04/15/2017, 12.10
KOREA

Amid winds of war, the Korean Church prepares the country for elections and peace

Pyongyang responds with threats "of nuclear strikes" if the US carries out any provocative gestures. The United States aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is deployed to the Korean peninsula. Chinese Minister: Enough provocations and threats. The bishops' conference questions presidential candidates over their policy toward North Korea. Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik sceptical about the possibility of violent acts.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The Korean Church is preparing to face the country's presidential elections and to work for peace and reconciliation, while the North and the United States flex their military muscle in Pyongyang and in the Sea of ​​Japan. "I do not think there will be a military attack or one side or the other," says Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the National Justice and Peace Commission (left in picture).

"Everyone would have a lot to lose if they attack or carry out some act of violence," adds the bishop. "That's why it is worth preparing for the future. And the future is that on May 9 South Korea will vote for the new president of the country. The Bishops' Conference is focusing on preparing Korean citizens for a just and good choice of candidates. " Among the selection criteria is their policy for reconciliation between North and South and a halt to the Thaad anti-missile system, unpopular with North Korea and especially China.

The words of Msgr. You are strident given that just yesterday North Korea warned the United States from provocative actions in the region, saying it  was ready to "respond with nuclear strikes." The comment from the Military officer Choe Ryong-Hae occurred during military parades and the celebrations of the 105 years since the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and grandfather of the dictator Kim Jong-un.

For the first time ever the parade included what appears to be a ballistic missile that can be launched from a submarine with nuclear warheads that could reach targets from all parts of the world.

As for the US, President Donald Trump and his administration have continued in recent weeks to threaten North Korea, pressuring China to do something to stop the nuclear program of Pyongyang, "otherwise we will do it ourselves." The bombing of the Air Base Shayrat (Syria) and the use of the enormous Moab bomb in Afghanistan have increased tension, while a fleet with 6 thousand soldiers on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson crosses the Sea of ​​Japan today headed for the peninsula Korean.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, asked both sides not to continue with "provocations and threats towards each other," saying that "conflict could break out at any moment."

Meanwhile, the Korean Bishops' Conference sent to the candidates for presidential elections five questions to clarify their policy on issues concerning life, reconciliation between North and South, ecology, human rights (justice and peace). After their responses, the bishops published their voting criteria.

Among the most decisive questions are first of all those relating to issues on life and human rights (abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, the death penalty, rights of workers - especially young people - and the trade union and labor rights).

Then comes the question on the commitment to support agriculture and the economy (agricultural industry protection, genetically modified food, use of chemical fertilizers, economic democratization, privatization of public enterprises, etc.).

So, the question of the environment: the use of nuclear power, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, development of renewable energy.

Finally, the question related to the relationship with the North and with Japan: relaunching dialogue with North Korea; the problem of the Thaad deployment in the territory of South Korea; the cancellation of the agreement signed by the previous government with Japan.

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