The Catholic bishops of Japan underline their specific situation in their reply to the Synod survey. About 0.35% of the population are Japanese Catholics – about 440,000. Catholic immigrants bring the total to about 1 million. Their situation is very dissimilar to Ireland, but some of their responses may echo the Irish experience. Since a very large number of marriages of Catholics are with a spouse who is not a Catholic, this adds an extra complicating factor. Homes where all are Catholic are few.
They say: “The questions and topics of this survey have been developed with the mindset of Christian countries in which the entire family is Christian. For example, religiously mixed marriages seem to be considered a problem.”
Their final paragraph: “Even while keeping in mind the various problems that face family life today, it is important to remember and emphasize the strengths of the traditional Japanese family. Without any need of encouragement, invitation or cajoling, Japanese still take part in funerals or weddings as a normal requirement. Such is the power of tradition that cannot be ignored. The Church must make use of this. The Church often falls short in this, presenting a high threshold for entry and lacking hospitality and practical kindness. As Hebrews 13:2 teaches us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality, for by that means some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The Church must be a refuge for those worn by the journey of life, and ceremonial occasions are places where they can experience that refuge.”
Their 15-page report in English can be found on the Japanese Bishops’ website: http://www.cbcj.catholic.jp