Pope names three new bishops for Japan

Three bishops-elect for Saitama and Osaka have lived in Spanish-speaking countries
Pope names three new bishops for Japan

Pope Francis celebrates the Corpus Domini Mass in front of the parish church of Santa Monica in Ostia, Rome, on June 3. (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Tokyo
June 4, 2018
Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop for Saitama Diocese and two auxiliary bishops for Osaka Archdiocese in Japan. All three bishops-elect have lived in Spanish-speaking countries.

Father Mario Michiaki Yamanouchi, 62, was appointed bishop of Saitama. He was born to a Catholic family in Japan's Oita Prefecture in 1955. When he was 8 years old, his family emigrated to Argentina to raise their children in a Catholic country. He was ordained a priest at 29 and has worked in Japan since 1997. Since 2014, he has been the provincial of the Salesians in Japan.

Since 2013, the episcopal see of Saitama has been vacant, and Archbishop Takeo Okada of Tokyo has administered the diocese even after his retirement as archbishop of Tokyo last December. The diocese has about 21,500 Japanese Catholics but an even higher number of Catholics from the Philippines and South America.

Claretian Father Josep Maria Abella Batlle, 68, and Opus Dei Father Toshihiro Sakai, 58, were named as auxiliary bishops of Osaka Archdiocese. Osaka Archbishop Manyo Maeda will become a cardinal at a consistory on June 28.

Father Abella is the pastor of Osaka's St. Mary's Cathedral. The Spanish missionary arrived in Japan in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1975. He had served as Claretian provincial from 1981-92 and as superior general of the Claretian Missionaries from 2003-15.

Father Sakai, secretary-general of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Japan, was born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1960 and entered an Opus Dei seminary in Spain in 1985. He has worked in Nagasaki Archdiocese, where he and Cardinal-designate Maeda, a Nagasaki diocesan priest, became friends.

Father Sakai is a member of the Osaka Archdiocesan Committee for Liturgy. He is also a master of the short Japanese haiku poetic form, as is Cardinal-designate Maeda.

The Archdiocese of Osaka has about 50,000 Catholics.

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