‘Church needs Asia’s spirit of hospitality’
Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo (center) speaks to the media during a press briefing at the Vatican on Oct. 20, 2023. ROY LAGARDE/CBCP NEWS
By Felipe F. Salvosa II
October 21, 2023
VATICAN– “Come in but take off your shoes” is a widespread custom observed by visitors to Asian homes that Westerners may not be used to.
But for Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, Asian-style hospitality may just be what the stiff, Western structures of the Church need to be able to welcome more people.
“I think we have to really introduce our hospitality spirit into parish activities,” Kikuchi said in a press briefing on Friday (Oct. 20, 2023) at the sidelines of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
“We want to be the church welcoming all the people. ‘Let’s talk about your problem in the church. Take off your shoes. Come in. Don’t stand outside, but come into my house and let’s talk about your life.’ That’s what we want to introduce or implement in the churches in Asia,” he said in response to a question from CBCP News.
Asia’s input to the Vatican assembly, written by the Bangkok-based Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences where Kikuchi serves as secretary general, calls for a revisiting of Church structures to promote a “sense of belonging.”
The ongoing “Synod on Synodality” was convoked in 2021 to chart a way for the Church to become more collaborative and discerning, and is expected to wrap up in 2024 with recommendations to Pope Francis.
The Tokyo prelate said taking off one’s shoes meant being unburdened and free from daily worries, before being able to receive warm hospitality.
It’s also a “beautiful sign of respect” and an “expression of our deep awareness of the holy,” the Asian report to the synod, released in March, said.
“We really expect from Asia that the local cultures and local realities should be respected when we talk about synodality in the Catholic Church,” Kikuchi said.
Kikuchi stressed that “one size does not fit for all” and the synod “cannot just put one way to walk with all the people.”
“Synodality does not mean uniformity but we have to walk together as we are in our own cultures.”
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