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Korean activist priests demand cardinal's resignation

Catholic World News - December 13, 2010

An activist group of Korean Catholic priests has criticized Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul for his failure to join the public opposition to a major development project.

The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, which has been working to block the Four River project, denounced the cardinal for causing “social confusion and division in the Church” by saying that scientists, rather than religious leaders, should assess the value of the project. The priests’ group demanded an apology from the cardinal, and said he should resign.

The Korean bishops’ conference has joined the opposition to the Four Rivers project, according to the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, and the cardinal was confusing the issue by supporting the project. A spokesman for the Seoul archdiocese challenged that argument, saying that the cardinal’s position was neutral and the Korean bishops had not taken a formal stand.

The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice—a group made up primarily of older priests—seemed to be making two highly questionable assertions: that the Catholic Church could take an authoritative stand on a political issue, and that individual prelates would be bound by a policy decision from the national conference.

Cardinal Cheong, who has been Archbishop of Seoul since 1998, was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict in 2006. At the age of 79 he is already well beyond normal retirement age. In fact he is the oldest prelate currently heading a Roman Catholic archdiocese.

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