Pope reverses five-year suspension of Neocatechumenal Way in Japan
Benedict XVI brings together Japanese bishops and Curia officials to encourage a dialogue with members of the Way to reduce tensions between those who focus on proclaiming the Gospel and those who favour dialogue.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Neocatechumenal Way (the Way) can continue its mission in Japan. A meeting between Benedict XVI, Curia officials and five Japanese bishops has ended in the cancellation of a five-year suspension imposed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) on the Way. Members of the Way and Vatican sources told AsiaNews that the CBCJ had written to the Vatican, calling for the suspension of the Way for at least five years.

On 13 December, the Pope brought five Japanese bishops together with Card Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Card Ivan Dias, prefect of Propaganda Fide. Card William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Card Antonio Cañizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, took part in the meeting as well.

“During the meeting, it was agreed not to proceed with the suspension but rather encourage the dialogue between the Way and the bishops, so that the former’s style would be more in sync with the pastors,” Vatican sources said.

Tensions between the Way and many Japanese bishops go back several years. Prelates claim that the Way’s approach to life in Japan was incompatible with the local Church and that its members did not inculturate in Japanese culture. For the local Church, the Way’s approach is sectarian and its small neocatechumenal communities tend to cause “divisions” within local parishes.

Members of the Way have countered by saying that the Japanese Church puts a lot of emphasis on dialogue with other cultures and religions, but very little on explicitly proclaiming the Christian faith.

In order to boost evangelisation and proclaim the word, the Way opened the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Takamatsu. However, in 2009, the CBCJ successfully got the seminary and its rector, Mgr Peter Hirayama, moved to Rome. The latter is bishop emeritus of Oita and a great admirer of the Way.

At the meeting, it was also decided that the dialogue between Japanese bishops and the Way would take place with the help of a delegate who “loves the Way and understands the bishops’ problems.”

It was also decided that each bishop would provide the Way with advice on how to proceed in his diocese, thus getting around the general outlines set by the CBCJ.