic Nuncio in Tokyo was crowded
with ambassadors and representatives from the world of culture at the invitation
of Archbishop Joseph Chennoth, Apostolic Nuncio to Japan to celebrate the seven
years of the pontificate Benedict XVI and 60 years of diplomatic relations
between the Holy See and Japan (1952-2012).
Among the guests of honor Jun Yanagi and the writer Sadako Ogata deserve special mention. The first is Director of the Europe division of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: he gave the keynote address at the event as a representative of the guests. The second is famous in Japan and abroad for her activities in the field of diplomacy and literature and, more importantly, for her visible witness of the Catholic faith for more than 10 years (1991-2000) she has served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a role she did not limit to taking up office in Geneva, but by visiting groups of refugees wherever they live, especially in Africa.
The testimony of Joseph Chennoth
Archbishop Joseph Chennoth became Apostolic Nuncio to Japan more than by vocation than appointment. On 11 March last year, when an earthquake - tsunami of particular violence destroyed vast areas of north-east of the country, Chennoth, then stationed in Tanzania, saw the television images of the disaster and was deeply saddened. "The first thought that went through my mind - he said - was a prayer: God let me go to Japan to console the people. Three months later it seems that God had heard my prayer. The pope's nuncio appointed me to Japan and a few days after my arrival, I went into the [disaster-struck] city of Ishinomaki, together with the bishops of Japan and Korea to pray for the victims and their families. " He then directed and vigorously supported the efforts for reconstruction.
Msgr. Chennoth considers it "a great honor and privilege to serve the Church in this great country rich in culture and traditions, with a wealth of religious and moral values, in the midst of a great nation, hospitable, respectful and generous, and committed to hard work. "
Referring to the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Japan, the Nuncio hopes that they will continue "in the desire to promote the values of justice, peace and harmony in Asia and elsewhere."
The collaboration of the humble
In the context of the celebration the archbishop expressed recognition and gratitude to many people whose anonymous dedication has allowed the Nunciature to perform useful work for decades. Among them he has set apart two: Sister Cecilia Matsumoto (the congregation of the Disciples of Divine Master), who for over 10 years has done all the secretarial work, and Mr. Dominic Enomoto, a Catholic of Vietnamese origin who has been employed for over twenty years as a driver. Both were decorated with papal medals.