Homily during the mass for peace on 7th August at Nishichiba Church
Aug 7, 2005
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has issued a message on the occasion of Japan Catholic Peace Period of 2005.
This message is entitled:
“Peace message after 60 years from the end of World War II, The Road To Peace Based On Nonviolence, Now Is The Time To Be Prophetic.”
In this message, we the Japanese Bishops wish to stress the following four points.
1. The dignity of human beings
2. Reconciliation and solidarity with the countries of Asia
3. Fair distribution of wealth and preservation of the environment
4. Through nonviolent solidarity
Now I want to comment briefly on this message.
During the Second World War and before the War, the Catholic Church in Japan had a very hard time. The government and the people suspected that the Catholic Church might be a religion of the enemy and the faithful might be spies for the enemy. The leaders of the Church were forced to show their faithfulness and loyalty to the Emperor and the government by allowing the students and children to go to worship at the Shrines of the State Shintoism. Besides, the Bishops had to teach the faithful that this War is just and holy and so they must cooperate to the policy of the government. As a result, the Church not only admitted the invasion of the Japanese Army to the Asian countries but, assisted the totalitarian military regime. In fact our Church did not play a prophetic role. Now we recognize that our Church should have played a prophetic role by saying something against inhumane and anti-evangelical policy and military invasion.
Now we are in a situation more or less similar to the time before the War.
It is very urgent and serious for us to maintain the Peace Constitution of Japan, especially the Article 9 which declared the renunciation of war as a means of setting international disputes and renunciation of arms. This article 9 shows very evangelical spirit and also corresponds with the teachings of Pope John Paul II. The Pope emphasized that peace will be achieved only when evil is overcome by good, and that this will require a persistent struggle. And he said that ’one way out of the vicious circle of requiring evil for evil’ is not the use of force, but the building of peace through nonviolence and dialogue.
So, following the wish of the late Pope who visited many countries, including Japan, as an apostle of peace , let us join our hearts with the new Pope Benedict XVI to dedicate ourselves to peace. Amen.
Aug 7, 2005