Today is Holy Family Sunday; the chairman of the the bishops' committee for family life in his message for all the Catholics gave his attention to the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Korean Church has a week set aside for the sanctification of the family. It begins on Sunday the 27th and continues to Jan. 2nd.
Korea has arrived at point where we are following the rest of the Western world in areas that up to a few years ago the Korean culture was able to keep the family life strong and where Catholicism felt right at home. Today the young are delaying their marriages: they do not have the money, no steady employment, they have yet to find their place in society, and they have an easy, open way of looking at marriage. Artificial birth control puts off having children until they feel ready. There are many marriages between people of different cultures and the marriage between Catholics and non-Catholic is on the increase, sacramental marriages are decreasing.The thinking among many parents is that they want their children to decide for themselves on their religious beliefs after they grow up. Some even make this a question of human rights. Consequently, they do not feel a need to be overly concerned about their children's spiritual health.
With all these problems it is difficult to decide what to do. The editorial in the Catholic Times and Peace Weekly listed these problems. The need is to see the meaning of marriage in the Catholic context as a start in trying to find a remedy to the many problems facing family life.
What is the meaning of marriage for Catholics? Many enter marriage with no idea of what marriage means but only as a rite they have to pass through to get married. The eternal love of Christ for the Church is the symbol of the marriage covenant between husband and wife. That is why there is no divorce in Catholic thinking. It is impossible to see Christ separating from the Church and that is the same thinking that the husband and wife should have of their commitment to each other.
If the thinking now going around, in some parts of the community of believers, is to let the children decide what they want to believe, we have a sure sign that many are not fully convinced what they have is a good for the children or even of great value to themselves. Is it any wonder that those Catholics who marry are no different than the majority of the Koreans.
The bishop did make a plea to accept those who are marrying into a different culture to be kind and warm in greeting them when they come to the Church. The number of international marriages in Korea has topped the 10% line and of these over 11% end in divorce. They have their own problems to solve.
The bishop concluded: "When Christian spouses understand the proper meaning of marriage and do their duties on the basis of it, the anti-life culture which threatens the marriage and family can be overcome."