Updated August. 14, 2014 04:30
Pope Francis, the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, comes all the way to Korea today, instead of spending his summer vacation. The 78-year-old Pope will stay five days in Korea to attend the sixth Asian Youth Day and the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 companions and to meet Korean Catholic believers and young Asians. It is the first papal trip to Korea in 25 years following Pope John Paul IIs visits in 1984 and 1989. Pope Francis chose Korea as his first destination in Asia. This implies his affection for the organically grown Korean Catholics and his hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula and East Asia.
The popes unexpected moves for the unprivileged since his selection in March last year have gained attention. The public welcomed his warm leadership reaching out to the poor and underprivileged instead of formalities. He wore old shoes instead of silk shoes, and stayed a humble guesthouse for priests instead of the papal palace. He invited beggars on the street on his birthday and washed and kissed the feet of young criminals including Muslims at a youth detention center. His humbleness, humility, and tolerance touched people, regardless of their religion.
Although Pope Francis is kind to poor neighbors, he is more stringent about injustice and evil than any other pope. He surprised the world with his reformative leadership by overhauling the Vatican Bank and excommunicating members of the Mafia. He is also interested in correcting old problems in the world beyond churches. Wherever he goes, he stresses that there should be justice and the justice should be reached to the poor and no one should misuse the name of God to justify violence.
The Vatican requested a humble welcome and farewell event in the run-up to the papal visit. His visit starts with his first Mass with janitors and cleaners at the Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul today and ends with the Mass for Peace and Reconciliation at Myeongdong Cathedral on Monday. Wherever he goes, pain will be healed and people will be comforted.
Koreans are paying attention to the Popes message to Korea, which is divided over many conflicts following the division of the peninsula. Former comfort women, bereaved families of the sunken Sewol ferry, laid-off Ssangyong workers, and the residents of Miryang and Gangjeong village will attend his events and Masses. However, there should be no attempt to take advantage of the Popes power for the issues that cannot be widely agreed. If we talk just between ourselves, this community will be no longer the community of life. We need to pay attention to his words that seek common good beyond difference is our lofty calling.