He’s my brotherOn the podium at Gwanghwamun Plaza, Pope Francis looked like a rock star for our times. Nearly one million people who gathered to greet the pontiff shouted “Viva Papa!” The heart-warming experience turned a public site in central Seoul into a shrine of excitement and euphoria. In retrospect, every moment of Francis’s four-night, five-day stay in this land did the same. Without making extraordinary remarks about our lives - and without even making eye-catching gestures - the pope effectively delivered a gospel of love and peace to Koreans. People burst into tears even at the pope’s faintest gestures, in what could be dubbed the “Francisco Effect.” Now is the time for all of us to look back at what has gone wrong in our society.
Before leaving Korea, the pope repeatedly stressed the significance of brotherly love between South and North Korea, calling for permanent forgiveness. At Myeongdong Cathedral on his final day, the pontiff met leaders of other religions and urged them to recognize each other and go forward just like brothers. The late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Korea’s first Roman Catholic cardinal, said in the 1980s, “If all passersby look like your brothers when you look out in the morning, a new day has come.”
The pope also entreated participants in Asian Youth Day, a religious gathering for young Catholics, to not push away those begging for help. In a speech at the Blue House, he also expressed strong hopes for a mature democracy in Korea. The late Bishop Tji Hak-soon stated in the 1970s that reconciliation must be made with truth, and the oppressor must first extend his hand to the oppressed. Pope Francis underscored the people’s role as guardians of memories and hope at a meeting of bishops.
One of the words we heard most this year is “sincerity” due to the endless mismatch of words and actions of our political leaders. People have grown sick and tired of a critical lack of sincerity among our politicians and are desperately looking for new leadership based on sympathy and sincerity. It is quite natural for people desiring a politics of sincerity to show enthusiastic responses to the pope.
It is time to apply ourselves to that business. What we must do from now on can be found in the speeches the pope made here. We must find ways to spread such beautiful emotion while remembering his sincerity about the common good and reconciliation. We hope the “Francisco effect” lasts until all the passersby look just like our brothers.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 19, Page 30