Samurai on way to beatification, Cardinal believes

A number of samurai who chose non-violence in spite of their fighting skills are among 188 mostly lay Japanese martyrs expected to be beatified in November, according to Tokyo-born Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao.

UCA News reports that Japanese Cardinal Hamao, who previously headed the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, anticipates Pope Benedict XVI will soon approve a decree for the beatification of the martyrs, and he expects the ceremony will take place in Japan.

According to UCA News, Cardinal Hamao, 77, played a central role at a decisive meeting of 20 cardinals and archbishops at the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to discuss the cause for the 188 martyrs.

The cardinal, the only Asian in attendance, presented a compelling case for their beatification, saying that "they were put to death not for political reasons, not because they were political opponents, but by reason of their Christian faith."

His discourse stressed that "though many were samurai and knew how to fight, they nevertheless chose the path of non-violent resistance, and that is also very significant for people today."

The cardinal said the Vatican officials responded favourably, and "voted unanimously in favour of their beatification."

The prelate is particularly pleased that the 188 martyrs will soon be beatified because it marks "the first time the Japanese bishops have promoted a cause."

He noted that Religious orders, not bishops, presented the several beatified and canonised martyrs that the Church in Japan already has.

According to Cardinal Hamao, it is "highly significant" that all 188 are Japanese and all but four are laypeople - mostly women but also many children.

In his view, the beatification will be important for all Japanese, not just Catholics, because it highlights the fact that "the right to believe in a religion is a fundamental human right."

At the time of the martyrs in the 17th century, "it was not so, and the government persecuted people for this."

Cardinal Hamao Looks Forward To Beatification Of New Japanese Martyrs (UCA News, 11/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao (Catholic-Hierarchy)
Samurai (Wikipedia)
Japanese martyrs (Catholic Encyclopaedia)
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

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12 Apr 2007