Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dilemma for the Church

The United States Supreme Court recently struck down the defense of marriage act as unconstitutional. The Korean Times desk columnist discusses the subject, seeing it from a Korean Catholic layperson's perspective. The bishops responded to the decision with sadness, he says, since it gives approval to same-sex marriage, contrary to the understanding of the Catholic Church.

In society today, he goes on to say, the Church has to deal with  secularization exemplified in the cases of sexuality and life issues: abortion, artificial insemination, capital punishment, euthanasia. With the recent advances in science and in collusion with commercial interests, there is also growing disagreement over embryonic stem cell research.

When we look into the controversy surrounding these issues, we see society distancing itself from the certainties of religion and the ethical standards of the past. When it comes to the  present situation in the States, we notice that even though Christianity has been an important part of the American culture, the traditional influence of bishops on life issues is losing its ability to sway the people. In polls, the numbers supporting the Catholic position continue to decrease. 

In Korea, it is easy to see that even though Catholicism has respect within society, the influence of the Church, as a newcomer to the scene, is less important among the majority of Koreans, which makes the teaching of life issues mostly a Catholic concern.

However, the problem is not only a failure to influence the larger society, for even Catholics overall are not in agreement with what the Church teaches, which is the greater problem. In many of the issues of life: abortion, artificial insemination, contraception, homosexuality, and the like, the response of Catholics is no different from others, and even at times more in opposition. This is the present reality, and the columnist sees this as the central dilemma that the Church has to face.

The numbers of those in the West who see homosexuality as a serious issue is not small. It is not only the small number of those who see it as a sickness, but the Church itself requires respect for all; even when it considers homosexuality not normal, it has to be concerned about the pastoral issues dealing with this inclination, which he says is another dilemma which the Church faces.

Koreans still have a very unified Catholicism, and it's easy to understand the way Catholics would tend to look upon the Catholicism of the West, though the thinking of Korean Catholics is probably not much different from the Catholicism of the West, only not as vocal and as  opposed as some in the West. In promoting the culture of life, the Church faces many difficulties, says the columnist, which will not be easy to overcome.

1 comment:

  1. From a western woman's and former Catholic's perspective, the Church needs to evolve.

    Some of the commandments, scriptures and doctrines were applicable to the times - over 2,000 years ago.

    With the growing world population and resource shortages, birth control is realistic. Married couples abstaining from physical love is not. I am the youngest of 11 children from poor, Catholic parents. I wonder if more of my older siblings would have had better chances at post-sec education if I hadn't come along. I wonder if my mother would have been healthier and happier if she had less responsibilities. As a woman of faith, her mantra was "God looks after the Mothers".

    I get confused with splitting hairs between the term "Marriage" and "Civil union". If two people in love want to form a union as one to share the social, legal and financial benefits then why not? Does it matter if they do not plan to procreate?

    Thanks for the opportunity to offer an opinion. Good luck.