Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bishop Emeritus--Bishop Dupont

In recent months there have been a number of articles and a documentary on Korean TV on the bishop emeritus of the Andong Diocese, Renè Dupont, a member of the  Paris Foreign Mission Society.

Bishop Dupont was born in 1929, in France, was ordained a priest in 1953 and came to Korea in 1954. He worked for 12 years in the Taejon Diocese and was elected the local superior of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in 1967. Two years later, he was made a bishop, the first of the Andong Diocese. He retired as bishop in 1990 and has lived a very simple life since, giving retreats and lecturing. He has helped many to appreciate their calling as Christians, and is  respected and loved my many.

The Kyeong Yang Magazine had a long interview with the bishop.  He made it clear he was not much interested in the past or the future but was interested in the present moment. Asked about past failings in life, he said that though they are not matters for an interview, he remembers no serious infractions of his conscience but many  small matters, which he brings to confession once a month. He has for his motto ' In Christ' and stresses that the number one virtue for a priest should be humility.

He acknowledges  a sensitivity for beauty: in nature, in personal dispositions, and in the teachings of Christ. He considered  himself one who has been struck with admiration and love for Jesus and admires all those who try to live the beautiful life, the meritorious life, no matter what they believe.

He does not like to use the word fortunate or unfortunate,  for in God's providence all things work together for good. Asked about his favorite book, he mentions the book of all books, Scripture, especially Psalms 8, 23, 63, 131, 139; Mathew ch. 5; Luke ch. 6; Romans ch.12; Ephesians ch.4-5; Colossians 3-4. Mature, he says, are  those who are honest, genuine, prayerful, patient, and serving others.  He asks the  young to be positive, happy, and to strive for a clean conscience. Don't just follow what others do and don't be afraid to be ridiculed. At the end, those who live well are recognized.

To the question on the present condition of the country, he feels there are few countries that can  equate to Korea in their quick material progress. But sadly, the general lack of joy in the country shows that spiritual growth has not accompanied the material. He  introduces us to the mission statement of the Andong Diocese: 'We live on this earth with an open heart, simply; consider life precious, share and serve others; work in the overflowing happiness of God's life."

He admires the work of the Catholic Church of Korea in its zeal, in its genuineness, and in its search for social justice. The negative would be its becoming too worldly. Society should imitate the religious values the Church teaches, he said, and not the Church imitating the values of society. When money and comfortableness become our aim, not all is well. The salt and light spoken of in Scripture have to do their work. The reason we are to be different, he said,  is that the Church "is a sign to be opposed" (Luke 2:34).

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