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Comments of the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
As We Conclude the Year of Faith and Start a New Year

As we conclude the Year of Faith and start a new year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan would like to convey greetings to all of you.
The Year of Faith, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI, concluded on November 24, 2013(1).
During the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI resigned and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became our new Pope. And at the end of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis presented his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium(2) which reflects the proposals from the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 2012, and offers strong encouragement and bright hope to the faithful of the world. I strongly encourage you to read Evangelii Gaudium which teaches us “the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world”.
In this exhortation, Pope Francis refers to various issues facing the world. The Pope is fully aware of numerous people’s suffering and sorrow. Nevertheless he calls us and encourages us to live “the joy of the Gospel” under such circumstances.
“The joy of the Gospel” is the joy of believing in the Gospel. It is the joy of believing in God’s mercy, encountering the Lord Jesus and advancing with Him. The Pope notes that he wants us to be believers who live the joy of the Resurrection rather than believers with gloomy faces as if every day were Lent.
During the Year of Faith we made every effort to confirm, deepen and convey our faith. With what words, attitudes and actions can we convey the joy of the Gospel to others? These are precisely the major challenges for the Catholic Church of Japan in the year 2014.
Although the Year of Faith has concluded, our journey of faith continues. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan plans to send you another letter, “A Request to look back on the Year of Faith”. Your support will be greatly appreciated.
On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we heard the voice of our Father in heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mat 3:17).
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (cf. John 14:6). He is also “the leader and the perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2). Let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May each of us continue our journey of life with “the joy of the Gospel” in profound encounter with our Lord Jesus, as we address various evils in today’s world.

January 12, 2014
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Peter Takeo OKADA
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

[Note]

  1. On the occasion of the Year of Faith, the Bishops’ Conference presented the following two statements to you:
    (1) “Message from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan for the Year of Faith ~Invited on a Journey to Re-examine the Grace of Faith~”
    (2) “On the Occasion of the Year of Faith ~the Challenges of the Church in Japan~”
  2. Apostolic Exhortation EVANGELII GAUDIUM of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World
    Its translation into Japanese is now underway by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.

... Click here for Japanese original


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