|◎ South-North Civilians Made One Voice for Reunification of Korea|
On the first anniversary of the historical summit in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000 hundreds of civilian representatives from the both sides of South and North Korea joined their hands and pledged further efforts in one voice toward exchange and cooperation to achieve peaceful reunification of Korean people. 620 representatives included 200 from North Korea and 420 from South Korea ranging from extreme conservatives to progressives comprised of various organizations from all walks of society and religious circles. Delegates of every religion in South Korea were presented including 24 Catholics.
Discussion of Grand Forum opened on June 15 in front of Geumgangsan Hotel at Mt. Geumgang in North Korea by the introductory speech of Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Executive Chair of the Grand Forum from South Korea who is also the Secretary General of the CBCK, and Heo Hyeok-pil from North Korea.
During the discussion, the six representatives from each side gave presentations on unification-related themes.
"We shall unite strongly, transcending differences in thoughts, ideologies and systems." They vowed and issued the joint statement they issued during the Grand Forum. Also, in a separate statement the South and North jointly denounced Japan's distortion of history textbooks calling for Tokyo's sincere recognition of historical truth and an official apology.
The both sides recognized the June 15 Summit as the first occasion in which the two Korea shared a view on a unification formula in an independent manner and opened the way for the resolution of humanitarian issues, such as separated families, and boosted the possibility that both sides could prosper by means of mutual cooperation.
Rev. John Kim, Executive Chair of the Grand Forum, pointed out that "time of ideological conflict is over. For now, 'people' and 'love' are the only universal values."
He made following comment about the Grand Forum on unification.
"Representatives from over 240 organizations of South and North Korea came together in order to reflect the meaning of the June 15 summit and to reinforce the will of Korean people for national reunification. Through the discussions we had at the Grand Forum we reconfirmed the reunification of Korean people is the most urgent and pressing task we have to achieve. Of course, it is too early to make any evaluation of the Grand Forum because we could not set up concrete follow-ups. However, what we can say is that different civilian groups of South Korea with different views over national cause could made one voice toward their North Korean counterpart. Indeed, that was a great and truly significant outcome of the Grand Forum. While I was preparing the event I understood the important role that religions can play, and that only religious people could deal with people and groups of different 'colors' and bring them together without provoking reactions or conflicts. In fact, the time of ideological conflict is over. South and North have one common goal that is reunification of Korean people. In broader sense, 'people' means 'human being'. Thus religious interpretation of 'reunification' is human-centered one, and has to do with 'humanitarian love or love for human being'. Reunification of Korea is not a matter of my neighbors. It is 'mine' and it is 'ours'; we are not 'observers' but 'participants.'"
◎ Establishment of the Sub-Committee the CBCK for Women Celebrated
A congratulatory celebration for establishment of the Sub-Committee for Women of the CBCK was held at the Myeondong Cultural Center on June 2. Some 400 women delegates and friends who came from dioceses across the country showed great interest in the long-waited birth of the Committee for pastoral care for women. The Most Rev. Paul O. Kim, President of the Committee for Lay Apostolate of the CBCK and the Sub-Committee for Women, said in his homily, "we can say that today is the Pentecost for women. We are convinced that the charisma and genius of Catholic women will serve as a matrix of a great potential both in the Church and the society and we expect that the Sub-Committee to play an important role in it. We do hope that the establishment of the Sub-Committee for Women will serve as a momentum for right recognition of women in the Church and the society."
Sr. Lee Young-ja, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sub-Committee for Women, shared her opinion and perspective regarding the new Sub-Committee; " Mentality and attitudes of the traditional Church toward women as mere 'observers' in the mission of the Church has to be changed. Promotion of women's position and their active participation in the Church life is directly related to the development of the Church when we consider the fact that over 60 percent of Korean Catholics are women. If women's issue is ignored by the Church it will be critical for the future of the Church in Korea. For this purpose, we will try to focus our efforts on systematic realization of our goal step by step. We plan to organize women's committee in each diocese of Korea and extend participation of women to the decision making process in the Church. Study on women's issues within and outside of the Church and education of women are important tasks of the Sub-Committee. In solidarity with Catholic and non-Catholic woman groups we will work for social justice and national causes such as environmental issues and peaceful reunification of the Korean people."
◎ Catholic Solidarity to Abolish Household System Launched
"Catholic solidarity to abolish household system means that organizations within the Church will work together for women's issues," Susanna Youn, Joint Representative of the Catholic Solidarity to Abolish Household System (family registration system; only a male can become head of a family), said on June 1st, "many people still think that the abolition of the household system will destroy the traditional family system of the Korean people, but this is wrong. On the contrary, by abolishing it we can start anew creating gender equality within the family, thus a much healthier family environment."
"Over 30,000 unborn girls are indiscriminately aborted per year because of Korean people's mentality to prefer boys to girls, and this mentality comes from the traditional household system," she pointed out and went on "thus, abolition of the household system is directly related to the Church's pro-life movement that advocates love, equality and mutual respect of men and women as created in God's image."
"The Constitution guarantees the equality of men and women, however, women are discriminated because of the household system which is internationally criticized for its basis of gender discrimination. The U.N. Human Rights Commission advised to abolish it." she said.
"We are thinking of expanding the campaign to interreligious solidarity with women's organizations of other religions," she said.
Prominent Korean women leaders, including Ms. Ji Eun-hee, President of the National Federation of Women's Organizations of Korea, Rev. Han Guk-young, Secretary General of the Association of Women Theologians of Korea, and Venerable Jin Kwan from the Buddhist Human Rights Committee were present at the event.
Participant organizations are: Catholic Solidarity of Women's Organizations, Korean Priests' Association for Justice, Catholic National Coalition for Justice and the Korean Catholic Association of Women Religious.