Opinion by Candida Moss, appropriate to CNN
(CNN) – Back Pope Francis arrives in South Korea on Wednesday for a five-day visit, he’ll get a attending at aloof the affectionate of abbey he’s been aggravating to actualize worldwide.
The trip, planned to accompany with Asia Youth Day, marks the aboriginal time a pope has visited the country back 1989, and is allotment of a new apostolic focus on globalization in accepted and on Asia in particular. (Francis affairs to appointment Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Japan in January.)
The time has continued anesthetized that the Catholic Abbey is aged white men and women in European enclaves.
The aftermost apostolic assembly and the acclamation of the aboriginal Latin American Pope aloft acquaintance of the Catholic Church’s growing appearance in Africa, but Asian Christianity was hardly mentioned at all.
Even if it is rarely discussed in the media, Korean Catholicism is amid the best active in the world.
Here are bristles affidavit South Korea ability be the approaching of Catholic Church.
1. It’s growing.
Catholics accomplish up about 11% of South Korea’s 50 actor population. This may assume like a baby percentage, but accede this: In 1960, they alone fabricated up 2%.
In adverse to Europe, the majority of South Korean Catholics – as is the broader citizenry of the arena – are young.
Vocations to the admiral are additionally strong. At the end of 2013, South Korea’s 5.4 actor Catholics were served by 4,261 priests, with a added 1,489 seminarians in the pipeline, according to abbey statistics.
In added words, not alone is Christianity growing in South Korea, but it’s accretion in acceptance amid adolescent people. And, in adverse to Europe and the United States, there are abundant priests and seminarians to abbot to this accretion group.
2. It’s rich.
Catholics in South Korea are added prosperous. In an account with Catholic News Service, Abbey William McNaughton, who served as the aboriginal abbey of Inchon from 1962 until 2002, recalled that back he accustomed in the country, best of his aggregation was poor. Now, he says, they wealthier than average.
While the bread-and-er affairs of Catholics accept assuredly risen with those of South Korea as a whole, McNaughton attributes the banking success of Catholics there to the arete of Catholic education.
Whether or not the abundance of Korean Catholics is because of Catholic apprenticeship or bounded bread-and-er advance is beneath important than the auspicious adverse it forms to the abbey in added genitalia of the world.
Church appearance in Europe and the United States has been crumbling for decades. Meanwhile, in poorer, developing countries, the abbey has broadcast and taken on an added fundamentalist character.
The abatement of the Catholic Abbey in affluent countries is generally affiliated to the acceleration of secularism, admission to college apprenticeship and bread-and-er growth. The abhorrence is that as bodies access added apprenticeship and money, they no best charge God.
This doesn’t assume to be the case in South Korea, area wealth, apprenticeship and abbey amplification abide to go together.
3. It competes in a boxy environment.
Some commentators accept speculated that Christianity in South Korea succeeds because of the adherence in the region. That’s not absolutely true.
In 2005, about bisected the citizenry alarm themselves are “irreligious.” The arena has a affluent religious history, but today South Korea is amid the best civil countries in the world.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI articular the “secular state” as one of the arch threats to the Catholic Abbey in the 21st century, crediting it as one of the causes of crumbling abbey appearance in Europe.
That Catholicism continues to curl in a ability that is broadly speaking agnostic should animate abbey leaders. It proves it can be done.
4. It’s self-supporting.
The history of Christianity on the Korean Peninsula involves not alone advance and added prosperity, but additionally animality and martyrdom.
Christianity was legalized in then-unified Korea alone in 1886 and for abundant of that time has been abundantly self-sufficient. In the deathwatch of Apple War II, the country was disconnected in the antipathetic North and the capitalistic South in 1945. The CIA Factbook addendum that free religious activities are “now about nonexistent” in North Korea.
The bounded ambit from the Vatican has accustomed bounded bishops to accept added freedom and decentralized the church. As Tom Fox, columnist of “Pentecost in Asia,” has said, “the starting point of the Asian abbey has consistently been the bounded church.”
This is the archetypal of bounded babyminding and evangelization that Pope Francis has approved to animate and advance in the abbey in general.
5. It’s committed to amusing justice.
Korea was abundantly evangelized by lay activists, not organized missionary campaigns. This history gives the accepted abbey in South Korea an absolute streak. Masses end with instructions to “evangelize the world” rather than acknowledgment home, a alarm that bounded Catholics booty to heart.
This missionary action is akin by a focus on convalescent the active altitude their afflicted neighbors in North Korea. That alms endears the Catholic Abbey to both religious and agnostic South Koreans, who ability contrarily be suspicious.
It’s for all these affidavit that Francis told Il Messaggero in June that “the abbey in Asia holds abundant promise.”
In the Pope’s mind, it seems, the South Korean archetype may authority the abstruse to the approaching of the Catholic Church.
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