By Devin Watkins – Tokyo, Japan
Pope Francis is not going to the large port city of Osaka during his 4-day visit to Japan.
But the local faithful will not be left out of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Bishop Paulus Toshihiro Sakai, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Osaka, told Vatican Radio that around 1,000 Catholics – out of the 48,000 registered – are attending the Pope’s Mass in Nagasaki or travelling to Tokyo.
“All the Catholics of Osaka have looked forward to the Pope’s visit and want to hear his words in Japan,” said Bishop Sakai.
Strengthening the faith
The demographic makeup of those Catholics is rapidly changing.
Osaka, as in other parts of Japan, has seen an increasing influx of migrant workers over the past 2 decades, many of whom are Catholic.
Bishop Sakai gives the example of foreigners coming from Vietnam.
“Many are young people,” he said, who come “for work in Japan. Their faith is very strong.”
He said they faithfully attend Mass each Sunday and “sing very well”.
“I think they are the future of our Church in Japan,” said Bishop Sakai.