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Online Edition - Vol. V, No. 10: February 2000

Japanese Bishops Seek "Asian Way"

While challenging certain practices and attitudes of Japanese society, the official publications of the Japanese bishops' conference (CBCJ) also frequently reflect a militant cultural nationalism, which criticizes the Vatican for operating from a "Western, centralized" model that does not take account of "Asian spiritual realities".

In September 1996, the response of the Japanese bishops to the Holy See's Lineamenta, the preparatory document for the Synod for Asia, concludes that,

"Since the questions of the Lineamenta were composed in the context of Western Christianity, they are not suitable.... One finds in the Lineamenta a certain 'defensiveness' and apologetic attitude. This makes the expressions presenting certain other theological positions clearly unfair and inadequate. This is especially clear in the section on Christology. This does not help the faith of Asian Christians. What is necessary is an open and spiritual Christology rooted in real life and alert to the problems of modern people.... We should try to discover what kind of Jesus will be a 'light' to the peoples of Asia".

The bishops are remarkably candid, as their web site amply reveals. Readers with access to the Internet might find it enlightening to review the CBCJ's web site. Some American Catholics who think problems of internal disunity and dissent are a characteristic primarily found in Europe and the Western hemisphere may find the open dissenting views of the Japanese hierarchy surprising.

Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan

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