The usually bustling Myungdong district of South Korean capital Seoul has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
All of us are living through the Covid-19 pandemic. This text will mainly examine the virtue of prioritizing the socially discriminated. The Second Vatican Council has proclaimed the spirituality of our Church as “the spirituality of the Good Samaritan” in the current world.
The Myungdong street landscape shows a clear difference between the before and after of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s just like the difference between dawn with rarely any crowds and hordes of people during the middle of the day. It is as clear as a picture showing the before and after of some products that tempt consumption.
The problem is that this mismatch of these two "rarely any crowds" and "middle of the day" states has already lasted over eight months, and the end is not nearing yet. We feel this uneasiness as we observe the current events to see if this symbolizes the new normal, if this has already come to this world, or if we are in the midst of a historical transformational phase in the history of the world, or if this new term social distancing could possibly become a normal state.
The Second Vatican Council that was held from 1962-65 diagnosed the state of the modern world as “radically changing” and showing “severe imbalance.” In this current situation, the Church once again needs to reflect on human responsibility.
However, the Church and humanity have focused on the human environment and the social environment. The focus of governments has been on the "human" or the current world, yet barely on ecology or the change in the natural environment. Where there was some focus on the natural environment, it was a time when an optimistic perspective won over the concern and warning.
For example, climate change has only been taken seriously since the 1990s. Finally, the Church with its social encyclical Laudato si’ (Pope Francis, 2015) has diagnosed the current reality we are facing as an “ecological crisis.” However, neither the Church nor humanity generally have yet to include Covid-19 as part of this ecological crisis or disaster we are facing. Of course, there are very few warnings about it. Again, neither the Church nor government were sufficiently far-sighted enough to think of that.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church declared the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (December 2015 to November 2016). That mercy is of course Our Father’s mercy and the official logo of this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy shows Jesus Christ as carrying someone on his shoulders. Furthermore, the two faces are combined and the three eyes are watching us.
And at the end of last year, the new virus, Covid-19, unexpectedly made its appearance and is sweeping the world, bringing all kinds of diseases to the human body and mind as well as society’s morals and order. The word "pandemic," which means an epidemic that's spread over multiple countries or continents, does not sound strange at all. What kind of daily life are humans living in this current world? Who are the most vulnerable, what sector, which societies and which countries are the most vulnerable to this disease? Haven't we seen people that are already not in a healthy state in their everyday lives who are the fastest, easiest and severely hit by external shock?
With His spirit, let us regain the spirit and life of contemplation. Let us not turn our faces away from the desperate look of those who suffer as Christ gazes at us and our Church in this Covid-19 era. If the Church wishes to “justify himself” (Luke 10: 29).
Father Park Dong-Ho is a priest in the Archdiocese of Seoul. This article is taken from his seminar paper at 11th Academic Symposium of the East Asia Evangelization Center. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.