Roman Catholic Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), visited Japan in August to attend the Interreligious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Religious Summit Meeting on Mount Hiei. The gathering was held August 3-4 at the Kyoto International Conference Center in Kyoto and Enryakuji temple on Mount Hiei, in Shiga Prefecture.
Archbishop Celata also met with other religious leaders at various places, including the headquarters of Rissho Kosei-kai, in Tokyo. Accompanied by Archbishop Joseph Chennoth, apostolic nuncio to Japan, and Most Rev. Peter Takeo Okada, the archbishop of Tokyo, he visited Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters on August 1. They conferred with Rev. Nichiko Niwano, president of Rissho Kosei-kai and of the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (Religions for Peace Japan), and Ven. Gijun Sugitani, chair of Religions for Peace Japan, in the Horin-kaku Guest Hall. Also present were Mrs. Nichiko Niwano; Rev. Kosho Niwano, president-designate of Rissho Kosei-kai; Dr. Munehiro Niwano, president of Rissho Kosei-kai's Gakurin Seminary; and Rev. Masahiro Nemoto, director of its External Affairs Department; and Rev. Tomokazu Hatakeyama, secretary-general of Religions for Peace Japan.
During the meeting, Archbishop Celata conveyed greetings to President Niwano from Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran, president of PCID. Archbishop Celata expressed the Vatican's appreciation for its long, cordial relationship with Rissho Kosei-kai. President Niwano said he participated in the World Day of Prayer for Peace in 1986 held in Assisi, Italy. In the spirit of Assisi, the Religious Summit Meeting on Mount Hiei was held the following year. As an advisor to the executive committee of the Interreligious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace, President Niwano offered words of welcome to Archbishop Celata. He expressed his intention to promote further cooperation between Religions for Peace Japan and PCID.
Ven. Sugitani mentioned the long-term exchanges between the Vatican and Japanese religious leaders and explained the present situation of interreligious cooperation in Japan. He said that interreligious exchanges in Japan, including with the Roman Catholic Church, had moved from dialogue to action.
Archbishop Celata emphasized the Vatican's policy of promoting interreligious dialogue, with the Vatican's senior leaders and local Catholic churches taking the lead. He said genuine dialogue should be inspired by religious faith and transcend legal, political, economic, and cultural considerations.
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