Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Korea and Lithuania, two former dictatorships "united in faith in Christ"

Although they may seem distant "the Churches and the Catholic communities of South Korea and Lithuania are very similar: This is why it was very stimulating to help my European brothers prepare for Easter. I am grateful to God for this experience", says Msgr. Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon, who has just returned to his diocese after preaching the spiritual exercises for Lent for the bishops of Lithuania: He speaks to AsiaNews about his experiences.

The South Korean bishop arrived in Vilnius on Ash Wednesday at the invitation of Msgr. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia: "There were even some bishops from Latvia at the retreat, and this made me very happy. I am also grateful to Msgr. Bonazzi, whom I met during my stay in Rome, for giving me the opportunity to experience this. "

Even if they seem far apart, with a few points of contact, from the standpoint of faith Korea and Lithuania have much in common: "Both churches are communities and young people, they both survived a tough military-type regime and an ideology hostile to Christianity. Sure, there Catholics are about 80% of the population while in South Korea we are just over 20%, but this does not change much, because the total numbers - the faithful and religious - are similar. Furthermore, it is their enthusiasm that struck".

The European bishops of are emerging from Soviet rule, while South Korea endured a brutal military dictatorship for several decades: "And this makes dialogue and fruitful cooperation very easy. During the retreat we were able to talk much , to compare our experiences and our expectations: this is the meaning of the universal Church, the true sense of unity and brotherhood among Catholics. "

In addition to thinking together about Lent and the Paschal Mystery, the Korean bishop gave his brother bishops some practical advice as well: "Like Korea, Lithuania is also composed of different social strata: the difference between countryside and city, for example, is very important both from an economic standpoint and from that of development. That's why I suggest they send priests to towns in rural areas and vice versa for at least five years of pastoral work, like we do. In this way, they will get to know more about their country. "

Although it is an uncommon experience, this experiment was a great success: "In faith and within the Church geographical origin is not important. And social, political and economic diversities are just an incentive for mutual  improvement. I'm really grateful to God for this opportunity, which has enriched me in view of the holy Easter. "