Saturday, September 10, 2011

Interest in a Sane and Compassionate Society

Misunderstanding and hostility among people is grudgingly tolerated by many as inevitable, as we continually see this discord being played out in politics, in the economy, in ecology, and of course in religion. And  yet the dissension among Christians--perhaps most evident today in the rift between those who  are primarily concerned with having a personal relationship with God and those who extend this concern to all his creatures--is difficult to understand. The words left and right, conservative and liberal, traditionalist and modernist are used as words of insult or praise.

The divisions that exist among Christians concerning theology, discipline, and liturgy are  easier to understand than the  division between those who do not separate God from creation and those who do, as if  concern for society and its members, along with the social structures we have made, is an affront to God and should not be our concern.

The Korean Church has realized that the understanding of our Catholics on what the teachings of Jesus should mean in our daily lives was deficient. For many there was no understanding of the Social Gospel. The Catholic Times gives us a brief summary of the present situation and of the efforts being made to bring more understanding of the Christian life to more people.

In 1994, after the first  meeting of the  Asian Laity meeting  in Korea, the Seoul diocese began a school specifically for teaching the Social Gospel. Now in its 16th year, there have been 72 programs and 3110 graduates who have been sent out into society. Such organized programs that have been sponsored by a diocese and have lasted this long are not easily found in the world of Catholicism.

The success of the programs has influenced other dioceses to start their own Social Gospel Schools, and Social Gospel teachings have been incorporated in educational programs before Confirmation.

Since 2006, the programs for teaching the Social  Gospel have spread into many dioceses of the country. Though the leaders in the Church agree that much has been done, our Christians are far from seeing the crucial importance of Christ's teachings for achieving a humane society. It is hoped that the spread of the Social Gospel Schools will provide the needed impetus to give more of our Catholics a mature understanding of our present society and what a sane and compassionate society, in  comparison, would look like.

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