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Neo-cats go off on their own way
A Japanese pastor joins the debate with a personal view of the Catholic lay movement
- Eijiro Suwa
- February 17, 2011
Here, an Osaka archdiocesan priest,Â Father Eijiro Suwa, 63, the pastor atÂ EnokuchiÂ parish in Kochi prefecture, in Takamatsu diocese,Â about 600km southwest of Tokyo, gives a personal account of the "Way" from his experience.
ThisÂ is an edited version of Father Suwas' comments.
In order to serve the needs of the â€śWayâ€ť, their priests are ordained as â€śdiocesan priestsâ€ť, but they do not understand what it means to engage in pastoral evangelization in obedience to their bishop. They repeatedly proclaim, â€śWe have been missioned by the Vaticanâ€ť, and at meetings of the priests of the diocese they say to the Bishopâ€™s face, â€śWe obey the Vatican.â€ť
Are they not able to understand the policy of the diocese regarding â€śCollaborative Ministryâ€ť? At gatherings of the priests of the diocese they say, â€śThat policy has nothing to do with us.â€ť It is not an exaggeration to say that the Diocese of Takamatsu is being used by the â€śWayâ€ť
When it came time for First Communion in the parish, a priest of the â€śWayâ€ť asked that he be allowed to give First Communion to the children of the members of the â€śWayâ€ť.
When a member of the â€śWayâ€ť died, they did not notify the pastor of the parish until the day after the funeral, which they had conducted on their own.
There was one additional priest â€śin chargeâ€ť of Enoguchi Parish. Who named him to that post? In some secret way a priest of the â€śWayâ€ť had been named to look after the liturgy and gatherings of the â€śWayâ€ť in that parish. In order to augment the following of the â€śWayâ€ť many meetings and events are planned and carried out in secret.
At the present time the Takamatsu Diocesan International Redemptoris Mater Seminary has been closed in the diocese and has moved to Rome as â€śRedemptoris Mater Seminary for Japanâ€ť.
At the time of the foundation of the seminary, since the process followed was neither legally nor financially sound, and since the wishes of the people of the diocese were not followed, many problems arose. The seminary was established in the Diocese of Takamatsu under the jurisdiction of its Bishop, but it was evident that it was independent of the diocese and all matters regarding formation and administration were handled by the â€śWayâ€ť.
They were supported by donations, but since there was no report to the diocese with regard to the accounts and/or the formation being provided, there was no transparency in these matters. The Bishop was not even introduced to the new candidates who presented themselves each year.
Many of the faithful of the diocese have felt keenly the suffering of the diocese for more than 20 years. However, the pain of the people of the diocese and the untiring direction of the Bishop was no more than static in their ears. Their consciousness was â€śWe are being persecuted.â€ť
There were two missionary families from Italy assigned to Enoguchi Parish. They are very good people.
Their mission was to minister to and help the priests of the â€śWayâ€ť. They said that they were missioned by the Vatican to be completely submissive to them. They were friendly with the people of Enoguchi Parish, but when the priest of the â€śWayâ€ť no longer came to the parish and because of difficulties with the Japanese language, it became difficult for them to grasp their mission.
The members of the â€śWayâ€ť celebrate a special Mass according to their own catechesis that is not part of the liturgical guidelines of the Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Japan.
The same is true of the liturgy for Holy Week. They celebrate liturgies that ignore the sensibility of the Japanese people and are considered to be bizarre (funerals).
There is also the problem of the collection during the Mass. It does not become part of the parish finances and its use is unclear.
The Bishop - out of respect for the members of the â€śWayâ€ť - tried to deal with this issue quietly without making public statements. However, the members of the â€śWayâ€ť did not grasp the Bishopâ€™s intention and continued to ignore him. Each time an issue came up the emphatic answer was â€śWe obey the Vatican.â€ť
In seeking unity in our diocese our Bishop appealed to the Vatican time and again but each time it was felt that the true state of affairs was not understood in Rome.