Thursday, September 3, 2009

Third World Country to a First World

One of the Maryknollers, Fr. Michael Bransfield, who died in 1989, was involved for many years with laborers and knew their problems. He wrote a book, Wrinkles in the Heart with very graphic pictures illustrating his short essays at a time when Korea was not a first world country. I have printed the introduction to the book by Stephen Cardinal Kim, the deceased Archbishop of Seoul , which will indicate why the Cardinal was so loved by those who worked for the forgotten in Society.

Michael Bransfield graduated from the University of Notre Dame, served in the United States Naval Reserves, and left a promising business career to enter the Maryknoll Seminary.

Father Bransfield came to Korea in 1959 and neither hardship nor serious illness has dimmed the love, devotion and enthusiasm he has for the Korean people, as pastor, educator, author and chaplain of the Young Christian Workers in Seoul.

His message is universal, Korea the microcosmic setting. He exhorts men of good will to exercise the charitable imperative to love the poor and spiritually enrich themselves in the process. The author, in unminced words and vivid pictures, challenges the reader to embrace the values of Christ in the clear and unequivocal terms set forth in the scriptures.

The book is not for the faint hearted. It is a holy rail against social injustice, economic inequality, and political oppression. It demonstrates the tragic consequence resulting from indifference to the oppressed people of the world as enunciated in Mater et Magistra: " It will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long, as these glaring economic and social inequalities persist.... We are all jointly responsible for the undernourished people" Wringles in the Heart assaults the conscience and attacks hypocrisy.

It is Christ's message unexpurgated.

We in Korea still have the problem with the 3 Ds. Work that is dirty, difficult and dangerous but now it is often in the hands of foreign workers. There has been a great deal of improvement in workers' rights although a great deal more needs to be done. The treatment of our foreign workers also has improved greatly. There is more interest in their human rights and attempts to help them both in the public and private sectors of the society.

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