Archbishop Manyo Maeda of Osaka was more surprised than anyone at the news he is to become a cardinal. "People have been emailing and calling one after the other to say they had seen the announcement," the cardinal-designate told a ucanews.com reporter after Pope Francis announced his list of new cardinals in Rome on May 20. "I myself did not know about the announcement at all and I had no contact in advance. Personally, I don't think I'm the most suitable person to be a cardinal, so I still find it hard to believe." Archbishop Maeda is vice-president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japa
n (CBCJ). He was born in Nagasaki prefecture in 1949 and was ordained a priest for Nagasaki Archdiocese in 1975. After serving as secretary-general of the CBCJ from 2006 to 2011, he was ordained bishop for Hiroshima Diocese
in September 2011. In August 2014, he was transferred to Osaka as archbishop. As a native of Nagasaki
, Bishop Maeda was widely involved in the peace movement in Hiroshima. He also worked for the beatification of "hidden Christians" who had been exiled to Tsuwano in present-day Shimane prefecture, part of Hiroshima Diocese. In the final outbreak of anti-Christian persecution in Japan 150 years ago, some 3,400 Christians from Nagasaki were exiled to various places throughout the country, and more than 600 died. Archbishop Maeda can be called a legitimate successor to the apostles who were fishermen. When he was a parish priest, he frequently went fishing in his own boat and carried the sort of colorful flag that Japanese fishermen raise when they net a large catch. For many years, he has been involved with people with disabilities, while as a member of the CBCJ he has been on its committees for education and ecumenism. The cardinal-designate is also a master of the short Japanese poetic form called haiku
and his poems often appear in his sermons and articles. Archbishop Maeda is the sixth Japanese to be named a cardinal, but unlike his predecessors he has not been active in international matters.