Kikuchi and David: Caritas and sexual identities, two synodical ways from Asia
Synod assembly enters final week of gathering in Rome.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Synodal Assembly underway in the Vatican enters its last week of work: once the discussion on the Instrumentum laboris has been concluded, in the next few days the 365 members will be asked to draw up a summary document and a message to the people of God which will be released on Sunday 29 October, when Pope Francis will preside over the final Mass of this first phase of the Synod on synodality as a style of "participation, communion and mission" in the Church.
They will be texts which - as had been announced from the beginning - will then return to the Churches of the individual countries, for a new phase of the synodal path. And only in October 2024, in a new session in Rome, will the Assembly summarize the path begun at a local level in 2021, entrusting the conclusions to the Pope.
Within this path, in the daily briefings held with journalists this week there were two significant interventions by Asian bishops who brought interesting points of view starting from their own experience. In the meeting on Friday 19 October the archbishop of Tokyo Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi underlined how important the method of conversation in the spirit - adopted at the Synod - is to let the traits of each culture emerge.
“You know that we Japanese, but also the people of Asia in general, love silence. It is very difficult for us to speak out loud. And that's why this small group discussion is very important - he explained -. As Asians we expect each local culture to be respected when we talk about synodality in the Catholic Church. Synodality does not mean uniformity, we must work together as we are in each of our cultures."
In this regard, Msgr. Kikuchi, who for a few months has also been president of Caritas internationalis, cited the example of Caritas: "You know that we are 160 organizations around the world, with each organization independent," he recalled .
"Each has its own Catholic identity and works with its partners, also demonstrating its ecumenical and interreligious nature. From the beginning it has been a synodal organization, not only at the level of our executive but also at the local level: we go where there is need, we meet the people, we don't just give help and assistance. We want to promote the human dignity of every person so that it is respected and hope for the future can arise from the bottom of one's heart."
Msgr. Kikuchi also touched on the issue of the involvement of lay people in decisions in the Church: “Returning to Tokyo I want to introduce this synodal modality into our Church too, making it the style of the parishes. Asian countries are still very clerical: it is the clergy who decide. Instead we need to involve lay people more in decisions. But we also need to find the right ways. For example: how can we ask working lay people to down tools and come to Rome for a month of discussion? It's impossible. If we really want to involve lay people in the decisions of the Church we must also consider their daily lives, their families. It's a path we're still looking for."
A few days earlier, the president of the Philippine Episcopal Conference, the bishop of Kalookan, Msgr. Pablo Virgilio David, to give his response to one of the most heated topics in the debate around the Synod: the question of the possibility of a blessing for same-sex couples. “I look at this issue from a Filipino and Asian perspective,” he said, “and I see that this is a real concern especially in the Northern Hemisphere... I'm not criticizing Northern Hemisphere culture, but I see a strong tendency to label people [based on] gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion and everything else.”
”In the Philippine language there is the same word for man and woman. If I talk about a person I simply say 'tao' and that 'tao' can be a man - male or female, a man or a woman. Jesus was accused of associating with people of ill repute, tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. He didn't mind being in their company, because they too are human beings and are called to be sons and daughters of God, and many wonderful things happened in their lives when they met him. We try to follow this same mentality."
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