The 25th anniversary of the Peace Meeting in Assisi was a time to reflect on the frequent violence in our society and on the meaning of religion and faith in these turbulent times.
The Pope invited the leaders of other religions and those of no belief who are in search of truth to reflect on the place of religion in our world, and what the leaders should be doing to enhance the effectiveness of religion in bringing about a better world. Throughout the world, there are many conflicts influencing our different cultures, which often develop into armed conflicts. What should we do, asks a recent editorial in the Catholic Times, to change the violent climate we live in?
Here in Korea we do not have to go to the Pope's words to know that we are also exposed to this violence in the name of religion. There are those religious groups which use methods of spreading their beliefs with pressure, those who use force in their programs in their schools and organizations, use of illegal ways of development and investment, pressuring people to donate and to give offerings, these are all premodern ways of using violence to achieve one's ends. These methods sometimes unbeknownst to those perpetrating these acts can also be found in the Catholic Church.
In a recent survey made by the Chongye Buddhist Research Center in Korea dealing with culture and religion the results were not favorable to religion. Protestantism influences society the most with 53.2%, Buddhism with 23.7% and Catholicism with 17.6%. When it came to determining which religion was considered the most trustworthy (5 being the highest rating) Catholicism received 4.11, Buddhism 4.5, Protestantism 3.34, Won Buddhism 2.31, and Islam 1.20.
The trustworthiness of religion, in general, was lower than the trust given to the medical establishment, civilian society, the academic world, and big business, all of which rated more than 3. Religion received 2.89, which was slightly better than the banking community, mass media, the federal government, local government, the National Assembly and the political parties.
This is a stigma religion has brought upon itself. Since society does not have much trust in religion, it is a good reason why it is necessary to have the different religions get together and try to act in a way that doesn't give a lie to what they are preaching. It's time for religion to be the instrument of peace to the world.