Pope Benedict pledges Catholic support for bettering Korea


Receiving the new Korean ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI praised the Republic of Korea’s work for peace and its role as an “important player” on the world stage. He pledged the Church’s help to advance the common good, noting the inspiration the faithful take from the example of the Korean Martyrs.

Ambassador Han Hong-soon presented letters of credence to the Pontiff on Oct. 21 at the Vatican.

Encouraging the Korean government’s efforts to promote material prosperity, he noted the dangers involved in rapid economic growth. Such growth can “too easily bypass ethical considerations” and exclude the poorer elements from their “rightful share” in prosperity. The recent financial crisis has drawn attention to the need to renew the “ethical foundations” of all economic and political activity, he continued.

He told the new ambassador that the Catholic Church’s role is to proclaim the truths of the Gospel, which challenge “narrow pragmatism and partisan interests” and recognize the obligations to the human person “created in the image and likeness of God.”

“This requires of us an unambiguous commitment to defend human life at every stage from conception to natural death, to promote stable family life in accordance with the norms of the natural law and to build peace and justice wherever there is conflict,” Pope Benedict commented.

The Republic of Korea’s roles in promoting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in promoting the security and economic integration of the region have shown Korea to be as “an important player on the world stage.” Noting next month’s G20 summit in Seoul, the Pope said the Korean government has helped to guarantee that globalization will be directed by concerns for “solidarity and fraternity.”

Pope Benedict then noted the Church’s network of Korean schools which help the moral and spiritual formation of the young and the Church’s charitable outreach to the poor and needy.

“Through her work for inter-religious dialogue she seeks to break down barriers between peoples and to foster social cohesion based on mutual respect and growth in understanding,” he continued.

The Congress of Asian Catholic Laity recently held in Seoul was a “clear sign” of cooperation.

"It was only right that the congress' focus was on the lay faithful, who ... not only sowed the first seeds of the Gospel on Korean soil but bore witness in great numbers to their firm faith in Christ through the shedding of their blood,” Pope Benedict’s comments concluded. “I am confident that, inspired and strengthened by the witness of the Korean martyrs, lay men and women will continue to build up the life and well being of the nation.”

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