09/25/2022, 14.53
ECCLESIA IN ASIA
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Migrants' Day seen from South Korea

In the last 15 years , the number of foreigners in the country has grown fourfold. The bishop of Incheon released a message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is marked today by the Churches of the whole world. “Our hearts and actions are what God wants us to do in order to further build a great future in which no one is left out,” the prelate writes.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Church today is celebrating World Day of Migrants and Refugees inspired by Pope Francis’s message, “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees”.

In Asia, this is a special challenge for local Catholic Churches and communities like that of South Korea, a country where hospitality remains a work-in-progress.

According to data published this week by the Korean Catholic weekly Catholic Times, 2.14 million foreigners currently live in South Korea, a country of 52 million. And more are coming.

The first arrived in the 1980s and by 2006 they numbered just over 530,000. Since then they have increased fourfold driven on the new routes of the global labour market.

In Asia, the pandemic and wars – not only in Ukraine, but also closer geographically – could amplify the trend.

For the Catholic Church in South Korea, this is a challenge as well, as evinced by the message addressed to the country’s Catholic community on World Day of Migrants and Refugees by Bishop John Baptist Shin-chul Jung of Incheon who chairs Commission for Migrants of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea.

“One of the most prosperous times in her (the Church’s) history was when she embraced difference and diversity,” writes the prelate. “In the early Church, the reason the Church was able to grow inside and outside is because it accepted the different peoples of the various worlds as brothers and sisters in Christ, and recognised and respected them even though they had different languages, cultures, and ideas.

“Because of this, the Gospel was able to spread across the world. The ‘Catholicity’ of the People of God is further revealed in this acceptance of difference and diversity.” Likewise, for Bishop Shin-chul Jung, the influx of Catholic migrants and refugees can help reinvigorate the parish communities that welcome them, while society as a whole can benefit from their great potential when it "harmoniously integrates migrants and refugees”.

Although “The presence of migrants and refugees presents great challenges at times, it also provides tremendous opportunities for everyone to grow culturally and spiritually. Recognising and embracing the diversity of each will also provide us with the opportunity to get to know each other. Such openness to each other will open up new horizons and move us toward God together, enriching the meeting place for us to exchange hope and culture.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” writes Bishop Shin-chul Jung in concluding, “Let us think about migrants, refugees and displaced people who are still suffering from leaving their country and home, and share their suffering.

“Let us express the wish of believers who want to be their neighbours and stand by them. Our hearts and actions are what God wants us to do in order to further build a great future in which no one is left out. Through this, we shall all experience the ‘Kingdom of God’ right in our midst.”

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”