Saturday, December 18, 2010
It is sad that interviews can take the place of a carefully thought-out position and given more importance than they deserve by the press. Questions are often answered without the thoughtfulness that more time to consider the questions would provide. Since what the Cardinal said is now seen by some as going against the decision of the Bishops Conference, it is upsetting to many in the Korean Church.
The Catholic Priests Association for Justice has asked the Cardinal to resign for not going along with the consensus of the Bishops Conference, which expressed some concern about the Project. We don't know what happened in the meeting of the bishops--it was a secret meeting--but we can be sure that in all particulars, there wasn't unity. The priest working in public relations for the Archdiocese of Seoul, who was present at the interview, explained the Cardinal's position.
On the Four River Project, he said the Cardinal is neutral. The bishops' document uses the word concern (which may be taken to mean "worry") for the damage that would be done to the environment, but was not in absolute opposition. He acknowledges that the document can be interpreted as being against the Four River Project but the bishops did not absolutely oppose or approve the project. Many Catholics were told in parishes that to oppose the guidelines set forth by the Bishops Conference would be a sin. Cardinal Chong was not concerned whether constructing the Four River Project was a right or a wrong decision. He was merely making a pastoral decision and telling Catholics they were free to be on either side of the issue.
The Diocese is now making plans to develop the area around the Myong Dong Cathedral into a park, and this was brought up as a reason for the Cardinal's position. Some believed his desire to expedite the work on this future project had compromised his position on the Four River Project. This was complete nonsense, said the spokesman. The interview was not about the Four River Project but about hisbook that was published.Consequently, when the Four River problem came up, he just repeated what he had said in the past.
To the question on how the Cardinal felt about the opposition he was receiving, his answer was that he has received much opposition over the years and was not surprised. There are many things on which people can disagree, he said, and he has himself changed his opinion many times. Outside of those who are using this issue for personal or political reasons, those for or against want the same thing, said the Cardinal, and Catholics even more so. Everyone wants the Project to be good for the country. We try to understand the other person's opinion and come to a position that is reasonable to all. We in the Church have many different positions but when in faith we try to understand, love and accept one another, we will be going in the right direction.