|* Men and Women Religious Together Seek for Ways to Animate Vocations|
On May 7, 2004, animators of vocations from men's and women's religious institutes in Korea had a joint meeting at the Franciscan Center in Seoul to examine the present situation of religious vocations and to set up long-term plans for animating them.
Dr. Francis Park Mun-su, Researcher at Catholic University in Korea, made a presentation on the variation of religious vocations for last ten years in Korea, based on a survey conducted in April over some 50 men's and women's religious institutes, and proposed ways to cope with the decrease of vocations.
According to the survey, women's religious institutes experienced in recent years a drop of vocations (282 vocations in 1994 to 130 vocations in 2003) while men's religious institutes see a kind of stagnation (52 to 67 vocations for last ten years).
Dr. Park suggested that religious institutes should make efforts to clarify their identity, overcome self-complacency, enhance the qualification of animators and make inner renewal. Besides, he also considered it important for the Church to render institutional support to religious institutes.
After the lecture, the participants had a group discussion and enumerated reasons of the decrease of vocations, such as the absence of continuous and systematic formation and management of vocations, the lack of solidarity among dioceses and religious institutes, changing awareness of the young and the structural problems of religious institutes unable to keep up with the times.
To resolve these problems, the participants made various proposals, such as assigning animators of vocations in each institute, building solidarity and cooperation among institutes and dioceses, promoting consecrated life by media and publications, setting up a flexible age limit of admission for older candidates and pursuing inner renewal and on-going formation of religious themselves.
* An Ecumenical Forum on Mixed Marriage
The CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue (President: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of Incheon) and the Protestant Committee for Christian Unity of the National Council of Churches in Korea (President: Rev. Kim Sang-geun) held an ecumenical forum on May 4, 2004 at Cost Hall of Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul, with the theme "Family: Mixed Marriage."
Bishop Choi who made the keynote address emphasized that couples in mixed marriage should respect different faith of the other, saying, "If faith loses its meaning in marriage life, love, marriage and the family are also shaken."
Bishop Choi also continued that, "If one spouse has faith and the other not, the believer should try to lead their life of faith with the understanding and consent of their partner, but in any case they should not abandon their faith."
The Rev. Hygino Hong Gi-seon, doctor of canon law, made a presentation and proposed helpful ways for couples of different faiths. He saw that it is important to have equal rights and duties regarding the education of children, to take precaution against false peace and indifference, to respect decisions made on the consensus of spouses and not to postpone the religious education of children.
The Rev. Kim Gyeong-jae of Protestant-run Hanshin University said, "The couples having different faiths should be given instruction and help to be ready for the possible problems and to have open mind and understanding to other faiths."