Priests begin hunger strike

November 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia, Persecution, South Korea

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8 HungerSouth Korea, November 8, 2011: Priests in Seoul have begun a hunger strike in protest at what they call a nation’s greed that is threatening the environment, peace and economy.

Members of the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice (CPAJ) held a Mass outside the National Assembly building on Nov. 7 to oppose the government’s Four Rivers project, the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island and the impending ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US.

Some 40 priests then began a hunger strike that will continue until November 14.

They demanded the government re-negotiate the FTA with the US, saying it will widen the poverty gap if it is ratified by the National Assembly. Both chambers of the US Congress passed the bill in October.

The ruling Grand National Party insists the agreement should be ratified as soon as possible so that it can take effect on January 1.

The priests said they decided to protest greed through abstinence.

“Since November 8 last year, we have held a Mass here every Monday to oppose the Four Rivers project,” said Father Peter Lee Kang-suh in his homily.

“But as time goes by, greed – which includes the building of the Jeju naval base and FTA agreement -is threatening the environment and peace. We have decided to hold the hunger strike to reflect our wrongdoings in that we priests have neglected our poor neighbors,” he said.

Around 120 nuns and lay people attended the Mass, during which the priests erected a tent for them to stay in while conducting their fast.

Police tried to stop them, but relented when the Mass participants protested.

– ucan