Papal visit to South Korea : August 14-18, 2014

Source: FSSPX News

In a short video message recorded on August 8 at the Vatican and broadcast by the South Korean network KBS two days before his departure, Pope Francis recalled that his arrival was planned within the context of Asian Youth Day, the theme of which was:  “Youth of Asia, wake up!   The glory of the martyrs shines on you.”  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, who accompanied the Supreme Pontiff, explained that “the hope of the Holy See” was the reconciliation of the two Koreas. – This journey was also an opportunity for the Pope to return, among other things, to several themes that he has expounded on frequently since the beginning of his pontificate:  in favor of a poor Church for the sake of the poor, against clericalism, against the apparent security of ready-made answers, against proselytism.... 

In the presence of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the Pope mentioned the beatification of “Koreans who died as martyrs for their Christian faith” that he was about to perform.  He went on to wonder “whether we are transmitting correctly our values to the next generation” and asked “what sort of world and society we prepare to leave to them”, insisting on “the need to give our young people the gift of peace”.

During his meeting with the bishops of South Korea on August 14, Pope Francis digressed at some length from his prepared text to elaborate on the theme of a “poor Church for the sake of the poor” which “found an eloquent expression in the first Christian communities of your nation”, and he expressed the hope that this “ideal might continue to shape the journey of the Church in Korea in its pilgrimage toward the future.”

While celebrating Mass on the Feast of the Assumption in the World Cup Stadium in Daejon, the Holy Father asked Christians “to fight against the attraction of materialism” “and the spirit of unbridled competition, which lead to selfishness and conflicts,” and to reject “inhumane economic systems that create new forms of poverty”.  In this country which has a significant number of abortions and a record rate of suicides, he also asked the faithful to reject the “culture of death” (see DICI no. 299).

The Pope reminded the 6,000 participants in the Asian Youth Day, at the shrine of Solmoe on the afternoon of August 15, 2014, that the Lord is counting on them to be his witnesses to this world that has been won over by a “spiritual desert”.  Exhorting them to pray without ceasing, he encouraged them to ask:  “Lord, what do you want from my life?”

Addressing a congregation of 800,000 during the Mass for the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 companions, who were killed “out of hatred for the faith” between 1791 and 1888, Pope Francis called on Catholics to follow Jesus Christ above all instead of “the world” and not to compromise their faith “and not to dilute the radical demands of the Gospel” or to conform to the spirit of the times.

The Supreme Pontiff invited the religious communities of Korea to “become ‘experts’ in God’s mercy precisely through their community life” by diligently keeping their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

During an informal meeting at the Korean Jesuit University of Sogang, the Pope explained to the religious that their faithful today need to be “consoled”.  “There are many wounds in the Church,” he explained, “wounds that we ourselves, practicing Catholics and Church ministers, often cause.”  “Very often,” he continued, “our clerical attitude leads to clericalism which has done so much harm to the Church.”  And he added:  “Being a priest does not give us the status of ‘the clerical state’ but rather the role of pastors.”

Addressing the 70 Asian bishops in Haemi, Pope Francis expressed the hope that the countries of the continent that do not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See will be open not only to political negotiations but also to “fraternal” dialogue.  Dialogue with other cultures makes it necessary to have a clear Christian identity, while guarding against relativism, superficiality and “the apparent security that hides behind easy answers, ready-made statements, laws and regulations”.  ‘This authentic dialogue,’ Pope Francis added, “also demands an ability to empathize.”  Once again the Pope repeated remarks of his predecessor Benedict XVI to the effect that “The Church does not grow by proselytism but by attraction.”

Before leaving Seoul, Francis celebrated a Mass “for peace and reconciliation” in the Cathedral of Myeong-dong, with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in attendance.  In his homily, the Pontiff begged God for “the gift of reconciliation, unity and peace”, declaring that “forgiveness is the door that leads to reconciliation.”

(Sources:  apic/imedia/ – DICI no. 300 dated September 12, 2014)

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