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Muslims Rename Mosque in Honor of Mary, Mother of Jesus

The first mosque named “Mariam, Umm Eisa (Mary, Jesus’ Mother) Mosque.”

►A mosque in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been renamed “Mariam, Umm Eisa (Mary, Jesus’ Mother) Mosque.”

Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi crown prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ordered that the mosque be renamed to “consolidate bonds of humanity between followers of different religions.”

[Mary (Mariam) is revered in Islam as the mother of Jesus. She is mentioned in the Qur’an 34 times, while Jesus (Isa) is mentioned 25 times.]

Rev. Elias D. Mallon places this development in context:

“Our Lady plays an important role in Islam. She is the virgin mother of Jesus, although with no connotation of the Incarnation as understood by Christians. She is the one who hears God’s word and believes it. And in the Qur’an, she is the focus of Chapter 19.

“When members of the early Muslim community fled to Abyssinia (ancient Ethiopia) to escape persecution, they were required by the king to explain their new faith. When he heard of the devotion they had to Mary, he immediately accepted them as protected refugees.

“Two women play a major role in Islam. The first is Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and wife of Ali bin Abi Talib. The second is Mary, Mother of Jesus. Known among Muslims as Fatimah al-Zahra, “the Illustrious,” the daughter of the Prophet is widely revered in Sunni and especially Shi’ite Islam.

“While it is common among Shi’ites to have mosques bearing the name of Fatimah, to my knowledge this mosque in Abu Dhabi is the first to be named after the Virgin Mary.” ◘

From ALETEIA.ORG

Pope Urges Japanese Bishops to Build on the Memory of Their Martyrs

Pope Urges Japanese Bishops to Build on the Memory of Their Martyrs
Pope Francis meeting Japanese Bishops on their Ad Limina visit to the Vatican – (17/09/2017). The Catholic Church of Japan has 42 Saints and 394 Beati (Blessed) — all Martyrs!

►(Vatican Radio) — Pope Francis has urged Christians in Japan to face current challenges bearing in mind the witness of their many martyrs.

In a letter addressed to the Bishops of Japan, on the occasion of Cardinal Fernando Filoni’s pastoral journey to the Land of the Rising Sun, the Pope held up the memory of Japan’s many martyrs and ‘hidden Christians’ whom, he said, from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries lived clandestinely so as not to have to repudiate their faith.

Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has undertaken a pastoral journey to Japan lasting from 17 to 26 September.

Japanese Christians facing current challenges

In the letter, the Pope pointed out that Japanese Christians are facing “the challenges that current times pose” and he invited them not to be “resigned,” nor to resort to “an ironic or paralyzing dialogue even although there are problematic situations that raise not a few concerns.”

Amongst the situations that arouse concern, the Pope mentioned the “high rate of divorce” in Japan, “the number of suicides, even among young people,” the phenomenon of the ‘hikikomori’ – people who choose to live completely disconnected from society, “religious and spiritual formalism, moral relativism, indifference towards religion, an obsession for work and earning”.

It is also true, the Pope continued, that a society that is a frontrunner in economic development leaves many behind: the poor, the marginalized, the excluded – not only those who are excluded in a material sense, but also those who are spiritually and morally in need.

Need for constant renewal in the Church

Within this particular context, Francis pointed out that it is necessary and urgent that the Church in Japan be constantly renewed, always bearing in mind “Jesus’ mission which is salt and light.”

The Pope concluded pointing out that the true evangelical force of the Japanese Church stems from the fact that it has been a Church of martyrs and confessors of the faith, and this “is a great asset to be safe-guarded and developed.” ◘

All Philippine Church Bells To Toll for 40 Nights — from Sept. 14 to October 24, 2017

In Grim Protest Against Grievous Extra-Judicial Killings (EJT) of the Poor and Defenseless

Agence France Presse

►Church bells tolled across the country for five minutes beginning Thursday night (Sept. 14) – and for the next 40 nights — as Catholic bishops rallied opposition to the “reign of terror” that has left thousands dead in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

The Philippine National Police has reported killing more than 3,800 people to fulfill Mr. Duterte’s vow to rid the Philippines of narcotics, with the 15-month crackdown triggering wider violence that has seen thousands of other people found dead in unexplained circumstances.

Forty Nights

Church bells tolled at 8 p.m. to honor the dead and remind the living that the bloodshed must stop. The ritual will continue for 40 nights.

“We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing,” the archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (in photo), said in a pastoral letter last week launching the campaign.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Soc Villegas, followed up this week with an even stronger pastoral letter. “For the sake of the children and the poor, stop their systematic murders and spreading reign of terror,” Villegas wrote.

Mr. Duterte won last year’s presidential election on a brutal law-and-order platform in which he promised an unprecedented campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing up to 100,000 traffickers and addicts.

Top Priority

He has made the drug war the top priority of his administration, and has regularly encouraged more bloodshed with comments such as describing himself as “happy to slaughter” three million addicts. Nevertheless, Mr. Duterte and his aides reject allegations they are overseeing a crime against humanity.

Self-Defense?

They say police are killing only in self-defense, and the thousands of other unexplained murders could be due to drug gangs fighting each other.

Many Filipinos looking for quick solutions to crime continue to support Duterte, according to polls, and he enjoys majority backing in both houses of Congress.

But the Church has emerged as the leader of a growing opposition in recent months.

The killings of three teenagers, two of them at the hands of Caloocan police, sparked rare street protests against the crackdown.

Church officials say the tolling of bells is a direct throwback to the Crusades in the Medieval Age, when Christian nations of Europe sent military expeditions to reclaim holy places in the Middle East.

The Catholic Church, to which eight in 10 Filipinos belong, has a history of influencing politics in the Philippines and helped lead the  Edsa People Power Revolution that overthrew dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. —AFP

 

What Philippine Fruits Did Lord Takayama Taste?

Tropical fruit samples from philippinecuisine.net

►That question is often asked by Japanese pilgrims tracing the footsteps of Lord Justo Takayama Ukon in Manila. Many guests insist on a side trip to a fruit market to buy a sampler basket of tropical fruits. They never buy bananas or pineapples — they have those in Japanese grocery stores. But they like ripe mangoes, chicos and guayabano (jackfruit.)

The Philippine Jesuits were superb hosts, of course. But they left no notes about what they stocked the pantry of the Takayama family at their ‘Casa San Miguel’ guesthouse in Intramuros.

But there were choices a-plenty – if his wife, Dona Justa Takayama, or daughter, Lucia Yokoyama, could drop by the Chinese open-air fruit stalls at the nearby Parian de los Sangleyes just outside the Walls of Intramuros. ◘

Dr. ERNIE A. DE PEDRO
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Manila Tours for Japanese Pilgrims Tracing Lord Takayama’s Footsteps

Blessed Takayama Tour Medallions
Blessed Takayama Tour Medallions. First medal (left) shows Lord Takayama as a mounted samurai. The second is a double-sided medal featuring profile of Takayama — from Manresa mosaic in Barcelona.

Centered on Intramuros, the Tour Is For One or Two Days

►For Japanese pilgrims tracing the footsteps of Lord Takayama Ukon in Manila, the Takayama Foundation developed “A Japanese Pilgrim’s Tour of Takayama’s Manila.” Depending on the time available, sites are selected by the tour coordinator from a checklist:

||| The Governor’s Galera (galley propelled by oarsmen) – which was dispatched to Bataan to pluck all the exiles on the demasted Chinese sampan — landed on the open beach fronting the Palace of the Governor-General Juan de Silva, as the whole city turned out “to see the men of whom such great things had been told.” The “Takayama 350” made their Manila Bay landing at the Governor’s Gate (named Postigo Gate only in 1662). The landing faced the open sea, with no walled defences yet in 1614. Only ships on business with the Governor or Manila Archbishop were allowed to debark there, for security reasons. All other commercial ships landed at the mouth of the Pasig River, and paid customs duties at the Aduana. Colin/Pastells notes — “as it was very late” — indicating that the Galera arrived at the Manila Bay landing in the afternoon.

The Governor sent his entire guard and many distinguished persons to escort the party from the landing to the palace. The galera signaled the arrival of Lord Takayama with a cannon and the artillery on the batteries of Fort Santiago answered in unison.

||| The Palacio del Gobernador – not the same building we have today — is where military honors were rendered to Lord Takayama by Spanish troops, passing in review. The troops were told: Make your marching very snappy; Ukon was Commanding General of Hideyoshi’s vanguard! The company of arquebusiers gave a salute with such precision that Lord Takayama who had been a samurai all his life, was greatly pleased and he praised the precision and dexterity with which the Spaniards handled their pieces.

The Plaza Mayor in front of the Manila Cathedral (renamed “Plaza Roma” when Manila Archbishop Rufino J. Santos became the first Filipino cardinal in 1960) was filled with welcomers — nobles, citizens and religious — dressed in their Sunday best, because in fact December 21, 1614 was a Sunday.

||| The exiles then ascended the palace’s stairs to meet the Governor, Manila Archbishop Diego Vázquez de Mercado (r. 16081616), the auditors of the Royal Audiencia and the highest ranks of citizens who were waiting. The Governor advanced with open arms to meet them and that first greeting and reception was accompanied by many tears from each party. There was a pleasant exchange of words and compliments in which Don Justo showed great courtesy and ease. As it was very late, they bade each other good-bye very courteously and Don Justo thanked the Governor for his charitable hospitality.

||| The Manila Cathedral (III) which had been rededicated only ONE week earlier in December 1614, is where the ancient Latin hymn of praise “Te Deum Laudamus” was sung to thank God for the Christian exiles’ deliverance from a perilous voyage: We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. / All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting. / To thee all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein. / To thee Cherubim and Seraphim: continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts…”

As the “Te Deum” was the battle-hymn of “The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki” (1597) as they, with their left ears lobbed off, were force-marched barefoot through the snow from Kyoto to Nagasaki — a distance of some 1,000 km passing through Sakai, Osaka, Hyogo, Akashi, Himeji, Okayama, Mihara, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Kokura, Shigashima, Hakata, Tokitsu, and finally, Nishizaka (Nagasaki) — which the martyrs (including the Franciscan missionary, St. Pedro Bautista, of San Francisco del Monte, Manila) covered in 27 days – it may be presumed that “Takayama’s 350,” who were all living on the edge of martyrdom, knew the Latin hymn by heart.

||| The Governor-General then placed his carriage at the disposal of Don Justo to bring him, his wife Justa, his daughter Lucia and his five grandsons to the Colegio San Jose (in the Jesuit compound now occupied by Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.). Don Juan Ronquillo, with a guard of soldiers and an escort of noble persons, accompanied the carriage. Such a large crowd turned out to see the entourage that it was difficult to pass through the throng desirous of showing honor to the exiles. On its way to the Jesuit College, the cortege passed by San Agustin Church, where the bells were rung, and the clergy came to the doors, and music of various kinds greeted the Japanese.

||| On reaching the Jesuit College, they dropped by the Santa Ana Church with the same festive sounds of bells and clarinets as in the other churches. Thence the party was conducted to the Jesuit refectory where they ate that day, and afterwards shown to some good houses near the Jesuit College which had been prepared for them. Everyone co-operated to show honor to the exiles in a manner in keeping with that first reception.

||| The site of the earthquake-ravaged Jesuit-owned Santa Ana Church, now the site of Pamantasan ng Maynila [City University of Manila] – where the original tomb of Takayama was located.

|||  The putative location of Takayama’s lodgings at the Jesuit-owned “Casa San Miguel” (as pinpointed by the Georgetown University archivist, Fr. W. C. Repetti, SJ) – where private townhouses now stand.

||| San Agustin Church — The Inner Court Garden is where Lord Takayama met with Japanese visitors bringing news from Japan.

|||  (OPTIONAL) The Bastion de San Francisco de Dilao (at the Muralla), whose four cannons were pointed at the Japanese community – showing that the cannons were aimed directly at the Manila City Hall, which was the original location of the Dilao community in 1592, when it was designated for Manila Japanese residents.

|||  (OPTIONAL) San Marcelino Church (St. Vincent de Paul Church) where a Memorial Mass for Takayama Ukon was celebrated on Sept. 20, 1942 by Osaka Bishop Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi, with Philippine government officials in attendance. At the side of the church is a marker, commissioned by Ryohei Fujimoto to commemorate the first Japanese nihon-machi in Dilao. This was inaugurated on April 25, 2002 by Manila Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (r. 1998-2007).

||| (OPTIONAL) Visit to the Paco Church (San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church) which ministered to the Japanese community of 3,000.

|||  The UST Chapel (site of the annual Takayama Memorial Mass since 1991); site where one of the FOUR Japanese seminarians (from the Japanese Army’s Catholic Unit) who enrolled at the UST Central Seminary during World War II, was ordained a priest on January 5, 1945; where three Popes – Pope Paul VI (1970), St. Pope John Paul II (1981, 1995) and Pope Francis (2015) — have celebrated Mass.

|||  The Thomas Aquinas Research Center (also at UST), at whose entrance a Takayama statue stands.

||| The Takayama Memorial, inaugurated Nov. 17, 1977 at the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila..

(LUNCH BREAK: After memento photographs are taken at the Memorial, the Tour breaks off for lunch at the Philippine Columbian Clubhouse, which serves a great menu of Filipino dishes.)

|||  Visit to the statue of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (“La Japona”) which was “rescued” and brought to Manila from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Nagasaki by Lord Takayama and is now enshrined as one of three iconic images of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – (La Naval; La Mexicana, and La Japona) — at the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

|||  (OPTIONAL) — A side trip to Takayama’s putative gravesite at the Jesuit Cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, where the remains of Jesuit niches (including presumably the bones of Lord Takayama and Lord Naito) at the bombed-out San Ignacio (II) Church in Intramuros were transferred in December 1945. (After bringing back to Japan in 2012 a number of bones from the two putative crypts, Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (b. 1954- ), Chairman of the CBCJ Committee for the Promotion of Saints, concluded they could not make a definite determination – if indeed Takayama’s bones were among the remains in the crypts. But many Japanese pilgrims still opt to visit the Novaliches Jesuit Cemetery.)

To Japanese pilgrims making this tour, we present BRONZE MEDALLIONS with the legend: “IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF / JUSTUS UKON TAKAYAMA.” ◘

Dr. ERNESTO A. DE PEDRO
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

 

‘Monument of Filipino-Japanese Friendship’ – Enshrined in Chiba City, Japan Since 1958!

As soon as we get a clear photo of the Chiba Memorial, we will replace the flags!
As soon as we get a clear photo of the Chiba Memorial, we will replace the flags!

Earliest Philippine-Japanese Friendship Memorial — Antedated Plaza Dilao by 19 Years!

►The Philippines-Japan Friendship Park was inaugurated at Plaza Dilao, in Paco, Manila on Nov. 17, 1977 – after being planned since 1973.

But unknown even to the Filipino and Japanese developers of the Plaza Dilao project, there was an earlier “Monument of Filipino-Japanese Friendship” dedicated in 1958 — 19 years before Plaza Dilao — in Chiba City, across the bay from Tokyo, honoring three revered personalities from three different time-frames of Philippine-Japanese history: ♦ Lord Takayama Ukon, ♦ Gen. Artemio Ricarte and ♦ President Elpidio Quirino.

►The first is, of course, Lord Justus Takayama Ukon (1552-1615), who exemplified the Japanese immigrants who came to the Philippines and were warmly received 400 years earlier.

►The second is Gen. Artemio Ricarte (1866-1945), the unreconstructed Filipino nationalist who refused to swear allegiance to the empire-building Americans when they subverted the Filipinos’ fight for independence against Spain at the turn of the 20th century.

►The third is President Elpidio Quirino (1890-1956), who is remembered for his magnanimity in granting full pardon in 1953 to the last 106 Japanese war criminals, after they had served several years of their prison sentences at the New Bilibid National Penitentiary in Muntinglupa, Rizal. Japanese leaders remember the Christian dimension of this presidential decision, “emanating from the sublime Christian spirit as well as motivated by friendly sentiment to restore more cordial relations between the two countries” — in the words of the then Foreign Minister Katsuo Okazaki (April 1952-December 1954).

Engraved on the marble block is a poem by Tatsuo Terashita, who served with the Japanese Propaganda Corps in the Philippines during World War II:

Our two nations under different skies,
Rising nobly above the mournful past,
Firmly pledge ourselves to friendship and love.
May this bond of hearts of millions endure
Like the sacred fire devoutly kept
Burning ceaselessly from age to age!
 ◘

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

Japanese Priest with ‘100% Filipino Blood’ Serves 35 Years in Manila

Fr. Toru Nishimoto Devoted His Manila Assignment (1973-2010) to Funding Scholarships for Filipino Children — and the ‘Beatification Cause of Takayama’

►In the last years of his ministry in the Archdiocese of Manila, Fr. Toru Albert Nishimoto, CSsR (Aug. 29, 1933 – Aug. 21, 2010) – the first Japanese Redemptorist priest — had to have blood transfusions from Filipino friends during his long bout with kidney disease and leukemia. As  Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, OP (former Rector Magnificus, University of Santo Tomas) relates it: “‘Father Nishi’ considered his sickness as God’s way of turning him into a full-blooded Filipino. He once told his niece, Mako, after several dialysis sessions: “Not a single drop of Japanese blood flows in my veins now. It is the blood of my Filipino donors that keeps me alive.”

‘Father Nishi’ came to Manila in 1973 to further his studies in Missiology at the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) at the Ateneo de Manila upon the recommendation of his former professor at the Gregorian University in Rome. After his studies at the EAPI, he paid a visit to Cardinal Jaime Sin to share his findings on the missionary challenge presented by Japanese tourists. Manila was a major tourist attraction in those days and Archbishop Sin was very much aware of the influx of Japanese tourists. Cardinal Sin asked him to stay and continue taking care of the Japanese nationals in the country. Thus started Father Nishimoto’s missionary work in the Philippines.

For the Beatification Cause of the Christian Samurai Martyr, Justus Takayama Ukon, Fr. Nishimoto — as Chairman of the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation — supervised the translation work (from six European languages and Nihonggo) of the original ‘Positio’ — “Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon.

UCAN posted a story on Father Nishimoto in 1999 – 11 years before he passed away in 2010. That means there are 11 years of activities not yet reported on.

First Japanese Redemptorist

►MANILA — (UCANews – Jan. 12,  1999) —  A Japanese Redemptorist priest’s sabbatical in the Philippines turned into a permanent ministry here that includes evangelizing Japanese nationals through encounters with Filipino communities.

Since he arrived in Manila in 1973, Father Toru Nishimoto of Kyoto, Japan, has counseled hundreds of married Filipino-Japanese couples and facilitated visits of Japanese students to poverty-stricken areas in the Philippines.

The 65-year-old priest also established a scholarship program for Filipinos that has helped more than 26,000 students pursue various professions and vocations including the priesthood.

Beginning with teaching Sunday catechism to Japanese families in Manila between his classes at the Jesuit Ateneo de Manila, Father Nishimoto went on to visiting jails, hospitals and nightclubs frequented by Japanese tourists.

“When I reported to (Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila) at the end of my sabbatical leave, he welcomed me to (his) house saying, ‘Father of the Night, welcome to the House of Sin,’” he told UCA News. [In fact, “Father By Night” was the title of one of five books ‘Father Nishi’ wrote.]

He said the cardinal knew of his work at nightclubs, asked him to stay and assured him that as long as he was cardinal of Manila, the Japanese priest could continue his apostolate in the archdiocese.

Father Nishimoto officially began serving Manila archdiocese in 1975. He said the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of the Philippines asked him to extend his program´s services to all of the Philippines in 1990.

Pre-Evangelization Program

According to Father Nishimoto, the Pre-Evangelization Program (PEP) office offers Japanese nationals “a Christian experience in a Christian country.”

Aside from caring for troubled Japanese in the country, the priest counsels couples before marriage and conducts a youth exposure program for Japanese students.

Figures at his office indicate that intermarriage between Japanese men and Filipino women increased from 650 couples in 1987 to 6,840 by 1997.

Father Nishimoto said that he visits such couples who settle in Japan twice a year as a way to protect the faith of the Filipino spouse.

“Most Japanese have no sense of God,” he said, adding that he has organized groups in Japan similar to the Philippine-based Couples for Christ to monitor the marriages and build a community of married couples.

Scholarship Programs

In 1982, Father Nishimoto established a scholarship program that served 40 students. By 1998 it had helped 26,297 Filipinos from elementary to college levels. He said 150-160 students in the program graduate from college yearly.

“Today we have 3,000 scholars, and 1,000 of them are in college,” Father Nishimoto added.

“The reason I started the scholarship program was to let Japanese benefactors be awakened to faith in God by encountering Catholic youth in the country (Philippines) who are materially poor,” the priest explained.

He said he also initiated exposure trips for Japanese nationals so his compatriots could experience life in the Philippines through an exchange program for teachers and students and visits to materially poor communities.

Father Nishimoto said that the trips “aim to give Japanese (participants) a chance to rediscover their hearts through an encounter with a different country.”

In 1997 he hosted 40 groups of 7-40 participants each who interacted with farmers, fisherfolk and other sectors on different islands of the archipelago. ◘

Nota Bene: Father Nishimoto’s activities during the last 11 years of his ministry in Manila are still waiting to be written. ###

Were the Jesuits Ever Expelled from the Philippines?

Yes, in 1768. The Jesuits were able to return to Manila only in 1859.

► In 1759, Portugal issued a Royal Edict banning the Jesuits. This had a domino effect of Jesuits being exiled from various European countries — France (1764), MaltaParma, Sicily, the Spanish Empire (1767) and Austria and Hungary (1782). Of course, their foreign colonies were affected too. The historian Ida Altman writes: “Monarchies attempting to centralize and secularize political power viewed the Jesuits as being too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous from the monarchs in whose territory they operated.”

In 1768, the Philippines implemented the Edict, completing the deportations by 1771.

Still later — on July 21, 1773 — Pope Clement XIV published the Papal Brief (“Dominus ac Redemptor”) for the Suppression of the Jesuit Society. At that time there were 22,589 Jesuits, 49 Provinces, 669 Colleges and over 3,000 missionaries worldwide.

Did any Jesuit defy the deportation orders from the Philippines – as they had defied the deportation orders of the Tokogawa Shogunate, by going underground?  (No, that was simply unheard of. This was the Pope issuing a Papal Brief!) Alone among all religious orders in the Catholic Church, the Jesuits – as the Pope’s militia — owed special fealty and obedience to papal authority.

After their restoration by Pope Pius VII in 1814, the Jesuits returned to most of the places from which they had been expelled. In the Philippines, it took another 45 years to effect the return — in 1859. ◘

For the Record: Japanese Cardinal Makes Landmark Apology For Japanese War Role

Cardinal Shirayanagi Expresses Church Apology on Takayama Anniversary in Manila

►MANILA — (UCAN, Feb. 9, 1995) — During the 1995 Memorial Mass for the Servant of God, Justus Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) at the Chapel of the University of Santo Tomas (U.S.T.) in Manila, Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi of Tokyo — the prelate in charge of the Takayama Beatification Process — apologized for the suffering inflicted by Japan during World War II, which he described as the “darkest period” in his country´s modern history.

In his homily Feb. 1, Cardinal Shirayanagi said that Japanese Catholics, “as parties involved in the war, share in the responsibility for more than 20 million (war) victims in Asia and the Pacific.”

Japanese Bishops Ask Forgiveness ‘From God and Our Brothers’

“We, the Catholic bishops of Japan, as Japanese and members of the Catholic Church, sincerely ask forgiveness from God and from our brothers and sisters of Asia and the Pacific for the tragedy brought by Japan during World War II,” said the Cardinal, who was then president of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Japan.

The Mass at the University of Santo Tomas commemorated the 380th death anniversary of Lord Justus Takayama Ukon, a Japanese Catholic nobleman who died in exile in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615, as well as the 1945 Battle of Manila (Feb. 3 – March 3, 1945).

Some 100,000 civilians were killed in the month-long battle that began Feb. 3, 1945, in which U.S. forces retook the city from occupying Japanese troops.

This February 3, Manila city officials marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the battle with simple ceremonies at Luneta Park including wreath-laying, photo exhibits and a Mass at which Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila presided.

At centuries-old Santo Tomas, where the Japanese interned thousands of U.S. and other Allied civilians during the war, Cardinal Shirayanagi expressed “determination to keep Japan from committing the same crime again.”

“As the Church of Japan, we renew our commitment to work toward the realization of human liberation and genuine peace in Asia and the Pacific,” he said, adding that Japanese Catholics constantly pray for victims of the war.

Apostolate Among Overseas Filipino Workers in Japan Needed

One way the Japanese Church seeks to mend the damage inflicted against Filipinos by the war, the cardinal said, is through its apostolate with some 500,000 Filipino contract workers in Japan.

Even though Christianity reached Japan in 1549, but Catholics represent a small minority in his country, “only half a million among 120 million Japanese,” Cardinal Shirayanagi noted. It arrived in the Philippines in 1521.

The faith of Japanese Catholics, however, “has been tempered by centuries of relentless persecution … the most notorious in the world,” he added.

Also in his homily, the cardinal expressed gratitude for the “spontaneous response of the Filipino people” after the devastating earthquake in Kobe. This has comforted the victims of the January tragedy, he said, particularly as “this solidarity is offered by people who do not enjoy superfluities.”

Call for “Serious Effort for New Evangelization of Asia”

Cardinal Shirayanagi, who was also in Manila during the visit of Pope John Paul II on Jan. 12-16, reminded Filipino Catholics that the joint task at hand is “a new and serious effort for the evangelization of Asia.”

He cited addiction to worldly goods as the greatest challenge to evangelization today, having produced a “new idolatry.”

The cardinal observed that in Japan, people´s highest aspirations are to have more money, a higher standard of living and more material goods. ◘

— The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN)

Lord Takayama Ukon – Patron of the Jesuit Missionaries

Dedicated Evangelizer Among His Peers and Vassals

►“A leading and actively Christian daimyo,” Lord Takayama’s life intersected the careers of the Three Hegemons who unified Japan – from the beginning of Oda Nobunaga’s rule (1573), through Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s consolidation of the interrupted unification, to the Shogun Tokogawa Ieyasu’s death (1616) – as the three rulers effectively ended a century of turbulent civil warfare in Japan. Though he was a minor daimyo, Ukon’s fief in the castle-town of Takatsuki (which he ruled for 12 years) straddled the strategically important highway between Osaka and Kyoto. One center of power could not attack the other rival power without reckoning with Takatsuki forces first.

As Daimyo of Takatsuki, and later, of Akashi, Ukon became instrumental in the widespread Christian evangelization of Japan. He became the patron of the pioneering group of Jesuit missionaries — (by 1600, numbering 95) — who had learned to work a sombra de Justo Minami-no-Bô – exemplified by three formidable Jesuits with contrasting personalities and strengths:

Fr. Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606, Jesuit Inspector General of Missions in the Far East), who effected a strategy of avoiding religious conflict by adapting Christian teachings to Japanese customs and cultural traditions. The Jesuits built their churches in the Japanese style with interior rooms that followed local models, such as the use of “tatami” to cover the floor or of “shoji” to divide the inner space. These compliant churches conveyed the Jesuit approach to “accommodation,” according to which special attention was paid to the European priests’ and Brothers’ integration into Japanese society.

Fr. Organtino Gnecchi-Soldo (1530-1609) who, after earning the respect of Oda Nobunaga, built a Jesuit church in Kyoto in 1576, a monastery and another church in Azuchi by Lake Biwa in 1580. He also opened a seminary for the training of native Japanese clergy. In sum, he made a foundational contribution to missionary work in Japan.

Fr. Gaspar Coelho (1530-1590), Superior and Vice-Provincial of the Jesuit mission in Japan who became infamous among Jesuits and Japanese Christians alike for catalyzing the disfavor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi against the Jesuit mission in Japan. As he unwisely dipped his fingers into local internecine politics, Coelho tried to incite armed resistance by the Japanese Christian lords and wrote to Goa, Macao, and Manila for armed assistance. All of those he approached had much more sense than to comply, and his ecclesiastical superiors were furious at his ineptitude. ◘

 

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation