Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sensitivity to the Insights of the Gospel

"Birds fly with both left and right wings working together." The Peace Weekly headlines their editorial on human rights with these words. The bishop-president of the Justice and Peace Committee, in his message for Human Rights Sunday, laments the confrontation between the progressives and the conservatives in society. He appeals to them to see their positions as complementary and as win-win positions.

When it is Christians who are divided on the issues it is harder to understand. The elections that are approaching in Korea make the divide prominent. There is no reason to expect all to have the same opinions, states the bishop. But for a Catholic, there are certain principles that we should all accept. We should agree on acknowledging that we are all united as brothers and sisters. And in this spiritual solidarity, we should foster harmony and balance with everyone. Whether on the right or the left, everyone should be able to put into practice the social message: loving commitment to our brothers and sisters.

In a democratic society, it's normal and expected that progressives and conservatives will coexist relatively peacefully. Their positions are not all embedded in stone; many are relative and relational. Put another way, if the progressive position in society disappeared and only the conservative position remained, in short time the progressive position would make an appearance. The influences of the two viewpoints should not be in opposition but in conversation with one another. This is the way society has developed over the centuries.

The editorial goes back in history to try to understand the current situation in the Korea. In the 1940s, after the end of the war, fierce confrontation existed between radical conservatives and radical progressives. Convinced of the righteousness of their position, they did not hesitate to use violence against each other. In our society of today, we have inherited some of these tendencies from the past.

The Church can not be part of any camp. World society naturally is separated into different ideological inclinations.The Church, however, has to see the human from the viewpoint of the Gospel message. The issues we now face in Korea, especially the 4-River Project and the Chejudo naval base, should not be ideological positions. If they are seen with the eyes of the Gospel, says the editorial, misunderstandings and discord should be things of the past.

The problems that we have in Korea are not much different from those we have recently seen in the States. Catholics are not together even on issues that the Church considers integral to Catholicism. We can make it a problem of emphasis, or try to see a priority in execution, or even a different understanding of words. But the editorial finally ends with the hope that Catholics, with elections coming up shortly, will put aside the labels of conservative and progressive and have a sensitivity to the Christian viewpoint from insights that come from the Gospel message.

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