04/23/2024, 11.55
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Record Catholic deputies in Seoul: 80 out of 300 in the new parliament

by Angeline Tan

​The largest number in the Democratic Party that emerged victorious from the 10 April vote. Catholics make up 11.3% of the country's population. The bishops had urged the laity not to neglect their responsibility for the common good. This theme also emerged in the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry massacre, which remains without a single culprit.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The new National Assembly in Seoul - which will take office on 30th May next - will have as many as 80 Catholics out of a total of 300 deputies.

This is the result of the April 10 vote that marked the affirmation of the Democratic Party, with the defeat of President Yoon Suk-yeol's People's Power Party. It is the highest quota of Catholic deputies ever recorded in Seoul's parliament, more than double the 11.3% which, according to data released by the Korean Church's statistical office, is the percentage of Catholics today among the 52.62 million inhabitants.

It should also be remembered that South Korea has already had two Catholic presidents in its history: Kim Dae-jung between 1998 and 2003 and Moon Jae-in between 2017 and 2022. Among the Catholics who will sit in the new parliament, 16 were elected from the conservative People's Power Party, 53 from the Democratic Party and 11 from the New Reformist Party.

Before the vote, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea had sent all parties a 43-question questionnaire asking them to comment on the main issues on the country's political agenda.

In distributing the answers received on 28 March, the bishops had recalled that "the Catholic Church has always taught that the laity should never refuse to participate in politics, but are called to promote the common good in an organised manner and in institutions in many areas: economic, social, legislative, administrative, cultural and other".

The recent commemoration of the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster that claimed the lives of over 300 people in 2014 granted the South Korean bishops the occassion to urge the government to place the lives and safety of Korean citizens as a "top priority" in order to avoid tragedies like the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, which killed over three hundred people.

"This remembrance cannot and must not end until a fundamental reform is implemented" that truly addresses the causes of the tragedy, they said in a joint statement released during a memorial Mass held at the Sanjeong-dong Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Gwangju on 15 April.

In fact, as Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Dong-yeon himself recalled in another commemoration held at the Hwarang Public Garden in Ansan, no high-ranking official was held responsible for the failure to respond to the disaster: 'Senior officials preferred to cover up the truth.

Unfortunately, our reality has not changed from 10 years ago'. Ansan's commemoration on 16 April was also attended by senior officials of the ruling PPP and the opposition DP, including ruling party leader Yun Jae-ok and opposition leader Hong Ihk-pyo, as well as leaders and officials of minor opposition parties in South Korea.

Photo: Dmthoth/Wikipedia

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