A year of mercy
On Dec. 8, 50,000 pilgrims gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. As Pope Francis ended the mass, he proclaimed, “This is the door of God … open the doors of justice.” The Holy Door that is normally sealed by mortar and cement opened, and the pope and the celebrants walked through the door to be forgiven of their sins. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began, 16 years after the last Holy Year was celebrated in 2000.
According to Catholic teaching, meeting certain requirements, including a pilgrimage and repentance, during the Holy Year, which continues through Nov. 20, 2016, would grant remission from sin. Pope Francis has announced that the sin of abortion would also be allowed absolution with repentance in the Holy Year.
Pope Boniface VIII organized the first jubilee year in 1300, and it has since been celebrated every 25 years. But there have been extraordinary jubilees as needed. This Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy has been declared as Pope Francis thought that mercy was in desperate need today.
In the year of jubilee, doors to major cathedrals around the world remain open. The door is a symbol of salvation, and Myeongdong Cathedral opened its side door on Sunday.
Buddhism emphasizes mercy more than any other religion. Despite public criticism, the Jogye Temple allowed Han Sang-gyun, the head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, to take refuge inside for 25 days. While Islam is often considered to be driven by revenge, it is a religion of mercy. The Quran teaches, “To you, your religion and to me, mine.”
Nevertheless, the world is full of hatred and revenge. After the Paris attacks, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up controversy by arguing that Muslims should be banned from entering the country.
But there is no better cure for discord than forgiveness. The latest intensification of attacks and retaliations between the Western world and Islamic radicals is called “tit for tat” in game theory. It is responding to a blow with another blow.
In order to end the vicious cycle, retaliation corresponding to the provocation can be carried out, but any further revenge should be stopped. When retaliation grows out of scale, the enemy will strike back, and the conflict will never end. Reckless and indiscriminating strikes on the Islamic State will only result in people with grudges joining the terrorist group.
Instead, keeping the retaliation to scale will make the enemy think they have more to gain from peace than more provocation. It will plant a seed for peace. This is the repeated prisoners’ dilemma game. In the cruel reality of continued conflicts, mercy and forgiveness are the wisest choices.
The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 14, Page 35
by NAM JEONG-HO