Friday, November 16, 2012

Fifty Years after the Second Vatican Council

Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council there was a need to meet and talk about what has happened over the last fifty years in Korea. Sogang University sponsored a symposium with a number of authorities in their field of expertise to discuss the issues. The head of the sponsoring theological research center  expressed the need to make clear that what the Church wanted by convening the council was renewal. In order to do this, he said it's necessary not to be rigidly tied to traditional structures but to be open to reconciliation and dialogue.

Both Catholic papers gave a good deal of space to the meeting. One participant felt the rapid economic development of Korea, the disparity in wealth, the disappearance of concern for justice, peace and human rights, has brought on serious problems for the society. Within the Church, we have our own problems, he said, and wonders whether diocesan synods are legitimately convened to resolve Church issues or more likely just another reason for a social gathering.  Catholics do not have the leisure to digest what they hear, he said, being too involved in living, He questions whether the Church understand this.

Speaking for the women in the Church, another participant said women did most of the work in the Church, but are often not recognized for their contributions. Leadership in the Church should be shared by those who provide their service to the Church, and it is the women who are doing this, she said. Instead, in many cases, the men are in command and the women in helping roles.

Another participant mentioned the 1957 book by Yves Congar, "Lay People in the Church." Before the council when clergy had absolute authority, Congar made it clear that the laity also had the calling to priesthood, prophet and kingship roles. He wanted to see them given positions of leadership within the parish community.

At the beginning of the symposium, the president of the Korean Bishops Conference said, "It is not only the laity but also the priests who do not realize that the laity at their baptism have received the call to the universal priesthood of all believers. Each diocese and parish should make use of lay charisma and capabilities  so that they may more actively and positively  participate in the work of the Church."

The president also feels that as the Pope works with his bishop in the running of the Church, each diocesan bishop should work together with the other bishops in the work of the Church and not work independently of the Bishops Conference.

The idea of partnership within the Church is something we are hearing more of in recent years: the pope with his bishops, the bishops with their fellow bishops, diocesan bishops with their priests and laity, and the pastors with their congregations. Hopefully, these partnerships will blossom in the years to come. 

Future problems in society, concluded one of the articles, will not arise because of conflicts between the left and right, progressives and conservatives, but between those who are looking for the ultimate meaning of life and those who are not, between those who find it in the scriptures, and those who shortsightedly want to find it in what they see.


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