Letter of Pope Francis to Cardinal Maeda

To our venerable brother, 
Thomas Manyo Cardinal Maeda
Archbishop of Osaka

When our predecessor Gregory XIII established around 440 years ago the Diocese of Manila, comprising the entire archipelago, had he thought at that time of how prosperous the development of the Catholic faith there would be?  Indeed, the noble Church in the Philippines now stands among the great Catholic nations in the entire world.  Hence, no wonder, she continuously sends missionaries to other regions.  In fact, this has already been occurring since the beginning: for, counted among the holy martyrs of Nagasaki were six Franciscan who have come to Japan from the Philippine islands in 1592 to proclaim the Gospel through words and works of charity, and in a short while have experienced the truth in the words, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5)

At almost the same time, the first metropolitan see in the Philippines, together with three other dioceses, was established by Pope Clement VIII.  Therefore, the Cathedral Church in Manila may be considered as the mother and head of the churches in this nation.  Indeed, this temple, which has truly undergone great changes—destroyed seven times by earthquakes and other calamities through the centuries—was diligently rebuilt again and again by the faithful.  Finally after being shattered by the Second World War, it was rebuilt from the ruins at the Lord’s bidding, “Build the house, and I will be pleased with it and I will be glorified… The glory of this new house will be greater than the former; and in this place I will give peace” (Haggai 1:8; 2:9), and was consecrated anew in 1958. 

Sixty years have passed since that joyful day, for which reason our venerable brother Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, humbly requested that a cardinal be sent for the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the rebuilt Cathedral Church of Manila, recommending you, our venerable brother Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Osaka and most outstanding son of Japan, to this office.  Acceding to his counsel, we appoint you by means of this Letter to be our Special Delegate to that solemn feast—you whom we know to be an eminent pastor, always concerned about the welfare of the Church throughout the world.

You are to act in our name, therefore, on the 8th day of the coming month of December, more than four years since we have visited it, at the Cathedral in Manila--also titled as Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary—giving thanks to God for the beauty of this temple but most importantly for the lively faith of the pastors and of the Christian faithful, who always pray there every day, approaching Christ the Lord, the living stone who is chosen and precious before God, so that they who are also living stones be built up by God as a spiritual abode. (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-5)

Through prayer we will sustain the great task of your mission, while even now zealously we place you, our venerable brother, under the most loving protection of the Holy Mother of God, Blessed Virgin Mary: “For there is only one God, and only one mediator between God and men, the man who gave himself as ransom for all, Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5-6), in whose Mother “he had the most perfect degree of mediation possible… and deigned to preserve her from original sin” (Bl. John Duns Scotus, Ordinatio III d. 3. n. 2).  And indeed desiring for you a heavenly companion in Manila, we also commend you to Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon, who is recently raised to the glory of the altars in Osaka.  We therefore abundantly pour upon you our Apostolic Blessing; and we generously share it with all of those to whom you will be sent: beloved pastors, seminarians, religious men and women, and lay Christian faithful, most especially the poor and the children.

From the Vatican, on the 15th day of November, the memorial of Saint Albert the Great, bishop and doctor of the Church, in the year 2018, the sixth of our Pontificate.



Read: The Manila Cathedral culminates its 60th anniversary



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