Thursday, April 30, 2015

Failure to Understand the Gospel

'Catholics Protecting the Republic of Korea'  made known at a press conference, the list of 100 priests who they considered friendly to North Korea, against the United States and the Korean Government. The Catholics protecting the country made it clear they were not condemning the priests but only wanted them to repent and be converted. They are sick and tired of activist priests, and think they represent the ordinary believers.

Similar protests are seen in many other countries where those who see the social aspects of the Gospel as important as the spiritual. We are made up of body and soul and Jesus made it clear that the commandment to love includes God and our brothers and sisters. This  holistic understanding of the Christian message is understood by most, but here in Korea as in other parts of the world, many have difficulty when the Church speaks about social issues.

A large number of  Korean Priests  have been vocal on the side of the social Gospel from the time of the  democratization in Korea. Catholic Priests' Association for Justice played a big part in moving to democracy when they began in 1974. Sad, when we have Catholics fighting over what should be understood by all as integral to our message but  in the minds of many, it is not having problems with the way it is done, where a difference of opinion would be expected, but the confrontation seems to be religion has no place in the public square.They want the priests to stay with the spiritual.        

In the Pastoral Bulletin one of the priests whose name was on the list of one hundred writes about his feelings on seeing the list. He admits that in every group or organization you have a difference of opinion. If we are not to go contrary to our beliefs, we are free to express our opinions frankly.

However, there are limitations on what we  say,  especially when names are made known. Even in society to say something false about another is libel, and there are  criminal  penalties-- no small matter. In the list was the name of his bishop. Seeing the name of his  bishop he was astounded, and the names  of two other bishops were also on the list.

Looking over the 'Catholics Protecting the Republic of Korea', he gives us his thoughts on the subject. They want the priest to repent and be converted and he can't figure out what they have done wrong. He is willing to even put his priesthood on the line to defend his bishop. He has not heard one word, seen any action that was contrary to his  calling as a priest. How can one without hesitation show this kind of disrespect. 

What have these Catholics done for their fellow human beings who are on the periphery of society? His bishop, in a general meeting of the priests, has requested when he visits a parish every thing be done simply.  He asked the priests to put no burden on the parishioners when they are assigned to a parish or on their feast days. They are also giving 10%  of the income from  Mass stipends to help the poor. Does it make any sense to criticize this bishop. He's surprised to see how many Catholics have allowed this to continue. The language they use is far from what we would expect from those attending the same Mass. To the credit of the priests' association they have kept relatively quiet in the face of the criticism.

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