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John Feister concludes his daily reports from the Middle East with reflections on injustice at home and abroad.

Special Features
Day 8: Concluding Thoughts

The trip is over now, and all of us journalists are back home. I doubt that any of us will ever look at the Middle East in the same way again. Granted, we got an earful of the Palestinian side of the story, but don’t we get a monthly, weekly, even daily dose of the Israeli perspective?

We talked to a lot of people over a weeks’ time. Our schedule included about 5 events per day (usually 15 hours’ worth) for 7 days. It was a ton of input that I’ll be thinking about and sorting through for weeks to come. I hope to add a number of pieces to this website in the coming weeks, as the Special Synod of Bishops occurs, and as we hear Pope Benedict’s reflections and challenges after the Synod. The Holy Land, as we heard so much this week, is in need of our attention.

Two Sides to Israel

In the coming weeks another correspondent from our shop, Jennifer Scroggins, will go to Lebanon and Syria with Catholic Near East for the conclusion of this immersion experience. Look for her reports starting early in November.

Israeli soldiers at the new gate of Jerusalem's Old City (Photo by John Feister)
I reflected in my final video about the two worlds of Israel: the pretty side versus the Palestinian side. I couldn’t help but consider how much we do the same in our own U.S. culture. St. Anthony Messenger Press is next to the Franciscan motherhouse in a tough part of town. People around Cincinnati hear about our “Over the Rhine” neighborhood constantly on the news: shootings, crime, all sorts of trouble. It’s where the riots started here some years ago that earned a black eye for our region.

The point

But Cincinnati is a comfortable place to these people who watch Over the Rhine on the news. The outlying suburbs, I dare to say, remind me of the Israeli settlements: safe, comfortable places away from those dangerous poor people, perceived to be a black majority, whether that’s true or not. My point is this: I saw plenty of injustice in Palestine. I saw greed and racism at work. To a lesser degree, I’ve seen some of the same closer to home. I must say, though, there are no soldiers walking the streets with machine guns here! As Christians, though, we are challenged to open our eyes to injustice near and far.

When there is a moment of opportunity for justice, as there may well be now in Palestine, we should pay attention and offer our solidarity. In the hills where our Lord walked, in the towns and cities where he taught us to love, we are reminded that we all are one body. Click here to go back to the main page.




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Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions: This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45. 
<p>Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883. </p><p>When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men. </p><p>Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death. </p><p>Today, there are almost 5.1 million Catholics in Korea.</p> American Catholic Blog We never think of connecting violence with our tongues. But the first weapon, the most cruel weapon, is the tongue. Examine what part your tongue has played in creating peace or violence. We can really wound a person, we can kill a person, with our tongue.


 
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