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Former Tokyo archbishop 'takes the plunge' to publicize criticism of Roman Curia

Archbishop Emeritus Takeo Okada expects 'blowback' in response to letter originally written to pope reporter, Tokyo reporter, Tokyo

Updated: September 24, 2019 01:05 PM GMT
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Former Tokyo archbishop 'takes the plunge' to publicize criticism of Roman Curia

A file image of Archbishop Emeritus Takeo Okada blessing the Shrine of the Divine Mercy on Nov. 13, 2016, to mark the end of Pope Francis' Jubilee of Mercy. Okada was archbishop of Tokyo from 2000 to 2017. (Photo by the Catholic Weekly of Japan)

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The former archbishop of Tokyo has issued an open letter expressing his personal views on “renewal of the Roman Curia.”

Archbishop Emeritus Takeo Okada told that he decided to “take the plunge” and make public a slightly revised message he had earlier sent to Pope Francis.

The message, dated Sept. 23, focuses on three areas where the archbishop says the Vatican has not been of useful service to and has even hampered the Church in Japan: inculturation, decentralization and spiritualization.

Archbishop Okada’s comments on inculturation focus on the liturgy. He complains that: “the new version of the General Instruction of the Roman Mass will result in the cancellation of some cases of adaptation which were previously permitted to the Bishops’ Conference of Japan.”

The bishops “sent our new alternative plan to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments some years ago,” but, “until now we have had no response from the congregation.”

The archbishop further complained that the centralization of administration in Rome deprives the Church of the talents of people around the world.

“I suggest that the Holy See try greater decentralization of power through delegation to the bishops’ conferences,” he wrote. “It is very desirable for the universal Church to share responsibility among local Churches.”

He pointed out that, “half of the population of the world consists of Asians. The Holy See should make use of the human resources of Asian countries.”

Archbishop Okada said that Japanese society lacks “genuine spiritual Christian values, values which we would expect to find at the center of our universal Church in Rome.”

However, he further said, instead of being, “a sign for us through poor, humble, faithful and holy servants of our Lord Jesus Christ working there,” the Curia gives, “a bad impression of the world of the Vatican as a place of power struggles or games.”

He expressed the hope that initiatives being led by Pope Francis will help the Holy See “become as holy as its name indicates.”

Okada, who was archbishop of Tokyo from 2000 until 2017 and is now the administrator of a parish in that city, told that he expects “blowback” in response to his letter.

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