PONTIFICAL COUNCIL for INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Messages to Followers of Shinto
2015 - Christian and Shinto Followers Together Caring for Our Common Home
Dear Shinto Friends,
1. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you warm greetings and best wishes as you celebrate the beginning of a New Year, a solemn feast day for all Japanese people and especially for you, the followers of Shinto. May all your celebrations and the observances bring forth peace, harmony, happiness, and prosperity to your families, to your neighbourhoods, and to the whole of Japan! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
2. We write to you this year inspired by His Holiness Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter, Laudato Sì, On the Care for Our Common Home. The present environment crisis has reminded us that our plight today is global and there simply is no escape from it on this planet. As you are well aware of, the environment crisis is not just a problem “out there” but rather it has contributed to the deterioration of the quality of air, food, water, land, and life causing a deep fear that the earth will cease to be a healthy place for human life as well as for other species.
3. Pope Francis notes: “I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. […] he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. […] He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace” (Laudato Sì. n.10). The Pope further says that Saint Francis “would call creatures, no matter how small, by name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’” (n. 11).
4. It is said that “the ancient Japanese considered that all things of this world have their own spirituality, as they were born by the divine couple. Therefore the relationship between natural environment of this world and people was that of blood kin like the one of brother and sister” (Nature, It is Divine: Message from Shinto, Association of Shinto Shrines, p. 4). Accordingly, due to the inseparable relationship between Shinto and nature, you emphasise the importance of appreciating nature with awe and deep respect.
5. Dear friends, the relationship with God, with human family and with nature is under threat today due to the plunder of our common home by human greed. As followers of Christianity and Shinto what can we offer to change this environmental crisis? This crisis is, among other things, a spiritual problem. Therefore, a radical change of human heart, generating a global ecological conversion is the need of the hour. In this direction, we have a dual mission: i). To awaken our respective followers towards environmental issues by becoming ecologically oriented, theologically revitalized and political energized. ii). To work together to build an ecologically responsible social order.
6. Each New Year brings new hopes, new dreams, new plans, and new resolutions. For some, this is a chance to start over again and begin anew and for some others, it is an occasion to try something different. Inspired by our different spiritualties, let us make a green resolution to care for our common home by changing our lifestyles, our ways of production and consumption!
7. Dear followers of Shinto, on the first day of the New Year dedicated, in both of our religious traditions, to prayer for world peace, let us pray for our earth as well.
“All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.[…] Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light” (Laudato Sì, A prayer for our earth, n. 246)
Happy Oshogatsu to all of you!
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
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