* Pope comforts sick and disabled at Church-run centre
* Urges affluent societies to listen to "the cry of the
(Recasts, changes dateline)
By Philip Pullella and Ju-min Park
KKOTTONGNAE, South Korea, Aug 16 Pope Francis
on Saturday issued a clear warning to Roman Catholic clergy,
saying those who profess poverty while living rich material
lives were hypocrites who hurt the image and mission of the
On the third day of his visit to South Korea, Francis
celebrated a huge open-air Mass in the centre of the capital
Seoul, where he denounced the growing gap between the haves and
have nots, urging people in affluent societies to listen to "the
cry of the poor" among them.
Later, he flew by helicopter to a hilltop centre for the
sick, disabled and homeless run by the Church in the town of
Kkottongnae, southeast of Seoul.
There, he comforted sick children and adults, some of them
severely disabled and disfigured and in wheel chairs, and
declined to use a comfortable white, padded chair that had been
prepared for him. "I like to stand," he said. Bowing to local
tradition, he removed his shoes as he entered the centre.
Later, in another section of the institute, Francis praised
clergy who dedicate their lives to the needy and urged them to
stay on the right path.
"The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who
profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the
souls of the faithful and harms the Church," he said.
Francis has been urging Roman Catholic officials to live
simpler lives, and renounced the papal apartments in the Vatican
palace for modest quarters in a Church guest house.
In March, he removed a German prelate who became known as
the "bishop of bling" because he spent 31 million euros ($41.5
million) of Church funds on an extravagant residence.
In the United States, the Archbishop of Atlanta apologised
for building a $2.2 million mansion to use as his home, a move
that made him the object of derision and complaint, and said it
would be sold.
On his first day in South Korea on Thursday, Francis made a
splash with his choice of car for the five-day visit, a modest
locally-made Kia Soul.
At the hilltop centre, he joked with nuns that he had to cut
short his time with them because if it went beyond dark "the
helicopters risk crashing into the mountain".
Earlier on Saturday in Seoul, the pope beatified 124 Korean
martyrs who were killed for refusing to renounce Christianity in
the 18th and 19th centuries. Beatification is the last step
before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
HEAR 'CRY OF THE POOR'
In his homily before a crowd of hundreds of thousands in
Seoul, Francis said the martyrs' courage and charity and their
rejection of the rigid social structures of their day should be
an inspiration for people today.
"Their example has much to say to us who live in societies
where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently
growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded and where
Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve
him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need," he said.
It was a theme the pope has been repeating since he arrived
in South Korea on Thursday for his first trip to Asia since his
election in March, 2013, and has been a lynchpin of the papacy
of the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.
Last year, in the first major written work of his papacy,
Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny",
urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.
Rapid economic growth has made South Korea one of the
world's wealthiest countries, but it has also become
increasingly unequal, with nearly half the elderly in poverty.
The pope said the Mass from a white altar platform in front
of Gwanghwamun Gate, where some of those beatified by Francis
were killed during the Chosun dynasty.
During his procession to the altar, Francis stopped to pray
with family members of victims of the Sewol ferry disaster, one
of whom handed him a letter and said: "please do not forget."
The Sewol capsized and sank during a routine voyage on April 16,
killing more than 300 people, most of them school children.
As he did on Friday when he prayed for the victims,
survivors and families of the disaster, the pope wore a yellow
ribbon, the symbol of tribute for the ferry victims.
In Kkottongnae, Francis watched a group of disabled children
perform a dance, and a woman paralysed from the waist down gave
the pope an embroidery with his image on it.
The history of Christianity in Korea is unique in that it
was not founded by Western missionaries. Korean intellectuals in
the late 18th century heard about it through literature that had
arrived in the country from China and developed their own
The Catholic Church has been growing rapidly in South Korea,
doubling in the past 25 years to account for about 11 percent of
the population of 50 million. About 100,000 Catholics are added
(1 US dollar = 0.7464 euro)
(Additional reporting by Kahyun Yang; Editing by Tony Munroe
and Richard Borsuk)