VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II said Christianity offers ultimate answers to the people of Japan, where affluence and a consumerist mentality have been accompanied by a growing spiritual uneasiness.
The Pope, addressing Japanese bishops on their ad limina visit to the Vatican on March 31, said the Church must find a way to proclaim Christ in ways that the Japanese will accept and make their own.
He invoked the spirit of Japanese martyrs, saying they had planted the “good seed” of the Gospel in the country, which now must be developed by a Church community that represents less than 1 per cent of the population.
“As so often happens, affluence brings with it an array of problems, the roots of which are to be found in the human heart,” he said.
Archbishop Francis Shimamoto of Nagasaki told the news agency Fides that the Church was fighting a wide array of social ills in Japan – the spiritual effects of economic boom and bust, the weakening of family bonds, violence in schools and shocking crimes by children.
The archbishop said there was widespread “anxiety and sadness” among Japanese today, with a diminished respect for life itself.