Korean Religious Groups Move Toward Reconciliation

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Korean Religious Groups Move Toward Reconciliation

"The first year of the new millennium is the right time for all religions to look back on the past and think about the future. Pope John Paul II has asked us to face the world's current cultural crises with the universal values of peace, coalition, justice, and freedom."

This from the Vatican's reconciliation address to Buddhists all over the world in honor of Buddha's May 11 birthday.

In Korea, there is a remarkable movement going on toward coalition and reconciliation among religious groups. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) and the Seoul Parish have released statements to the public in celebration of Buddha's birthday. Pusan parish priest Jung Myung-joe visited one of his city's largest Buddhist temples, the Bumuh Temple, on Tuesday.

J ung, who is also chief of the Korean Buddhist Chogye Order, appeared on Catholic cable channel, PBC, on Wednesday, saying, "We should abandon biased thinking patterns which llow us to think 'mine is the only valuable way.' We have to find common ground with other religions. We also have to consider the role of religion in society and address any problems as a group."

Kim Dong-wan of the Protestant National Council of Churches in Korea (KNCC) sent the first celebratory message to local Buddhist sectors. "Buddha's wisdom and Christ's love can both teach the world positive ways of living in this era of uncertainty," said Kim. "Because Korea is a multi-religious and multi-cultural society, religious leaders should work hard to make peace with each other," he added.

There have been numerous coalition attempts between local religious groups. On March 1, Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, Wonbuddhists, Chondogyo followers, Confucianists, and other local religions launched a public 'joining of hands' campaign. A total of 163 people, including religious leaders from each of the groups, toured Keumkang Mountain from May 1 to 4. They will also conduct a peace march on or around June 25, Korean War memorial day. The march will lead children and youths to Paekdu Mountain on the border between North and South Korea.

by Lee Kyong-chol

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