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Unilateral setup of new seminary surprises archibishop of Tokyo

TOKYO (UCAN): “I am very confused by the decision of the congregation,” Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, said in reaction to a letter from Fernando Cardinal Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, unilaterally announcing that a new seminary would be established for the Neocatechumenal Way somewhere in the Archdiocese of Tokyo.
In an August 15 statement he said he was not aware exactly where the seminary would be located or when it will become operational.
The seminary’s constitution, attached to the Cardinal Filoni’s letter, states that the purpose of the college is “to prepare lay faithful of the Neocatechumenal Way for the priesthood for the evangelisation of Asia.”
The letter continued, “Therefore, making its own the solicitation expressed by the pope for the evangelisation in Asia, after having consulted bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and laity, who are deeply concerned for evangelisation of the continent of Asia, with the high assent of Pope Francis, I established the Seminary Redemptoris Mater for Asia, with its principal Seat in Tokyo and directly dependent on this congregation.”
Archbishop Kikuchi expressed surprise that senior clergy in Japan including himself had not been brought in for discussions on the matter.
“To say the least, neither I, the local archbishop, nor Archbishop Okada, my predecessor, have been consulted,” he said.
A seminary with the same name—Redemptoris Mater—was established in 1990 in the Diocese of Takamatsu as a diocesan institute, but closed in 2009 after conflict with local lay people about the financial burden it represented.
This bubbled up into a dispute between certain groups and Bishop Satoshi Fukahori, resulting in a defamation suit against the bishop that he lost.
In his statement, Archbishop Kikuchi recalled those “tragic days.”
“I do not want to deny or ban a movement the Holy See has approved. Moreover, I (would) never limit or exclude these Vatican-approved movements,” he said.
However, “it is difficult for me to understand the re-establishment of a seminary solely for the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan without any reflection and study on this history,” he added.
In March, Japan announced it would be reversing a merger of the national seminary system, with the Japan Catholic Seminary’s two campuses in Tokyo and Fukuoka to now cover separate regions.
A former missionary to Africa, Archbishop Kikuchi has also served as the president of Caritas Japan and Caritas Asia.
There are an estimated 500,000 Catholics among Japan’s population of 127 million.

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