Friday, March 30, 2012

One of Korea's Hot Potatoes

 A journalist for the Catholic Times writes an opinion piece about the current 'hot potato' being passed around, dividing the country, the village and the Church. The naval base in Cheju  island also written Jeju, on the southwestern tip of the peninsula, is considered by some as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  The project to continue building the naval base has aroused strong opposition.

Environmentalists,  activists, opposition politicians, peace lovers, have all raised their voices against the project, the way it was begun and whether the naval base was needed in the first place. The opposition to the project by many Gangjeong villagers and by the larger Cheju, community has resulted in many arrests and imprisonments. The Catholic Church is also active in siding with the opposition.

Recently, Catholics went to Cheju on a walking pilgrimage and went to the Gangjeong village where they  saw the work in progress: excavators, trucks, and the like. The noise of the construction in the background the pilgrims looked out at the Gureombi Rocks--rocks that are considered by some to be a cultural heritage. Each of the pilgrims would have their different ways of viewing what was going on. Some would be praying with tears in their eyes, some with anger in their voice. Alongside those who were demonstrating against  the project would be those who supported the project; the clergy also being divided on the issue.
The lack of unity within the Church is  easily seen at the Gangjeong village. It is a school of learning for Catholics. As a journalist he sees so many crisscrossing opinions concerning  Gangjeong. We say the Church should be more active in  the world and yet  are afraid to do so:  a thought that he is not able to shake off. Embarrassingly, the solution to many of our current problems is forgotten; while perhaps 98 percent of Christians, he estimates, know what should be done, only about 2 percent have the courage to act on what they know.

The journalist feels that the fundamental problem is a lack of understanding of God, along with a lack of courage. We are not the persons we should be--persons sent out to evangelize but rather persons who are concerned about ourselves. He concludes with a quote from Hosea:  "For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, a knowledge of God, rather than holocausts" (Hosea 6:6). These words keep ringing in his head.  Without an effort to know God no sacrifice will be pleasing to him. The clue to solving our problems, including the current one surrounding the building of the naval base, can be found, the journalist believes, by opening ourselves up to a deeper understanding of God.

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