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Pope makes controversial visit to Korean homeless shelter

Pope Makes Controversial Visit To Korean Homeless Shelter

Massive crowds, adoring fans, and the Pope Mobile in all of its (Kia) glory - so far Pope Francis' five-day trip through South Korea, his first ever to Asia, has been what you might expect.

But a surprise came Saturday when Francis visited a small community south of Seoul and its cemetery for aborted babies.

The Boston Globe writes that, since the Pope's election to the papacy, there has been doubt to his commitment to the pro-life cause, so praying at the cemetery was a significant gesture.

"Those fears were fueled by a couple of interviews in which Francis complained of the Church being 'obsessed' with moral debates, saying in one: 'We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.'"

The cemetery is located within another point of controversy - Kkottongnae, or the "Flower Village," which provides a home for around 5,000 people, many of whom are disabled or homeless.

Why the controversy? Well, according to The Korea Herald, the visit marks Pope Francis' only engagement with needy South Koreans during his trip, something that's upset Catholic activists who call the institution the Korean version of the mafia and a ghetto for the disabled.

Critics suggested that the Pope visit the demilitarized zone to possibly ease tensions between North and South Korea or visit more remote areas in the region.

The Union of Catholic Asian News reported in 2003 that Kottongnae's founder and president, Father John Oh Woong-jin, was charged with embezzling donations and government subsidies.

Although Father Oh was found not guilty in 2007, an editorial on Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh writes that the corruption associated with the shelter and its president could run opposite of what Pope Francis has been preaching.

According to The Wall Street Journal, human-rights activists protested the Pope's visit to Kottongnae on the grounds that it "encourages the admitted to lead a life of dependency instead of helping them to live on their own in society."

Before visiting Kottongnae, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Seoul and beatified a group of 124 Korean martyrs.

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sboore47 August 16 2014 at 6:33 PM

I think the Catholics should be very proud of their Pope. He seems to an activist for many things and a very compassionate man. Maybe more of them that are complaining should be more like him.

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4 replies
leavesbound August 16 2014 at 7:04 PM

Since when is it controversial to visit needy people and offer them comfort? He was visiting people, NOT the institution that houses them. The critics are politicizing compassionate gestures to suit their twisted agendas.

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2 replies
TR by ML Neal... leavesbound August 17 2014 at 1:28 AM

yep. leavesbound.

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eagle1cal leavesbound August 17 2014 at 11:25 AM

Also add to that the - fact thats todays media loves to incite people to hate... so they can have more to talk about... to create ratings and make money simple... the media no longer just report news... they like to create it....

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pmbalele August 16 2014 at 7:17 PM

Pope Francis is a God-Send person to this earth. He is just like President Obama. These two embrace people of races and creed. I hope Repubs and TPs will stop their primitive and stupid plan to divide this Country into racial and religious lines.

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9 replies
hockeydad39 August 16 2014 at 9:16 PM

Whomever said he claims to represent god is an idiot. Hes here to do gods work. I dont see how anyone could find anything wrong with what this man does. This pope is different, and understands the modern world. Unlike the popes before him. He has also cut many luxuries out of the vatican budget. He even thinks that they go way overboard with that stuff. Take the time to read about what this man does daily, and youll understand more of what hes about. It doesnt matter what religon he represents. He does good.

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Susan Bond August 16 2014 at 8:40 PM

Seems Francis realizes it's not the fault of the babies... or the homeless and disabled. They need his prayers just as much as those who say they are good and just Christians yet would judge a man with a HUGE heart instead of a huge ego.

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2 replies
Kashmir Susan Bond August 17 2014 at 1:36 AM

Dear Lord Keep those hand off of that poor child you freak.

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1 reply
Hi! Tom Kashmir August 17 2014 at 2:46 AM

If you don't have something intelligent and nice to say, why waste your time posting, only to anger people that do care? Pathetic!

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Jud Susan Bond August 17 2014 at 9:46 AM

Kashmir - it didn't take you long to get stupid - know your momma is proud of you!

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telurico August 16 2014 at 8:20 PM

No matter what, some Americans will be "outraged." Being outraged is our national sport.

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4 replies
Fraginals5@aol.c August 16 2014 at 7:01 PM

There will always critics, but since he was a cardinal in Buenos Aires he visit the slums and refused any sign of pomp, traveling in public transportation like any common citizen.

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ngbiker1 August 16 2014 at 6:59 PM

bunch of hypocrites, he visits a place where the homeless and disable lives, and they complain. must be Sunday worshipers.

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1 reply
Susan Bond ngbiker1 August 16 2014 at 8:48 PM

No... OLD SCHOOL Catholics. The ones that still assume you can do whatever you want in your life as long as you play the religion game. Confession... Communion... statue of Mary in your car... the whole ball of wax.

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amcpharlin August 16 2014 at 9:21 PM

Our Pope and the Pope for the world continues to demonstrate in a human way that the world should be more concerned with the poor and needy not financial gain.God bless him and God help all of us.

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suzan1120 August 16 2014 at 6:35 PM

I can't help but wonder if he feels a little guilty seeing people in homeless shelters and knowing he'll return to his huge Vatican mansion! Just like so many Catholic churches, one trying to out do another in size and beads and baubles. More people need help with necessities!

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12 replies
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