The Korea Times
columnist's latest is a good, but superficial, introduction to the topic of religion in Korea, but is marred by several small and one outstanding factual error — Koreans Are Soulful People
"With a naturally superstitious culture, Korea is in a sense a very 'religious' society," he says. True enough. "Koreans easily refer to 'Hanu-nim,' meaning ``God'' as a general term for the Supreme Being, in their daily lives without any particular denominational reference." Yes, but Protestants call Him "Hana-nim."
"Their belief in God is diffused with shamanism, their most native religion, as much as Christianity and Buddhism," he writes. "It is fair to say that Korea's religious distribution is roughly about one-third shamanism, one-third Christianity, and one-third Buddhism." That may be true, but Korean shamanism is not a religion, per se
. Korea's irreligious population (and Buddhists and some Christians), however, will turn to it when they need a fortune told or a spirit exorcised.
"Within the Christian church, Catholicism is said to be the fastest growing branch in Korea," he writes. "Oddly, they call Protestants 'Christians' and Catholics 'Catholics.'" I'm not sure to whom the pronoun they refers, but if it refers to Koreans generally, this is true.
Where he really goes wrong is here: "Catholic Koreans mix their religious practices with those of shamanism in ancestor worship, as they pay homage to their ancestors' graves on Chusok holiday, Korea's largest holiday.... Even the Catholic Church unofficially sanctions the acceptability of shamanistic ancestor worship."
First of all, the ritual is Confucian, not shamanistic. Secondly, "worship" is too strong a word; "veneration" would be better. Thirdly, the Church officially sanctions the rite. A brief history is in order:
Catholics were barred from practicing the ancestral rite in what came to be known as the Chinese Rites Controversy
of the XVIIth
Century. Holy Mother Church
, under the influence of Jansenism
, rejected the learned opinion of Matteo Ricci, S.J.
, this blog's namesake, who held that the rite was not
religious in nature. (My reading of Confucius
tells me the same.) Venerable Pope Pius XII
corrected this on Dec. 8, 1939, and the Confucian ancestral rite has been allowed ever since.
Labels: Corea, Religion, The Catholic Faith, The Holy Father