Learning Latin Euro-centric: Japanese cardinal

Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao has rejected a call by Pope Benedict to learn Latin prayers and Gregorian chant as Euro-centric and "impossible for Asians", saying that Vatican officials treat Africans and Asians as second or third class.

In an interview with UCA News Tokyo-born Cardinal Hamao, who retired last year from the presidency of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, says that "many people in the Vatican think people of Asia and Africa are perhaps still too young and need to be instructed better. I think they see us a little bit as second- or third-class."

He said that he had also told Pope Benedict that he should appoint more Asians and Africans to the Roman Curia and the College of Cardinals, so as to further internationalise both bodies.

During his conversation with the pope, Cardinal Hamao also reminded him that with his resignation, there was no Asian heading any office of the Roman Curia.

He urged the pontiff to appoint Asians to Vatican positions. Three weeks later, Pope Benedict named Cardinal Ivan Dias of India as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

He noted that 21 of the 25 cardinals and bishops attending those meetings now are from Europe and the Americas, the Cardinal said he noticed that European-American "mentality" is very different from that of Asia.

"Most people in the Roman Curia are European- and American-minded. They cannot understand the mentality of East Asia and the Far East," he explained.

Vatican people, he also observed, "are very, very concerned about Europe, the European Union and the Christian roots of European culture. They want to expand this Christianity from Rome, from Europe, to Asia and Africa."

This inability to understand Asia and the Far East, he said, is somewhat reflected in Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love), the pope's new apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist. In that document, the pope speaks about Latin and suggests that Catholics learn some Latin prayers and Gregorian chants.

This is not a good idea, according to Cardinal Hamao, who taught Latin to the Emperor of Japan when he was crown prince. "It is impossible for Asians," he asserted. "Nobody knows Latin. Most priests don't study it, and they don't know it. That is European-centred. It is too much!"

Curia And College Of Cardinals Overly European, Says Cardinal Hamao (UCA News, 12/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao (Catholic-Hierarchy)

Samurai on way to beatification, Cardinal believes (CathNews, 12/4/07)

13 Apr 2007

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