12/13/2013, 00.00
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For Seoul archbishop, the 'Joy of the Gospel' is a tool in the fight against poverty in Korea

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation touches "the whole of Korean society, not just Catholics". Now the Church must reflect and join the pope in the fight against the "structural causes of poverty" and social exclusion.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The challenges posed by the Pope to the universal Church in Evangelii Gaudium "touch the whole of Korean society, not just Catholics. The pontiff points the finger at structural problems that closely affect to the entire country, which is debating his message. We Christians must also take advantage of this text to rethink our mission and start again by proclaiming the Gospel," said Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, as he spoke to AsiaNews about the first Apostolic Exhortation signed by Francis.

As Mgr Yeom explained, "The Holy Father's first Apostolic Exhortation not only draws the attention of the Korean Catholic Church but also of other religious groups in the country. The press is also actively reporting on the matter. I believe this is a good sign of concern and attention which our society and other religions are having toward the Holy Father. The pope's words carry great strength and hope to the people of Korea. The Korean version of the Exhortation is still under the process of translation, I believe Evangelii Gaudium will have more impact on Korea after it is published."

Concern for missionary issues, which the pope highlighted, greatly affects the Korean Church, one of the most active in Asia. "I think the best way to spread the Lord's Gospel is to help and stay with those in need," the archbishop noted. "The Korean Church pays a lot of attention to marginalised people, and has been helping them through social welfare and pastoral work. This is how the Church gained trust and expectations from the people of Korea. Furthermore, I think it is also important that the Church adapt to a new attitude of compassion, especially for the poor."

Francis, he added, stressed the "scandal of hunger and poverty," another issue of huge importance to Korean society. "The Pope points out a problem which also occurs in Korean society. I think it is an opportunity for us Christians to reflect and strongly think about our social responsibility. It is a reminder to Korean society of how serious the problem is."

"The Church," Mgr Yeom went on to say, "should follow in the footsteps of Jesus and help the poor. We should bring the Good News of the Gospel to them, comfort the sick, and help the marginalised."

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved," he said citing Evangelii Gaudium, "no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, any problems."

"If we turn our backs on the poor and try to make ourselves believe that the problems are solved, we may face the real crisis of collapse. Therefore, the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed."

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