Pope Francis warns Korean Catholic bishops against worldly lifestyle

Peace in Korea affects stability of the whole world, he tells politicians

Pope Francis has warned Catholic Church leaders in South Korea against a lifestyle guided more by worldly criteria of success. Addressing the bishops in Seoul yesterday, at the beginning of a five-day visit to the country, he said "a prophetic witness to the Gospel presents particular challenges to the church in Korea, since she carries out her life and ministry amid a prosperous, yet increasingly secularised and materialistic society.

“In such circumstances, it is tempting for pastoral ministers to adopt not only effective models of management, planning and organisation drawn from the business world, but also a lifestyle and mentality guided more by worldly criteria of success, and indeed power, than by the criteria which Jesus sets out in the Gospel.”

Needs of young and old

He also advised them that “particular care and concern needs to be shown for the children and the elderly in our communities.” The bishops should be “concerned in a special way for the education of children . . . at every level, beginning with elementary schools . . . where children learn to be good Christians and upright citizens.”

If “the face of the church is first and foremost a face of love, more and more young people will be drawn to the heart of Jesus”, the pope said. The bishops should also “remain ever-close to your priests, encouraging them in their daily labours”.

In one of his first major addresses in English, he told the country’s president, Madam Park Geun-hye; members of the government; and diplomatic corps, of his appreciation “for the efforts in favour of reconciliation and stability in the Korean peninsula”.

The search for peace in Korea “is a cause that is particularly dear to us because it affects the stability of the whole area and the whole world, tired of the war”, he said.

Today, Pope Francis attends the Sixth Asian Youth Day at the shrine of Solmoe in Dangjin. Tomorrow in Seoul he will beatify 124 Korean martyrs.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times