Back To Top

Catholic priests demand cardinal quit over river project row

Religious groups lambast government

A group of elderly Catholic priests Monday denounced Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the archbishop of Seoul, and called for his apology and retirement for his recent remarks apparently in favor of the ruling government’s four-rivers refurbishment project.

A total of 13 priests, mostly retired from their archdioceses across the country, held a press conference at the Franciscan Education Center in central Seoul. Cardinal Cheong’s remarks on the four-rivers project ― which did not clearly express opposition to it ― misrepresented the shared position of the Korean Catholic Church, reached a recent archbishops’ meeting, the priests said. The general consensus of the meeting was against the project. A total of 25 priests signed a written petition against Cardinal Cheong’s remarks.
Catholic priest Ham Sei-ung speaks during a press conference denouncing Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk for his recent remarks on the four-rivers restoration project at the Franciscan Education Center in central Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap News)
Catholic priest Ham Sei-ung speaks during a press conference denouncing Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk for his recent remarks on the four-rivers restoration project at the Franciscan Education Center in central Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap News)

“We find Cardinal Cheong’s remarks as a mistake of the Korean Catholic Church itself,” the 13 priests said in a statement they took turns to read. “It is a long-time tradition of the Church community that an individual accepts and respects the conclusions of the archbishops’ meetings, even if she or he disagrees. We demand Cardinal Cheong ask for forgiveness from all members of the Church, and voluntarily retire from his position as part of the apologizing process.”

Cheong said last week during a press conference to launch his essay book “God’s Way and Human Way” that the Korean bishops were not opposed to the government’s four-rivers clean-up project, but only concerned about possible environmental damage. “It is not religious people but scientists who should deal with this project,” he said.

The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, a group of Catholic priests, has been holding a mass in front of the National Assembly every Monday demanding the suspension of the four-rivers project.

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
MOST POPULAR