Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pope's Visit to Korea

Pope Francis' forthcoming visit to Korea is pleasant news to our Catholics. A professor writing in the Peace Weekly notes that while any pope coming to Korea would be welcomed, Pope Francis has in a very short time made such an impression not only on Catholics but on practically everyone that his visit will be especially welcomed.

While writing the article the professor learned that over 90 percent of Italians are pleased with Francis. This is shown  in the  return to the Church of many fallen-away Catholics. The number of pilgrims who are coming to Rome has also increased and he has over 12 million followers on Twitter at his  @Pontifex site. His visit to Korea will surely not be an ordinary event, he says.

Being the recipients of this gift, Korean Catholics will have some difficult homework to do,
and it is not only to have a faultless ceremony. That will be  the task of others and done well. Fortunately, the government will be cooperating in welcoming the Pope which makes it a great deal easier.

What is  important is the reason Pope Francis is coming to Korea.  We will have the Asian Youth Day and the beatification of the  martyrs. The professor hopes that in the preparation of  the events, we will remember the pope's teaching and will act harmoniously  with these teachings during the time he is in Korea. There will be two dimensions that have to be considered, one internal to the Catholic Church and the other external.

He wants us to take an interest in the Asian Youth Day. It will be held in Korea but we need to remember that it is an Asian event. We need to be interested in breaking down walls and figure out ways of   strengthening the bonds of solidarity and friendship among the countries of Asia. This should be a serious concern for  all of us, especially because of a history of conflict that settled over Asia for so long. He hopes this gathering of Catholic Youth will be more than a "Korean thing" but will help bring about some reconciliation among the countries in the area.

Secondly the visit of the pope will of course have a Catholic tone. We should spend some time in figuring out what attitude and posture we should assume. He recommends that those who usually take the  first places will  on  this occasion give their  places to those that Jesus and  Pope Francis have showed a predilection for: the alienated and the poor, the farmers and fishermen, the handicapped, single mothers, homeless people, those living alone, the addicted, the refugees from the North, foreign workers--they are the ones who should have the place of honor. 
We also should not make too much of externals at these ceremonies, he points out. The nature of the visit being what it is, we can't  ignore the externals  but we should do our best to  decrease as much as possible the emphases on externals.   This is the sentiment which the pope has infused into the Church and we should honor this sentiment despite the difficulty of doing so during the inevitable pageantry that will be evident during his visit here.

By being especially mindful during this time of the virtues of simplicity, frugality, and humility we will set a good example for the world. He wonders if the place designed for the ceremony in the center of Seoul, which is bound to tie-up traffic, is a good  place for the event.  He would like to see the plans revised. Logistically, there is no need to use such a  vast area of Seoul; there are many less congested places where the event could be held with no loss in effectiveness.  Moreover, considering the appreciation of poverty and the place of  symbolism  in today's world, would it not be better to select a different location? he asks.

Lastly the beatification of 124 martyrs should be more then a single event, he says. He recommends  that the Church search for 124 small groups or works  deserving of support and with the whole Church involved find ways to promote them. This will add even more glory to the glory that we have in the beatification and will be a good  preparation for the canonization in the future. This will also please the Lord.

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