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New ecological guide by Japanese bishops to inspire action on environmental crises

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) has recently launched a new publication titled “Behold, It Was Very Good—An Invitation to Integral Ecology,” marking its first major release since “A Gaze Towards Life.”

By Mark Saludes, LiCAS News

This latest document, released on July 1, seeks to address the urgent environmental challenges highlighted during Pope Francis’s 2019 visit to Japan, which was themed “Protecting All Life.”

CBCJ President Archbishop Isao Kikuchi said after the Papal Visit in 2019, “Japanese Bishops resolved that in order to “protect all life”… ecological concern should be given priority, thus we established the Laudato Si Desk.”

The book draws its inspiration from the Pope’s encyclical Laudato si’, and under the guidance of Bishop Daisuke Narui, the Laudato Si’ Desk has been pivotal in its development, the prelate added. 

The text, aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and action towards environmental issues, is available on the CBCJ’s website and in bookstores for 800 yen, targeting a broad educational outreach.

Katsuhiro Obara, President of Doshisha University, said the book compiles the Catholic Church of Japan’s responses to the various challenges posed by the encyclical Laudato si’

“As readers progress through the book, which includes discussions on issues such as Minamata disease and other societal problems in Japan, they will find clues to personalize these global challenges. Moreover, the questions posed by this book reach beyond to other religions and the general society,” he said. 

The book is structured around three core actions: Seeing, Discerning, and Acting—principles that are rooted in the Church’s teachings and aimed at fostering a sustainable and harmonious relationship with our planet.

Archbishop Mitsuo Takami, retired prelate of Nagasaki, emphasized that the environmental crisis requires a concerted effort from all humanity to appreciate and protect our natural world as a divine gift.

“Today, the natural and living environments on Earth, which is ‘the home we all share,’ are in a critical situation,” he said.

Chikako Hagiwara, Principal of Caritas Girls’ Junior and Senior High School, describes the book as a transformative journey from despair to joy. 

“When one begins to read with the resignation of being subjected to a perpetual funeral march, what actually flows deeply is a song of joy. True to its title, from Genesis Chapter 1,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Naomi Uchiyama, a lay youth leader from the Archdiocese of Tokyo, said the first lesson that the book teaches “is that everything is a gift from God to humans.” 

“I sincerely want to embrace the meaning behind God the Father bestowing nature upon us and pray to live in harmony, hand in hand with creation,” said Naomi who represented the Church in Japan at the World Youth Day in Lisbon. 

The book does not only appeal to the Catholic faithful in Japan but also reaches out to society at large, urging a radical renewal of lifestyles across various communities and sectors. 

“To respond to what is happening on Earth, our common home, it is necessary to first understand what is happening, make judgments based on appropriate principles, and then, based on those judgments, decide what needs to be done and implement it,” said the bishops’ conference.

The bishops said the initiative reflects the Church’s commitment to integrating faith-based stewardship with broader social and environmental responsibilities, reinforcing its role as an influential voice in global ecological discourse.

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