The Neocatechumenal Way's operations in Japan came under the spotlight recently when several of the country's bishops expressed misgivings about the movement and complained that it has sometimes been a divisive force in their Church. Here, an Osaka archdiocesan priest, Father Eijiro Suwa, 63, the pastor at Enokuchi parish in Kochi prefecture, in Takamatsu diocese, about 600km southwest of Tokyo, gives a personal account of the "Way" from his experience. This is an edited version of Father Suwas' comments. In order to serve the needs of the “Way”, their priests are ordained as “diocesan priests”, but they do not understand what it means to engage in pastoral evangelization in obedience to their bishop. They repeatedly proclaim, “We have been missioned by the Vatican”, and at meetings of the priests of the diocese they say to the Bishop’s face, “We obey the Vatican.” Are they not able to understand the policy of the diocese regarding “Collaborative Ministry”? At gatherings of the priests of the diocese they say, “That policy has nothing to do with us.” It is not an exaggeration to say that the Diocese of Takamatsu is being used by the “Way” When it came time for First Communion in the parish, a priest of the “Way” asked that he be allowed to give First Communion to the children of the members of the “Way”. When a member of the “Way” 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 “in charge” of Enoguchi Parish. Who named him to that post? In some secret way a priest of the “Way” had been named to look after the liturgy and gatherings of the “Way” in that parish. In order to augment the following of the “Way” many meetings and events are planned and carried out in secret. REDEMPTORIS SEMINARY At the present time the Takamatsu Diocesan International Redemptoris Mater Seminary has been closed in the diocese and has moved to Rome as “Redemptoris Mater Seminary for Japan”. 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 “Way”. 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 “We are being persecuted.” MISSIONARY FAMILIES 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 “Way”. 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 “Way” no longer came to the parish and because of difficulties with the Japanese language, it became difficult for them to grasp their mission. LITURGIES The members of the “Way” celebrate a special Mass according to their own catechesis that is not part of the liturgical guidelines of the Bishops’ 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 “Way” - tried to deal with this issue quietly without making public statements. However, the members of the “Way” did not grasp the Bishop’s intention and continued to ignore him. Each time an issue came up the emphatic answer was “We obey the Vatican.” 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. JA13320.1641
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