Friday, August 15, 2014

Pope Francis Will Shortly Leave Korea--So?

Today in Korea we have all kinds of books appearing about Pope Francis, who is now on his second day in the country. A woman poet  gives her reflections on the pope's visit in the secular Chosun Ilbo. Pope John Paul II came to Korea thirty years ago, and Pope Francis has chosen to make his first trip in Asia to Korea. Tomorrow is the Beatification Ceremony where over 500 thousand will attend, and the ceremonies will be broadcast live to over 150 countries. Even-though most Koreans are not Catholic, there is a good reason for many to see the pope's visit as a family event.

The writer, curious, wanted to find more about the 'man'. She went looking for material about St. Francis. Since the pope selected the name Francis, by knowing the Saint, she would know about the  pope's values and what motivates him. The Saint lived among the  lower levels of society; her father also had the name Francis, a saint whom many loved.

Pope Francis said his patron saint avoided power, luxury, and  pomp. He wanted poverty and humility. He wanted to live with peace, and asked that we condemn immorality. St. Francis worked to realize these values in his life.

Watching television we see the pope's presence saying Mass with the poor in their villages, riding the public transportation, his informality, washing and kissing the feet of the sick and the addicted, his correspondence with the sick.

He is pope isn't he? That is the least he can do. She has no response to this kind of question. All she knows is that he is like her a human being, why don't we see what he sees?

He has told atheists to follow their consciences. The pope, a person who believes in God did not find saying these words easy. She wrote these words on a corner of her pocket note-book. Conscience distinguishes between right and wrong, between good and bad. We have all received this kind of education but when we look over our lives and ask ourselves if that is the way we have lived, our tongues are tied.

Everyday we encounter pain and sadness in what we hear and see. Someone has to be there to do something. The pope on his visit to Korea, along with the  religious events, will be with the families of the victims of the Sewol tragedy, and the grandmothers that suffered as 'comfort women'  for the Japanese soldiers and for other  victims. Our eyes have  been glued on these issues for some time.

We should not look upon the pope as a pair of tweezers. It is our duty to remove the thorns, disinfect and spread the ointment. We should not have high expectations on what the pope can do, but examine ourselves in the way we  block out so much that we should be seeing and go around saying: I don't know. The pope has come to Korea but will shortly leave Korea

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