Hamao, helping migrants is mission's new frontier in Asia
Vatican City (AsiaNews) Card Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was born in Tokyo (Japan) on 9 March 1930.
He is the first bishop from the Far East to head an important division within the Roman curia.
He studied at the Urban College in Rom (1951-1958) and is a graduate in Canon Law from the Eternal City's Pontifical Gregorian University in 1962.
He was ordained a priest on 21 December 1957 and became Auxiliary Bishop of Tokyo in 1970.
In 1979 he was named Bishop of Yokohama where he was responsible for various commissions, including that of vice president of Caritas Internationalis and president of Caritas Asia/Oceania (1989-1996), in charge of youth apostolate (1980-1986) and president of the Bishops' Conference of Japan (1995-1998).
In 1990, he launched a pastoral plan to meet the needs of foreign residents.
Since June 15 1998, Cardinal Hamao has been president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, but has had to give up the pastoral leadership of Yokohama.
He was created and proclaimed cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003, of the Deaconry of St John Bosco in Via Tuscolana.
Right after the December 26, 2004, tsunami the Apostolate for the Sea, which is part of the Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, began taking concrete steps to help the south and south-eastern populations affected by the natural disaster.
On that occasion, he stressed the need to target aid for fishermen and provide psychological assistance to children.
His pastoral work has been inspired by John Paul II's invitation to make the parish church "everyone's home".
In a recent interview with AsiaNews, Cardinal Hamao explained that "emigration is nourishing a new missionary trend. [And] the parish must become a 'second home' for migrants, a place where they are welcomed with open arms in a spirit of hospitality irrespective of their religion".
He is a member of the congregations for the Evangelisation of Peoples and of the Causes of Saints. He also sits on the Pontifical Councils Cor Unum and Justice and Peace as well as on the Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. (MA)