Sunday, July 12, 2020

No, Woman, No Cry

In the Catholic Times' Eyes of the Believer column, a religious sister remembers her visit to the War and Women's Human Rights Museum. At that time she listened to the music that gently entered her and the whole museum. 'No, Woman, No Cry' by Bob Marley was the symbol of peace and resistance in Jamaica. The 'Woman' of the song symbolized Jamaica, a poor country, or any people who are exploited.

The song contains memories and hope for all. While she listened to the song, the background of a video, she remembered the woman victims of wartime violence and sexual exploitation with reverence. 

The museum was built in 2012 as a space for education and memory to solve the problems of the Japanese 'comfort women'— remembering the history of the victims of war and to help future generations to work together through education on these issues. Many students and young people have visited since its establishment: a great educational space that nurtures human rights' sensitivity and desire for peace. 

In particular, there is a guide to the "Butterfly Fund" on the first floor where the song flows through the building. On World Women's Day 2012, two grandmothers expressed their willingness to donate in full to women victims of wartime sexual violence, if they were legally compensated by the Japanese government. So was born the 'butterfly fund' which has helped many women around the world, as in the Congo and Vietnam, and has become a holy example to show that the grandmother victims are now reborn as subjects of hope.

There is another field of "Human Rights Peace Education", which is a hope for future generations. On Wednesdays, over the past 30 years, there is a statue of a girl in front of the Japanese Embassy where demonstrators meet to remember the women who were sex slaves during the War.

With the correct historical perception of the comfort women issue, she sees students and youth make the protest scene lively. Even though the grandmothers are gradually leaving us, they are moved by the thought that this space in the future will be filled with young people. However, it was very painful to see the demonstrations recently disfigured by a lack of discretion on the part of a few. 
The religious sisters have continued to participate regularly each Wednesday for 25 years since 1995. After the courageous testimony of Kim Hak-soon for the first time in 1991, the religious sisters resolved to join hands with the grandmothers. Sisters at that time gathered at the Myeong-Dong Cathedral and held a prayer meeting for the victims. Immediately afterward, they marched in silence to the Japanese Embassy and the next day delivered a letter to the Japanese Prime Minister. We will continue to be with the grandmothers who have courageously witnessed the pain of war crimes by Japan, until the honors of the grandmothers are restored, Japan's acknowledgment of war crimes, true apology, and legal compensation. 

Occasionally, senior peace activists from Japan also participate in the Wednesday demonstrations, and they always appreciate the students who come. She hopes these students will now go beyond Korea, in solidarity with human rights peace activists around the world, including Japan, to work for peace, against violence, and to stand out as a worker in the world where everyone can enjoy universal human rights.

Lastly, she expresses sincere gratitude to the grandmother activists, who have devoted themselves to achieving true peace through their pains, and to many activists who have been with them for a long time. And she finishes—

Everything’s gonna be all right! No, woman, no cry!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Fear for an Increase of Middle Aged Suicides In Korea

A seminar on Corona 19, middle-aged suicide, and the role of the religious community was held recently in Seoul and reported on by the Catholic Times. Representatives from different religious groups presented the direction that each group is making and the results and prospects for the future.

Participants debated the importance of suicide prevention activities in 'religion' while discussing the subject of Corona 19, middle-aged suicide, and the role of the religious community.

With the prolonged coronavirus situation, concerns about increases in suicide among middle-aged people are growing. It was pointed out that the middle-aged, the main axis of the family and society, is at risk of suicide due to the economic downturn.

One of the participants said: "The suicide rate is not increasing at the moment due to the overall tension in society but in 2-3 years we will know the reality" The suicide rate after the onset of Corona19 was similar to the previous year, but experts at home and abroad say that Corona19 will increase the suicide rates.

Indeed, others have predicted that the economic difficulties and social isolation caused by Corona19 in April of this year will affect the risk of suicide. The Committee for Suicide Prevention Policy under the Prime Minister also predicted at the meeting of the committee held on May 27: "Isolation may increase due to economic difficulties and social distance, and this will increase the risk of suicide of those in their 40s and 50s."

Another panelist said that the increased use of smartphones and computers during this Corona 19 era will tire the mind, harm health, and cause emotional anxiety and loneliness. He also said that the middle-aged generation, with the burden of supporting parents and children, is faced with difficulties and not old enough to be cared for by the government. The economic difficulties will continue for some time after the end of Corona 19.

Participants stressed the importance of religious roles to prevent suicide risk. It is a request on the religious communities in resolving depression, and stress when the government cannot financially support the many remedies necessary caused by the harm of Corona 19. A professor of psychology said: "I think the place where the greatest role should be played is in the religious world." Religious institutions can play a pivotal role. It is a place where social isolation is prevented, and there are many teachers to rely on.

One of the Catholic participants said that they will actively cooperate with suicide prevention through such measures. The Church teaches that one should not take his own life and the need to restore the family so that it will not collapse, an effective way to prevent suicide, and supply a basic emotional support network so that middle-aged will not be driven into suicide.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Corona Online Pastoral Culture

With the current Corona 19 pandemic, news that the number with the virus in the world exceeds 10 million is depressing. In Korea, the discussion on "restricting the operation of religious facilities" is always present. The Eyes of the Believer column in the Catholic Times has some thoughts on the issue.

Mass resumed in mid-April, some group activities and gatherings began in June. Social distancing still exists, masks, no singing, and the taking of temperatures and signing in at all the Masses continues. Parish life is half the size of the past and the vitality of the church community has greatly decreased.

Nevertheless, we cannot stop living our faith life, the mission of evangelization, and find ways to continue the work. We have to admit that we have crossed a river and can't go back; we must live with Corona. New prospective believers need to be admitted, and small community gatherings or existing groups should continue. Also, Sacramental life, the mission, and education of the church must continue in the corona era.

The "new evangelization" announced by Pope St. Paul II during his visit to South America in 1983 should be applied. The pope advocated "new evangelization" and presented three characteristics: 'new passion', 'new method', and 'new expression'. Indeed, if the present church uses these three characteristics to practice new evangelization, the present challenge can be an opportunity.

We need 'new passion' now. The fact that many church activities have been suspended does not mean that you cannot do anything. In the Corona period, a new way for the church community is to connect by non-physical face-to-face contact. Today's digital culture is accelerating non-face-to-face access through new ways of online communication.

Korea has coined two new words for the new digital world. 'Untact' means no contact. It is Konglish and used in Korea for the Corona19 situation(verbal contact on the internet). 'Ontact' refers to the experience of being face to face online.

The "non-face to face culture" is emerging as a way to strengthen connection and communication in an era where contact is blocked: online classes, video conferences, online performances, etc. that meets the needs of connection is becoming a popular way of connecting with others. However, the poor and marginalized classes are excluded from this exchange and communication and have the risk of structurally widening the gap between rich and poor.

Even when the parish community ceased saying the Mass and all activity was curtailed the Legion of Mary and group meetings continued and the priests' online pastoral activities continued to be delivered to the parishioners. This continues to spread throughout the church. The writer is convinced that the digital culture that connects with others, especially non-physical face to face contact is suitable for the corona era, a new pastoral paradigm through active communication and exchange among individuals, groups, and the whole church.

Nowadays, some parish podcasts have been opened to operate six channels (sermons, special lectures, parish events, group introductions, invitations, readings of books), and the response of the parishioners is very good. A lot of video content is continuously uploaded to the podcast. When the notification sounds on the application installed on the smartphone, it indicates that new content has been uploaded to the podcast. Wherever the parish believers are, they will all be connected in an instant in a spiritual digital world.

Monday, July 6, 2020

To Live Is To Change

The hero of the modern Italian unification movement, General Garibaldi, led a voluntary militia in May 1860 and advanced to Sicily. The collapse of the monarchy and the fall of the nobles became an irresistible trend. So begins the Peace column in the Catholic Times on the subject of change.

Duke Don Fabrizio of the island's historic aristocratic family despaired when he saw the way society was going. His nephew shouted to his uncle who was trying to turn away from reality: "Everything has to change in order not to change."

The writer quotes from the novel The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa. Duke Fabrizio was afraid of change. He didn't want to lose the wealth and power that had supported the glory of the family from generation to generation. But history does not rest. Time flows, whether it goes backward or forward, the landscape is always changing.

Pope Francis also was impressed with the expression. At the end of last year, during a Christmas meeting with the officials of the Vatican, he quoted this verse and emphasized the justification of the reformation of the Vatican: "Often we approach change as if were a matter of simply putting on new clothes, but remaining exactly as we were before. I think of the enigmatic expression found in a famous Italian novel: "If we want everything to stay the same, then everything has to change" (The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa).

It is obvious that the Catholic Church is unable to respond promptly to changes in society. Criticized for sticking to outdated doctrines and going along apathetically. However, it is not appropriate for the church to be sensitive to changes in the external environment like the chameleon. What would the face of the church look like if the church had quickly adapted itself every time the world took a turn left or right for the past 2000 years? 

There is speculation that Corona 19 will change the world a lot. Those who have a talent for making new words predict that "the world will be divided into Before Corona (BC) and After Corona (AC)."

Even inside the church, there has been recent talk about "Church after Corona 19". Some speak prophetically, while others see only trees, not the forest. Nevertheless, the common story is that the church must change, and it will inevitably change. Corona 19 has already changed the look of the church in a matter of months.

Korean churches should also consider change after Corona19. There is no need to fear change. Are not things that are familiar to us now the result of numerous changes in the past? You cannot grow unless you change.

The most important thing in the process of seeking change is to distinguish between what is 'to be unchanged' and 'to be changed'. There are elements of faith that should not change. In other words, it is communion with the Gospel Word, liturgy, and sacraments. 

Our attitude must change. Abandon the indolence to settle only with the familiar and begin preaching the gospel with vitality. Attitudes that become increasingly difficult to see the signs of the times must be corrected. 

Let's open a forum for public discussion on the issue. In the name of adapting to the times, we have to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Can Science Alone Take Care of the Earth?

Is Scientific knowledge sufficient to take care of the earth? The writer of an article in the recent Kyeongyang magazine doesn't think so. And goes on to explain. He is a priest in charge of environmental issues for the diocese.

He lives in an area where the subway and bus transportation is easy to reach; he travels two hours daily to get to his office during which time he reads, prays, meditates, and goes over in his mind a variety of different subjects the citizens face daily.

Public transportation is no big problem but during the summer with its long use can be uncomfortable. Airconditioning and the cold air can fatigue one easily. This is true also in the bus. Often in these circumstances, he takes from his bag a long sleeve shirt.

Riding in the subway he is often reminded in public announcements, asking for understanding since the air conditioning is now at its height. It is always difficult to keep everybody happy in such circumstances: some will find it cold and others too warm.

The thought has come to him that we may be using airconditioning excessively. In summer we are so used to the cool that when the cool air is not in contact with our skin we find it difficult to accept. In the hight of summer, there are those wearing long-sleeved clothes and have the airconditioners on high. Should we not reflect seriously on this kind of behavior? We are used to this kind of living which has become a habit and we justify it.

Many are those who don't have the luxury in the use of electricity because of poverty. Not only do they not have airconditioning but no fans. Some have difficulty sleeping with the heat and those that live in a one-room and rooftops who not only bothered by heat but have to suffer because of their living conditions.

He wants us when we are comfortable in our airconditioned rooms to remember those who have no fans and in their heat filled room. We have those with enough material goods and resources that heat and cold are no problem but because of poverty, many suffer greatly because of the heat and cold.

Science has improved the condition of humanity. Pope Francis has written on those that have benefited: "Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used" (Laudato si #104).

The Environment has suffered greatly from the misuse of our scientific knowledge. Moreover the rich have got richer and the poor, poorer. It is not the scientific knowledge but the use. We have not respected other peoples and creation but only in search of comfort and exposed to years of brainwashing accept in silence what we hear.

We have accepted the culture in which development brings happiness. "This has been a strong influence on our behavior. The fact is that contemporary man has not been trained to use power well because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values, and conscience...In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture, and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint" (Laudato si #105).

Society has to come to this realization for things to change. A need to think of the environment and those who have been left behind in this race for development. We need to leave behind fossil fuels and work towards sustainable energy to reduce greenhouse gases. The government has to work toward these policies. and supply resources.

If we do not work to achieve a drop in the greenhouse gasses the earth will get warmer and the greater use of air conditioners and the greater use of energy and the vicious circle continues. The way I live can be infringing on the rights of others. We need all of us to cut back on the use of energy for the good of all and the earth.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Child Abuse Its Reality And Counter Measures

In the recent issue of Catholic Peace Weekly, the abuse of children was examined and mentioned was made of possible remedies. A serious issue in countries all over the world.

A 9-year-old elementary school student was put in a suitcase by his mother as corporal punishment, lost consciousness, and brought to the emergency room of a hospital but failed to revive him.  Another nine-year-old elementary school student was found by residents, who escaped from home barefooted because of the abuse of parents. The face and body were filled with bruises and burn marks. Children's abuse news, reported one after another, is difficult to read.  It is hard to believe how this abuse can go on but it is the reality. 102 children died from parental abuse and neglect in the last three years from 2016.

In 2018, 3,532 cases of child abuse were reported to child protection agencies. Of these, 2,604 cases (73.4%) were actual child abuse. 28 children died.

The place where child abuse mostly occurred was (80.3%) in the family. (8.5%) of child abuse occurring in schools, institutions that care for and educate children. From the statistics, 7 out of 10 child abusers are biological parents, and 80% of the abused places are homes. Child abuse is another name for domestic violence.

It has been a little over 20 years since Korean society began to punish domestic violence. Laws against domestic violence came into force in July 1998. The perception that domestic violence is not merely a family fight but a crime has established itself in society. It took another 16 years to recognize the seriousness of child abuse and protect the abused child within the law.

According to child abuse news, it seems that it will take more time to change the perceptions some people have: 'Why do persons concern themselves on the way I want to raise my child?'   And 'The child needs corporal punishment to grow up correctly' and  'A beating helps one harden their heart' .This being the situation, the Ministry of Justice recently announced that it will promote the legislation to ban child corporal punishment by revising civil law.

Experts pointed out that although it is a late decision, it is a fortunate decision, but in order to prevent and prevent child abuse, it is necessary to more clearly punish the perpetrators and to maintain and supervise families with child abuse. Current laws and policies focus on maintaining the family rather than punishing the perpetrators, thus increasing the secondary and tertiary damages. Even if you separate the victim from the abusive parent, most of the time, if the parent asks for forgiveness and asks for goodwill, the child returns to the parent. The separation period is also short. Even in the 2018 statistics, 82% of children who were abused returned to the family.

From the child's point of view, it is not easy to have the  parents punished or let them leave. "Violence for the victims of domestic violence is not practical because children can be better off at home with a mother or father who beats than living in a nursery or facility." It's a common opinion of experts.

In a family where child abuse has occurred, children and parents should be separated immediately, and psychological treatment for children and counseling education for parents should be conducted. In addition, when a child returns to the home, supervision by an expert must be continuously carried out. However, in reality, it is not well done due to the lack of experts and dedicated personnel and budget. Although counselors regularly make phone calls to check or visit their homes to supervise them, it is difficult to grasp the exact reality because there are many loopholes. Moreover, as Corona 19 spread, the problems multiplied.

The best way to reduce and prevent child abuse is a concern for our neighbors and the spirit of reporting. Child abuse is a top priority in Western society sensitive to child human rights, reports of child abuse are common, but this is still foreign to Korean society. Even when there is a loud voice next door, it is often overlooked because it is considered interfering in another family's life. However, the common view of experts is that it is possible to save a child's life and a family when they hear yelling and screaming from a neighboring house. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Elderly In Korea During the Pandemic

"Grandma, stay home and rest."

These words addressed to the mother of the Peace Columnist in the Catholic Peace Weekly is the topic for the article. She had died years earlier but in her later years, her age was the reason she was told to rest although very active in the church. 

Once waiting to take the bus to the cemetery with the other parishioners she was told that there was no need for her to go. On one occasion she went with a basin, broom, and mop to clean the church's bathroom, she heard the words: "The young people will do it." The writer also chimed in: "It's all concern for you, mother. You have to be careful about your health." Her concern for the community was repudiated. Her spirit because of this was often depressed. Older parishioners, because of age, face discrimination.

He hears her words running through his head often during the present pandemic. Elderly people (65 years of age or older) were parishioners at risk if infected with Corona19 and need not attend Sunday Mass. This was printed in the Sunday Bulletin. Suddenly the writer realized he was over 65. He had no problems and was not hurting others, so he continued attending Mass. The following week, the word "over 65" was omitted, and it was written only as an elderly person. Now, the elderly as the subject disappeared altogether, but for a time the words "over 65 years old" lingered with him.

According to the coronavirus statistics (2020.5.25), the fatality rate is 2.83% in the 60s, 10.99% in the 70s, and 26.27% in the 80s. Excluding the elderly is understandable to protect the elderly and the community. Everyone accepted this in their own way. It wasn't a step that prevented them from coming to church, so those who could go went with caution. But to the writer, something was not right.

Twenty years ago, an elderly believer in a Baptist church was killed in a traffic accident while going to worship at dawn. In a nearby church, a priest in his 40s, during his sermon, told the elderly people attending Mass that they need not come because it was dangerous. This could easily be understood as a mother's concern for her child but some elderly believers did have trouble with the words of the priest. They did not hear the words as caring but rather alienating them.

Physically disabled people have more problems moving about than the non-disabled. It is discrimination not to allow people with disabilities to move about in society. Electric wheelchairs are provided for people with disabilities to go out comfortably. Electric wheelchairs can also be arranged to help the visually impaired. Is this not done to allow them the freedom to move about like all others.

According to the Korean Catholic Church Statistics' in 2019, 20.5% of all believers are over 65. The aging of the church is going right along with the aging of society. Older believers are sometimes burdensome, but they are a strong asset to the Church. The seriousness of their life of faith stands out above all the other age groups. The Mass participation rate is also high. The more eager the believer, the more difficult it is for them to not participate in the community.

The corona crisis is unlikely to end soon, and similar disasters can one day appear. Shouldn't active consideration for the elderly be systematically established? He brought this topic up with a few devoted believers in their 70s. Is it not possible through the media to have the Mass with sermons directed to the elderly and infirmed and have them regularly receive the Eucharist in their homes?

If people show us concern we need to be grateful but not all are grateful: we are not like pieces on a chessboard, We need to be active in helping persons find and achieve what they want. If not they become an 'outsider' and look upon themselves as losers. We need to share with those who are feeling 'outside'. What is lacking is the practice of love (Luke 6 31).