1995-02-02 00:00:00

Catholic educators from throughout Japan met last November to discover what is demanded of Catholic schools at a time when the country´s many new religions are attracting many young Japanese.

At a symposium held under the auspices of the bishops´ Committee for School Education and All Japan Catholic School Federation, Auxiliary Bishop Paul Kazuhiro Mori of Tokyo spoke of young people new religions attract.

They might be analyzed, Bishop Mori said, as "young people who never had real experiences, only false ones, people whose ties with their family were slight, and who themselves lacked a spirit of independence."

"If the Church is to give a dynamic lead to such people, we must abandon thought patterns and methodology we used until now, and go to meet them where people are drawn to one another at a deeper level," he said.

Some 320 teachers from Catholic schools and missions at the 8th Symposium on Education, held at St. Catherine´s Girls´ School in Matsuyama Nov. 19-20, also discussed the meaning and ideal of religious education in the modern age.

A professor from the medical department of Tsukuba University, Doctor Oda Susumu, said the younger generation of Japanese is attracted to supra-normal phenomena and the new religions skillfully respond to their needs.

He advised taking a more daring, dynamic approach to young people.

Doctor Tadayoshi Murata of the psychiatric department of Sapporo Tenshi Hospital explained that "love originates in the religious side of man´s character," and a human being cannot be fully explained by physical science.

Applying this in the classroom means trusting in the potential of students, he said, and getting involved with them should be looked upon as prayer.

He said he hoped teachers would wait patiently and trust their students´ responses, and keep enough leeway to understand the humor of a situation.

A panel discussion based on Bishop Mori´s keynote speech took place between the bishop, Jesuit Father Jun Ikenaga and Notre Dame de Namur Sister Kazuko Watanabe, president of the Affiliation of Catholic Schools.

Sister Watanabe said it is necessary to equip students with an unshakable sense of values and the conviction they are loved. This is one of the challenges Christian education is called upon to meet right now, she said.


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