Monday, May 25, 2015

Catholic Laity in Korea

Words determine the thoughts we have. Laypersons in the Church are the sleeping giant and movements exist to wake them up. We can call them collaborators with the clergy or we can understand them as co-responsible with the clergy. Pope Benedict expressed well the understanding the Church has about the laity. 

 "Co-responsibility demands a change in mindset especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as 'collaborators' of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really 'co-responsible' for the Church's being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops."     
Both Catholic papers had articles on a symposium held in Seoul on the work of the laity in the  new evangelization: the topic was who and to whom? 

Korea's Catholic history is different from every other country, and the laity's rightful place in church life is easy to understand by looking at their history.They brought the church to Korea, and was active in the propagation of the Church without the help of the clergy. Laity who were poor and ostracized from society, were able even to increase their numbers, during the early years of the Church in Korea. 

A seminary professor gave a talk on the poor, and the new evangelization. What do we mean by poverty,who are the poor and why does the Church have a predilection for the poor?  We should not only rid society of forced poverty but each member of the community should  desire to live voluntary poverty, and the community itself to aspire to a more simple life of voluntary poverty. Forced poverty is the poverty that comes because of the structures of society and the difficulties that come with financial matters; voluntary poverty is poverty that one chooses.                        

With  voluntary poverty we are  helping to change forced poverty. Those who are living a forced life of poverty by the way we preach the Gospel will have a new understanding of what voluntary poverty means. The professor also said  that the Church chooses the poor first because they can serve as means of liberating others. God will work through the poor to liberate all of society.

Another presentation stressed that the laity are in the world as the yeast; they are God's sign and tool to those in the world. The lay people imitating Jesus in their lives  are a sign of what God wants to do in  society through the laity. Laity are the presence of God in society, the sign of God, and this is their true identity the gift that they have received.                                               

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