Koreans challenged to launch Catholic NGOs

Complaining that social involvement of the Korean Church is proceeding at a snail's pace, a Korean priest and academic has called for the establishment of a Catholic non-governmental organisation to promote social action among laypeople.

Speaking at a seminar at Myongdong Cathedral co-organised by the Seoul Archdiocesan Committee of Justice and Peace, Fr Peter Lee Chung-hee told UCA News, "we need a Catholic civic organisation for Catholics to spread (Church social) teachings for the common good."

Fr Peter Kim Chun-ho, former Professor at Suwon Catholic University, stressed that social involvement is Catholics' right and duty.

"To inspire the spirit of the Church in society, Catholics should not shy away from participating in politics to serve mankind and society," he said, clarifying that he was referring not to party politics but to social action.

The priest also said, "Catholics participating in social movements through a Catholic NGO are not participating in the capacity of 'Church' or 'Church organisation,' or 'in the name of the Church.'"

Since the NGO would not be a Church organisation, it would not have to come under the Church hierarchy, he continued. "By removing the unnecessary intervention process of Church hierarchy, Catholics could freely and promptly express their opinion on social matters and participate on the basis of Catholic teachings."

However, it could not use the term "Catholic" in its name, since only Church organisations can use it with Church approval, Fr Kim acknowledged. He suggested that while Catholics would lead the Catholic organisation, its membership should be open to all people.

Also supportive of a Catholic lay initiative were Park Byung-ok, secretary general of the Protestant-backed Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice and Sohn Hyuk-jae, steering committee chairman of People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, considered the most influential civic group in the country.

"If Catholics of the same faith and teachings act as a Catholic NGO, it will help social development," according to Sohn Hyuk-jae, a Buddhist.

Catholic NGO Urged For Promoting Common Good In Society

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

14 Jun 2006