THE SYNOD: THE NEXT STEPS Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Catholic Church in Japan, I want to thank all of yo […]


Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Catholic Church in Japan,

I want to thank all of you who are cooperating in the Synod journey.

In his General Audience on October 16, Pope Francis announced the dates of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The General Assembly in Rome will be held over two sessions in 2023 and 2024. The first will open on October 4, 2023 and go into recess on October 29. The second session will be held in October 2024. As he has emphasized from the outset, the Pope calls on the entire Church, not just the bishops, to deepen discernment through prayer and sharing, and to reaffirm and embody the ideal form of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Gathering responses from each diocese and the submission of responses from each bishops’ conference have already been completed. But our Synod journey does not end there. Through prayer and sharing in our various communities let’s continue to identify the path that the Church should walk, taking cues from the ten questions presented in the first preparatory document.

The responses submitted by the bishops’ conferences and individuals to the Synod Secretariat of the Holy See in August were compiled by experts and published on October 27 as a working document for the Continental Stage of the Synod. A provisional Japanese translation of the document, “Enlarge the space of your tent” (Isaiah 54:2): Working Document for the Continental Stage, has been prepared and will be available on the website of the bishops’ conference.

The Asian Continental Synod is being organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, February 23 to 27, 2023. The president of each bishops’ conference in Asia will participate, accompanied by two others (priests, religious and laity). Participation from Japan by those other than the president of the Bishops’ Conference is currently being arranged.

In addition, the FABC Central Committee has requested that by January 15 each bishops’ conference submit responses to the working document. We are currently working on our response to the final three topics. Reading the document and sharing these three questions can be a great clue to identifying the way forward. So please read this working document and continue to share in small groups depending on the situation in each place. While there are no plans to receive individual responses to the working document, communicating the outcomes of each sharing to the bishops through the Synod representative in each diocese will aid in identifying issues and ideas.

As we head toward the Holy Year 2025, the Church will walk together on the path of discernment, seeking the way forward and exploring what we should be. Please continue to pay attention to the Synod journey, joining us along with the Church throughout the world.

November 15, 2022
Isao Kikuchi, Archbishop of Tokyo
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan