Church in Japan Readies for World Cup Championship

TOKYO, MAY 24, 2002 ( The Catholic Church in Japan is preparing to welcome thousands of Christians who will visit the archipelago during the forthcoming World Soccer Championship.

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The Japanese bishops´ conference has published Mass timetables and the addresses of Catholic churches in the country, in order to facilitate attendance at Mass by visiting soccer fans.

It also has a Web site,

The bishops plan to have Masses celebrated in various languages, and will publish the timetables in areas close to the stadiums where the World Cup games will be played.

Japan´s 126 million people include only about 500,000 Catholics. Most Japanese profess Shintoism — a religion based on the veneration of ancestors and nature — or Buddhism, with more than 200 variations and schools.

The World Cup Championship begins May 31 and will be contested in two countries: South Korea and Japan. The final will be held in Yokohama on June 30.

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