“This book tells my oldest story of life,” said Han Dong-il, a Vatican Supreme Court attorney, who published a book titled “De Homine Credente,” meaning “About the Believer,” on Thursday. “In this book, I put together and try to answer questions about my life that began when I was baptized as a Catholic at the age of 15.” His latest best-selling book “Lectic Linguae Latinae,” or “Latin Language Lecture,” encompasses the Latin language and Greek & Roman cultures, selling more than 350,000 copies in 2017.
Being a mass priest back in 2010, Han became the first South Korean to be appointed as an attorney of the Rota Romana – the Vatican Supreme Court in Rome. Since last month when resigning from a priest to turn into a layman in 21 years, he has been dedicated to writing books. He is still qualified as a Rota Romana attorney although not being a priest anymore. The Dong-A Ilbo talked to Han in an interview room on Friday.
“Religion is like a garden that is a beautiful place but filled only with flowers and trees that its gardener wants to grow. I have spent several decades in the garden of Catholic Church. I hope to let myself study anything that interests me in nature from now on,” Han said. He plans to quit teaching students at college and focus solely on research and writing activities. What brought him to be so passionate about learning that he even gave up on being a priest? Citing a Jewish tale, he likened learning to the process of finding a musical score or a mission given by God to humans. He explained that it is not an easy job to find your score and you may find it even harder to learn with which musical instrument to play along to the score and how, adding that this is why learning is a never-ending journey. He emphasized that you can gain access to your score and instrument only when you work hard to find who you really are by learning.
The new book provides a window into the author’s viewpoints of how humans misunderstand God and in what way religion gives humans a sense of joy and happiness. His focus is more on empathy and love toward your neighbors rather than on glorification of God. Being blinded by extolling God, you may cause God to be misunderstood as an entity that easily gets sullen because He gets less praise than desired. The author’s message is that it is we humans who can make God either a divine or a narrow-minded being.
Touching the hearts of many readers deeply, Han refused to be a mentor of someone else. Asked what attitude he wants them to have over their lifetime, he answered, “A sandstorm always erases traces of any path already walked by anyone before you when you walk through a desert in Jerusalem. What guides you into the right direction is not a path drawn temporarily on sand but a star up in the sky. When you cut through a desert of your life, please do not follow any path walked by anyone else but find your own star.”