ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni: the "false identification" between Christianity and European culture can hinder the propagation of faith

Monday, 25 September 2017 mission   evangelization  

Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - "One of the major obstacles to the propagation of faith in Japan seems to be the false identification between Christianity and European culture". This is one of the views expressed by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in the meeting held in Tokyo with Japanese Bishops in the first afternoon of Monday, September 25. To the representatives of the Japanese episcopate, the Prefect Cardinal of the Missionary Dicastery also reiterated the mysterious link between the historical affair of Japanese Catholicism and the experiences of persecution and martyrdom that marked its beginnings. In the XVI century - recalled the Cardinal - the first missionaries who arrived in Japan "found a fertile land for the proclamation of the Gospel. Despite the persecutions undertaken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the number of Catholics grew dramatically (it is believed up to 650,000)". And after the persecutions, the experience of the so-called "hidden Christians" (kokure Kirishitan), is an "extraordinary testimony" of what happens in following Christ, even under difficult conditions: "As in Abraham's prayer, who begged God not to go past his tent, but to stop", said the Cardinal, "also the "hidden Christians" of Japan raise to God a sincere invocation of not abandoning the work begun".
After recalling the obstacles that may result from a misleading identification between Christianity and European culture, the Prefect of Propaganda Fide admitted that "perhaps we should rediscover the strength of early evangelization by updating it with current experience and knowledge". And he also added that in the age of globalization, of borders that are reduced, of facilitated travel, one can not think of preventing or limiting "the presence of non-Japanese missionaries". At the same time, "there is need to focus on a stronger, more engaged evangelization of the same Japanese: bishops, priests, religious men and women, lay people, families, associations, etc. Missionaries can integrate, but not replace".
The meeting in Tokyo with the Japanese Bishops is the final meeting of the Pastoral Visit by Cardinal Filoni in Japan, which began on 17 September. In the afternoon of Sunday, September 24, during the meeting with priests, religious men and women and lay people in Tokyo, Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda Fide recalled three "dangers" to be careful of regarding those who are involved in apostolic work: «sectarianism» (ie the banalization of faith, the economic exploitation of the adepts), «proselytism» (the luring of others to adhere to their own doctrine) and «idealogism» (that is, fedeistic or phariseeic indoctrination, which can be socially dangerous). Evangelization - added Cardinal Filoni - is a personal encounter with Christ, and it is through the proclamation of the Gospel and by contact, that is to say through the humble and generous testimony, that arouses in others the interest in why you believe and act in different way". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 25/9/2017)