02/03/2011, 00.00
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Archbishop of Tokyo: Neocatechumenals should stop their mission for a while

Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada suggests a period of reflection to open a new dialogue with the Japanese bishops. Less than a month ago, the Pope removed the five year ban on Neocat activities in Japan, called for by the Episcopal Conference. Among the suggestions of the Bishop of Tokyo: think of the 30 thousand Japanese suicides a year; attention to the needs of the population; aid in the care for the sick and the disabled.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Neocatechumenal 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 authoritative advice that Msgr. Peter Takeo Okada, Archbishop of Tokyo, has given in a message published yesterday, recalling that for 20 years, the bishops have had to deal with problems arising from the presence of the Neocatechumenal Way in the Land of the Rising Sun. The prelate stresses that the problems created by the presence of the Neocatechumenal movement in Japan sadden 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 himself (11/01/2011 Pope reverses five-year suspension of Neocatechumenal Way in Japan.)

In front of the Pope, the Secretary of State opposed the decision of the Japanese Bishops' Conference for a five year to ban on the activities of Neocatechumenals. The meeting had 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 stresses that what he says does not claim to be a decision for the entire bishops' conference, but only for his diocese, while he recognizes that there are big problems in the relationship in Tokyo, unlike other dioceses in Japan.

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. For their part, 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, although they have so far distinguished themselves by their commitment to the new evangelization and catechesis.


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