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Japanese Bishops Publish Interfaith Guidelines in English

September 29th, 2010
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Japan’s Catholic bishops publish English interfaith guidelines

By Hisashi Yukimoto
Tokyo, 29 September (ENI)–Japan’s Roman Catholic bishops have published an English-language version of their guidelines for interreligious dialogue.

“Guidelines on Interreligious Dialogue – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan,” is aimed at foreign residents in the country.

“In Japan, where the number of Christians is extremely low, Catholics frequently have contact with followers of various religions and attend other religions’ events,” the bishops explain on their Web site. “We are often puzzled or bewildered on those occasions. It must be especially hard for foreign residents, who are not familiar with Japanese unique rituals, customs, and manners.”

“This book offers clear answers to various kinds of problems in the form of questions and answers,” the bishops add.

The guidelines consist of two parts, of which the first deals with the spirit of interreligious dialogue. The second section of the book includes 88 questions and answers relating to interreligious issues, and focus on real-life conversations, theological exchanges, and religious experience.

The questions and answers relate to topics such as, “Offerings to a Buddhist altar,” “Attending non-Catholic ceremonies such as weddings and funerals,” and, “Memorial services for the ancestors.” There is also an appendix on Islam.

The bishops’ conference originally published the guidelines in Japanese in September 2009 as a follow up to its 1985, “Manual for Catholics regarding Ancestors and the Dead”.

There are currently 192 Catholic churches in Japan. Christians in Japan account for only two percent of the 127-million population, and many of the Christians are foreigners, with a big segment coming from the Philippines. [265 words]

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