Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Steps Towards Christian Unity

Christians, making up about one-third of the population in Korea, are the largest religious group in the country, though including many varieties of beliefs. The editorial in the Catholic Times mentions that the efforts to overcome these divisions have been far from satisfactory. One of the biggest obstacles  is the competition to gain more adherents.

Christianity has grown and continues to grow, but instead of experiencing unity and cooperation among the various Christian faiths, more attention is given to increasing numbers, stressing the differences and considering other Christians as belonging to another religion, further separating Christian from Christian.

The aim of Christianity is to be of service to the world but the archbishop of Gwangiu, the president of the Episcopal Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue, mentioned in his sermon at the prayer meeting of 11 religious groups: "We are more interested in increasing the numbers of our congregations, which we are able to see, than making the God we can't see known. We need to ponder if we are not intent in getting glory for ourselves."
The divisions among the Christians is not only a problem in evangelization but also very much contrary to the essence of Christianity.  When we are not able to treat each other as brothers and sisters, we can't expect to speak convincingly to the larger society about the need for harmony and cooperation.

During the Unity Octave, 11 religious groups did get together to talk about the   problems that prevent closer cooperation among the various groups. It was agreed that discussions in the future on achieving unity would be more theologically based than they have been in the past. And there was also agreement that not only should there be concern for all the religious groups in the country but there should be concern as well for the society at large, so that we all can work together toward the common good. This would be a sign to all of how earnest the Church is in its service to society.

The Apostolic Delegate, in his remarks to the group, said "We need to respect the gifts that God has given to others and, while remaining close to our beliefs and our mission, prayerfully search for the unity that Christ wants us to achieve."
The is the first time the religious groups have come together to prepare prayers and a common paper for the Unity Octave, a good omen that the work for unity will continue in the future. What is desired is difficult, but the intention expressed by all of working toward the goal, stressing the need for cooperation, should give us hope for the future.

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