Go to contents

[Opinion] Believe in God Again

Posted January. 24, 2003 22:48,   


It has become a familiar scene for presidential candidates to visit a big temple accompanied by a group of entourages. Candidates who are known to be Christian are no exception. On the other hand, some candidates, who have been Christian only by name, appear in a protestant or a catholic church. Some even invite criticism because of their behaviors or remarks. Whether they are Catholic or not, candidates make it a rule to pay a courtesy visit to Cardinal Kim. For desperate candidates, every each voter counts, but it still seem reprehensible for them to use religion just to lure voters. And that kind of visit only happens in this country.

▷Catholics have become an influential group of voters in Korea these days. President Kim became the first Catholic leader five years ago, and three major candidates this year Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Hoi-chang and Gwon Young-gil all happened to be Catholic. It is estimated that there are some 4 million Catholics in this country, which is a very small number compared to those going to protestant church or temple. Given Roh, Lee and Gwon ranked first, second and third respectively in the election, people do not seem to mind about the religion of a candidate that much when they cast a ballot. Yet, candidates are all eager to tap religious voters.

▷Roh met Cardinal Kim in June last year as a presidential candidate. That must have been the first time for Roh to meet with the cardinal. ˝I was baptized and named Usto. But I hardly attend a mass, which is why I write down on my profile that I have no religion,˝ Roh said during the meeting. ˝Yes, you should attend a mass if you call yourself a Catholic,˝ Kim pointed out. ˝Fathers often scold me and say that I must be different,˝ Roh then said. ˝Do you believe in God?,˝ the cardinal asked. ˝I do,˝ Roh replied. ˝Do you believe in God with no doubt?˝ the cardinal asked again. ˝I have some doubt but I believe there is God. I should write down `lost` on my profile from now on,˝ Roh was being honest. He is still an atheist, however, according to information on his official Web site.

▷During an interview with a Catholic magazine, Cardinal Kim recently asked Roh to come back to church. ˝I hope that he will pray, asking God for wisdom and courage so that he can lead the country out of the current crisis.˝ He may well look for God`s help given challenging tasks facing him. It is up to Roh himself, of course. Whatever decision he makes, we only hope he will always remain willing to love and serve his country as Cardinal Kim implied in his remarks.

Mun Myeong-ho, Editorial Writer, munmh97@donga.com