This past week we had the Conscientious Objection movement meeting and demonstrating here in Korea. This movement here is still very weak and does not get the press that you would need to change minds. This year the International Conference on Conscientious Objection had as its focus the South Korean conscientious objectors' (CO) poor human rights situation.
The Catholic Church is very much on the side of conscientious objectors for those whose consciences have difficulty serving in the military. Here in Korea the movement for Conscientious Objection Status has been active for a number of years but is still very much muted in our Korean Society. This is easy to understand, the situation being what it is in Korea. You have young men putting in time serving their country at great sacrifice and the populace does not look at those who choose not to serve with favor- the North is not an easy problem to understand. The Church here in Korea has made it clear where she stands but she is also very circumspect in what she says in this area.
The secretary of the Catholic bishops' Committee for Justice and Peace, pointed out that the "The Church, in its social teachings and documents, fully supports alternative service for those who oppose military service because of their beliefs."
Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council's "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," states, "It seems right that laws make humane provisions for the case of those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms, provided however, that they agree to serve the human community in some other way."
An Austrian farmer, husband, and father summoned to duty in the Nazi army, Franz Jägerstätter refused to serve on the principle that it would violate his Catholic conscience. After a short trial, Franz was beheaded by the Nazis in Berlin on August 9, 1943. To learn more about Blessed Franz go to:
The example of Franz will bring the subject more prominence and hopefully Korea will join the many other countries that acknowledge the right of those whose consciences do not allow them to serve in the military.