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Activist priest begins Lenten prayer

Activist priest begins Lenten prayer
Father Bartholomew Mun Jung-hyun at the compound of Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul
John Choi, Seoul

March 10, 2011

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An activist priest urged the Church to follow Jesus Christ, not materialism, beginning his Lenten prayer service for the renewal of the Church.

On Ash Wednesday Father Bartholomew Mun Jung-hyun, a renowned social activist, started his Lenten prayer campaign with some 50 Catholic activists and faithful at the Marian shrine of Myeongdong Cathedral.

Father Mun said, "Through the prayer service, we will discuss the Church, the life of faithful, our neighbors, and the future of the society and us. Also, it will be the place to encourage ourselves to ask for renewal of the Church."

During the prayer campaign, Father Mun will do the Way of Cross, Bible meditation and discussion with faithfuls on weekdays until April 20 with theme of "Way of Jesus, Way of Man."

Father Mun had prayed at Myeongdong Cathedral for the repent of the Church and Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk since last August. During the prayers, he inscribed wooden plates with phrases of the Bible daily to show his will to renew the Church.

"I came here infuriated by the Myeongdong parishioners asking priests to leave priesthood and Cardinal Cheong who supports the parishioners. At first time, I felt angry but now I feel more on Jesus," said the retired Jeonju diocesan priest.

Last April, priests objecting to the government's river project tried to set up a tent for prayer at the entrance of the cathedral but the parishioners demanded they leave the cathedral and said political priests should leave the priesthood.

Father Mun lamented that the cathedral, the center of the Catholic Church in Korea and once the heart of the democratization movement of Korea, was ruined by the materialism and had lost its symbolic power.

He said, "Today's Church has too many things and is blinded by materialism just like secular society. It lost the base of repentance and does not reflect the origin and truth of the Christian Church."

"Faith comes from belief in Jesus Christ, not the Church structure. The Church should return to its position and faithful should not ignore the Church going a different way with Jesus," he added.

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