The construction of the navel base in Jejudo is moving ahead, and the bishop of Jejudo, who is also the president of the Bishops Conference, expressed his thoughts on the matter, among others, when interviewed by the magazine With Bible. There has been opposition to the navel base from the beginning, and the Church has taken an active part in siding with the opposition, which would include the majority of the inhabitants on the island. Two government administrations and the present one have considered the navel base necessary for security, and also considered necessary because of the United States' military strategy in North East Asia. Though there have been many attempts to block construction of the navel base, after the last presidential election the work at the base continues as strongly as ever, around the clock. Since the government is adamant, using the power of government to back the construction, there is little that can be done. However, the bishop says they will continue to oppose the construction.
bishop was asked by the interviewer: Since there are Catholics on both sides
of the issue and you are the pastoral head of the diocese, what kind
of attitude is necessary?
bishop answered that from the beginning he was not giving his personal
opinion on the issue. He was expressing the teachings of the Church,
texts, encyclicals and the teachings of the pope. Those who are
following Jesus have the mission and the duty, he said, to work for
teaching in Korea has been put on hold and has been given little thought
because of the confrontation with North Korea, which has made
security the number one priority.
Pope John 23 addressed this issue in Pacem in Terris, "There is a common belief that under
modern conditions peace cannot be
assured except on the basis of an equal balance of armaments and that
factor is the probable cause of this stockpiling of armaments. Thus, if
country increases its military strength, others are immediately roused
competitive spirit to augment their own supply of armaments. And if one
is equipped with atomic weapons, others consider themselves justified in
producing such weapons themselves, equal in destructive force....Hence
justice, right reason, and the recognition of man's dignity cry
out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stock-piles of
which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round
simultaneously by the parties concerned." It has been over 50 years since these words were written but the
Korean Church has been quiet on the issue, which is a dereliction
of duty, the bishop said.
the question: Why do the priests get involved in social problems? The
bishop answered that before they are social problems they are human problems. When a
person's human rights are taken away and we do nothing, that is not the
attitude of a disciple of Jesus. When a person made in the image of God
is being hurt and the priest doesn't do anything, he is not doing his
duty.This is why popes speak about social issues and why priests act accordingly. There are a few priests who are strongly
politically motivated, and cause trouble, but those that bring this
up do not understand Catholicism.
the conclusion of the interview, the bishop said he hopes that Jejudo
will be a
place where we will be able to see peace in the way Pope John 23
described in his encyclical. The bishop wants us to see beyond the
confrontation with the
North. They are not only the same race but the same children of God.
Even though it's difficult to understand the reckless provocative
behavior of the
North, he reminds us that they are left with little besides their pride,
and if we can
look upon them with magnanimity, he believes it may be possible to
confrontation. He hopes that all parties to the conflict will soon take
the steps necessary
to bring about a speedy and peaceful resolution.