09/03/2013, 00.00
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Church celebrates “Mass for Life” of the Four major rivers

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The Lee Myung-bak’s administration devastated the nation's water resources. Catholics are asking the new government to return things as they were and open an investigation to find out who profited from the project. For Bishop emeritus of Suwon, "The country must be able to breathe again."

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Clergy from the Catholic Church and other religious organizations, academics, and environmental and civic groups publicly demanded that the streams and rivers that were part of the Four Major Rivers Project be restored to their natural state. They also called for the prosecution of those responsible for the Four Major Rivers Project.

The Catholic Alliance for Blocking the Four Major Rivers Project held a Mass for life and peace at Conventual Franciscan Monastery in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi Province, on the afternoon of 2 September. The alliance has held Masses at Paldang Dumulmeori organic farming site, for 930 days.

A pet project of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the project involved a number of works that would substantially affect the country's four main rivers. Seoul would be linked to Busan by a 540-kilometre super "water highway" that would also connect the Han and Nankdong Rivers. The diocese of Incheon already disavowed the project in 2008. For critics, the whole plan could threaten drinking water and the country's environmental stability.

For the government, it is a "unique" opportunity to move the transportation of goods from roads to waterways and revive the tourist sector. For this purpose, the government has also already allocated US$ 20 billion, "wasted money" according to opponents. President Lee declared the project completed on 21 October 2011.

During the Mass, the alliance declared that it would start a nationwide movement to condemn former president Lee Myung-bak and the other people behind the Four Major Rivers Project and restore the four rivers to their natural state. Bishop Choi Deok-gi, former head of the Suwon Catholic diocese, officiated at the Mass.

 "Under the current administration, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) issued a report making clear that the Four Major Rivers Project was a mistake, but for whatever reason there has been no follow up measures," Choi said during the service. "This is frustrating for the Korean people."

"The Four Major Rivers Project is choking the country," Choi said. "We ask the Park Geun-hye administration to hasten to restoration of the rivers to their original state so that the country can breathe again."


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