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Cardinal’s advice: ‘Bereaved families should also concede’

Cardinal’s advice: ‘Bereaved families should also concede’

Posted August. 28, 2014 07:17,   


The late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and Rev. Seongcheol of the Buddhist Jogye order were wise elders in Korean society who would say "no," when state order and principle of the Republic of Korea was on a shaky ground. As conflict between conservatives and liberals deepened since the nation’s democratization, the mood has prevailed wherein people don’t respect wise elders in the national community. While many people sympathize with pain and suffering of bereaved families of victims in the Sewol disaster, they are hardly in a position to express their disagreement with the families. Amid this situation, Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung commented “They should not exploit the pain of bereaved families. Families of Sewol victims also should make concession,” which are a piece of valuable advice from a wise elder that has been rarity in recent years.

On political and social conflict surrounding the Special Sewol Act, Cardinal Yeom said, “If humans say ‘I will handle’ issues of the God, the fallacy that they are apt to fall into is ‘exploitation.’” Since Pope Francis’ visit to Korea, not a few people in certain segments of our society have sought to instigate a hardline stance to their advantage as if the pontiff endorsed the bill on the Special Sewol Act as demanded by bereaved families. The cardinal also made it clear that the pope’s visit should be separated from politics of instigation, which spread hatred as if they monopolize religious interest in the underprivileged and justice linked with the historic visit. The cardinal said, “Bereaved families also need to make concession at some point.”

Bereaved families might not afford to heed to the judicial system and the principle of rule of law due to their overflowing pain. Even so, bereaved families or people in general should not permanently remain in the darkness in which they are contained in the "sack of deaths" and consider each other enemies. Yeom’s statement “I hope that we do not endlessly waste our stamina and energy with regard to the "Sewol’ issue” can also be considered his candid advice aimed at reflecting the situation of Korean society, which seems to be sinking into the abyss of Sewol conflict. Lawmakers of the main opposition party, who should be taking the lead in resolving conflict, used the conference room at the parliamentary Special Committee on Budget and Accounts as the headquarters of its protest, and joined hunger strike by bereaved families and protest rally holding up banners at Gwanghwamun Square for the second day, continuing their struggle outside the National Assembly. On protest rallies outside the parliament, some insiders of the party criticized, with one saying “It seems to be serious illness. Which one between reform of the country and the party is more unachievable (Rep. Hwang Ju-hong),” but his argument has been buried amid rhetoric by hardliners in the party.

As the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy has been blocking deliberation of all other state agendas aimed at improving people’s livelihoods, claiming that “The Special Sewol Act is the most important matter in people’s livelihood,” only 4.7 percent of the respondents in an opinion poll replied, “NPAD is doing right.” Since the party has dumped twice the bill on the Special Sewol Act, which was recently agreed upon by the rival parties, by citing objection by bereaved families, the ruling Saenuri Party met with bereaved families for the second time on Wednesday, and held "ruling party-bereaved family talks" in lieu of "ruling - opposition party talks." It is pitiful to see the opposition party with 130 seats effectively hold negotiations for legislation with the ruling party.