Japanese Curia cardinal says Asia requires special attention

Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, who was recently replaced as president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, has criticised Vatican officials for paying inadequate attention to the Church in Asia and Africa.

Catholic World News reports that Japanese Cardinal Hamao said in an interview with UCAN that Roman Curia officials look upon the Catholic communities of Asia and Africa as "immature in terms of Christianity."

He said that the Vatican has "great difficulties understanding" the Church in Asia, and particularly the ways in which Asian bishops conduct inter-religious dialogue.

Asian people, the cardinal said, are more ready to accept pastoral teachings of Jesus Christ than to learn the Catechism, "because the Catechism is a theology - a theology that is European, not Oriental."

For that reason, he argued, the Gospel message must be introduced gradually to Asian audiences. "If we declare at the beginning that Christ is our Saviour, we cannot enter into dialogue" with Buddhist and Shinto believers, he said.

Cardinal Hamao decried the meagre representation of Asian prelates in the College of Cardinals, arguing that the distribution of red hats does not reflect the universal spirit of the Church. With the 15 new cardinals created by Pope Benedict in March, Asia - the most populous continent - still represents only a bit more than 10 per cent of the College.

The 76-year-old Cardinal also said that he was saddened to learn of the pope's decision to merge his Pontifical Council for Migrants with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, under the joint presidency of Cardinal Renato Martino. "No one consulted me," he revealed, saying that he learned about the change through the media.

The Cardinal said that when he met with Benedict XVI last September, the Pontiff gave him "no indication" that he had plans for a radical change in the Pontifical Council for Migrants.

Cardinal Fumio Hamao has not been alone in expressing his discontent with the changes Pope Benedict announced in March.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, has also voiced concern over the fact that his office was merged with the Pontifical Council for Culture, under the leadership of Cardinal Paul Poupard.

Shortly before leaving for Cairo to take up his new post as apostolic nuncio to Egypt Archbishop Fitzgerald delivered an address at a Roman conference in which he said that it would be a mistake to "reduce relations among persons of different religious to a cultural matter."

Outgoing Curial official criticizes Vatican (Catholic World News 10/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples

11 Apr 2006