[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Pope warns S Koreans of affluence 'cancer'

After boisterous welcome from 50,000 people in football stadium, Pope Francis tells crowd to beware of materialism.

Last updated: 15 Aug 2014 05:17
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Pope Francis urged South Koreans, among Asia's richest people, to beware of the spiritual "cancer" that often accompanies affluent societies, as he led a Mass on Friday to commemorate the more than 300 people killed in a ferry disaster in April.

Tens of thousands of Asian Catholics gave a boisterous welcome to the pope as he celebrated his first public Mass in South Korea, a country with a small but growing church that is seen by the Vatican as a model for the rest of the world.

Francis took a high-speed train to the central city of Daejeon, where Catholic youths from across Asia have been meeting for the Asian version of World Youth Day.

Hundreds of trees were decked with yellow ribbons in the city in remembrance of the mostly school children who died when the Sewol ferry sank.

In the homily of the Mass, the pope urged listeners to "combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife".

He said they should see their faith as an "antidote to the spirit of despair that seems to grow like a cancer in societies which are outwardly affluent, yet often experience inner sadness and emptiness".

Catholic numbers growing

Francis celebrated Mass in Daejeon's soccer stadium, which has a capacity of 50,000 and was nearly full hours before Francis arrived.

Handkerchief-waving crowds led in chants of "Viva il papa!" welcomed him as his open-sided vehicle, with a simple canopy overhead, made its way slowly to the stadium and then inside.

A banner outside the stadium featured a photo of the pope and read "Please wipe the tears of the Sewol families.''

After Mass, Francis was to eat lunch with some of the youth festival participants and then visit an 18th century sanctuary where Korea's first priest was raised.

South Korean Catholics represent only about 10 percent of the country's 50 million people, but their numbers are growing. Once a country that welcomed missionaries, South Korea now sends homegrown priests and nuns abroad to help spread the faith.

329

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.