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Korean bishops remember Sewol Ferry victims

The prelates took turns to call out the names of 306 victims and urged the government to prevent such tragedies
Korean bishops and priests celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster at the Sanjeong-dong Cathedral in Mokpo, Gwangju Archdiocese on April 15.

Korean bishops and priests celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster at the Sanjeong-dong Cathedral in Mokpo, Gwangju Archdiocese on April 15. (Photo: news.cpbc.co.kr)

Published: April 15, 2024 10:58 AM GMT
Updated: April 15, 2024 11:46 AM GMT

Catholic bishops in South Korea have urged the government to make the lives and safety of its citizens “its top priority,” to prevent tragedies like the Sewol Ferry disaster that claimed 306 lives.

“The memory of the Sewol ferry tragedy cannot and should not end until there is a fundamental reform in place,” the bishops said in a joint statement released during a memorial Mass held at the Sanjeong-dong Cathedral in Gwangju Archdiocese on April 15.

The bishops emphasized that the government “take steps to prevent such a tragedy from happening again,” the Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation (CPBC) of Korea reported.

The Holy Mass took place a day ahead of the 10th anniversary of the MV Sewol ferry disaster. The ferry capsized during its voyage from Incheon to Jeju Island on April 14, 2014, killing 306 of its 476 passengers and crew.

Some 250 victims were high school students, media reports said.

The bishops took turns to call out the names of each of the victims of the tragedy.

“Ten years after the Sewol ferry disaster, one side of the world is begging us to move on, while the other side is struggling to forget even if they want to,” the bishops said.

The bishops also pointed out that other similar social tragedies have been repeating “until recently.”

South Korea witnessed the death of 159, mostly youth partygoers, in a stampede during a Halloween party in Seoul’s Itaewon district on Oct. 29, 2022.

The incident sparked widespread outrage across the nation over crowd control failure and raised questions about who was responsible for the tragedy.

The bishops pointed out that they had urged the government “to undergo a painful self-examination and transformation to prevent similar tragedies from happening again,” when the Sewol ferry disaster had occurred.

“However, as similar tragedies continue to occur, it is clear that the Sewol ferry tragedy has yet to be fully resolved. Therefore, we once again call on the government to run the country with the lives and safety of its citizens as its top priority,” the bishops emphasized.

The bishops urged the Holy Mass attendees to “show openness and solidarity toward the vulnerable,” on the 10th anniversary of the Sewol ferry tragedy.

“We also pray that we who live in the aftermath of the Sewol ferry tragedy will resolve to work together for a better tomorrow,” the statement read.

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