President of the Korean bishops: The Pope brings peace, let us share in it and overcome our divisions
Seoul (AsiaNews) - The "cold war" with the North, the economic disparity and social conflicts that threaten Asia: these are the "pains" that afflict South Korea, as it prepares to welcome the Pope and that which must learn to appreciate peace and reconciliation without sterile divisions. These the hopes contained in a message written by the president of the Korean Bishops' Conference and Bishop of Cheju, Msgr. Peter Kang U-il, entitled "Let us share in the peace of Pope Francis." In the text, the bishop invites the entire population to " embrace with each other in the spirit of tolerance and harmony in full accord with the 'love and hope', which the Holy Father wants to communicate to us". Below is the full text of the message.
Let us Share in the Peace of Pope Francis
Dear brothers and sisters,
In two days, Pope Francis will pay an apostolic visit to Korea. The Holy Father will join in the young men and women participating in the 6th Asian Youth Day. At the Mass for the beatification of the 124 Korean martyrs, he will also inform the whole world of the witness of our ancestors in faith, who willingly sacrificed themselves for truth.
From the fact that a Pope as the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church has never personally participated before in any event of the Asian Youth Day, I may humbly presume that Pope Francis cherishes an intention to invite and encourage every single Asian Catholic youth to become a messenger who communicates the Good News of the redeeming Lord to the Continent of Asia, even though young Asian Catholics belong to a very small faith community, just a handful minority in this vast continent.
It is also an ecclesiastical practice that a papal delegate presides over the Mass for beatification, when it is celebrated at the local Church. Nevertheless, Pope Francis visits Korea to personally preside over the Mass for the beatification of the 124 Korean martyrs. I guess that he wants us to recall the fidelity and faithfulness of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for truth, especially now when we live a life swamped in the stream of materialism and relativism.
Today our society agonizes over many problems. In other words, our nation is suffering from diverse bitter elements: long-standing de facto cold war between North and South Korea; international conflicts between neighbouring countries in Asia; rapidly widening chasm of disparity in wealth in spite of the continual improvement of positive economic indicators; failure of government crisis management system revealed by the Sewol ferry disaster; the scandal of the inhumane physical and psychological violence and abuse in the army, which have become an everyday routine in barracks.
As Pope Francis usually approaches first those who suffer from their life, I believe that he as the Successor of Saint Peter will bring the Gospel of comfort and hope to heartbroken Koreans. The apostles of the early Church used to be on missionary journeys. In the history of the Church, St. Paul the Apostle is known to make the longest missionary journey for the communication of the Gospel, paying a visit to many local churches in person. His visits aimed at, first of all, the communication of the Word of God, and, secondly, the manifestation of his encouragement and support for the local churches sharing in their difficulties, so that they could get on their feet again overcoming despair. Pope Francis will communicate the Word of God to us, as it is desperately needed in our present situation. He will also proclaim the divine love and hope to those who suffer from their life, as he looks and listens to them sharing in their difficulties in person.
The Holy Father in my opinion chose Korea in the Far East as the first destination of his apostolic visit to the Continent of Asia, because he wanted to pray together with us for the peace of the Korean peninsula as well as for this continent in whole, sharing in our most cherished desire. He will leave for a country located in the other side of the earth, even giving up his summer vacation, which should not be disturbed, when his advanced age is duly respected. I hope that we can embrace with each other in the spirit of tolerance and harmony in full accord with the 'love and hope', which the Holy Father wants to communicate to us. In this regard, I also hope that the seeds of reconciliation and peace will sprout vigorously on this land.
I want to invite you all to join in the warm welcome with one accord for the Holy Father as a distinguished guest. On the other hand, it would be much appreciated, if I can acquire your generous understanding for the inconvenience, which will be developed from the big gatherings and events during the apostolic visit.
I also would like to urge the government and the National Assembly to do their best for the speedy legislation of the so-called "Special law on Sewol ferry disaster", which will guarantee a proper investigation as well as a rigorous follow-up measures in regard to the Sewol ferry disaster, in deference to the desire of the bereaved families of the victims, who are now going on a hunger strike at the Gwanghwamun Plaza.
May the peace of God be with all men and women in Korea in abundance.