Friday, January 8, 2010

Catholic Church of Korea and Conscience

The Catholic Church of Korea is traditional in the way it teaches the message of Christianity. In all the areas of the catechism she does a good job; there is an area, however, pointed out at times for criticism by Catholics: the treatment of conscientious objection in present day Korean Catholicism-- the issue was approached in a previous blog.

A columnist in the recent Catholic Times spoke about the teaching of the Church on conscientious objection. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does say: "Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way."

The second Catholic conscientious objector, now serving time in prison for refusing military service, is ignored by the official Church is the complaint of the columnist. The media, the Internet, the Catholic newspapers have maintained silence on the issue.

The writer gives us the results of a questionnaire that was presented to our Catholic seminarians in 2007. For reasons of conscience those who refuse military service should be allowed to have alternate service--46% agreed-- 48% disagreed. If we consider what the Church teaches, the results of this questionnaire are troubling. Moreover, those who knew the teaching of the Church on conscientious objection were only 30%. The writer concluded the lay-Catholics would be less knowledgeable.

The latest young man who refused to enter the military was a member of the Seoul, Catholic College Students Association. In the interview he had with the reporters, he made it clear the reason for his refusal to enter the service was his Catholic Faith. This is a dilemma that the Catholic Church in Korea faces, and will eventually have to take an official position that is clearer than that of the past.

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