Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of our priests, scholar Monsignor Tjeng Eui-chai, has just published a book, "All is Grace." Born in North Korea in 1925, the monsignor, who has held important positions in the Church, is still an active and outspoken elder who once sent an open letter to the previous Premier with advice on how to govern better.
His book is written in the question and answer format, with the questions coming from Fr. Cha Dong-yeop, head of the Future Pastoral Institute of Incheon. Serialized in the Pastoral Information Magazine, the book examines the problems facing Korean society and the Church. He is very circumspect in dealing with the issues surrounding the Four Rivers Project and our relationship with North Korea, and, as always, conservative in evaluating the problems facing society, except when he talks about the young.

He has a great deal of respect for young Koreans. In his travels around the world, he found that they were praised for their creativity. He hopes Korea does not follow the example of the Japanese, who did not accept the help of the young in their revamping of society. Instead, they  continued to glory in the past;  Korea should not make the same mistake. Motivated more by instinct than by theory, young people, he feels, could put to good use this instinctual response in helping to govern the country, if only the government would allow them more of a voice in the decision making.

Society is now awash with ideas that the establishment doesn't appreciate. We need more openness to these ideas and a new vision, the kind that young people can provide. But government policies continue to exclude them from the decision-making process; the older generation is still very much in control. If the government just prepares the ground for more participation by the young, the monsignor believes that the future for the next 40 or 50 years will be bright.

He would also like to see a Korean Peace Corp that would send our young people overseas to the underdeveloped and  developing countries to help them with their dreams. This would take care of many of our problems of finding work for the young people here in Korea. It would also help develop markets in the future with the good will that would be shared, and also mitigate the tensions now being felt between the older and younger generations.

Reading what the monsignor had to say was very uplifting, but I couldn't keep from thinking that his ideas for Korea were very similar to  those of the West.  I suppose it's natural to expect a personal benefit from what we do to help others. He mentions that since the discovery of America it has been the G5 or G6 countries that have been in control. After the Second World War, it was increased to G7 to G8, which helped to further global development but also continued to hurt the underdeveloped countries. He wonders whether the G8 countries at the recent G20 meeting of major economic powers might still have been in control. One solution to this control would be increasing the number of participants to G 77 so the  underdeveloped countries would be in a position to speak out and make known their plight and  desires for a more equitable  relationship with the economically developed countries.


  1. Interesting point, but one wonders why priests are so worried about this life, and economic prosperity and such things.
    Why not teach the young what to do to get to Heaven and let politicians and those with worldly power deal with the nuts and bolts?
    The big problem in the world now a days is that priests want to dictate public policy and politicans want to dictate (liberal) morality.
    The world really is in a 'diabolical disorientation'.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Your concern is not in any way unique.As a Korean and as a scholar the priest mentioned in the above blog has freedom to speak his mind and we should not confuse what he says with what the Church teaches.

    There are many who feel the Church should only be concerned with the Soul. Probably our teaching is responsible for this, however, it is very difficult to reconcile this with love for our neighbor who also has a body. Jesus told us whatever we do to the least of his brothers and sisters we do to him.This is called the Social Gospel but it is also living the Golden Rule in every area of life. But as you said, if the Church is interested in the 'nuts and bolts' we do have a problem, but that is not what many of us see but concern for values, principles and a philosophy of life.

  3. Thanks for the reply. I totally understand your point, but I think the world at this time in its history has enough do-gooders and not enough saints.
    This is why Catholic youth are fascinated with the Traditional Latin Mass, whenever they have a chance to encounter it. It is the ritual embodiment of history, tradition, doctrine, art and beauty. Truly otherworldly, which is a perspective religious people need to foster.
    From this encounter with God, the strength to 'fight' the world, the flesh and the devil is gained and the crown of sainthood is won.
    Anyway, take care~