Friday, November 20, 2009

Public Opinion and Truth

The Daily paper yesterday reported on a survey of public opinion made by a Protestant Group on the 'good feeling' that Koreans have toward Protestantism. There was a slight increase in the numbers from 18.4% to 19.1% from the past survey. On the numbers that have a 'bad feeling' towards Protestantism the numbers dropped from 48.3% to 33.5%. Part of the lack of good feeling towards Protestantism was the hostage situation in Afghanistan back in 2007 which got a lot of bad publicity.

These surveys do serve a purpose- vox popoli, if truly a reflective voice of the people, have a lot to tell us, but in most cases determined by the situation in the country and the way incidents are played up in the media. Many years ago in our mission station the Church's attempt to help the poor did not work; the failure did inflict pain on those involved and the Church was scarred for many years to come.

In Korea one of the aspects of the Catholic Church that many hear, either in their Churches or by word of mouth, is that the Catholic Church is Mary's Church. We have statues of Mary in homes, in front and in Churches. The media shows grotto's with the Statue of the Blessed Mother and people praying, and even on this site there is the Statue of Mary the Mother of Maryknoll. It is not difficult to go from what they see to make the Catholic Church the Marian Church and the Protestant Church, Jesus' Church.

We can state the obvious that we do not worship Mary; respect her for being close to Jesus and desire her help to know Him better. She is the disciple par excellence, given to us as mother from the cross; we desire to imitate her way of following our Lord. To every one of the reasons for respecting Mary there is always an easy rebuttal. The discussion gets no where. And yet it is possible to know what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary.

It is surprising with all the word of mouth negativity that the Catholic Church gets in Korea as Mary's Church the results are not all that bad. Public opinion is what sways most of us but it is not an objective criterion of truth. The politicians, the financiers, business people, and even the medical establishment often act determined by polls, surveys, and public opinions, but if that is the only standard used to arrive at truth we have serious reasons to be pitied.

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