Abstract

Bishop Gustave Mutel (1854–1933) has been criticized for condemning An Chunggŭn (1879–1910) for assassinating Itō Hirobumi (1841–1909). This rejection of An’s actions has led not only to scholarly criticism, but to a struggle within the Catholic Church between conservative and progressive Catholics over how authority is exercised. This debate, connected to power and framed by nationalism, at times overlooks Bishop Mutel’s own worldview. Therefore, in this study, based primarily on Mutel’s own writings, I will explore the question of why Mutel acted in the way he did from the religious perspective he held, and by doing so, I will reveal the difficult situation he and the Catholic Church faced in the waning days of the Chosŏn dynasty. I will do this by looking first at his background and religious views, then by examining his relationship with the Chosŏn and Japanese colonial states, and end by analyzing his reaction to An’s assassination of Itō. I will argue that as a missionary who focused on spiritual salvation, Mutel sought tolerance for the Catholic Church and a strong government that could protect the lives and property of Catholics, leading him to grudgingly accept the Japanese colonial state and to condemn the assassination.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2167-2040
Print ISSN
2093-7288
Pages
pp. 43-69
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-24
Open Access
No
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