February 24, 2001
volume 12, no. 55

New Age Ki Culture Attracting Korean Catholics

    SEOUL, Feb. 23, 01 ( - The Ki movement, which is attracting many Christians, mostly Catholics in Korea, as a means of health promotion, is going beyond this dimension and entering the religious realm and this is a matter of concern for the local Church, according to South Korea's bishops' conference.

    In January Bishop Peter Kang, an auxiliary of Seoul, sent an official memorandum to all clergy and religious of the archdiocese warning about the ambiguity and danger of Ki culture, which is part of the New Age Movement, in fashion in Korea and other countries.

    Bishop Kang expressed concern, first of all, about Catholics, even clergy and religious, who go to Ki Centers, and he underlines the need for discernment: "When Ki formation touches the religious realm going beyond its dimension which is health promotion, it becomes dangerous."

    He added, "If they use Ki training as a means of improving health then I have nothing to say. But if they insist that people can reach salvation by themselves, this is a serious mistake because salvation cannot be obtained by any human efforts or techniques, it only be achieved by God."

    "Priest and religious who have contact with Ki culture believing that its helps them for meditation or health, should act with discernment recalling that their attitude can bring confusion to the Christian life," Bishop Kang points out.

    Ki culture is part of the New Age Movement, first seen in Korea in the 1980s, when after the poverty of the previous decades the economy improved and people turned their interest to individual happiness. The Ki movement insists that human beings can become absolute by a mysterious art and that salvation can be reached through personal spiritual exercises.

    Prof. Rho Kil-myong, who teaches social sciences at Korea University and is an expert in the area of new religious sect, said: "Its members believe that Ki is the ultimate principle and nature of the universe."

    Explaining why Catholics may be attracted to the new sect, Prof. Rho Kil-myong said: "As a liturgy-centered religion, the Catholic Church does not satisfy the spiritual desire of the faithful to experience God: this is why many Catholics want to be compensated by Ki culture." Side effects are that people confuse Ki experience with experience of the Holy Spirit; they begin to reject the institutionalized Church; they adopt fanaticism and emotional attitudes; and they reject the doctrine of salvation by divine grace.

    The professor concluded that "the Church should listen to what her members say and desire. With its 2,000 years of history and tradition, I believe that Christianity has many means to respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful. For instance the various spiritual programs of contemplation and meditation of religious institutes and contemplative communities can be shared with the lay faithful."

February 24, 2001
volume 12, no. 55
News from the Universal Church
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