Tuesday the 2nd of March

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

South Korean Catholics hope new president can unify nation

Catholics in South Korea have high expectations for unity, equality and an end to corruption under the country’s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in.

In a congratulatory message to Moon that also noted the national rift that led to the special election, the head of the Korean bishops’ conference, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, said the country needed “a credible leader who keeps principles and steps toward true peace and justice beyond today’s conflicts and confrontations.”

“May the new president be a great leader who can make democracy take root in this country and bring peace and prosperity to the Korean people,” Archbishop Kim said in his statement.

Moon, a Catholic and member of South Korea’s Democratic Party, won the 9th May election with 41 percent of the vote among a slate of 13 candidates. The son of North Korean immigrants had remained in the front-runner position since former President Park Geun-hye’s ouster in early March.

“I hope that the new president will lead this nation to be one where, in the spirit of the constitution, the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the society can be treated with human dignity and respect,” said Archbishop Kim.

Moon, 64, was buoyed by the growing dissatisfaction of ordinary citizens whose anger over corruption was years in the making under Park. From late 2016 to early 2017, tens of thousands of South Koreans filled the streets of Seoul every week calling for Park’s removal. A bitter division took root as the rallies were met with counterprotests in support of Park, whom investigators had linked to a corruption scandal that involved bribing top officials of major Korean corporations, including Samsung.

Picture: South Korean President-elect Moon Jae-in celebrates in Seoul after declaring victory in the South Korean presidential election. He was sworn in on 10th May. (CNS photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Reuters).