Doom For Japan? Pope Francis Meets With Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan Meanwhile In Tokyo Bishop Ayuso Guixot Promotes Peaceful Coexistence Of Religions Benefits Peace And Human Advancement

What's going on in Japan?

Pope meets with the imperial family & a bishop gives a talk in Tokyo about religious harmony. Is the Vatican pushing Japan into accepting more Muslims in Japan?

12 MAY 2016

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan. The Prince is the younger son of Emperor Akihito, and second in line to the throne.The twenty-minute meeting was private, and no statement was issued by the Holy See Press Office.The Prince and Princess gave Pope Francis a porcelain vase, and a framed emblem of the Imperial family. The Holy Father gave the couple a copy of his encyclical Ladauto si’ and a Peace Medal.

MAY 12-13, 2016

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Ángel Ayuso Guixot addressed the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations this week in Tokyo about the need to protect minorities in Muslim majority states. The prelate quoted Pope Francis in his desire that the world be “be ever more attentive, sensitive and participant in face of persecutions carried out in dealings with Christians and, more in general, of religious minorities.”

“The purpose of this High-Level Consultation” the Bishop stated, “should lead us all to invite to respect for all regardless of religious identity; commitment towards supporting citizenships rights of Christians in the Middle East; and engagement through dialogue.”

The Bishop continued by raising various issues required in order to promote religious freedom, including promoting social justice, cooperating in the financial world situation and poverty, promoting interreligious dialogue, and upholding “fundamental principles of ethical living.”

The prelate concluded his remarks by calling to mind the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on religious liberty.

The full text of the speech can be found below:

Religions for Peace (RfP)

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

High-Level International Consultation

May 12-13, 2016

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, Japan

Partnering with Religious Leaders of the Middle East in Advancing the Protection of Minorities in Muslim Majority Statesby His Excellency Bishop Miguel Ángel AYUSO GUIXOT Secretary Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Mr Chairman, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to be here with you to share in this High Level International Consultation to share on such an important issue that for me, as a Catholic, is the cornerstone on which to build our future in the Middle East, as in the entire world. I mean “citizenship”!

As part of this selected group of scholars and personalities, I hope that our reflections will contribute to advance in overcoming, in a global society, the limited concepts of majority/minority, protection, tolerance, etc.

Pope Francis, referring to the situation of displaced persons in the Middle East, asked that “world public opinion be ever more attentive, sensitive and participant in face of the persecutions carried out in dealings with Christians and, more in general, of religious minorities”… hoping that “the International Community will not remain silent and inert in face of such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrying disregard of the most essential human rights and impedes the richness of coexistence among peoples, cultures and faiths." (Pope Francis, Letter addressed to His Excellency Bishop Lahham, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem for the Latins, Vicar Patriarchate for Jordan, 6 August 2015.) 

Therefore, this High-Level Consultation should support citizenship rights and peaceful coexistence, as something very appropriate. In the Final Message of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, the Synod Fathers stated that “we are united by faith in one God and by the commandment that teaches us to do good and avoid evil”, that “we will build our civil societies on citizenship, religious liberty, and liberty of conscience”, and that “it is therefore our duty to educate believers in interreligious dialogue, the acceptance of pluralism, and mutual respect and esteem.” “Our mission and vocation,” they declared, is to “live together, as Christians and Muslims” (October 23, 2010).

“Christians are particularly concerned for the fundamental rights of the human person. It is wrong to claim that these rights are only ‘Christian’ human rights. They are nothing less than the rights demanded by the dignity of each human person and each citizen, whatever his or her origins, religious convictions and political preferences…” (Ecclesia in the Middle East, n. 25).

We all know that many times Pope Francis has wished to give voice to the atrocious, inhuman and unexplainable persecution of those in so many parts of the world – and above all among Christians – who are victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and in the silence of the entire world.

The purpose of this High-Level Consultation should lead us all to invite to respect for all regardless of religious identity; commitment towards supporting citizenships rights of Christians in the Middle East; and engagement through dialogue. My participation to this Consultation is because I am convinced that it is a excellent initiative to invite all parts involved once more to act and to contribute in promoting citizenship and true coexistence for all!!!

The attention of the whole world is fixed on the Middle East as it tries to seek its path. “May this region demonstrate that coexistence is not a utopia, and that distrust and prejudice are not a foregone conclusions. Religions can join one another in service to the common good and contribute to the development of each person and the building of society” (Ecclesia in the Middle East, n. 28). “The peaceful coexistence of different religious communities is an inestimable benefit to peace and to harmonious human advancement. This is something of value which needs to be protected and nourished each day, by providing an education which respects differences and particular identities, so that dialogue and cooperation for the good of all may be promoted and strengthened by mutual understanding and esteem. It is a gift which we need to implore from God in prayer” (Pope Francis, Address to Civil Authorities, Presidential Palace, Tirana, 21 September 2014).


In building a more fraternal world, we are called to promote social justice. The thirst and search for justice is common to all human beings trying to build up a more humane society. However, for us as believers, there is a higher common ground on which to build. Unfortunately, the role of religion in modern society is often misunderstood, unappreciated and even criticised as a source of problems and conflicts that make ill modern society. In his address to representatives of British Society, diplomats, politicians, academics and business leaders in Westminster Hall, during his visit to Great Britain in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI noted that “distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism” can create social problems. Religion, properly understood and properly appreciated, according to Pope Benedict, has an important role to play in political debate which is “to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles”. Therefore, Pope Benedict concluded, “Religion… is not a problem… but a vital contributor to national conversation.” Religious freedom is at the heart of the social project and is necessary for social justice. Religious freedom, therefore, is the fundamental basis for all other freedoms. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace on January 1 2011: “to deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family”. Addressing the Political and Religious leaders and representatives of the world of Culture on 15 September 2012 in Beirut, Pope Benedict XVI once underlined the importance of religious freedom that “has a social and political dimension which is indispensable for peace!” In fact, Christians and Muslims are called to promote a culture of peace. "As religious believers, it’s up to us all to be educators of peace, of human rights, of a freedom which respects each person, but also to ensure increasingly strong social bonds, because man must take care of his human brothers and sisters without discrimination. […]Together, as members of different religious traditions, we are called to spread a teaching which honours all human creatures, a message of love between individuals and peoples. We are particularly responsible for ensuring that our young people, who will be in charge of tomorrow’s world, are formed in this spirit (Message PCID Ramadan 2007, n. 3).

Addressing social concerns should lead us to cooperate in certain particular areas, like, for example, in the financial world situation and the poverty that is spreading worldwide. In fact, rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those who are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice because the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2439).

Today, our global society multiplies the occasions for an exchange through interreligious dialogue that the world needs. In fact, we have an urgent need that we, as believers, give a witness of the "transcendent" in a world always more and more secularized. In particular, "As men and women of religion, we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development, solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defence of life, protection of the environment and of the resources of the earth. This is because we too, while respecting the legitimate autonomy of temporal affairs, have a specific contribution to offer in the search for proper solutions to these pressing questions. Above all, we can offer a credible response to the question which emerges clearly from today’s society, even if it is often brushed aside, the question about the meaning and purpose of life, for each individual and for humanity as a whole. (Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate of Turkey at the "Diyanet" of Ankara, November 28, 2006).

It is the duty of believers to uphold the fundamental principles of ethical living. Religion has a decided hold over the lives of the people and therefore religions should be alert to the changing trends in society. Humanity without discipline is like an unbridled horse. Human beings are in need of direction and it has to be based on divine precepts and natural law. Religious beliefs must help people to discern the voice and appeals of conscience as well as to seek what is true and good. In practical life, religion must help one to “do good and avoid evil”. Human dignity is above all the highest principle. Personhood must be acknowledged. Anything that destroys or negatively affects the dignity and freedom of human beings must be considered immoral. Fidelity and service to “truth and good” must be the general norm in every form of human expression. Religion has a duty to protect the rights of all and help all to fulfil their ethical obligations. At the beginning of the Pontificate, the newly elected Pope Francis stressed the importance of protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world in the spirit of the Book of Genesis and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. He said that to be ‘protectors’ of Creation “means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. (Homily §Beginning Pontificate Pope Francis, 19 March 2013).

The subject of social and environmental protection arises as a genuine point of convergence among Jews, Christians and Muslim, a joint mission to see to the protection of our earthly city in a spirit of unity, within our diverse respective religious traditions, as a shared responsibility for all.

In its teaching on Religious Freedom, the Second Vatican Council taught that "the human person has a right to religious freedom," that this right means that everyone should be "immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups, and every human power" in acting on religious convictions, and that this right is exercised "in private or in public, alone or in association with others," (Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, n.2). The Council, in delimitating the coercive power of the State, outlined some of the basic requirements of a just society. As we have already stated earlier, how a society recognises and upholds the basic tenets of Religious Freedom, is for it to decide, but it seems that the most basic requirement is to anchor these rights in basic constitutional rights and guarantees in the Rule of Law. Since religion is not a mere private matter of the individual, the freedom from coercion in matters of belief for the individual, also apply 'in public ... or in association with others' so that the State has no right to coerce or attempt to control the internal life of a religious community, to determine its creed, or to use it as a means of social control. In 1979, Pope John Paul II, in addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, described religious freedom as the first of human rights, and in his speech to the same body sixteen years later, in 1995, when he cited the role of religious freedom in helping bring about the collapse of European Communism, he made a profound statement about the power of the moral voice of religion to hold tyranny to account.

In continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the teaching of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI continues to champion religious freedom as the basis of all other freedoms, such as in Lebanon just last month. For the celebration of World Day of Peace on 1 January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his annual message to the theme of religious freedom. It is worth recalling what he said there:

"Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.

"For this reason, I implore all men and women of good will to renew their commitment to building a world where all are free to profess their religion or faith, and to express their love of God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind (cf Mt 22:37)."

During his address to Political and Religious Leaders and Representatives of the World of Culture on 15 September last in Beirut, Pope Benedict XVI underlined the importance of religious freedom:

"It cannot be forgotten that religious freedom is the basic right on which many other rights depend. The freedom to profess and practise one's religion without danger to life and liberty must be possible to everyone. The loss or attenuation of this freedom deprives the person of his or her sacred right to a spiritually integrated life. What nowadays passes for tolerance does not eliminate cases of discrimination, and at times it even reinforces them. Without openness to transcendence, which makes it possible to find answers to their deepest questions about the meaning of life and morally upright conduct, men and women become incapable of acting justly and working for peace. Religious freedom has a social and political dimension which is indispensable for peace! It promotes a harmonious life for individuals and communities by a shared commitment to noble causes and by the pursuit of truth, which does not impose itself by violence but rather ‘by the force of its own truth’”.

Therefore, all of us are called to renew our commitment, with a sense of shared responsibility, for the promotion of greater social justice, through religious freedom, for a lasting and secure peace in the world. Echoing what Pope Benedict XVI said during his visit to Lebanon, may I conclude saying:

“Thoughts of peace, words of peace and acts of peace create an atmosphere of respect, honesty and cordiality, where faults and offences can be truthfully acknowledged as a means of advancing together on the path of reconciliation. May political and religious leaders reflect on this!” (Meeting with Members of the Government, Institutions of the Republic, the Diplomatic Corps, Religious Leaders and Representatives of the World of Culture, 15 September 2012, Lebanon).