Both Catholic papers had articles on a seminar sponsored by the Justice and Peace Committee of the Korea Bishops Conference. "Who will cry for the workers" was the theme of the meeting.
"I wanted to live an ordinary happy life and that is what my life has been. But suddenly, because of a strike my family seems to have fallen apart. I am too much of an ordinary man and yet thinking of death--hanging myself." These words begin one of the articles by a Ssangyong worker who was fired. There is great desperation among fired workers, and many have committed suicide.
Because of this dire situation, the bishops feel a need to pay closer attention to the problems workers are now experiencing. One participant said that the Church should be on the side of the weak and poor, as their first option, and workers certainly fit the description. Our leaders, he said, should find ways to give strength to those who have been fired, helping them to look forward to the future with hope.
Another participant mentioned that the first official concern for workers by the Church came in the first years of the 1980s, when a member of a foreign mission society and other members of religious orders were involved, but he says this interest was not continued. He feels there should be a committee sponsored by the bishops devoted to the pastoral concerns of all workers in the country. This should spread to all the dioceses, as we renew our understanding of the dignity of the person and of work.
The keynote address by a bishop mentioned that we in the Church are not upset enough when we see the mistreatment of the worker; he considers this the number one problem that needs addressing by the Church. The problem should be examined deeply, he said, in order to find effective solutions. We as Church need to be concerned for those who are alienated from society. As Christians, we are not only people of faith, he said, but members of society who must make our understanding take flesh in society to help it to change. We can not abandon our duty or expect others to do it, we have to be concerned for the problems in society.
When we remain comfortable and not concerned in following our Lord's example we are not being his disciples. We are ignoring the needs of justice. We have to see how the Gospel is lived out in history and use all our strength to respond to the pain and suffering we see.