By Carol Glatz - Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Japanese bishops, including the president of
the bishops' conference, met with Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican
officials to discuss the Neocatechumenal Way.
The Dec. 13 meeting with four Japanese bishops had been called by
Pope Benedict, said the president of the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of Japan, Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga of Osaka.
He told Catholic News Service that the meeting lasted nearly two
hours and included the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio
Bertone, and "several other cardinals."
While the archbishop would not comment on the substance of the
meeting, he said the bishops would have to have further discussions
with the Vatican and the Neocatechumenal Way's co-founder, Kiko
The Japanese bishops "have to make a plan to proceed," he said,
adding, "We have to proceed slowly."
The meeting came more than a year after the Neocatechumenal Way's
Redemptoris Mater seminary in Takamatsu was closed.
Bishop Francis Osamu Mizobe of Takamatsu and the diocesan pastoral
council wanted to shut down the seminary because of concerns that
the activity of the Way's members was damaging the unity of Japan's
small Catholic community.
The Vatican conducted an investigation in 2007, and in 2008,
Cardinal Bertone released a letter announcing the seminary would be
closed and that many of the seminarians and faculty would be
transferred to the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Rome.
According to an April 2009 news release on the Japanese bishops'
website, the Neocatechumenal Way disagreed with the closure.
The bishops' concerns with the Way and the seminary were so strong
that they traveled to Rome twice in early 2008 after their "ad
limina" visit in December 2007.
They met with Vatican officials and the pope to discuss what Tokyo
Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada, then-president of the bishops'
conference, said was "a serious problem."
"The powerful sect-like activity of Way members is divisive and
confrontational. It has caused sharp, painful division and strife
within the church," the archbishop said Dec. 15, 2007, in an address
to the pope during the bishops' "ad limina" visit, made every five
years to report on the status of the dioceses. The archbishop
appealed to the pope for assistance, saying his input "was direly