Fr Lembo, PIME missionary, appointed auxiliary bishop of Tokyo
The new prelate will work alongside Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, who was recently elected president of Caritas Internationalis. In the Japanese capital since 2009, the 49-year-old heads he Shinsei-Kaikan Catholic cultural centre in Tokyo. His ministry is especially dedicated to young Japanese. He talked recently to AsiaNews about his predecessor, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Paul Kazuhiro Mori, who passed away earlier this month.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has appointed Fr Andrea Lembo, an Italian PIME missionary in Japan since 2009, as the new auxiliary bishop of Tokyo, to work closely with Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, who has led the Catholic community in the Japanese capital since 2017 and has served as president of Caritas Internationalis since last May.
The Archdiocese of Tokyo has not had an auxiliary bishop since 2018, when the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Kazuo Koda.
Fr Lembo was born in Treviglio, in the province of Bergamo (Italy), on 23 May 1974. A member of PIME in 2003, he was ordained a priest in 2004. After serving a few years in missionary outreach in Italy, he was sent to Japan in 2009.
In the Archdiocese of Tokyo, he was coadjutor in the parishes of Itabashi and Narashino and then parish priest in Fuchū. During his ministry he was always very close to young people, including those who suffer from severe social withdrawal. A former PIME's regional superior for Japan, he became PIME regional superior for East Asia this year.
In 2022, Archbishop Kikuchi asked him to become the guardian of the legacy of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Paul Kazuhiro Mori, who died a few days ago at the age of 84, and head the Shinsei-Kaikan Catholic cultural centre in Tokyo.
At the time of his predecessor’s funeral at Tokyo’s cathedral, he spoke to AsiaNews about the late prelate’s great openness towards people and vis-à-vis Japanese society.
"Here in Tokyo, one experiences the smallness of being Christian,” said the new auxiliary bishop speaking to AsiaNews some years ago. “If I told people at an intersection that I was a priest, no one would understand what my job was. You really live up to the image of the mustard seed."
Yet, there is room to proclaim the Gospel. It is found "in the questions I encounter, in the young people I meet. ' Where am I really going? What is the meaning of my life?' These questions call into question freedom in a context where everything seems already defined. There is room for the fundamental answer: Jesus is the fulfilment of your humanity.
"In this great mechanism that is perfect,” a reference to Japanese society, “you are not a cog, you have your own dignity. You can take your freedom in your own hand and experience it. Either we proclaim the humanising power of the Gospel or we risk reducing faith to a ritual celebration.”