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Korean bishops compare presidential election pledges

Report looks at how proposed policies measure up against church teachings

Korean bishops compare presidential election pledges

From left to right: Sim Sang-jung, the presidential candidate of the leftist Justice Party, Hong Joon-pyo, the presidential candidate of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, Yoo Seung-min, the presidential candidate of the conservative Bareun Party, Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Minjoo Party and Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the centrist People's Party, pose prior to a televised debate forum on April 19. (Photo by Kim Min-Hee/AFP)

Published: April 24, 2017 07:14 AM GMT

Updated: April 24, 2017 07:15 AM GMT

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea has released a report on how the policies of potential presidents stack up against church teachings.

To prepare the report, released April 18, the bishops' Committees for Justice and Peace, Bioethics, Ecology and Environment and the Reconciliation of the Korean People sent letters to five leading candidates asking their position on various issues based on the Catholic teachings.

Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon, president of the bishops' Committee for Justice and Peace, said, "As this election follows the impeachment of the former president, Catholics need to choose suitable one based on their election pledges and pray for the new president to work according to his or her conviction."

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Only Moon Jae-in of the Minjoo Party and Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party, both Catholics, replied, so the bishops consulted the National Election Committee on the election pledges of other candidates to also compare them with church teachings.

"The presidential election should be decided by the people based on policies. However, it's a pity that three of the leading candidates did not reply to our enquiries," said the bishop.

Except for the abortion issue, the election pledges of Moon and Sim were found to be faithful to Catholicism. Moon, a liberal human rights lawyer, did not show a clear position on the legalization of abortion saying, "It needs a wide-ranging social consultation" while Sim argued for a watering down of abortion laws.

The two also wanted to abolish the death penalty, reinstate four major rivers, reopen Kaesong Industrial Complex, reinstall the Sewol ferry disaster investigation committee and withdraw the U.S. THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system.

The elections will be held on May 9 where it is likely that Moon, 64, will be elected to succeed ousted president Park Geun-hye.

Park was removed from office as part of the fallout from an influence-peddling scandal, which saw thousands take to the streets in protests, supported by churchmen and many Catholics, to demand her removal.

Almost 11 percent of South Korea's population of 50 million is Catholic.


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