Thursday, May 28, 2009

Funeral of Korea's 16th President

The funeral service for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun took place today at 11 a.m. at Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. There was also yesterday a Mass at the Cathedral in Seoul for President Roh offered by the the priests of the Catholic Priests' Association for Justice.

President Roh came up from poverty to the highest position in his country. He did not have a college education but with determination and confidence in his ability was able to pass the necessary exams and work as a human rights lawyer, helping the poor. He showed a desire to benefit the underprivileged of our Society. How much of what is said about him after leaving the Presidency and his involvement in bribery will be the job of history to determine. How much of the publicity concerning the scandal was politically motivated is also a question for history but that politics was part of it is very difficult to deny.

The Catholic Paper's editorial mentioned over and over the intensity in which he did everything and even the way he chose to die. The editorial went on to say our desires were not considered when entering this world and we should not take control of the way we leave it. There is a sadness in that the late President Roh died in the way he decided. By doing so he cast a shadow on the intensity of his life, its meaning and values that he lived. This makes the grief and regret over his death all the harder to bear.

The Mass at the Cathedral was celebrated by Monsignor Kim Pyong-sang as the main celebrant. He mentioned that he was disappointed in that the bishops were not the ones saying the Mass. Although the President was baptized he never lived the life of a Catholic but the monsignor mentioned that he tried to live the contents of the Encyclical of the Holy Father, Deus Caritas Est.(God is Love ) He was a man who took seriously chapter 25 of Mathew, and monsignor felt that few would deny this.

We can all pray for him, the family and the country; pray also that the different political camps do not use his death as a ploy to further their own political ends at the expense of the unity that we should strive to achieve in these difficult times.

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