New-Age Ki Culture Lures Christians in South Korea

Catholic Church Warns About Its Faulty Religious Ideas

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SEOUL, South Korea, FEB. 23, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFIDES).- The Church in South Korea is warning Catholics about the Ki culture, a New Age-style movement that mixes health programs with faulty religious ideas.

Last month, Seoul´s Auxiliary Bishop Peter Kang sent a memorandum to all clergy and religious in the archdiocese, warning about the ambiguity and danger posed by Ki culture.

Bishop Kang is concerned about Catholics, including clergy and religious, who go to Ki Centers, and he emphasized the need for discernment.

«When Ki formation touches the religious realm, going beyond its dimension which is health promotion, it becomes dangerous,» the bishop wrote.

«If they use Ki training as a means of improving health, then I have nothing to say,» he continued. «However, if they insist that people can reach salvation by themselves, this is a serious mistake, because salvation cannot be obtained by any human efforts or techniques, it can only be [received from] God.»

His memorandum further stated: «Priests and religious who have contact with Ki culture, believing that it helps them for meditation or health, should act with discernment, recalling that their attitude can bring confusion to the Christian life.»

Ki culture was introduced in Korea in the 1980s when, amid a growing economy, people turned more of their attention to individual happiness. Ki culture insists that human beings can become absolute by a mysterious art, and that salvation can be reached through personal spiritual exercises.

Professor Rho Kil-myong, who teaches social sciences at Korea University and is an expert in the area of new religious sects, told the Vatican agency Fides that «its members believe that Ki is the ultimate principle and nature of the universe.»

In explaining why Catholics might be attracted to this new sect, Rho said: «As a liturgy-centered religion, the Catholic Church does not satisfy the spiritual desire of the faithful to experience God. This is why many Catholics want to be compensated by Ki culture.»

Among the dangers involved are the following: People confuse Ki experience with experience of the Holy Spirit; they begin to reject the institutionalized Church; they adopt fanaticism and emotional attitudes; they reject the doctrine of salvation by divine grace.

Professor Rho concluded: «The Church should listen to what her members say and desire. With its 2,000 years of history and tradition, I believe that Christianity has many means to respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful. For instance, the various spiritual programs of contemplation and meditation of religious institutes and contemplative communities can be shared with the lay faithful.»

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