Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Problems Faced by the Early Christians

In reviewing the life of Choe Yang Eop (Thomas) the second Korean priest, in the Catholic Encyclopedia, I noticed his very wise words on the condition of the Church at that time.

He considered the yangban system of the society the reason for most of the problems in Society and in the Church. Yangbans were the upper classes of the Korean society. This division was seen even in the Church and Fr. Choe found this to be dividing the community. It was more of the discrimination that we are all too familiar with. This policy was followed by the government in appointing people to service. This was the culture of the times and what the culture expected, the Church was not confident enough in its Christianity to refuse to follow. He considered this an infringement of the rights of many of the citizens.

The second point he made was that missionaries who come to Korea should be familiar with the
situation in Korea and the customs. I was surprised that he did not mention learning the language well. He worked very close with the missionaries and knew the situation very well listening to the Catholic Korean Christians who would be dealing with the foreigner missionaries on a daily basis. When they had one of their own to talk to they would mention the difficulties with the missionaries.

In my own experience you notice that many who know the language well at times fail to have a way with people and those who do not know the language, many times, are accepted and are much more at home with the Christians. It is another proof that the non verbal is more important than the verbal.

The last point he made was that France should work diplomatically with Korea to get the Korean government to acknowledge freedom of religion. This was a problem that he was faced with every day of his life, the fear of death or imprisonment.

He was a very wise priest and one who had a great deal to say to us, living many years after his death.

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