Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interview with Archbishop Yeom of Seoul

Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul, in his New Year interview carried in both  the Peace Broadcasting and Peace Weekly,   said he would like to see more Christians who have a better understanding of their faith and a deeper Christian identity. Below are just a few issues that the archbishop considered in the interview

The interviewer asked the archbishop for his thoughts on the  young people of the diocese. He said that the Church has not succeeded in giving them a true value system and a vital  spiritual live. The young, he says, are the future of the country; when the young are hurting, the country is hurting. The older generation has to be concerned  and make the effort to  remedy the situation. Children are the mirrors of the adults; the example of the adults is necessary. Our newspapers and TV show us people hurting others, unscrupulous business people, routine incivility among politicians--all of it a great embarrassment. We need adults who will show our young people a proper value system that is concerned for others. We need examples of those living correctly.

The results of the presidential election have revealed long-standing divisions in our society: between the young and the old, between different sectors of the country, and between ideologies. The interviewer felt that these divisions are increasing and asked the archbishop to comment. The presence of conflict in society, the archbishop answered, is at a critical point. Conflict brings about division, and division brings on greater conflict. After the Korean war and the period of reconstruction, we had, he said, the 'hungry society.' Today we have the 'angry society'. Political confusion, confrontational ideologies, generational misunderstandings, rivalries between different sections of the country, between the rich and the poor, bring about the conflicts in our society, the archbishop said.

Is there a solution to this problem?  asked the interviewer. Dialogue was the answer to the problem, said the archbishop, adding that though it's been proposed over the years, we have seen little of it in society. The master communicator, he said, was Jesus, who summed up the ideal attitude to have when relating to others:  "Treat others the way you would have them treat you."

We all want to be happy. The way this is done, said the archbishop, is to take the gaze off ourselves and turn it to the other. When we lower ourselves and become concerned for the other then we will be happy.

To the question, What does he want to say to the new president? he said he congratulates her and hopes she will be a president who has the love of all the people. A president who will give hope to the people, be magnanimous  and work for uniting all factions of the country.  By becoming the president, she has indicated her desire to be the president of all; he hopes she will keep that ideal in mind and work to providing us a friendlier society.  And with our financial situation getting better, the archbishop expressed the hope that the country will be more concerned with the poor of other countries.


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