Japan: Bishops offer Mass ahead of earthquake anniversary

Independent Catholic News Source: UCAN/Japan Bishops Conference

A special Mass was held at Sekiguchi Cathedral in Tokyo yesterday ahead of next month’s first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster. The Mass, celebrated by 17 bishops and attended by around 400 people, was dedicated to the memory of the disaster victims and prayers for recovery.

Although the actual anniversary is on March 11, the bishops wanted to make the Mass a united expression of the whole Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ), and so scheduled it to coincide with its plenary assembly in session Monday through Friday of this week.

Before the Mass, a large screen displayed a Caritas Japan slideshow featuring photographs of relief activities underway in disaster areas.

The main celebrant at the Mass was the president of the CBCJ, Archbishop Jun Ikenaga of Osaka, assisted by Archbishop Joseph Chennoth, Apostolic Nuncio to Japan.

The nuncio also read out a message in both English and Japanese from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai diocese gave the homily. The natural disasters last year and the nuclear crisis they caused at the Fukushima Dai’ichi power plant were all centered in Sendai.

Bishop Hiraga offered his thanks for the aid and volunteers that poured in from the rest of Japan and from abroad.

Also at the Mass were around 60 dignitaries from foreign embassies, including ambassadors and their wives, who came at the special invitation of the nuncio.

Source: UCAN/Japan Bishops Conference