ASIA/JAPAN - Catholic Tokyo International Center promotes "multicultural coexistence"

Friday, 8 March 2024 evangelization   immigrants   migrants   dialogue   integration  

Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - The Japanese call it "tabunka kyōsei", that is, "multicultural coexistence". It is lived daily in the premises of the Catholic Church of Meguro in Tokyo, where the "Catholic Tokyo International Center" (CTIC) works, an institution that was born in 1990 as a place of apostolate for the service of immigrants and refugees and today an appreciated reality, point of reference for the pastoral care and support of foreigners. The Center was founded with foresight on the occasion of the centenary of the founding of the Diocese of Tokyo (1890), because even then the ecclesial community was increasingly becoming a community made up of immigrants. Today the Catholic Church in Japan counts 450,000 Japanese believers and about 500,000 who come from other Asian countries, South America and Europe. The Center fulfills its mission to "welcome migrants, renew Japanese society together, and move toward a multicultural society and ecclesial community," said then-Archbishop of Tokyo Takeo Okada in 2008 when announcing the Center's reorganization. At that time, the focus was on strengthening relationships with ecclesial communities and parishes in order to actively involve the entire diocesan community. "Migrants and refugees are often seen as disturbing the peace of the place they move to. Pope Francis dares to call them 'men and women in search of peace'. Our Church wants to share the journey with all travelers "because God, who gives life, reaches out with love and mercy to all travelers," said Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, Chairman of the CTIC Board. Today, the center fulfills two main missions: it supports parishes in creating multicultural and inclusive communities and promotes the proclamation of Christ and evangelization among non-Japanese. An example of this is the celebration of Mass and the administration of sacraments in different languages: there are churches in Tokyo that offer the celebration of Mass in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Tagalog. The center also accompanies and supports immigrants and their families individually in solving problems they face in their daily lives and provides care to families in need in the event of poverty, illness or imprisonment. Meanwhile, immigration in Japan is seen as a possible solution to the demographic challenge as the birth rate continues to decline and the population ages. Filipino Scalabrini missionary Fr. Edwin D. Corros, CS, director and assistant of the Catholic Tokyo International Center, emphasizes: "We help foreign Catholics to integrate into local parishes by not only offering sacramental and religious services, but also ongoing training and assistance for the psycho-emotional and socio-economic needs of migrants. In the context of Japan, pastoral care of migrants is very important. The Japanese Catholic Church is a small minority in a relatively religious society in which Buddhism and Shintoism exercise great influence. The community of foreign Catholics represents an additional challenge for the local church, which must also maintain a Japanese Catholic identity. How to serve foreigners and locals alike requires enormous wisdom in evangelization. 'Multicultural coexistence', which is based on unity in Jesus Christ is always a "communal effort". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/3/2024)