Two persons have sent their reactions to the article "Looking at the Future" that Ando wrote in the 100th issue of this Bulletin. I want to make a brief introduction to their views.

One of them is Fr. Alvarez, Jesuit parish priest.
  1. He disagrees with the opinion that lay people are not considered co-workers in the Japanese Church. His experience is different.
  2. He says that all churches he knows accept foreign workers.
  3. He believes that not only NGOs, but also many Christians give a prophetic hope to our Japanese society.

The second person is a Christian living in the Kanto region.

She complains that the parish priest of the Church she attends is quite negligent and thus the faithful are deeply hurt. She writes, "why has one to think that a community is only the parish? A wonderful community of faith, no matter the lack of a church building, is a group of people that try to put into practice the words of Christ: [When I was hungry you gave me food to eat…(Math. 25:31-46)], persons who come together at the Lord's table on Sunday mass, trying to hand over the faith to children, and mutually encourage each other by doing voluntary service.

I read with deep interest both opinions of contrasting experiences, and I felt that, no matter the small size of the Japanese Catholic Church, with about 450,000 Japanese Christians, there is no uniformity. There is no doubt that many lay Christians and religious clergy are in the front of citizens' groups, giving prophetic witness. They often encourage us. On the other hand, as the booklet "Sakebi to wa Nanika", published by Caritas Japan for the Lent Campaign, explains, we can not take for granted that all Japanese churches accept the weak and powerless, and the fact is that there are people hurt within the Church. Unless we recognize with humility that our churches are not perfect, it is impossible to propose solutions for social issues to people outside the Church.
Let us not attack or defend to no use the Japanese Catholic Church. Instead, when we read the signs of the times under the light of the gospel, I would like to reflect on what is being asked of us now. (Shibata)
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