By Robin Gomes
Coadjutor Bishop Pius Moon Chang-woo of Cheju, the President of the Korean Catholic bishops’ Committee on Education, has released a message to children of Catholic schools and their families on the occasion of this year’s Education Week.
70 years of start of Korean War
In the message published on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea (CBCK), he reflected on the theme of peace. He recalled that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the war between the two Koreas in 1950.
“With the scars of war that should never be repeated, our society is still experiencing conflict and antagonism,” said the bishop urging prayers “for the peaceful future of” the nation.
Peace - not just absence of war
Bishop Moon underscored the responsibility and role of educators, parents and school children in building and promoting peace at home and in school
He recalled once asking school children what peace meant for them. They responded it meant calm and absence of war. Bishop Moon said that children want the home and school to be more quiet, free and enjoyable.
On the contrary, he pointed out that in many environments, including homes and schools, violent speech and deeds, selfishness and apathy, competition, and non-democratic relationships dominate. “Peace is easily broken when relationships are dominated by status, rank, money, and power,” he said.
According to the bishop, peace is not passive but active on all fronts, especially towards the weakest. Promoting peace does not stop at just maintaining a 'passive peace' that is free of noise or conflict. It should be active by approaching the weak, resolving tensions, protecting all lives and promoting dialogue with one another.
In this regard, Bishop Moon cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church that describes peace as “safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples…” (2304).
The President of the Korean bishops’ Committee on Education offered a few practical ways on how to educate children to peace.
He suggested it could be done by promoting cooperation between the school and the family, or by holding more events and school programmes on peace themes.
Awareness to peace, he added, can be promoted by organizing visits to sites such as the War Memorial, Independence Hall or the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.
The bishops urged the creation of peaceful environments to educate and raise children. “Always talk to them with respect and patience. True peace always begins through dialogue and willingness to listen," they urged.
In conclusion, they encouraged prayers for greater peace in families, schools, society and the world.