Monday, August 18, 2014

Pope In Korea

The Pope has just visited South Korea and spoke strong words against abortion, discrimination, and pushed for reconciliation, hope and peace.

The visit was important because South Korea has seen a surge in the Catholic populations.  The Korean Catholic Church is growing at an extraordinary rate which has caused some tension with Protestants, Buddhists and other faiths which still outnumber Catholics, but are losing members faster than they can replace them.

Ironically, it wasn't priests who brought Catholicism to the peninsula.  in the 18th century, the laity evangelized the area and baptized converts. When priests did arrive, they found thousands of new Catholics there waiting to receive the rest of the Sacraments which only ordained priests can confer.  The increase of Catholicism in the region has not been easy. 124 Koreans were martyred for the faith and the Pope beatified them to show the importance of their shedding of blood for the faith and that it was not in vain.

Keeping to his disdain of "privileged" statesman treatment, the Pope preferred using the black KIA
Soul which is manufactured in Korea.  He also rode the train shocking passengers who did not expect to be on-board with the Pontiff. Rain and windy weather was a main factor for this decision which would have made helicopter travel dangerous for the Pope, his aides and those on the ground.

The Pope met with Lee Yong-soo who was one of the "Comfort Women" used for sex during World War II by Japanese soldiers.  She and other surviving "Comfort Women" have been demanding that Japan apologize for destroying their youth by making them a commodity for sexually frustrated troops. With the meeting, she hopes to draw more global attention to her cause and the cause of securing respect for women today in the Asian world.

Not everyone was happy to see the Pope there.  Insecure Protestants took to the streets to protest the arrival of the Pope who they labeled as the "anti-Christ." They also criticized the attempt of other Protestants of dialog with Rome in regards to ecumenism. Nevertheless, millions showed up for Mass showing that Catholicism is alive and well despite claims from atheists that it is dying.  

The trip was a success in my opinion.  The Korean people were energized by this visit and will continue to spread Catholicism in the region.  This visit will hopefully bring about reconciliation between North and South Korea.  The protests by Protestants is unfortunately indeed. The hate that these people espouse is completely unchristian. It shows their ignorance and reliance on 16th century anti-Catholic rhetoric which goes against Christianity and the Word of God which they claim to hold dear.

Moreover, seeing the crowds that came show that Catholicism is alive and well. Atheists who claim atheism is on the rise must reflect on their failed "Reason Rally" in 2012 which only had a few hundred-thousand people and was never held again.  Also, the fact that the laity brought Catholicism to Korea shows the importance of the laity in the Church.  They too must evangelize and bring the faith everywhere. In many instances, they can bring it to places clergy cannot.  


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