Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Church Where the Poor Feel At Home

On the first anniversary of Pope Francis' visit to Korea, articles were written on what the church has to learn. One article in the Catholic Times refers to the Bishops' Meeting after the visit, in which the bishops published their message: "embarrassed not to have a church in which the poor feel comfortable. We have become a middle class church in which the poor are not at home."

Pope's visit was a great gift and brought much joy but his message made us bow our heads and reflect.  We as bishops, clerics, religious and  laypeople are called to evangelize and renew ourselves.

Our response has been lukewarm, hesitant and indecisive. The article was strong in its wording in calling pitiable the lay person's passiveness and stubbornness, and the dogmatism of the clergy. We think secular achievements are spreading the Gospel, we prevent the poor from finding a place within the church, formalistic and legalistic in the way we treat laypeople. We justify ourselves, and do not think it necessary to renew and change. We are not responding to the pope's message.

However, the seeds of his message have been spread and they will for sure begin to sprout. The ground work is being laid, and we are seeing signs of change. Priests are beginning to leave their individualism, and see their role within the community, and materialism and worldliness in a new light.

A group of priests in the Seoul Diocese are getting together periodically to discuss the words of the pope. In another diocese the priests have determined to listen to the wishes of the parishioners and in their general meeting to begin renewal of themselves. In another diocese the priests have decided to live a simpler life style, and help the poor.We are seeing this movement in many dioceses. This is a good sign for the church. The whole church needs to change but the efforts of the  priests will have a great influence on the rest of the church. 

Change is always difficult. The past year has not seen many results but we are beginning to see signs of change, and the hope is for the continuing renewal of all facets of life within the church.

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