The event is usually scheduled for the last Sunday of May, but it was pushed up this year to the first Sunday of the Marian month to help pro-life groups. This way, “we were able to celebrate at the same time as the beatification of John Paul II, a great pope who always protected life,” a South Korean Catholic said.
In his message, Mgr Chang said, “Not only abortion but also an inadequate sexual education and lack of equality between the sexes are crimes against life. They are the result of a lack of medical ethics, poor support for those who want to give life and inadequate government help for couples without children.”
“What worries me is the fact the people have become completely insensitive to the idea of moral judgement,” the prelate said. “People no longer care, and thus prepare the ground for other crimes. A rampant culture of death is spreading around the world, especially in Korea, and it must be stopped.”
The Korean Church has been closely involved in the issues of abortion and low birth rate. By stressing the importance of the family and having children for the development of society and the economy, Catholics have earned the respect of much of public opinion in Korean society.
Selective abortions are particularly troublesome. The law bans sex selection via abortion but tradition calls for a first-born male. Thus, in cases of a normal pregnancy, many couples seek an illegal abortion if the foetus is female.
According to the latest government figures, there were 341,000 illegal abortions in 2005 against 440,000 births. A Christian NGO reported that that figure rose to 380,000 in 2009.