ASIA/JAPAN – During the Olympic Games marked by the pandemic, the urgency is “to take care of oneself and others”

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Tokyo – “The most widespread attitude among the population of Japan was the request to cancel or postpone the Olympics, due to the pandemic, for fear of an increase in infections. The situation we are experiencing is not easy. The most important criterion that inspires us today is to worry and take care of others, protecting health and the common good, in the spirit of fraternity”. This is what Fr. Russel Becker, OFM US missionary in Tokyo, parish priest at the “Franciscan Chapel” which is located in the Japanese capital says to Fides, while the Olympic Games are underway in the country, and the nation is lashed by the pandemic emergency. The Franciscan, noting the difficulties that Christian communities experience in their pastoral and social work, explains that “in general the organizers could have postponed or canceled the Games to give the country the opportunity to organize them when conditions were better than the current ones. Catholics in Japan share this opinion: theGames, celebrated in a climate of fear in society, have lost part of their festive spirit of universal brotherhood and even for Catholics it is now impossible to see and experience them as an occasion for evangelization”. Fr. Becker stresses that “the Churches in Japan continue to proclaim the Gospel of love”, even amid the limits and restrictions imposed by the pandemic. “There is always hope, we are called to announce it in this time when it is difficult for some people to see it: it is Christ Jesus. We point it out and encourage people to be optimistic: the faith approach today is made up of care and concern for others, it is the evangelical commandment of love that overcomes one’s selfishness”. And he adds: “We are part of the world, we must take care of each other, this is what our faith teaches us. We live as people who take care of others with the attitude of fraternity: we welcome the faithful to church with a number limited places during masses, we promote biblical meetings and premarital courses online, with the utmost attention. We pray that one day we can emerge from the pandemic and find evangelical ways to live with the challenges that this pandemic has presented to all of us”. At the end of the Angelus on Sunday, July 25, in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis also wanted to remember the 32nd Olympics which opened in Tokyo on July 23. “In this time of pandemic – he said – may these Games be a sign of hope, a sign of universal brotherhood under the banner of healthy competition”. The Pontiff added: “God bless the organisers, the athletes and all those who collaborate in this great festival of sport”.