Thursday, August 22, 2013

Catholic Priests' Manifesto

A manifesto by the Catholic Priests of Korea have charged the National Intelligence Service for illegal involvement in  the elections for president last year, as reported by the Catholic Times. And for releasing the transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit even though it was classified in order to promote their candidate for the presidency.

There has been a great deal of dissatisfaction in the way much of the media distorts the issues in their coverage of the news . Although the Catholic Press is also biased, this is understood by the public, but this should not be the case with secular media, which should report the events as objectively as possible and not distort the facts for partisan purposes. Biased and deceitful reporting does not help to form a mature democracy by educating the citizens to correctly assess the current state of the country.

The article mentions that one diocese, which has never publicly disapproved of the government, has joined the other dioceses with  its statement.  In this case, the association of priests has gone on record with a statement that criticizes the government agency for their involvement in the presidential election, which shows unanimity in understanding the Church's teaching on social issues and that this understanding should be expressed whenever there is a flagrant violation of justice. 

The Catholic response covers several positions; the editorial examines two. One position believes the Church should not be involved in politics. Priests and religious should not speak out against or for government policy. The other position believes the Church, as a member of society, and according to the social teaching of the Church, should speak out against injustices and work to make a just society. Consequently, criticism of the unjust acts of the government and expressing this publicly is the only proper position, according to the Times' editorial.

The editorial sympathizes with the intention of those who hold the first position, acknowledging a danger exists of an unwanted side effect leading to discord and division within the Church. Those holding to the second position feel that when we see injustice and  immorality, it is the duty of citizens to work to change the situation. The Church, it is understood, has to stay clear of partisan issues. However, that politics and the Church exist in two separate worlds, with two different premises and thus should be completely separated is  a distorted idea of what the separation of Church and State means, says the editorial. This kind of thinking has no validity in the thinking of a Catholic.

There is the hope that the what was done illegally and immorally in the past will be acknowledged by the government agencies, and public apologies issued, but this may be wistful thinking--transparency is not one of the values that society considers important.There have been sporadic candlelight processions to express the public's outrage, but they have been infrequent, with few participants. Moreover, with the media showing little interest, the chances are that the public's indignation will disappear with time, unless something extraordinary happens.

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