ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Imbuing politics with the Gospel values: a duty for Christians in the 3rd millennium - Catholic Bishops of Korea issue message in view of general elections on 15 April

Wednesday, 14 April 2004

Seoul (Fides Service) - Evangelise politics, bring Christian values to the management of public affairs, guarantee the common good by acting according to criteria of justice, solidarity and honesty: these are indications given by the Catholic Bishops of Korea for Easter and in view of general elections tomorrow April 15.
In personal messages addressed to their respective dioceses, the Bishops stressed the importance of taking part in the vote. They recalled that voting is a responsibility of all citizens including Christians who must play and active part in the political life of their country to offer their own contribution in keeping with the Church’s Social Teaching. The Bishops voiced concern for division and atmosphere of confusion on the eve of the vote due to the recent impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun, and they urged voters to choose candidates willing to “work with zeal and patience to build the common good of society”.
In his message Archbishop Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul told his people: “What we need today is a new form of coexistence, reconciliation and unity”, and he urged Catholics to exercise their “sacred right to vote” to build a future of happiness and prosperity for the Korean people. In fact these elections are particularly important for the future of the country.
“Celebrating Easter, we must live a life of love and service of neighbour” and this style of life must be applied during and after the vote, Archbishop Paul Ri Moun-hi, Archbishop of Taegu, wrote in his message to his people.
From Kwangju Archdiocese, Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou wrote: “As Christians we have only one point of reference, Jesus Christ and the truth of his Gospel. If we are united as Jesus wishes us to be, although we have different opinions. We can achieve unity in diversity”.
All the Bishops urged the faithful to spread and announce Easter joy to the world and to undertake concrete initiatives to solve the problems afflicting Korean society such as lack of respect for life and the breaking up of families.
Observers see the April 15 elections as a sort of referendum for or against President Roh Moo-hyun, impeached by Parliament in March for violating the electoral law.
Pending the Constitutional Court ratification of the impeachment, more than 35.6 million eligible voters will vote 299 members of the National Assembly. The confrontation is between two large groups: the conservative Great National Party; and a progressive group led by the Uri Party which supports President Roh.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/4/2004 lines 42 words 477)