Sunday, May 29, 2016
Prophetic Voice of the Church
All societies have structures, pecking orders, 'caste systems' a good example would be the military. Korean society is patriarchal and hierarchically strong. Age is an important element in society: elders first, consequently, the need to determine the age when meeting others.
These words begin an article in With Bible, written by a man of letters, with a background in teaching. He describes himself as a person who spent 25 years studying, 25-year teaching and now hopefully spending 25 years reading and writing as a free person.
The Second Vatican Council he says emphasized the place of the laity in the Church, but the Church in Korea is still centered on the clergy: one of the deformities of the Korean Church. Power of the clergy is not small, and he blames the laity for the problem: lack of knowledge of theology and scripture. Laity, consequently, rely on the authority of the priest and the bishop in all they do.
On the Korean Bishops' ad limina visit, the pope said to the bishops: "I ask you above all to be servants, just as Christ came to serve, and not to be served. Ours is a life of service, freely given, for each soul entrusted to our care, without exception." Pope Francis reminded them: "Korean Church is built upon the thrust of the laity and the blood of martyrs." He asked them not to forget their roots as they enter the future. The pope also asked the clergy not to follow the easy life and reign over the laity.
He sees many good clerics but also those who by their words and actions are proud and self-righteous, many believe they are living according to the words of the pope, he says, but are not. Change will not be easy.
'To be on the side of the weak' has lost all meaning, polarization has become a reality in Korean society. The weak are now the majority.
The role of the prophet is not only to criticize those in authority but to read the signs of the times and to warn about the wrong directions society is taking. This is the work of the Church and its members. We find few who are doing this and often criticize those who speak out and want change, and call them heretics.
The president of the Bishops Conference is quoted as saying that as society is getting more worldly and materialistic, we in the church are becoming middle class, and our faults are exposed. Our interest in the poor is disappearing, clergy and religious are becoming more worldly, bureaucratic, young people are leaving the church and lay people are distancing themselves from the sacraments and religious life.
Why haven't the senior citizens left the church like the young people? Devotion and a strong faith life are reasons, but also they are more interested in hope, consolation, and compensation while the young want hope, proposals and plans. The Church has not seen the problems of the young and countered only with empty words. It is no surprise they are leaving.
He concludes the article with gratitude that the bishops have decided to put aside money in a 'Good Samaritan Account' to help the needy but there is also a need to reduce the numbers of the needy, which is a work of the whole church and what service means.