National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Korean ship tragedy could shape Francis visit

 |  NCR Today

We enter the Easter Triduum shaken to the bone by news that approximately 280 people -- mostly teenagers from a single high school -- are missing at sea after a ship carrying 475 people capsized off the coast of South Korea. Eighteen were confirmed dead by Thursday afternoon, with dozens more injured. Rescuers were frantically fighting bad weather and frigid waters as they searched for possible survivors in a small air trap within the five-story ship.

The ship carried a class of 16- and 17-year-olds from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city near Seoul. The class was headed to Jeju, an island off the coast of southern Korea, for a four-day vacation.

It is not yet clear what caused the ship to list, then flip over. Reports suggest the ship might have hit an underwater obstacle or freight inside broke loose and shifted weight.   

envelope.jpgIntroducing “A Roman Observer,” a new bi-weekly column from Robert Mickens featuring commentary and analysis on the latest news from the Vatican and the Eternal City.

Sign up for email alerts here.

What is clear is that the death toll will be tortuously high.

It is equally clear this tragedy will cast a dark shadow over Pope Francis’ first Asian trip -- to South Korea -- in mid-August. The Vatican announced in January that Francis would visit South Korea from Aug. 14 to 18 and would participate Aug. 15 in the sixth Asian Youth Day to be held in the diocese of Daejeon, some 100 miles south of Seoul.

The Korean youth gathering, initially expected to be a joyful event, will undoubtedly now be seen, at least in part, through the lens of this tragedy. The Christian messages of suffering, death and resurrection, wrapped in mystery, come to us this Holy Week as especially poignant markers of faith. This will also be the case when Francis addresses Koreans on the ground in Korea four months from now.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature_ad_Family-synod3.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

September 26-October 9, 2014

09-26-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.