Not only Sewol: the Pope will meet with Korean society’s "most vulnerable"
Cheju (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis will not only meet with families of the victims of the Sewol disaster, but also with representatives of many other marginalized groups in South Korean society, "as a sign of the Church and the Pope's love for these people. It will do so much good for all those who are committed to good governance and human rights in the country", says Mgsr. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju and President of the Korean Bishops 'Conference, who confirms: "Residents of Gangjeong Village and Miryang, family members of victims in the 2009 Yongsan tragedy, and dismissed Ssangyong Motor workers will be attending the Mass for Peace and Reconciliation by Pope Francis at Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral on Aug. 18".
The bishop is referring to groups that represent the most burning and oftern overlooked problems within Korean society. After their own unfair dismissal, the Ssangyong workers have been fighting for years for better treatment of workers in the country; since 1993 the Gangjeong inhabitants have been asking the government not to build a military naval base in their village but to "choose peace"; Miryang residents have long been engaged in a dispute against a power plant that poses serious risks to the environment and public health; the families of victims of Yongsan are seeking justice over the 20 January 2009attack, when a clash between demonstrators and riot police in Seoul resulted in the deaths of 6 people.
The presence of delegates from these groups at the August 18 Mass was also confirmed by the Archdiocese of Seoul, which explains: "The only thing we're discussing now is the number of people invited, since space is limited inside the cathedral". Family members of the 300 victims of the Sewol ferry disaster will attend the Mass on August 16 - for the beatification of the 124 Korean martyrs - which the Pope will celebrate at Gwanhwamun in Seoul: The Pope has assured the organizers that he will meet them in person.
Msgr. Kang explains to AsiaNews that these groups "represent those who live in difficulty in the country. They chose to deal with their troubles campaigning for human rights and workers, for the betterment of society and for the good governance of the country. We have worked to make sure that may be with the Pope: they are people who have been persecuted or abandoned by mainstream society and the government. It is our task to be a channel to Francis for them. The fact that the Pope will give them his time during the visit is a strong and important signal to our society".