Updated: August 11, 2021 10:27 AM GMT
Archbishop Isao Kikuchi celebrates a Mass for Peace at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo. (Photo: Tokyo Archdiocese)
Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo has appealed to Japanese Catholics to join in prayers and support the Myanmar Church as they observe the Season of Peace marking the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
The Ten Days of Prayer for Peace from Aug. 6-15 feature special prayers, workshops and other activities.
Although most events and programs for the Season of Peace were cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, churches in Japan held special Masses with the intention of wishing for peace on Aug. 8.
Archbishop Kikuchi celebrated a Mass for Peace at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo with a limited number of participants and was joined by Father Razun Norsan Vincent, a Myanmar missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
In his homily, Archbishop Kikuchi, who was recently appointed secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, appealed to the faithful to pray for peace in conflict-torn Myanmar and to make special donations to the Myanmar Church.
The prelate recalled the visit of Pope John Paul II to Japan in 1981 when he made a "peace appeal" in Hiroshima and said that "looking back is to take responsibility for the future."
The appeal from Archbishop Kikuchi is the latest effort of solidarity with the people of strife-torn Myanmar
Archbishop Kikuchi said the Japanese Church spends 10 days of prayers for “looking back on war and thinking about peace, and to remember that peace requires concrete action, not just a desire.”
“During this year's Season of Peace, I especially think of the Myanmar Church, which is a sister church of Tokyo Archdiocese, and pray especially for the people of Myanmar and for peace,” the prelate said.
He expressed sadness over attacks on churches in Myanmar that left several people dead and many injured, stating that such attacks on institutions like churches, hospitals and schools are violations of international laws applicable during conflict.
Archbishop Kikuchi also reiterated the call from Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo, who said, "Peace is possible. Peace is the only way."
The appeal from Archbishop Kikuchi is the latest effort of solidarity with the people of strife-torn Myanmar.
In March, the prelate jointly issued a statement with Cologne Archdiocese in Germany, New York Archdiocese and Regensburg Diocese in Germany to call for prayers for peace in Myanmar.
He also lent support and visited a photo exhibition on Myanmar in April that was organized by the Society for the Support of Burma, a Japan-based advocacy group.
The Catholic Church in South Korea has also denounced the bloodshed in Myanmar, supported the pro-democracy movement and provided aid to the Myanmar Church.
Seoul Archdiocese delivered an emergency donation of US$50,000 to the Myanmar Church, Catholic Times reported.
Korea Hope Foundation, a charity based in capital Seoul and run by Father Choi Ki-sik, has reportedly raised 55 million won (US$47,000) to support refugee children in Christian-majority Kayah state in eastern Myanmar.