04/29/2010, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Seoul, masses and prayers against Four Rivers project

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
In Myeongdong Cathedral every evening the priests and faithful celebrate a Mass, followed by a prayer vigil. Catholics protesting against the government's indifference to warnings over a project involving the country’s the four main rivers. It "significantly" impacts environment. Catholic leaders, "protests will continue indefinitely”.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A daily Mass followed by a prayer vigil to protest the government's plan on the four major rivers. This is the initiative launched by priests and faithful in South Korea, which began 26 April last at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul. According to Catholic activists - supported also by the personalities from the Buddhist world - the government plan will have a "significant" impact on the environment, yet the government has remained indifferent to dissenting voices .

The project, supported by the Blue House in Seoul, provides a series of initiatives and excavations near the country’s four main rivers. One of these, the Grand Canal, has already been repudiated in 2008 by the Diocese of Incheon. The Canal provides for the creation of a "water highway" uniting Seoul to Busan: in practice, this is an excavation of 540 kilometres that connects the Han and Nankdong Rivers.

Since April 26, at the initiative of the Catholic Alliance to Stop the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project Mass is celebrated with the participation of priests and faithful from around the country. in the Cathedral of Seoul at 7:30 pm After mass, the priests lead prayer vigils that continue through the night. The Catholic Alliance leaders explain that the priests had appealed to authorities to review the project - which has devastating impacts on the environment – but their call has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Kim Jae-wook, Executive Board Member of the Catholic Alliance, said that "the administration of President Lee Myung-bak has not even heard the position of bishops on the project. For this, the leader of the movement continues, "until the government will not change its attitude, the masses will continue indefinitely."

In addition, the Catholic Alliance to Stop the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project has decided to hold a 10,000-person mass, attended by priests and believers from all over the country, at Myeong-dong Cathedral at 2 p.m. on May 10.

According to critics, the plan puts at risk the drinking water resources as well as the ecological balance of the country. For the government, however, is a  "unique" opportunity to remove  freight from highways and to renew the tourist market. In any case, the government has earmarked about 13 billion for the program. For opponents, it is "wasted money".  

 

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