Introspection is a popular subject in the Catholic Church of Korea in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis. A full page article in the Catholic Times is headlined: Believers in Search of Material Comfort, Pastoral interest in External Growth, Superficial Spirituality, greets the reader. I don't believe the Korean Church is any different from the Catholicism in other countries, but they have a confidence in expressing themselves since the country is still basically one people and one culture.
The light of faith, says
the article, is no longer something one easily sees. A cross section of
the Church has become worldly. Individualism, ethical relativism,and the
like, makes the Catholics feel uncomfortable with the teaching of the
Church. Even the pastoral workers have put the Gospel values on back
burner. Materialism, success, functionalism, are the values that are
used in the management of the Church. The spread of an
ornamental spirituality continues.
These words are used to
report on a questionnaire on Church renewal sent to 300 persons in
preparation for the pope's visit to Korea. 33.88 percent said that
worldliness within the Church is the number one issue for renewal. The
second biggest problem according to the questionnaire was
authoritarianism and clericalism within the Church. More than the
confrontation with the challenges that come from the quick changes in
society many of the Christians are content to have the feeling of joy
that comes with being saved.
The baptized find it
difficult to live the Christian life and many have retreated to an
individualistic understanding of their faith. No different from other
countries they are looking for psychological consolation. Anything that
will give them this peace of mind is the object of their search This is
the reason for many leaving the Church, not going to Mass and
frequenting the Sacraments, the ebbing of the faith life of the young
people and wanting to be middle class.
In one of the dioceses in
answer to a questionnaire, only 15.6 percent thought religion was the
most important value in life. For 43.5 percent the most important value
was health. In the Seoul Diocese a questionnaire among the young found
that 61.7 percent considered psychological consolation the meaning of
religion. There is the tendency to use God to enjoy what this world has
to give. We have become this world orientated for our own satisfaction.
Priests at times foster this kind of thinking among the parishioners,
which, says the article, is another great problem.
In regards with the
culture of life we see the great failure in understanding the teaching
of the Church: in a survey that was made in 2004, 87.7 percent said
abortion has to be accepted and 77 percent had no problem with
euthanasia. There are many who look upon their religion as a leisure
time activity, a way of belonging, and finding satisfaction.
There is also the
exterior growth in numbers and buildings used as a means of judging the
strength of religious faith.This is the way the business world has
entered the thinking of the Church. Pope Francis by his words and
actions is giving a great blow to this way of thinking.
The Catholic Church of
Korea has grown quickly externally. but we have not examined closely our
mission as Church. We have to be able to see the Church's life from
many different angles and draw up a plan of action that does not only
include education programs. The article concludes with a quote from
Evangelii Nuntiandi: [Evangelization] "for the Church is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or
to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were
upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment,
determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration
and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of
salvation" (# 19).