Monday, January 13, 2014

Pope Francis' visit to Korea?

We are now awaiting the names of the new cardinals that will be announced this year.  The Korean candidate most likely to be selected is Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul, the birthplace of Catholicism in Korea and home to a great many Catholics. The editorial in the Catholic Times gives our Catholics hope that Pope Francis will be coming to Korea this year.

We remember the two trips to Korea of Pope John Paul, in 1984 and 1989. They were times of great grace and influence on the Church, having meaning for all of us.  The first visit commemorated the 200th anniversary of Catholicism in Korea; the second occurred prior to the International  Eucharistic Congress in Seoul. Both visits did much to make Korean Catholicism known in Korea and throughout the world.  His visits also helped the movement for democratization and furthered the growth of Korean Catholicism, as it grew in maturity, increasingly conscious of its place within the universal Church. 

One example of this larger role of the Korean Church can be seen by the hosting, by the diocese of Daejeon, of the Asia Youth Meeting scheduled for Aug.10-20, 2014. This meeting is for Asian youth, unlike the World Youth Day last year in Brazil, which was open to all. It is the hope that Pope Francis will be making the trip for the Asian Youth Meeting, although the bishops have made it clear this has yet to be confirmed. There is also the possibility of the visit coming in October, for the beatification of Paul Ji-chung and 123 others killed in the Byeongin persecution of 1791.

The pope's visit makes us all more conscious of fraternal love for all of humanity, and is a prod to live more fully the Gospel message of Jesus. The words and actions of the pope help us to reflect on some of the more important issues we face in life,,such as the plight of the poor and the mercy we should show for the alienated in society, and the need to sublimate some of our earthly values.

The visit of the pope is not merely a single visit by some famous personage, the editorial reminds us. The pope is the symbol of the Gospel and the message of faith that is being made known throughout society. It doesn't matter when he comes, says the editorial. His visit should energize all of us, within and outside the Church. Be prepared, the editorial advises, to work for a change in our lives. 

Considering the situation in Korea, with the North and South still not talking to each other, a visit from the pope could be a sign to the two Koreas of the need of fraternal charity. With the help of the pope, we could be seeing some visual aids that would help us all to be more conscious of the serious breakdown of goodwill between people and nations. We haven't progressed much since the end of the second world war. Any help along these lines would be welcome news. 

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