Monday, November 25, 2013

A Wider Understanding of Evangelization

One of the respected elder priests, monsignor Tjeng Eui-chai, has published the second volume of The Common Culture of  Humanity. In this followup volume, A New Way of Seeing Korea, he examines the role of the Church in the 21st century. 88 years old and still very active, he continues to lecture and express himself with passion on what the Church must do in today's world to stay relevant. Both Catholic papers reviewed the book, as did the secular press. 

The place of the layperson in the Church comprises the first section of the book, which focuses on the type of layperson described in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. In the following section he discusses how best to work with the young, and suggests that the area around the Cathedral parish, one of the most popular for sightseers, should be developed with an eye to attracting more of the younger generation. The third section deals with the current problems facing the Church: empty pews, loss of the young and a shift to eclecticism within the  Church, along with his proposals for solving the problems.

It's imperative, he says, that the Church give more attention to the young and help them to become interested in work of service to other peoples of the world, in the manner of St. Paul, who went out to the world to speak the message of Christ. He advocates for a one world culture, by which he means; coexistence, mutual help and  common  public undertakings. The Catholic Church should be a leader, he says, in bringing this about, stressing the importance of the Church's mission in accomplishing this goal--a goal best achieved not by talk but by action.

Korea for many years suffered under colonization and totalitarian rule, and we became accustomed, under these trying conditions, to using words like justice and human rights. Now, having fully returned to our traditional culture, the theme would be "life" and "love." The  foundation for this will be life: the search for the good life for all, which is the blue print given to us at creation.

Protestantism, he says, helped to give Korea prosperity; Catholicism, a hundred years earlier, gave the Koreans a new way of thinking. And like a prairie fire, it  brought about the  death of many, and  the hermit kingdom's door was opened to the world.

He mentions that the young and the intelligentsia are not interested in religion, and consequently the Church is being pushed from the vital life of society. In 1891 when labor was struggling with serious problems, Pope Leo 13th, in the encyclical Rerum Novarum (The Condition of Labor), spelled out the Catholic way of solving the problem. In the United States Monsignor Ryan, in the 1930s, with this teaching did much to alleviate  some of the problems of the depression. The Catholic Church in Korea also should be prepared to do something similar with a  wider understanding of evangelization to help many live a more human life.

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