Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Learning About Learning

Korea gives education a high priority and has  great respect for what education is able to do for the country and the individual. It ranks high in the results that it achieves in primary and secondary school programs. A religious sister writing for Catholic Digest reminds us of the price that many pay for the emphasis on achievement in studies.

While in high school she heard over and over again that her studies, no matter how difficult and time consuming,  would propel her to the middle class. You only have to overcome the trials of the present  and your future is assured. Do you know what life is ahead of you if you don't graduate from college? These words made her feel miserable but made her pay attention to what was being said.

At the same time she had all kinds of questions  about her education. What is the reason for school? What is learning and study all about? One of her teachers made her feel lousy. He pointed to the janitor working outside sweeping and told her if she doesn't study she will be doing that kind of work. One of the students asked if the janitor was her father and all the students began to laugh making her feel nausea and wanting to leave.

Did she have to go along with what was being demanded? Competition-- winning, was that what it was all about? She felt alone, despondent, was there any  way out of the maze? Feeling lost while at home she saw a small book on St. Francis on the book shelf and began to read  and  peace and freedom came.  A person without possessions was free... Without freedom we will not be happy. She realized there was another road that could be traveled.

After that she read all the books that she found in her  house on the lives of the Saints. She wanted the freedom that these Saints experienced. It didn't make any difference what college she would attend.
No longer was this of primary importance and she entered a college run by an order of  religious nuns. 

For her it was the  first  time  she  was to meet sisters who wore  every day dress. At first seeing the nuns dressed without the  habits they seemed to be inelegant. They were not like the sisters she knew from the parish and kindergarten she attended.

After graduation she worked as a teacher for over two years with the community and  ended up as a member of that community of sisters. After finishing her course of studies her first assignment was precisely to be a teacher at the high school level. She was going back to the place where she felt so shackled and despondent.

However, the school she taught was much different from her own high school years. The teaching based on Christian principles was based on dignity and respect for the students. They were able to temper the hell of college entrance examinations and with the families make the search for learning and humanity the spirit of the school.

She taught at the school for 15 years and was regarded as a good teacher by the talk in the school community. But was that the reality? Were the thoughts that she had during her own years of schooling still the reality?

Two years ago she was faced with a great challenge. Her job was not to cram into the minds of the children what she deemed necessary but to foster  students' thinking. They were to  define what was necessary and she was to help them achieve their goal and to keep students as the subject of the learning.

This was an import from Europe and required a big change in the way she approached her students. What she considered the proper educational method  was a lie and a barrier in  helping students to grow as human beings.  She learned  something  new about learning. She was learning something that answered the questions she had as a student. She liberated herself and the students.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Message

Today is the first day of our new liturgical year, the first Sunday of Advent. A new color for the vestments and a new beginning. Both Catholic papers have editorials and articles to prepare our Christians for the new year. Catholics begin the new year with Advent, as world citizens, they will greet the new year on Jan 1st and again as Asians on Jan. 28th.Which one is of greatest importance is without doubt Jan. 28th. This year it will be a long holiday.

Each Diocesan Ordinary has a pastoral letter for the parishioners reminding them of what is necessary during this period of preparation. The love of God is the message and we are to respond. We need a new answer to the old message of evangelization: a more faithful response to the  sacramental life of the Church.

The temptations of the world are many and great. Materialism and pleasure are always beckoning and the need to be vigilant. The Cardinal invites his diocese to remember the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives. Once we have deepened our faith life we go out to spread this love.

One of the editorials mentions a  book  by Cardinal Walter Kasper recently translated into Korean. The cardinal stresses we need to be the signs of hope and joy to the world. We have to remember what God has deemed important and participate in that work: for the good, justice, and truth.

Our society is thirsting for hope.The corruption and deceit  have demoralized many and they are looking for hope. This way of life was shown to us by Jesus and his followers. We are to show the way to truth, justice, goodness, mercy, and hope.

In John's Gospel 13:35 we hear: love one another. He gave us the new commandment. By keeping that commandment people will know that we are disciples of Jesus. Pope Francis has asked us to be people of hope and be witnesses to the truth--prophets.

We need to be careful to not separate our religious life and our daily life. Our life is one, lived according to the Gospel. A norm that comes to us from the time of Jesus. We are Christians, honest citizens of the country. Let us be born anew during this Advent to be more merciful and hopeful messengers of the Gospel.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Difference between Conviction and Timidity

Korea in recent years has worked hard to become a more transparent society, corrupt free. Efforts made thru the social media complaining about the direction of society, the Board of Audit and Inspection have investigated and censured many in society. Illegal collusion in society has been uncovered and the recent law against corruption and the movement for an honest society has given birth to paparazzi and other irregularities. With these words in 'View from the Ark' column, of the Catholic Times, a college professor introduces us to a problem in society.

However, this movement for an upright society requires continual disclosures and punishment and yet according to Transparency International, Korea continues to be at the bottom end of the list of OECcountries for transparency. This is the  reality for the last 7 years. We are not attacking the core reason for the problems and may be missing what is important.

According to sociologists special interests and universal interests are in conflict. Interests of the nation are important but the interests of individuals and the groups to which they belong prevail. 

In this society with the spread of the idea that punishment will solve all our problems we are getting into dangerous waters. Many are retreating into their shells for self-protection and peace at any price thinking. Civil servants will be concerned only for themselves and this thinking spills over to the larger society.

A business enterprise some years ago was sold at a very low price and those in prominent positions let it happen because of the headaches that would develop if they took another path. They were fearful of the audits, investigations, possible future reprimands and avoided the responsibility. More serious is lack of conviction.

Some of the surveys made among civil servants found the majority feel a need for pride in their work: to bolster morale and foster conviction in pursuit of their goals.

Often in society, for a person to aspire to a greater good is difficult for the fear of repercussions that come with failure. Timidity and a lack of conviction is common. If one does nothing there is no failure, but also no resiliency. 

Consequently, we have a large ship sinking and no one takes responsibility. Isn't this something that we have to guard against? We need to get rid of timidity and embrace conviction we need persons who are willing to be heroes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Leaving the Community of Faith

The number of Catholics in many countries of the world continue to decrease and Korea is experiencing this trend. In 2010, 27.2 % of the Catholics were coming out to Sunday Mass.  Each year we have seen a decrease. In 2015, 20.7 % attended Mass on average.

An article in the Catholic Times with grafts  shows the readers what appears on the outside is not what we have on the inside. The numbers of Catholics continue to increase but so does the number of the tepid who for one reason or another leave the community of faith: they don't attend Sunday Mass.

In 1961 only 4.4% were considered tepid (left the community). This number increased to 11.4% in 1971, in 1985, 22.5% and in 2009 to 27.6 %. The method of determining who was tepid was to see the results of tickets that were given out twice a year  before Easter and Christmas which period is called 'Pangong'. Those who have not gone to confession for three years are considered tepid. The bishops of Korea have decided that this was not a reliable standard and have dropped this method and look to the Sunday observance as a better gauge of practicing and not practicing.

The number of Catholics aged from 20~49 is similar to the percentage in the total population but those from 0~19 is far below that national average. Those over 50 years old are a larger percentage than the total national average.

Many of those from 20~30 who are tepid are not baptizing their children and if this continues by 2020 those who will be attending Sunday Mass will decrease to 13.8 %.

Many who have studied the problem feel the reasons are lack of satisfaction in the Christian's  desire for a deeper spiritual life, lack of programs for those who have been baptized from 2-5 years, and a lack of concern for the baptized by the pastoral workers and the community.

Leaving the community is a personal decision and whether more concern by those in the community will stop the flow is problematic. In Europe, we have the Neo-Catechumenal Way and Chemin-Neuf (Going up the new road) movements which are helping to awaken the European Church.

Need a study of the reasons Christians leave the community. When those who enter the community,  see little difference from the world or find it even  worse than what they left, chances they will leave are great.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Take and Read: St. Augustine

On the front page of the Catholic Times, we have a Korean living in Hong Kong who just finished hand copying the New Testament in four different languages: Korean, Japanese,Chinese, and English. Obviously, the task is not to have another copy of the Scriptures but a work of love and a means to meet God in his word. He is now 71 years old and is thinking of beginning again with a new language.

In copying the Scriptures not once did he ever think of discontinuing and considered it a grace from God. He was baptized while in Hong Kong in his sixties. Hand copying Scripture is writing out each sentence of Scripture by hand. A work which most of us would not be interested.

In the interview with the journalist, he mentioned that he has spent at times over 15 hours a day writing. He found the time to do it and it was not difficult. It took him 3 years to accomplish the task. The different languages all have the same meaning but different nuances were discovered.

His words of advice for those who are interested in beginning are many. Without any preparation, he feels, many will not continue long in their efforts.  Those who want to begin should  read the Scriptures at least twice before beginning.

There are parishes that require the copying of the Gospel of Mark before baptism. Fathers and mothers often give copies of  the books, to the children as a remembrance of what they think is important in life. It's a gift filled with love and meaning, they hope the children will never forget. The copied books become a precious remembrance of their parents.

Starting on the Feast of Christ the King we have the beginning also of Bible Week. This year will be its 32nd year--Nov. 20-26.The theme this year: "The Bible is God's food of mercy." The bishop, head of the committee on Scripture, uses the quote from Luke 6:36: Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful," as the basis for his comments to the Christians.

With the many study groups in parishes, parishioners copying the Bible, reading articles on the Scriptures in the Catholic press, and spending time with the Scriptures privately the notion that Catholics don't read the Bible is not the reality. 

St. Augustine heard the words: "Take and Read" which brought about his conversion. The Catholics of Korea are taking the Scriptures and reading which will deepen the faith of the Christians and make for a strong and mature Christianity.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Beauty of Candle light

'Looking Back in Anger' is a play by John Osborne an English play writer. In a column for the Peace Weekly, the writer mentions having seen the movie based on the play, which left  him greatly moved.

The theme of this play has been reproduced here in Korea in dramas and movies. It was the end of the second world war and many in society were overcome with despondency, lack of hope.  After the war, there was a feeling of loss, young people were depressed, uneasy, angry. This play gave rise to the new phrase, Angry Young Men, and  new movements: the hippies, anti-war, and resistance.

Are we entering another one of these periods? We see angry faces all over the world. We saw the English say goodbye to the European Union with the Brexit vote. They cried out: "England First". Globalization, free trade, European Unity, policies on immigration were repudiated. Many other countries were feeling the same. The extreme left and right were advancing in many countries.

The recent American election had some of the similar anger expressed by the white voters. They wanted a wall between them and Mexico, a limit to Muslim immigration, they applauded racial prejudice. The voters turned their back on globalization. Isolation and exclusion don't make for a bright future and  anger can bring future calamity.

Korea has not been protected from this anger. Difficulty in finding employment, tuition increases,  rent prices, greed, and corruption of our leaders,  feeble government, has provoked  the repugnance of the citizens. Finally, they took to the streets.

Anger comes to the surface for many reasons: disillusionment, skepticism, frustration, sadness. Anger moves citizens to  candle light processions, prayer,  sacrifice, and desire to overcome the darkness that is all around. The large numbers point to solidarity, desire, and love. We see the birth of a new hope. Just anger, deeper, in many cases, than religion, becomes the small flame for a just future.

The writer climbed a mountain in the city and looked over the crowd that filled many of the streets in the center of Seoul. He could see the waves of light bobbing all over the center of Seoul. Look, at that great anger!  Not isolation but solidarity,  not despair but hope, not violence but peace, not sadness but a celebration. Sublimation of  candle light into something beautiful. Initial anger was burned away and we were left with pure light.

It was lonely on the dark mountain. The wind was blowing the leaves and he heard a whispering. "For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass" (Ps. 90: 4-5).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Down With Functionalism

In a bulletin for priests, the writer mentions his first year in a preparatory school preparing for entrance to the college seminary. During that one year, he experienced an educational method which he had never seen before or after.

Not once was he ever shown his marks. The rector did interview all the students and he remembers being told his weak points and where effort was necessary. He surmises this is what all the others would have heard.

Different tasks that were given to the students for the smooth running of the preparatory year were not given because of special talents, but a way of helping the student in his formation. If a student had difficulty getting up in the morning he would become the regulator, in charge of ringing the bell for rising and lights out. Those who would have problems with reading would be lectors and this was true of the other tasks. 
Teams were formed for sports. Each day for an hour they would recreate together playing a different sport. It mattered little whether the student liked it or not. His past was not considered important but preparation for the future: changing attitudes would change behavior. No matter how inexperienced or  lack of knowledge, with new learning one would gain confidence and become a new person.

A person with talent instead of just trusting on what he possessed, was to look at his weak points and humbly work to overcome them and let the Holy Spirit lead to a new way of being: not restrained by habits of the past and letting efficiency and functionality be the only motives. When one forgets the presence of God within him, the community to which he belongs is paralyzed.

When God gave his mission to Abraham he was already an old man and he chose Moses who had a speaking problem. Jesus also picked 12 who did not have the qualities we would see as necessary for the work. They learned by working on the job they were given to do.

Function is not  as important as being. This concept is not easy for us to understand in this present world. When we continue learning, trust in God and trust in the  movements of the Spirit we will be free and open to new experiences. 

Pope Francis in his address in Rio De Janeiro at the World Youth Day said: "[Functionalism] Its effect on the Church is paralyzing. More than being interested in the road itself, it is concerned with fixing holes in the road. A functionalist approach has no room for mystery; it aims at efficiency."

Korean society has a great trust in qualifications (specs, specifications).  We are lost in the world of functionalism. Our young people are overcome with this burden that society makes them face in finding a job. When we follow this way of the world in our parishes we are continuing to burden our young people.

Do we  believe that God is leading us with his graces? When we do the whole community of faith changes and will not this change the atmosphere of the community to which we belong? "God chose those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise; he singled out the weak  of this world to shame the strong" (1 Cor. 1:27).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Na-Pro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology)

Infertility is a problem that many couples who want a family have to endure and up until the recent past efforts were made to look for the  cause of the problem but with 'in vitro' fertilization  came a big change in methods. Efforts to find the root causes are skipped and artificial reproductive technologies have taken over.

Infertility is considered by many as a symptom of an underlying disease. They don't only hinder fertility but also are the causes of long-term health problems. Infertility also, as we know, has many emotional problems.

Na-Pro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) is a topic we have been hearing about recently in the Catholic press. A Catholic Hospital in Seoul has begun working with the new technology; an editorial and article in the Peace Weekly introduce readers to what is happening on the issue here in Korea.

In the Na-Pro fertility clinic of the hospital that started in May of this year, 8 women with a fertility problem, three of them within two months were pregnant. Previously one of them was unsuccessful with 'in vitro' attempts.

Last month the results of the Na-Pro fertility programs in other parts of the world and recently at the Na-Pro Fertility Clinic were introduced to a group of legislators interested in questions of life at a meeting of policy matters. A professor mentioned that not like many other infertility treatments Na-Pro  has no side effects, easy to learn, and less expensive than the other methods.

The government is helping those infertile couples with the money needed to use the artificial methods and those at the meeting  are hoping this will also extend to the Na-Pro method. In 2006 the Ministry of Health and Welfare reported that Korea had close to 180,000 infertile couples and this increased to 215,000 in 2014. 

Na-Pro's success rate is higher than artificial insemination and 'in vitro' methods and the Na-Pro Technology method is natural. Since it shows concern for  the whole woman's health problems without artificial means, Catholics should find this attractive.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Physical and Spiritual Love

Recently we had an academic seminar on the word love in which four participants expressed their understanding on the topic:  "Life and love--Recovering their true real relationship." The topic was  approached from a medical, human, scriptural and church point of view. Each participant speaking from their own specialty. Both Catholic papers reported on the seminar.

First, presenter quoted psychologist Robert Sternberg as defining love as passion, intimacy, and commitment. Depending on the degree of love,  different types can be differentiated. When all are equivalent we have the highest form of love.

When one uses the word love each has their own meaning.To nurture a happy relationship in love each needs to have an understanding of its meaning and expectations and what one needs to do to meet the expectations.

Another two authorities were quoted with their division of love into six types: love between friends, spiritual, romantic, possessive, altruistic, and playful love.  Several of these come into each relationship and depending on whom one is relating the type  changes.

In developmental psychology, love is not something that naturally develops but  grows in relationships, by study, and with maturity. Many think women are romantic and men are realists but is that the reality? According to many sociologists, it is just the opposite. Women are more logical, more possessive, want a  love between friends, while the male wants a playful, romantic, relationship. In altruistic love, there is little difference between the sexes.

Another participant speaking about human love says it's the preface to life, freedom, chastity, gazing out together, starting a journey of completeness together. Love is what makes a person live like a human being. From ancient times in all traditions, love was the beginning of life.

Freedom in love allows one to know another and change the other. When in love all is beautiful, all is lovable. One is not confined but allows one to love all, otherwise, it is not true love and will imprison one with shackles.

Purity is a dimension of the body while chastity of the soul: charity is the  internal completion of the external purity. Life of purity is becoming one with the person who is loved. Chastity is another step where two in their sexual relationship become one in their individuality giving life to others.

A religious sister talked about love in the Scriptures. In these times talking about love is a challenge to the hearers. Especially when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, does this make sense to those who hear it? Jesus taught this concretely by his life.

A Priest concludes with love within the Church. Love is the central message: love of God and others. God is Love. We are made in the image of God and made to love. The word love (agape) comes from the words used by the writers of the New Testament: the love that Jesus showed us. The Church gives support to the passionate love of man and woman but  sees it only within marriage.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lying Becomes a Way of Life

The Minoans have an important place in world history, building the first civilization to appear on European soil. Minoan civilization existed on the Greek island of Crete.

Writing in the  Peace Weekly, the columnist begins by telling us the Cretans had a bad reputation. He is responding to the recent scandals that have rocked the political scene in Korea.  

According to St.Paul in his letter to Titus 1:12, "Cretans are always liars, wicked beasts, and lazy gluttons"  these are not Paul's words but quotes from one of their own prophets.

The writer accepts that Epimenides the Cretan Philosopher wrote these words. However, Epimenides is a Cretan so what he says is it true? Here we have the famous Epimenides Paradox. Being a Cretan then all he says if false what he said about Cretans is also false, so Cretans are not all liars. On the other hand, if what Epimenides says is true the statement is false. Here we go around in circles and left with the question: What is truth? How much lying must have gone on in Crete to give rise to this statement?

A Japanese news medium reported: "Koreans lie like they breathe." The Japanese News medium quoted the  Korean National Police Agency statistics and berated Korea for being the world's biggest 'con' country. According to the statistics, they have 66 times the fraud, perjury and libel compared to Japan and if we take into account the population it would be 165 times that of Japan.

The whole country is a practice site for lying. "From the President down to the other leaders in society,  all are adept at lying." The report is malicious but they have hit a raw nerve. The countries have different ways of behaving but it is not worth trying to explain ourselves, says the columnist.

"I can look up at the heavens without a speck of embarrassment." These are the words of a public servant who later was tried and convicted of a crime. What was his belief when he was calling heaven as his witness?

Will we all go ahead and lie? You can lie and I can. Let us give each other the permission to lie. Does this make sense? We are giving ourselves permission to deceive and be deceived. Individual lying needs to be strictly differentiated from lying in the public place. Leaders of a country who lie prevent the country from being trusted. This is the reason why those who are in positions of authority have to be addressed differently than individuals.

We have become familiar with the landscape where money and power embrace one another. They involve many others in the web. Eventually, seeing what is happening many are overcome with nausea. "He who conceived iniquity and was pregnant with mischief brings forth failure(Ps. 7:15 ).

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Non-Marriages in Korea

Korea is a member of the club of developed nations: OECD. Of these countries, two  stand out with a birth rate that catches the eye: Israel and France. An article in the Peace Weekly introduces us to a serious problem in Korea.

In 2014 Israel women had an average of 3.08 children the highest in the list of OECD countries. Korea has a rate of 1.24 the lowest in the list of OECD countries. Continuing this growth rate, Israel with a population of over 8 million  will have over 11 million by 2035.

France's rate is the fourth after Israel, Mexico, and Turkey. In 1990 the rate was 1.75 in 2014 it rose to 1.98.

Both countries are members of the OECD but the reason for the increase is different for each, Isreal, from their tradition, has a belief in the sacredness of life and blessings that come from children. The Super Orthodox Tradition is to have on the average eight children which has influenced society.

On the other hand, the old traditional French customs have collapsed and they are bringing in a new system which has increased the birthrate. This is a contract between two adults for their joint life, it is not a marriage but a joint agreement filed at a district office-- a civil solidarity pact known as PACS. Once this is done an allowance is provided for the  birth, rearing, and education of the children. 55% of the children are born in these circumstances.

In 2012, 150,000 were PACS' couples and 230,000 were marriages but the PACS had the larger number of children. A French scholar, Jacques Attali  sees by 2030 the number of marriages will disappear, and 90 % will be PACS. Korea in 2015 according to Office of Statistics had a little more than 300,000 marriages which are the lowest number since 2003.

The writer agrees that economics is a problem limiting marriages in Korea but he believes those of marriageable age no longer see marriage as necessary but only a choice. We will, he believes, see more non-marriages in Korea. However, he doesn't see Korea going in the direction of France because of the traditional Korean ways and culture. Consequently, without marriage, we will not see Korea going in the way of the French and a continual drop in the birth rate.

According to  Gallop in 2014 half of the Korean population has a religion. Religious people usually have a positive outlook on children and marriage. Efforts need to be made to encourage marriage and children, and ways to support marriage and to press for changes. The reason the PACS system has been so successful in France, the writer concludes, is the burden that is felt by the young people in having a Church wedding.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Change from Below

Many a true word is spoken in jest: "daily life is no big deal-- isn't it to eat and live together..." Writing in View from the Ark a religious sister remembers a radio commercial she heard living in Italy that was advertising a restaurant's cooking: "Once you eat at our restaurant you will be able to forgive all your relatives and acquaintances." Returning to Korea she was envisioning such a restaurant and wanting to eat there.

In October we had many events that were celebrating happiness in life. The events were stressing 'dreams', 'meals', 'happiness', 'world's happiness index', 'let's stop considering the production numbers as an index of happiness'. These were the keywords that registered with the writer.

Happiness is what persons experience in life from a variety of social and environmental stimuli. Among these would be food, clothing, and shelter and in our society aren't there  those who lack some of these necessities? Some of our sages from 2400 years in the past  have told us that 'without the necessities of life people will not be at rest.' 'One has to have enough food if we want people to live a moral life.'

In our society, a person's wealth determines their social position. According to some studies, wealth to a certain degree will determine a person's level of happiness but once that is achieved, no longer important. However, this reality is not understood by our society; consequently, the need for politics, industry, education and religion to show interest.  

"When a country is well governed, poverty  and a low condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are things to be ashamed of" (Analects of  Confucius). The most important task of a government is to secure the equitable distribution of the products of human labor for all the citizens.

Forgetting for the moment that people still want to increase their wealth there is the fear of losing what they have acquired and become more taken up with themselves. More than concern for others we have the building of structures of conflict.

Sister wants us to remember that we participate in the  life of the universe. When a butterfly flaps its wings the waves made are changing even if infinitesimally the waves in the universe. South Korea is a small country bordered by oceans and North Korea; the material and wealth of the country is limited. When  food, clothing, and shelter are satisfied and we go to extremes than we are hurting the weak in society. When they become sick the whole society is weakened. We are good in closing our eyes to this reality and make believe it is not true.

Precisely because of this reality we have 'grassroot movements', 'change from the bottom up', and 'change from within'. All efforts to bring about change that will not come from the top but from below and the reason we have hope to see change.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

French Church's Heartfelt Advice to the Korean Church

This year is the 150th year of the beginning of the Pyong-in persecution. Twenty-four martyrs were beatified in 1968 and 103 were canonized in 1984 on the pope's visit to Korea. Of this number ten were French missionaries, members of the Paris Foreign Mission Society. 

During the past month Catholics from the dioceses from which these men came visited Korea on pilgrimage: 66 pilgrims with the head of the bishops' conference, members of the hierarchy and lay people.

In both Catholic weeklies, we had articles on the visit in which they thanked the Catholics of Korea for their kindness in welcoming them. They received the impression of a very vigorous faith life. One of the priest descendants of bishop Saint Anthony Daveluy, gave this advice: "I am  looking at a Church that was similar to the French Church of 150 years ago. I earnestly hope that the Korean Church does not go the way the Church of France went and this means they need to live the Gospel life."

The delegation led by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux visited the many pilgrimage sites of the Pyong-in persecution. They were able to see the places where the bishops and priests of the Paris Mission Society worked in Korea. The missioners had in mind the education of priests to follow them. St. Kim Tae-gon, Andrew was the first Korean priest and the second was Thomas Choi Yang-eop.

The Paris Foreign Mission Society from its beginning was entrusted with the mission work in Asia. They   promoted evangelization in the  territories from Thailand to China. Attentive always to the necessity of finding local candidates to the diocesan priesthood. They did an admirable job in Korea with the loss of many lives and great suffering.

Finally, in 1886, a treaty with the French government guaranteed the status of French missionaries, and the freedom of religion was finally established. The persecution for almost a 100 years finally ended and the work of the missioners became easier.

An editorial in the Peace Weekly mentions the delegation was kept busy with celebrations, events, exhibition halls and elements which brought praise but prayerful time or time devoted to remembering the martyrs was limited. There was a lot of activity but the living of the Gospel life was missing.

If the Korean Church is not to follow the way of the eldest daughter of the Church we need to change the way we do pastoral work says the editorial and even before we fine tune our structures the community members have to start living the Gospel and practicing the virtues.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Difference Between the Carrot and the Stick

After 70 years of separation, a red light is seen in the national security of Northeast Asia. Solving the North Korean problem: opening up of the North, human rights, dealing with a dictator, moreover, sanctions and pressure against the North and our response with the Missile Defense System is boomeranging-- destabilizing security. With this introduction, the chairperson of the Saeurinuri Peace Corp. begins her article in the Catholic Times.

Up until now both the North and South have been working to implement different policies for unification. In Dec. of 1991 both the North and South became members of the United Nations. Both working for reconciliation and hoping to live in peace came to a basic agreement on a non-aggression pact and interchanges between the North and South along with dialog and negotiations.

During this time they agreed on two occasions to keep the peninsula a nuclear free zone at a summit of the two parties. 20 meetings of the divided families,  sightseeing at Kumgangsan, Kaesong factory with a free economic zone were the results. There was the agreement to talk about a great many pending questions that would change the situation between the two. However, the nuclear development of the North and the South's military maneuvers with the United States has stopped this.

The present government sees the policies of dialogue of the past as the reason for the obstacles to the unification of the country and the  nuclear development of the North. Others, on the other hand, see the  last 8 years with its policies and its pressure on the North as the reason for the development of their nuclear capability and also the militarization of the South. This one-sided pressure policy has not helped the solving of the problems between the North and South and has left citizens with great sorrow.

The present policies which are not what are expected by the times we live in have rather become a fuse for a greater conflict among the neighboring powers. 

It is time to disassociate the unification of the country from ideology and politics. The country, industry, religion, public social organizations need to visit the North for  informal meetings with their counterparts in the North, find ways of working together and ways of cultural interchange between the two. We had for a decade non-official interchanges, learned a great deal about each other and will be helpful for the future.

Unification means the search for areas of agreement and finding where our sympathies are similar. The Unification Ministry has from Oct. 21-25  scheduled many events  to awaken our desire for unification.  We can't help but be sad that it is only a solitary work of the South without any response from the North.

According to the parliamentary audit of 2016, the Ministry of Unification has only used half of the allotted funds received. Open for business but with little to show for its efforts. The present policy is not one of dialog and negotiations but using military and economic power seeking to absorb the North.

In order to show that the Ministry of Unification is not  only a name but has some influence it has taken a lead with a proposal to reduce armaments. The ministry sees this as a necessary premise to  achieve peace on the peninsula and has moved it over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The writer hopes that the Economic  ministries will show leadership in laying the foundation for peace initiatives.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Addiction Does Not Just Disappear

Recently Korea noticed a slowing down of the rate of alcoholic addiction. Cigarette smoking among men has also  gone from 80% to 40%. However, an article in the Seoul Diocesan Bulletin by the head of a center for alcoholics mentions how this has now moved over to women and a young peoples' problem.

Internet games, gambling, drugs and the like are now making their appearance. The writer mentions that a few years ago a middle school student came with a problem with a new herbal drug that he was taking. He couldn't forget the boy. He had the appearance of an exemplary student and asked how he got the drug. He found the drug on the internet and out of curiosity ordered it and came to the house by home delivery service.

Nowadays if a person has a mind to get drugs there's no problem in achieving one's goal. This is also true of illegal gambling as we have seen in Korean society with those in entertainment and sports. One high school student came for help who was addicted to Sports Toto (online  illegal  gambling). The writer was flabbergasted when he heard that half of his class participates.

According to the Korean Gambling, Problem Management Center about 30,000 young people are addicted and surmised that 120,000 are in danger of addiction. The dangers continue to increase. In 2013 a law was proposed for the management and treatment of problems associated with gambling. However, an uproar ensued  because of the inclusion of internet games and the whole movement stopped. Many who came for treatment even refused to acknowledge their addiction. 

Our society is so taken up with consumerism that we refuse to see the problems that follow from it.  "Internet games are not addictive." Forbidding  certain types of  advertising is not the way to go."  "Gambling is a form of industry' is what is being said.

Whether we like it or not our society is losing the happiness we should have in life. The writer is daily dealing with children who engrossed with the  computer their school work suffers. Heads of families  are addicted to drugs, have committed crimes, and because of gambling have incurred great debt. Women have been abandoned by their family because of addiction.

In 2014 the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs reported that over 6 million citizens have addiction problems. These problems are capable of being addressed like any sickness and we are all exposed to the dangers. The problem is not only  personal but a social one. We are not to blame the addicted but to understand and show concern. We need to discuss the problem and find solutions  and ways to treat those who are dealing with addiction.