VATICAN CITY, APR. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The rise of violence, drugs and suicide in Japan calls on Christians there to present the “Asian face of Jesus,” John Paul II said.
The Pontiff encouraged the Japanese Church´s evangelization task when he recently received the country´s bishops, in Rome for their quinquennial “ad limina” visit.
Japan sees the Catholic Church as “Western,” despite the latter´s prestige in educational and charitable and human development endeavors. Only 440,000 of Japan´s 126 million people are baptized Roman Catholics.
The bishops met personally with the Pope and with officials of the different Vatican organizations, to address pastoral challenges and projects of the Japanese Church.
Last Saturday, the Holy Father met with all the bishops and delivered an address on the difficulties Christianity faces in evangelizing Japan.
“The close bonds between religion, culture and society make it particularly difficult for the followers of Asia´s great religions to be open to the mystery of the Incarnation, and to conceive of Jesus as the one and only Savior,” the Pope said.
Thus, it is necessary that the truths of the Catholic faith be translated into “categories more readily accessible to Asian sensibilities and the mentality of your people,” the Holy Father advised. “The challenge is to present the ´Asian face of Jesus´ in a way that is in perfect harmony with the Church´s whole mystical, philosophical and theological tradition.”
“At a time when many are confused about the meaning of life, or are searching for light to clarify the many existential and moral questions that trouble them, the truth about our human condition is the essential basis for building a culture and society worthy of the image of God inherent in every man and woman,” John Paul II added.
He pointed out the devastating effects of the consumerist mentality: “How many people, even among the affluent, are threatened by despair at the lack of meaning in their lives, by fear of abandonment in old age or sickness, by marginalization or social discrimination.”
Sadly, some “of the ways in which people seek relief are extremely self-defeating and destructive to individuals and society: violence, drugs and suicide come immediately to mind,” the Pope said.
The bishops reported that the Japanese crisis is spiritual, more than economic. The Pope concluded that the challenge facing Japanese Catholics is to “bring the Gospel to bear more visibly and effectively on the situation in which you live.”