Pope Warns Economy and Ethics Too Easily DivorceUrges Korea to Foster Common Good Along With Prosperity
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2010 (www.Zenit.org
).- Economic growth can all too easily bypass ethical considerations, Benedict XVI is cautioning.
The Pope noted this today in an English-language address to Korea's new ambassador to the Holy See, Han Hong-soon.
While congratulating Koreans for their "remarkable degree of industry and generosity" that has led to economic growth for the nation, the Holy Father also pointed to an observation made by Korean President Lee Myung-bak when he visited the Vatican last year. The president spoke of the "dangers involved in rapid economic growth which can all too easily bypass ethical considerations, with the result that the poorer elements in society tend to be excluded from their rightful share of the nation’s prosperity."
The financial crisis has only worsened this problem, the Pontiff stated, though it has also "focused attention on the need to renew the ethical foundations of all economic and political activity."
In this regard, Benedict XVI encouraged the Korean government in a commitment "to ensure that social justice and care for the common good grow side by side with material prosperity," and he assured the cooperation of the Church in promoting "these worthy goals."Church's work
The Holy Father went on to reflect about the Church's efforts in Korea, noting its schools and educational programs, its endeavors in interreligious dialogue, and its charity programs.
"In all these ways, the local Church helps to nurture and promote the values of solidarity and fraternity that are essential for the common good of any human community, and I acknowledge with gratitude the appreciation shown by the government for the Church’s involvement in all these areas," he said.
But, the Pope continued, the Church has a role that goes beyond these activities: "a role that involves proclaiming the truths of the Gospel, which continually challenge us to look beyond the narrow pragmatism and partisan interests that can so often condition political choices, and to recognize the obligations incumbent upon us in view of the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God."
This calls for a commitment to defending life from conception till natural death, promoting stable family life, and building peace and justice, he said.
The Pope affirmed: "The importance that your government attaches to our diplomatic relations demonstrates its recognition of the Church’s prophetic role in these areas."
Korea is only about 26% Christian, with less than 7% of those being Catholic. Buddhists make up almost another quarter of the population, but the largest majority according to the 1995 census is formed by those who profess no religion: 49.3%.Korea's work
Benedict XVI also lauded Korea for its role in the international community.
"By promoting the peace and stability of the peninsula, as well as the security and economic integration of nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, through its extensive diplomatic links with African countries, and especially by hosting next month’s G20 Summit in Seoul, your government has given ample proof of its role as an important player on the world stage, and has helped to guarantee that the process of globalization will be directed by considerations of solidarity and fraternity," he said.
In all of these "efforts to steer the powerful forces that shape the lives of millions towards that 'civilization of love,’ the Holy See is eager to cooperate," the Pope affirmed.
Finally, he mentioned the Catholic laity conference that was held last month in Seoul.
"It was only right that the Congress’s focus was on the lay faithful who, as you have pointed out, 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," the Pontiff said. "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 through 'their loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, their willingness to forgive their enemies and persecutors, their example of justice, truthfulness and solidarity in the workplace, and their presence in public life.'"