Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The future of the Christian faith in Japan is linked to the proclamation of the Gospel from Japanese to Japanese. It is important that the Japanese, 500 years after the first evangelization, feel that Christianity is not an element of Western culture, but that the Gospel is a gift to Japan, that Christ has something to say and give to the Japanese nation: is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said about the evangelization in Japan, after his pastoral trip to Japan from 17 to 26 September.
The Cardinal notes: "Japanese Christians, in their fervor and in their testimony of life, are admirable; after all, the roots of their faith sink into the precious experience of martyrs; and one cannot forget the extraordinary story of 'hidden Christians' who lived and handed over the deposit of faith for over two centuries. In that historical passage, it is clear that there was God’s plan, there is God’s grace that worked in that land and in the lives of those communities. The faithful at the time would have prayed, saying, "Lord completes the work of your hands. The Gospel reached Japan thanks to brave missionaries and it was not right for it to disappear. The Lord preserved it in the lives of those Christians. Today's faithful can learn that there is hope for the future".
Cardinal Filoni went to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese episcopate to meet and know the reality of the local Church more closely: "It was for me also a pilgrimage to the places of the martyrdom of many confessors of faith," he points out, recalling that the leitmotiv of the visit was "evangelization, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ Evangelii gaudium".
The Prefect of "Propaganda Fide" visited "a small community (about 500,000 souls) that is aging and has few vocations to priesthood, that suffers because they live in a non-Christian environment, with the temptation of thinking that efficiency (structures and organization) can replace missionary enthusiasm, or the contribution of God's grace", he notes.
This was an important factor to highlight, the Cardinal notes: "As society is pervaded by a Confucian, Shintoist and Buddhist atmosphere, it tends to not see Christianity as a gift and as God's grace. The competitive, secularized social, consumerist organization, may suffocate the gift of the Spirit: for this reason – concludes Cardinal Filoni - it was important to reaffirm at all levels (bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and lay people) that God is not absent from Japan, despite the dramatic situations experienced in the past and despite a culture that does not know Christ. The grace of Christ, through Christians, creates the mission in the land of the rising Sun. And this gives hope for the future". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/10/2017)