10/16/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
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South Korean lay Catholics: aid to north must not serve to manufacture arms

by Joseph Yun Li-sun

The Lay Apostolate Council of Korea issued a message: Church efforts for reconciliation in the peninsula and the dispatch of humanitarian aid to the North Korean people should not be diverted to the production of weapons of mass destruction.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Lay Catholics in South Korea have "expressed concern about Pyongyang's nuclear test", saying that "this does not in any way guarantee the security of the nation". Further, "church efforts for reconciliation in the peninsula and the dispatch of humanitarian aid to the North Korean people, should not be diverted to the production of weapons of mass destruction".

This was the thrust of a message published on 14 October by the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea. Apart from expressing "concern about the future of our nation endangered by North Korea's recent nuclear test" the council voiced complete "sympathy with the message published by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea".

The statement said: "Denuclearization of our land is the principle everyone must observe. It is a misfortune for peace in Asia and the world that North Korea has broken down this principle."

Nuclear armaments, "far from guaranteeing the security of the nation, can only result in the disaster to our compatriots in the North. At the same time, it threatens those living in the South and all humankind."
In a nuclear war, "there will be no victors, only victims. Pyongyang must abandon its nuclear plans and employ the resources saved to enable our brothers in the North to live a life more worthy of human beings."

The council continues to say that "it is very deplorable that the North has one-sidedly broken the agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula that was signed by Seoul and Pyongyang, thereby betraying the mutual trust which is essential for our nation to advance in the way of reconciliation and unity." All politicians of both governments "should not abuse this situation to the pursuit of their own partisan interests".

The Catholic Church has "so far" offered "material and moral aid to our compatriots in the North", while endeavoring to "attain reconciliation". This is because, as  Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, "we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity".

However, aid from the Korean Church "should never be diverted to the production of weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons".

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