Daejeon (AsiaNews) – Korea’s bishops have spoken out "for peace in the Korean peninsula".
In a message sent to AsiaNews to be made public in South Korea on the occasion of the feast day of the Assumption, which is also Korea’s Independence Day, the bishops slam Pyongyang's missile tests, but also warn of all the "unreasonable provocations" that can increase the tension.
The statement is signed by Mgr Peter Lee Ki-heon, bishop of Uijeongbu and president of the Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), and Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the CBCK’s Justice and Peace Commission (photo 2).
In their statement, which we publish in full below, the bishops ask "neighbouring countries" (China, Japan, Russia, United States) to avoid a military escalation, or "unrestrained action," which could only cause the "death of innumerable people, the fatal devastation of both sides, the regression of human history, and deep wounds for the whole of humanity.” Everyone is called to engage in "dialogue for peace" and work for the "coexistence of humanity, which is, in fact, the main purpose of diplomacy and politics".
The statement makes a special exhortation to the bishops’ "fellow Koreans" in the North and South to stop using economic resources in “astronomical" military budgets, and use instead at least some of those resources for the "human and cultural development" of the Korean peninsula.
The bishops call on Christians and the peoples of the world to be "peacemakers". Establishing peace in the Korean peninsula could be the "U-turn" that brings peace to the world.
Here is the text of the Exhortation:
The Exhortation of the Bishops’ Conference for the Peace of the Korean Peninsula
"Let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2,5)
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea urges the following in the face of the recent situation of growing tensions around the Korean peninsula:
1. Exhortation to the political leaders of South Korea and North Korea
After the launch of Hwasong-14 missile, the Korean peninsula is in a tense and potentially high-risk situation. North Korea's nuclear weapons test is obviously a violation of the UN Security Council resolution and is an action that tends to seriously damage peace in North-East Asia by pushing neighbouring countries towards nuclear weapons. The Church in Korea therefore strongly denounces all of North Korea's unreasonable provocations and opposes all actions that raise tensions in the Korean peninsula and effectively push back the promotion of peace. We affirm that absolute, true and definitive peace is not feasible through nuclear weapons. We therefore exhort South Korean and North Korean political leaders to favour a dialogue of peace and do their utmost to establish an institutional system that guarantees peace in the Korean Peninsula through cooperation with neighbouring nations.
2. Exhortation to the political leaders of the neighbouring countries of the Korean peninsula
Talking about war without due consideration is already an act of violence against humanity. Hasty unrestrained action that shows barbarity and madness will not leave us with anything other than the death of innumerable people, the fatal devastation of both sides, the regression of human history, and deep wounds for the whole of humanity. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, therefore, exhorts all neighbouring countries not to make imprudent decisions that would undermine love and the moral and spiritual development of humanity. We hope that the political leaders of neighbouring countries will solve the current situation in a mature and harmonious manner so that they can contribute to peace and the coexistence of humanity, which is in fact the main purpose of diplomacy and politics.
3. Exhortation to fellow Koreans
The spread of nuclear weapons is a "wicked action" that basically threatens the peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as in the whole world. War, which never allows turning back, will leave the Korean people only with deep scars and irreparable devastation. Nuclear weapons and military build-up cannot guarantee peace to our dear Peninsula. Instead, true peace can only be achieved through efforts to reach justice via dialogue that favours reconciliation and the cooperative development of the Korean people because "the work of justice will be peace" (Is 32:17). We, the Korean People, are called to resist the diabolical power that is trying to exacerbate the current crisis. Why not reduce the astronomical budgets of South Korean and North Korean militaries in order to use them instead for human and cultural development? Thus, we want to assure our fellow citizens that we promote the various initiatives for peace and justice both for our Peninsula and for humanity.
4. Exhortation to Christians and all peoples of the world
Peace in the Korean peninsula concerns not only Northeast Asia, but the whole world because the Peninsula, given the presence of powerful neighbouring countries, has a role in the "balance of power" of peace in the world. The present situation thus requires a collaborative effort that closely involves conscience, intelligence, solidarity, piety and mutual respect. Let us not remain in an attitude of indifference or irresponsible silence; let us try to look together (again, with intelligence, conscience, and critical rational thought) for the wisdom that shows us the root of the problem and gives us the appropriate solution. Let us address the exhortation, first of all to all Christians who are called collaborators of the creative and redemptive work of God. Denuclearisation and the establishment of peace in the Korean Peninsula will contribute, in a U-turn, to the future of humanity by offering a vision of the world in which the value of creatures will be fully realised with real and actual love and justice. Let us remain in the firm solidarity of prayer and action so that there is change, so that people in conflict zones can "beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (cf Is 2:4), including the Korean peninsula. With such solidarity, may the light of justice and the love of God overcome these conflicts and the spread of hatred, through our prayers, which go hand in hand with concrete actions.
In particular, we call on Korean Catholics to ask for Our Lady’s intercession on behalf of peace in the Korean peninsula on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We are called to be peace workers.
Finally, we urge all brothers and sisters in the world to be attentive, to pray, to respond with good discernment, and to work together cordially to resolve the crisis of our Peninsula. The Church in Korea will never fail to get involved in the problem in question and engage, more than anything, in constant praying.
"Lord, have mercy on us! Give us peace. Amen."
On the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the Memorial Day of Korean Independence, 15 August 2017
HE Archbishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Uijeongbu, and President of the Korean People's Reconciliation Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
HE Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea