Monday, February 06, 2017

“Francis effect” taking root and spreading in Daejeon Diocese

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To root and spread "the Francis effect" in the Diocese of Daejeon.  

The papal visit in 2014 was a turning point in Korean society, in particular helping foster a more favorable attitude toward the Catholic Church and her social doctrine.
A goal which Bishop Lazzaro You Heungsik (pictured, on the occasion of the papal visit) has spoken of in recent days with Pope Francis and for which the diocese has organized a diocesan Synod (December 8, 2015 ~ 2018). 

A "coming together" which is expected to give birth to two currents: one is to actively live the spirituality of martyrdom; the other is to apply professional knowledge and skills of the laity in evangelization.
Regarding the first: the spread of the spirituality of martyrdom, understood in its original sense as testimony. 


The Diocese of Daejeon has established the so-called 'School of martyrdom' to remind today's society of the spirituality of the martyrs. 

The 'School of martyrdom' manages programs to move the focus from 'dying' to 'living witness' with the help of experts, pastors, priests, religious and laity. Against the 'isms' dominant in today's world: materialism, economic liberalism, selfishness, etc. that destroy the dignity of creation, the school strives to promote a sense of communion in order to create justice and peace.
 
Through a pilgrimage made on foot, the 'School of martyrdom' helps connect the faithful to the life of the martyrs. In addition, the commissioning of studies and research on the lives of martyrs, aims to spread their life story worldwide. And the commission for the beatification and canonization of the martyrs will organize movements to imitate the lives of martyrs in which faith and life were one.
The need for evangelization through the active participation of the laity, the second "current" that will be addressed by the synod, was clearly highlighted by the Pope’s visit. It is the change needed to fulfill the mission of the Church in Korea for the Asian Church and Worldwide. If this is going to happen, the most urgent task is recover the role of the laity who actually founded the Church in Korea. 


Recognizing the value of evangelization by the laity, the diocese wants to offer them the opportunity to play a central role in the design and implementation of the Pastoral work. And the fact that the best scientists, technologists and administrators are concentrated in the diocese gives reason to hope that they, by engaging in their secular work, can carry out their mission to build the kingdom of God.
This work, inserted in the projects of the Synod, is expected to become the central activity of diocesan pastoral outreach. ① The pastoral care of families and young people ② The dialogue between science and faith ③ The establishment of migrant workers and farmers ④ The reconciliation and reunification between South and North ⑤ The deepening of the social catechism.

The urgency of a family ministry
The crisis facing families in South Korea is highlighted by factors such as the continued growth of the divorce rate, currently the highest in Asia. In addition, Korea has become a stable country with the lowest birth rate in the world. 


The diocesan Synod is seeking concrete educational methods, practices to help the family and life. For those who have difficulties because of misconceptions about love and sexuality, the Pontifical Theological Institute of Marriage and Family of St. John Paul II was inaugurated at the Catholic University of Daejeon to train religious and lay people who to serve family and life in the parishes and in the various institutions operating as catechists. 

The Evangelical School for Family and of Life that lasts 12 weeks is also about to be launched. This school follows on from the weekend for engaged couples, the marriage education at Cana, the ME (Marriage Encounter), the renewal of marriage, and the school for parents.

The fact that the diocese of Daejeon boasts the best research institutions which are world leaders in the scientific-technological development means it can provide opportunities in which secular scientists, experts in the scientific-technological sector can study and discuss regularly with the pastors and theologians . This can help overcome the existing disharmony between the scientific world and that of faith, one of the causes of indifference among young people.
After the visit of Pope Francis, a lot of discussion and research were carried out on the contents of documents such Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Sì, Misericordiae Vultus Amoris Laetitia. Thanks to this flourishing of studies, the knowledge of the social catechism that permeates the Christian faith is developing. 


The Diocese of Daejeon wants to contribute to the systematic research and become active on its pastoral direction, identifying the diplomatic, political and social  problems that Korea is facing and correct them from the evangelical point of view. The diocese also aims to promote opportunities to systematically study the social teaching of the Church and to apply it to the current problems of the country. These educational programs are aimed at making concrete efforts to live the moral values ​​such as respect for life, justice, and freedom according to the ministry of the laity.
The effort for reconciliation with the North
Another key reality that the Church is facing is the effort towards reconciliation between South Korea and North Korea and the attitude towards 30 thousand refugees from North Korea. The latter often become victims of prejudice and even hatred making integration into the South Korean society difficult. They must be approached with a friendly gaze and  warmth, cultural sentiment and emotional heterogeneity converted into sympathy, the difference of views on reunification downplayed.

Since the division of the country in 1953, the Church in Korea has been trying to foster reconciliation between the South and the North by implementing various initiatives to send food, medicine and machinery in the name of human rights and fraternity.

Today, however, there is an attempt to restore the Cold War atmosphere because of the deployment of THAAD missile system. All forms of exchanges, even on a civil level, was recently canceled and the tension between the South and the North is growing dangerously. 


According to the social catechism of the Church, the Korean bishops (Commission for Justice and Peace) have announced their position contrary to the THAAD deployment in Korea, as it is contrary to the agreement between Korea and Japan on the problem of sex slaves (so-called Korean 'comfort women' for the Japanese military) during the second world war that destroys human dignity, and the publication and distribution of history textbooks that distort history.

The best way to reduce tension in Korea is to promote reconciliation and unity, by reducing economic and cultural differences between the South and the North. At this point, the current situation seems to support the intention of the Japanese government, to solve its problems, it wants to become a military superpower and increase weapons sales by introducing a new Cold War. 

At the same time, the people of North Korea will face even more severe economic difficulties and the violent regime of Kim Jong-un will be strengthened, creating a situation of even greater social injustice and reducing the space for peace. This is the reason why the Church in Korea is opposed to the deployment of THAAD and calls for the suspension of economic sanctions against North Korea.

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