Thursday, September 12, 2013

South Korean Catholics take Pope Francis' message to heart

While I admit that I don't know the whole political context of this, it still seems pretty awesome:
“When Pope Francis told Catholics to ‘get out of your churches,’ he was saying that we should be interested and engaged in social issues.”

This was the somber message from Seong Yeom, a former South Korean ambassador to the Vatican and professor at Sogang University. On the morning of Sept. 11, a committee for a Catholic manifesto on the NIS scandal held a “ten-thousand Catholic manifesto” press conference in front of the ruling Saenuri Party’s (NFP) headquarters in Yeouido. The more than ten thousand Catholics who participated in the manifesto were calling for an investigation into allegations of political interference by the NIS, which is bound by law to remain politically neutral.

“We South Koreans fought against injustice in 1961 [the April Revolution against then-President Syngman Rhee] and 1980 [the democratization movement in Gwangju],” Seong said, his tone growing increasingly emphatic. “We need to carry on that tradition and fight for victory in the NIS case.”

 Seong was followed by Jeong Joong-gyu of the Vocational Rehabilitation Institute at Daegu University, who explained the meaning of the manifesto.

“It’s significant as an acknowledgement that most of the Catholic Church’s political actions over the years have primarily been from priests and monks, and an attempt to broaden their scope,” Jeong said.

 The signatories called for a special prosecutor’s investigation into the election interference charges, punishment of the culprits, an apology by Park Geun-hye, and an NIS reform plan that “makes sense to the public.”

A group of 15 Catholic representatives and ordinary congregants, including Catholic Peace Community co-president Lee Won-young, announced the start and finish of the press conference with hymns and prayer.
I really admire these Catholics in South Korea for standing up against the possibility of government corruption and the allegations of illegal interference by the National Intelligence Service in last year's presidential election.  In America we Catholics tend to think of social justice issues as those involving the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the powerless, but it's important to remember that keeping the political processes themselves honest and straightforward is a worthwhile goal--even if it's a goal our country has put on the back burners for a long time now.

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