Pope Francis today celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption in Daejeon, South Korea, urging the congregation in the packed World Cup Stadium to “combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values.”
The Pope’s first activity of this second day of the five-day trip was the public Mass, celebrated in Italian, Latin and Korean. He gave the homily in Italian, pausing four times so that it could be translated to Korean — requiring that, atypically, the Pope stayed faithful to his prepared text.
South Korea is today some 10% Catholic, as the Church there has experienced rapid growth for decades.
Francis pointed to the temptations faced by the growing Christian community in the midst of the affluent Korean society.
“May the Christians of this nation be a generous force for spiritual renewal at every level of society,” he said. “May they combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife. May they also reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers, and the culture of death which devalues the image of God, the God of life, and violates the dignity of every man, woman and child.”
The Holy Father emphasized that Mary invites us to hope.
“In her, all God’s promises have been proved trustworthy,” he said. “Enthroned in glory, she shows us that our hope is real; even now it reaches as ‘a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul’ (Heb 6:19) to where Jesus is seated in glory.”
This hope, the Bishop of Rome continued, “the hope held out by the Gospel, is the 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. Upon how many of our young has this despair taken its toll! May they, the young who surround us in these days with their joy and confidence, never be robbed of their hope!”
For Catholic South Koreans, today is a double celebration as Aug. 15 is also the celebration of South Korean independence.
Pope Francis noted this, saying, “Koreans traditionally celebrate this feast in the light of their historical experience, seeing the loving intercession of Our Lady at work in the history of the nation and the lives of its people.”
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