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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Pope makes controversial visit to Korean homeless shelter
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: (SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this handout image provided by the Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea, people cheer as motorcades with Pope Francis onboard goes by after arriving on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea via Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: (SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this handout image provided by the Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea, motorcades with Pope Francis onboard are seen after arriving on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea via Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: (SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this handout image provided by the Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea, South Koreans cheer as motorcades with Pope Francis onboard goes by after arriving on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea via Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: (SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this handout image provided by the Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea, motorcades with Pope Francis onboard are seen after arriving on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea via Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis shakes hands with South Koreans upon his arrival on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis walks with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye upon his arrival on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis walks with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye upon his arrival on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis arrives at Seoul military airport on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis arrives at Seoul military airport on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis arrives at Seoul military airport on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 14: Pope Francis arrives at Seoul military airport on August 14, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Pope Francis is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. This trip is the third trip abroad for the pope following Brazil and the Middle East. This is the third pontifical visit to South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exits the plane upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (top L) is welcomed by schoolchildren upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) shakes hands with people as he is welcomed on the tarmac following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (centre R) shakes hands with a nun as he is welcomed on the tarmac following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (centre R) is welcomed on the tarmac following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves as he prepares to get into a car following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exits the plane upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exits the plane upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exits the plane upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) waves as he prepares to get into a car following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves as he prepares to get into a car following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves as he prepares to get into a car following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist takes pictures of Pope Francis as he welcomes journalists aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) waves as he prepares to get into a car following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis prays for Italian journalist Simone Camilli, killed in Gaza, aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ GREGORIO BORGIA (Photo credit should read GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis prays for Italian journalist Simone Camilli, killed in Gaza, aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ GREGORIO BORGIA (Photo credit should read GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis prays for Italian journalist Simone Camilli, killed in Gaza, aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ GREGORIO BORGIA (Photo credit should read GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se (L) as South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye (R) looks on, following the pope's arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) walks with South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye (R) following his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean troops fire heavy artillery to welcome Pope Francis upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis walks down the stairs from his plane upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis walks away after welcoming journalist aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis walks away after welcoming journalist aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles as he poses for a selfie with Korean journalist Ae Jung Ko aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles as he welcomes journalists aboard the flight to Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Travellers watch a television screen broadcasting live footage of the arrival of Pope Francis, at a railway station in Seoul on August 14, 2014. Pope Francis arrived in South Korea looking to fuel a new era of Catholic growth in Asia -- a mission fraught with complex political challenges but huge potential rewards. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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