Page 6, 19th May 1967

19th May 1967
Page 6
Page 6, 19th May 1967 — If the Lourdes pilgrims were hi-jacked
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Organisations: US Federal Reserve
People: GEOFFREY ASHE
Locations: Pusan

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If the Lourdes pilgrims were hi-jacked

By GEOFFREY ASHE

The Starved and the Silent by Fr., tUoysius Schwartz (Gollancz, 305.).

Fa. SCHWARTZ ends his book with a superb notion. He would like to divert a pilgrimage aircraft, loaded with well-fed westerners bound, for Lourdes, to Pusan in South Korea. There he would take the pilgrims on a conducted tour of the slums.

After such an experience (in Korea or India or anywhere), the piety shown by the sort of westerners he is thinking of no longer impresses. His own case illustrates the point. An American, he began missionary training with the Maryknoll Fathers, but found their life altogether too cosy. Instead he became a secular priest under Bishop Choi of Pusan.

Today he believes the Church needs a new missionary society, with interracial membership, a secular clergy, and a mystique of Christian poverty. The last is the most important. From Vietnam he reports a popular saying "rich as a missionary."

His account of the way millions of Koreans live makes almost intolerable reading. In a portion of the Bay of Pusan, garbage has been dumped till it rises above water level. The resultant rubbish-heap is the home of four thousand people. They subsist on scraps from the rubbish, plus American relief food. "But," said a member of this nightmare community, "once we're sick we're dead."

Nearby the U.S. servicemen enjoy every imported comfort, with Korean servants to do the dirty work and Korean prostitutes plentiful—meanwhile abusing the country and sneering at the "gooks" who inhabit it.

Popidation has outrun the economy. Forty per cent, Father Schwartz estimates, are unemployed or underemployed. Insecurity, degradation, sickness and crime stretch before them without end.

He describes a Catholicsponsored project giving embroidery work to several thousand women. But can such projects be enough? Through all the debate over birth control. one issue is rarely stressed, yet a book like this shows it to be crucial. In countries like Korea, the more Catholics the more people and the more people the more misery . . . therefore, can we conscientiously hope for Catholic missions to succeed? And if not, surely there must be something wrong?




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