Sunday, July 24, 2016

Peace on the Korean Peninsular

Both Catholic Weeklies had first-page articles and editorials on the anti-missile system decided for South Korea in cooperation with the United States. Not only are many of the citizens opposed but the neighboring countries also.

Presidents of the Commissions for Reconciliation and for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church reject the military escalation and stress that peace comes through dialogue and economic development in North and South Korea. They fear it will make the Korean peninsula, “the center of a new cold war” and increase the situation that Pope Francis has described as “ a Third World war being fought in pieces.”

According to the government, this is for the security of the citizens but why from the very beginning do we have such an uproar from the people? When we have an issue dealing with the citizens' security and issues that concern them directly, there is a need to gather with the citizens wisdom and to come to a consensus. What the editorial sees as a possibility is a return to the cold war days and the escalation of armaments.

The Church is opposed to all acts that break the possibility of peace. Self-protection is understood but when this is surpassed and we have the amassing of munitions this militates against security and peace. "There is a common belief that under modern conditions peace cannot be assured except on the basis of an equal balance of armaments and that this factor is the probable cause of this stockpiling of armaments" (Peace on earth #110).

“Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies” (Gaudium et Spes #78). The Church is opposed because peace is not achieved with the might of arms but established on a foundation of justice and works of love.

One editorial mentions that it is not the increase of armaments on the peninsula that will overcome the nuclear threat and we need to rid ourselves of this illusion. Buildup of armaments will only bring more stress and be of no help in bringing peace to North East Asia. What we need now is not a missile defense system but communication and cooperation between the North and South. We Christians need to pray for this reality to come quickly.

The bishops also cite Pope Francis’s speech at the Blue House (South Korea’s presidential palace), during his visit to South Korea in 2014. On that occasion, the pope  said that “diplomacy, as the art of the possible, is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force. ”For this reason, the Catholic Church wants South Korean authorities to stop THAAD and Pyongyang to halt its nuclear enrichment projects. In fact, competition and military escalation carry "dangers for humanity” and cause “economic suffering among the poor."

What the bishops want is a way to make Korea a nation of reconciliation and life in cooperation instead of a place of clashing states.