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Korea sees 'Francis the Healer' at Kkottangnae

Images of him touching the disabled and sick affirm the values of human dignity and compassion

Korea sees 'Francis the Healer' at Kkottangnae

Pope Francis at a rehabilitation home for the disabled and elderly in Kottingnae on Saturday.

Thomas C. Fox for NCR, Seoul

August 17, 2014

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Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon visited the hilltop community in Kkottongnae (“Flower village”). Some here have said coming to this village to visit Koreans with disabilities was the wrong choice because of its practice of gathering the disabled and separating them from wider society. More recent pastoral practices emphasize integration into society.

“Flower village,” both a state- and church-run operation, has been plagued by questions about management.

These issues, for the moment, have receded behind powerful and moving imagines of Pope Francis walking among the 50 or so children and young adults with physical and mental disabilities who greeted him. Francis took time to touch each. When asked if he wanted to sit down and rest, he responded, “I’m happy to be standing.”

Visibly moved by the residents, he took time to stand in front of each.

Photographs of Francis reaching out and touching children, kissing their foreheads and embracing the young, are appearing prominently on all the major Korean- and English-language newspapers. These images – Francis the touching, healing, caring pope – seem everywhere in the Korea media.

Together, they enhance his image as a compassionate healer and spiritual guru with a message worth listening to. 

In a society in which some continue to view disabilities as shameful, the pope’s embrace of children with disabilities – broadcast live on Korean news channel KBS – have been especially powerful, carrying at least two papal themes: the truths of universal human dignity and the power of healing, tied into basic human compassion, especially for the needy and vulnerable of society.

Full story: It's Francis the healer in Korea

Source: National Catholic Reporter

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