Feb 20, 2012

Heavy snow in Niigata

We have quite a heavy snow in northern Japan this winter.  Though Niigata is well known as heavy snowfall area in Japan, Niigata city itself usually does not have much snow.  But this year is special.  Most of northern part of Japan has been covered by very cold air coming down from Siberia.  it is said to be an effect of earth warming and climate change.  We have to dedicate quite a lot of our time to clear the road and area from snow so that vehicles are able to move around.  It takes time.

Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ) has just finished its bi-annual general assembly in Tokyo from 13 to 17 February and all the 17 active bishops of Japan attended the meeting.  Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Chennoth also joined the first session to deliver his message.  CBCJ also organised jointly with Nuncio on Wednesday, 15th, Holy Eucharist to commemorate first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Tokyo Cathedral.  More than 90 people from the diplomatic corps residing in Tokyo also joined the Mass and more than 400 people came to pray for victims of the disaster with Bishops.  Next meeting of the CBCJ will be in June.

Feb 12, 2012

Caritas India Golden Jubilee

Caritas India is celebrating its 50th anniversary of foundation this year and there was an official ceremony in New Delhi on 20 and 21 January.  Since I had been invited to join the celebration both as the president of Caritas Asia and Caritas Japan, I was there to enjoy quite cold winter weather of North India.

The ceremony was held in a Catholic School next to the cathedral of New Delhi.  The secretariat of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India is also located in the same premises and Caritas India's head office is in that building.

The celebration was attended by more than 30 bishops who are in charge of management of Caritas India, more than 100 priests who are involved in regional Caritas activities, directors and coworkers of Caritas India and several government officials including Mr. Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Rural Development and the Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation who gave quite impressive speech.

Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi joined and celebrated Mass on the first day and Cardinal Gracias of Bombay joined on the second day and celebrated thanksgiving Mass in the Cathedral of New Delhi.

Minister Ramesh praised Caritas India for its contribution to national development and express his and the government hope that the Government agencies would have much more chance to work together with Caritas.  He said he does not recognise Caritas as religious organisation but humanitarian organisation based on Catholic faith and, thus, it will be possible for the government to work together.  However he also asked Catholic Church not to take specific political position which is against to national development such as saying No to nuclear development policy.

At least for this particular comment of the minister, Mr. Roy of Caritas Internationalis explained the position of Catholic Social Teachings during his own speech.