* Statement for the Week for Catholic Education
The Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, President of the CBCK Committee on Education, issued a statement entitled "Jesus Christ, the True Teacher" for the second Week for Catholic Education to be celebrated from May 21 to 27, 2007.
Referring to the Vatican II Declaration on Christian Education, Bishop Ri said, "The school is the place where the intellectual, cultural, personal and spiritual growth of students is promoted" (Cf. Gravissimum Educationis, n.1; n.2; n.5). He continued, "Observing the reality of education today, however, we cannot but admit that a school is not the place of well-rounded education but the place full of burden and suffering on the part of students.... Under the logic of extreme competition, the formal schooling has been distrusted, the joy of learning has disappeared, and the dignity of teachers has fallen."
"The schools and various educational institutions in the Church should aim at the holistic development of students including physical, moral, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth and become the place to provide spiritual care and embody Christian education. To this end, our education should escape from the competitive logic which incites students just to pursue higher status in society," he added.
Concluding the message, Bishop Ri said, "During this Week for Catholic Education, all the members of the Church in Korea should pray for our education so that it can lead students to the life and salvation, following the example of Jesus Christ, the True Teacher."
* Bishop of Cheju Voices against the Naval Base Plan in Jeju Island
Regarding the controversial issue of constructing a naval base in Jeju island (Cf. Communication on Dec. 29, 2006), the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, issued on May 5, 2007 a letter entitled "We Wish Jeju to Be an Island of Peace" and explicitly expressed the position of the Catholic Church that "peace cannot be attained by power."
In the letter addressed to all the diocesan faithful he said, "Although the people of Jeju recently came to stand at the crossroad facing the naval base construction plan of the government, many people still hesitate to make their decision without knowing what is a right path. Some argue for the plan on the ground of economic development and national defense while others against by reason of the damage to environment and to the peaceful image of the island. To help your discernment, I feel the duty to inform you of the principles and teaching of the Catholic Church."
And Bishop Kang suggested the teachings of the Church, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.2265; n.2309; n.2315), the Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church (n.497), Vatican II Gaudium Et Spes (n.81), message of the His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the United Nations (Oct. 18, 1985), and a document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Through all these citations, he emphasized the followings: the Church has traditionally taught that the dignity of human life possesses the supreme value and that any action to violate this dignity cannot be accepted; the Church points out that the legitimate defense by military force requires strict conditions; the Church recommends a balanced and moderate reduction of armament; the Church affirms that the arms race does not ensure peace.
Recalling the massacre of many civilians in Jeju on April 3, 1948, the Bishop stressed, "With its extraordinary history and geopolitical status, Jeju should become an island of true peace so that the sacrifice of many innocent lives may not be wasted."
He concluded, "Peace cannot be attained by power but given by only the One who offered His life for us on the cross. We can enjoy the true peace when we remain in Him who said 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you (Jn 14:27).'"