ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Bishops of Asia united: Forum for peace on the Korean peninsula

Monday, 3 September 2018 peace   reconciliation   bishops  

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) – To share an approach of peace and reconciliation applied to politics and society, to share experiences and launch a message of unity: with this spirit, Cardinals and Bishops from all over Asia are gathered in South Korea to take part in the "Korean Peninsula Peace-Sharing Forum", hosted and organized by the Archdiocese of Seoul, which began on September 1st at the Campus Seongshin of the Catholic University of the Korean capital. As reported to Fides by the Communications Office of the Archdiocese, the Forum, now in its third edition, saw the participation of the main religious leaders of Asia, under the theme "Human dignity and peace: a journey for the Korean peninsula".
Cardinal Andrea Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, opened the meeting, while Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, expressed Pope Francis’ closeness to the participants. Speeches were held by Cardinals Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai (India), Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines), Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar) and Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the diocese of Lahore (Pakistan).
As Fides learns, Cardinal Andrea Yeom recalled the words of Pope Francis during his visit to South Korea in 2014: "the Christian communities in Asia are indeed a small flock, but have the mission of spreading the light of the Gospel to the end of the world", underlining that only through the cooperation between churches, the "true mission of humanization and evangelization of the Korean peninsula" can be carried out.
In the first session of the Forum, centered on the theme "human life", in particular Cardinal Oswald Gracias stated that "time is needed to create a culture of peace in the world". The protection and promotion of human rights is essential not only for the individual good but also for the common good, and while we commit ourselves to be builders of bridges, let us say a convinced and sincere 'yes' to building solidarity among nations and a resolute 'no' to everything that brings division". Cardinal Tagle then stressed that "peace is a profound relationship that weakens when people become individuals. Peace is realized when you are in communion with God. Starting from this fundamental relationship it is possible to be in harmony with oneself, with one's neighbor and with creation".
In the second session, Cardinal Bo stressed that "where there is no respect for human dignity, peace cannot be built" and, talking about his experience in Myanmar, he said that "we must not remain silent for the good of those who suffer from poverty, conflict and injustice, we must not remain silent in the face of the tragedy of displaced persons, refugees, victims of new forms of slavery: indeed we must be their voice".
Finally, Archbishop Francis Shaw recalled: "We were born in Pakistan and God has a plan of life for us. Therefore we must be courageous and not lose hope, we are the peacemakers and healers of society", recalling the commitment of the Local Church in dialogue with Islamic religious authorities.
The third session was a round table on the theme of "Living together", in which the speakers discussed the problems of multicultural families, the integration of North Korean refugees in Korean society, the inequality after the democratization in Korea, the generational conflict in the context of a rapid aging of society.
In the fourth session, which dealt with the theme "Peaceful Life", several Catholic professors and academics addressed the theme of the "way of true peace", reporting some writings of Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan, and shared their views on how to create a human rights system in Korea and Asia.
The Asian religious leaders present at the Forum will visit the village of Panmunjom, on the inter-Korean border, symbol of the division of the Korean peninsula, and will participate in meetings with mass media. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2018)