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President of Caritas Korea affirms yes to reconciliation

Masan (Agenzia Fides) – “Yes to reconciliation”…While North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and celebrates 60 years since the outbreak of the war in Korea, the Church does not tire of proclaiming the prophetic announcement of reconciliation: “This is our belief – that even if ‘hope for reconciliation’ seems to be impossible to humanity, it is not impossible to God.” These are the words of Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, Bishop of Masan and President of Caritas Korea, in an interview with Fides, calling for “rebuilding mutual trust” as necessary for reestablishing bilateral relations on new foundations. Caritas Korea has recently launched a strong appeal for humanitarian aid to once again be sent to the North (see Fides 23/6/2010).

Your Excellency, the political tension on the Korean Peninsula is high. Is there hope for reconciliation?

When we review the history of human being, it has been continuously tension and conflict. Therefore, we understand this situation is just temporary problem and that we can expect ‘hope for reconciliation’. It is not all but many Korean people still think there is ‘hope for reconciliation’ like before. The Korean Catholic Church also prays for changing this situation as soon as possible. This is our belief that even if ‘hope for reconciliation’ seems to be impossible to humanity, it is not impossible to God.

What are steps that need to be taken towards reconciliation?

Personally, I think the trust should be restored between North and South. We should raise the will of mutual symbiosis and coexistence through this trust. Humanitarian exchange and support should take priority based on loving our neighbor as the next step. This is not desirable exchange and support that rich do poor an act of charity. Exchange and support starting from a sincere benevolent spirit should be achieved, not through tearing down mutual dignity. This is also a goal of Caritas Korea’s activity.

North and South should cooperate each other for settlement of peace in the Korean peninsula and for development of North Korea on economy and society. In order to do this, we need to make an effort for constant communication and to raise the mutual understanding. Furthermore, we both raise the awareness of living in coexistence by diminishing the multidimensional gap between North and South.

Finally, we should sort out the task of unification together. It must be based on peace. We would not like a unilateral unification. In addition, as it will be a huge project along with all Korean people’s participation, we need more concrete and systematic preparation.

What would you say to those who refuse to “dialogue with the enemy”?

People who express that opinion have been existent all that times. However, we are the faithful and we believe in our God who gave up his life to save us. Believing in God also means finding a role model from his life. Jesus said love your enemies and even bless your enemies, because he is love itself. Actions of violence must be denied and practices of love – also through humanitarian aid – must carry on regardless of the circumstances. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/7/2010)