CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proper Marian Devotion

Proper Marian Devotion

The Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the CBCK this May published Proper Marian Devotion.

The Catholic Church in Korea is now in its third century since the first mission began here and it has been judged by the Universal Church as being dynamic and constantly growing. We find that there are vigorous devotional movements, along with other factors, at the base of this growth. Marian devotion is prominent among the devotions. Mary is mentioned in many places and she is regarded as a good example of faith within the Catholic Church. In fact, many individuals and groups take Mary as their patroness and they draw spiritual energy from observing her various feasts, offering constant prayers to her, and participating in devotions to her.

On the negative side, despite the clear distinction the Catholic Church makes between veneration to the saints, devotion to Mary and adoration of God, it has sometimes been criticized by some Protestants as being a "Marian religion," often because of some reported visions and some distortions of doctrine concerning Mary. Problems and sources of concern have developed from without and some have emerged from within. Problems caused by distorted or poorly expressed piety still continue today. In some dioceses bishops have prohibited with decrees and notifications "erroneous private revelations that are spread like parasites on Marian devotional movements." Under these circumstances, it is very significant for the CBCK Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith to call attention to and to correct some troublesome trends regarding Marian devotion. The Committee explains that the purpose of publishing Proper Marian Devotion is "to illuminate the legitimacy of Marian devotion by examining its history and doctrinal basis and to foster proper Marian devotion by correcting false devotional activities which lead to misunderstanding and criticism."

Based on Lumen Gentium and Marialis Cultus, this book explains the foundation of Marian devotion and recommends a right attitude and mentality for Marian devotion. Beginning with a brief history of Marian devotion, it expounds important doctrines and introduces prayers and explains Marian devotions for the months of May and October. Then, it points out erroneous Marian devotions in different periods of history, in different groups, and in different locales. It recommends proper devotion to Mary. In particular, it urges the faithful to look at the serious problems arising from deviant practices which it classifies as "movements and trends harmful to healthy faith life." It recommends the faithful to distinguish between public revelation and private revelation. This book is expected to serve as a summary and a guide for Catholic doctrinal and devotional practices centered around Mary.

Proper Marian Devotion will hopefully have a positive influence and lead to an active response within the Church.

Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Executive Secretary of the CBCK

 

 

 

Message for the First Week for Catholic Education

"Jesus Christ, the Way of True Education"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In order to enhance the awareness of Catholic education and to prepare concrete plans for its improvement, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea at its 2006 Spring General Assembly approved the Week for Catholic Education, the next to last week in May which includes Korean Youth Day (the last Sunday in May). Education is the essential course and channel to hand down the Catholic faith and tradition. Now is the time for all members of the Church, including the lay Catholics, to renew their awareness of the true meaning and significance of education and to put it into practice.

When the Catholic community becomes a community of education, it can realize the Catholic spirit more solidly, uniting its life with its faith. When it nurtures and sends out its members whose life and faith are integrated, the Catholic community can be faithful to its original mission. Thus, the purpose of establishing this week is to have all members of Catholic communities reflect on their mission and find the reason to lay the foundation of faith for true education activities.

Education awakens and makes souls grow. It should aim at spiritual growth and cannot be detached from our Christian life. Following Jesus Christ, the True Master, we should walk in the way of true faith and education. Indeed, the history of the Catholic Church in Korea manifests the harmonization of faith and education. Our Korean ancestors in the faith discovered God to be the Savior of all human beings through their voluntary effort to seek the truth and they substantiated this discovery in life by uniting education and faith.

Today our educational reality and circumstances face alienation from the spirit of our faith. They are being kept at a distance from the teaching of Jesus Christ, from the very nature of education, so to speak, to develop our potentiality which God gratuitously gave us and to share its fruits with our neighbors in love. Education is reduced to a means to compete with others and to rise in the world. In our society, the meaning of education is becoming more and more narrow and secularized.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Each of us in our own place should observe the Week for Catholic Education so that the week will bear much fruit. It should be an occasion for all the members of Catholic community to recognize their lifetime duty to pursue spiritual growth as Christians and as students -- to examine and to practice how to develop educational programs, including catechetics, in accordance with the spirit and reality of our Catholic faith. For all parents it should be an occasion to reflect on the ways to educate their children in the family, school and society according to the light of Catholic tradition and teachings. This week is the time to examine the reality of Catholic school education, to seek its development, and to support it. Finally, it is the time to enhance Catholic education so that it can contribute to peace and mutual prosperity for all and not just the members of the Catholic community.

The Catholic community cannot stand by passively and watch education lose its proper nature. We should take the lead in injecting the Catholic spirit in every sphere of education. It is to promote such a mission that the bishops instituted this Week for Catholic Education which includes Korean Youth Day. On this occasion, all members of the Catholic community should pool our wisdom, praying for the development and growth of education. On the personal level, each of us should look back on our journey of education. In fact, we are all disciples of Jesus who have received education in daily life. We should reflect to see whether or not we have deviated from the way of true education which would have us follow Jesus who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life." After reflection and repentance, the Catholic community should propose norms and measures so that true education can become firmly rooted in this land.

May 22, 2006

+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
President Committee on Education  of the CBCK

 

 

Message for the Day for Life

Life, a Splendid Gift of God

During the past year our society struggled with bio-ethical issues more seriously than ever before. From the controversy around the status of human embryos to the professional ethics of bioengineering researchers, we were clearly faced with the darkness and light of bioengineering which has rapidly developed over the last few years. This was a good occasion for us to consider how to steer its development in the right direction. Especially significant has been the reawakening of ethical reflections on issues affecting life. It is made apparent by the fact that in various groups of our society more reflection and dialogue is being promoted on ethical problems, including fundamental issues pertaining to human life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 27).

As Pope John Paul II stated, the powerful cultural, economic and political currents which have fostered the "culture of death" have driven out the sense of God and of man and have raised the question whether or not there remains the sense of man, of his dignity and his life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 12; n. 21). While going through the debate about national interests, bioethics was reduced to a subsidiary issue, and the preciousness of human life was made subservient to material goods. Moreover, considering the situation where women were asked to provide their eggs under the pretense of contributing to the treatment of incurable diseases, it seems that many consider life as a mere "thing" and not as a splendid gift of God, something "sacred entrusted to his responsibility and thus also to his loving care and veneration." (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 11; n. 22).

The threat and attack on life in our society originated mainly from mammonism and nationalism. It is truly embarrassing that the government, which backed the research on human embryos for the sake of probable economic profits, eventually laid itself open to the ridicule of the whole world. This situation indicates that a form of materialism different from Marxism, that is, a practical materialism, dominates our society. The goal of such a society is solely economic well-being; everything in such a society provokes us to pursue economic efficiency, inordinate consumerism and physical pleasure. As a result, the most profound dimensions of existence are neglected (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 23).

It is urgent for our society to recover the genuine sense of God and of man. Efforts are needed to seek integral truth about the value of human life, in order to escape the "structures of sin" (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 24) which entail various and deadly consequences for life. This truth above all implies respect for and defense of the meaning and value of life, that is, a genuine love of life. With the help of God who is the  "lover of souls" (Wis 11:26), we should practice the love of life. Only then can the "culture of death" be transformed into a "culture of life" in our society where life is being seriously threatened and challenged.

We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life, the same Gospel by which we have been transformed and saved. Therefore, is it not the duty of all Christians to act and give service to life accordingly? (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 79)

Service to life is given only when people are faithful to the moral law (cf. Charter for Health Care Workers, n. 6). Of course, the first moral law regarding life is to be thankful for it, to love and respect "life as gift" given by God, the Lord of all life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 40; Donum Vitae, I-1.4.5.). Life is at the same time both a gift and a responsibility. Therefore, we have been given the task to respect life. We should not spare any efforts to carry out this task (cf. Declaration on Procured Abortion, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, n. 5).

We should remember that the efforts for respecting life start primarily with recognizing the God of Life and offering praise to this life-giving God. For every life originates from God, the principle of life. Due to this principle, the meaning and value of human life at every stage and under all circumstances must be respected in the individual conscience, in the family, in the Church and in society. Hopefully the intent of Pope John Paul II in establishing the Day for Life 15 years ago (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 85)  can provide the fertile soil for constructing a "culture of life" in our society.

May 28, 2006,
the Twelfth Annual Day for Life

+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
President Bioethics Committee of the CBCK

 

 

Message for the Day for the Environment

Time of Great Transition in the Use of Energy:
From Fossil Fuel to New and Renewable Energy

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Pope Paul VI said in his encyclical Populorum Progressio, "Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (March 26, 1967, n. 66).

This prophecy made 40 years ago has been proven right. In the 21st century, the world suffers from the depletion of natural resources (woods, fossils, oil, natural gas, mineral resources), and especially the depletion of oil which has become the cause of wars and conflicts, regional self-centeredness, and economic unrest.

A few regions in possession of oil (the Middle East, Central and South America, the North Sea, Nigeria, Russia, U.S.A.) and advanced countries live in abundance while more than 70% of the world's population suffers from poverty under the exploitation and indifference of the powerful countries.

Oil certainly has an overall influence on the world situation. Unfortunately, however, oil is limited in quantity and not evenly spread throughout the earth. It is generally held that oil will be exhausted in 40 years. The oil price hike this year is not irrelevant to the nuclear development of Iran, the third biggest exporting country of oil. The situation in Iraq which has been afflicted by wars for five years is also the main reason for the turmoil of the oil market.

Moreover, as China and India, the most populated countries in the world, use more and more oil in accord with their recent economic growth, the enormous need for oil by the 23 billion people in these two countries may accelerate the exhaustion of oil. In addition, some South American countries possessing oil try to turn oil into a weapon by making it national property.

Although Korea, as the fourth largest oil-importing country, has no oil or gas and is entirely dependent on imports, the government and society seem to have no clear awareness of the oil crisis. Ours can be compared to the time of Noah when people did not prepare for the flood and did not recognize the things that were coming.

The energy crisis has already started. Oil will run out in 40 years; fossil fuel in 190 years and natural gas in 60 years. What is worse, Korea is entirely dependent on the import of these resources. In the case of an emergency, Korea will be short of oil within 110 days. If unrest in the international situation causes problems in the supply of oil and the price of oil jumps, our society will fall into chaos.

We urge that the government scrupulously set up an energy policy and that people endeavor to save energy. In particular, Catholics should give an example in saving energy in daily life.

We should free ourselves from fossil fuel. First of all, it will be exhausted sooner or later. Secondly, it is the main cause of global warming, which causes desertification (and the consequent yellow dust cloud), typhoons (e.g. Katrina in 2005), severe drought (in Eastern Africa), hunger and various epidemic diseases (e.g. bird flu).

With the gradual exhaustion of fossil fuel, the human community faces a great crisis but at the same time it has an opportunity to leap up into a new world. If we pass from the age of fossil fuel to the age of new and renewable energy, we can make the earth greener and more beautiful where the chorus of life can echo. New and renewable energy (e.g. solar energy, wind power, tidal energy, geothermal energy) transforms the natural energy into other forms of energy which can sustain our modern scientific civilization without producing more pollutants. If we actively make use of this energy, our global village can escape conflicts and find a way to peace. Many countries have already shown how this is possible. For example, the generation by wind power in Denmark and the use of solar energy have given a prophetic message for us. Therefore, the government, companies and academic circles should cooperate in researching new and renewable energy.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Looking back on the life of Jesus who possessed nothing but lived a happy life, we should find joy in life not in possessing more, consuming more, using more energy, but in leading a simple, plain and frugal life.

Reflecting on the various energy problems caused by fossil fuel, Catholics should practice energy saving in their parishes and in everyday life.

June 5, 2006,
the Day for the Environment

+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
President Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK

 

 

 

Message for the 2006 Prayer Day for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People

"He is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh" (Eph 2:14)

God of Peace

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

God willed that every human being be one in love through Him (cf. Jn 17:21). Jesus Christ fulfilled this mission through the mystery of the cross and made all those sharing his flesh and blood be one, going beyond differences of social status and race. With this overflowing love, we have been reconciled with God and peace has been restored among people.

However, not every one has been reconciled with God. Still today, the power of evil leads us to greed, and thus we bring about wars, conflicts and confrontations. Unfortunately, the Korean people also have not kept the peace God wanted to give us. The reality of national division has caused great suffering to our people and we still have to live in division and confrontation. This national division extends to the division of regions, of generations and of social classes.

The Efforts of the Church for Peace

We should first examine ourselves to see if we share the pain of those suffering from the history of Korea which has been stained with national division. Have we not sought our own well-being or that of our family, without trying to share the sorrow, anguish, joy and hope of those who suffer from the national division?

Paul the Apostle called on the believers to become the apostles of reconciliation, saying, "And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18).

The Church as the apostle of reconciliation continues to pray for brotherly sharing and peaceful reunification for the sake of the reconciliation and unity of Korean people. Recognizing the mission of the Church for the evangelization of North Korea, every diocese, religious institute, missionary organization constantly prays for the effective offering of aid to the North, backing the settlement of North Korean escapees, and the reconciliation and unity of Korean people. Among them are many believers who are committed to the realization of Christ's peace.

Difficulties in Reality

However, the political and social conditions of the reality still seem far from overcoming the national division and realizing peace. First, there is constant military tension. The nuclear armament of North Korea has negative effects on Northeast Asia. The six-party talks to resolve the question of the North Korean nuclear program are proceeding with difficulties, aggravating the distrust between North Korea and the U.S. Despite the attempts of the Korean government, appropriate solutions have not yet been found. Second, North Korea is afflicted with grave economic difficulties. The economy of North Korea has already reached an irrecoverable point. Most factories have stopped operation; the supply of energy is seriously insufficient; and many citizens live under conditions of poverty and hunger. Aid projects by either the government or the private sector face limitations because they cannot help the fundamental restoration of the economy. Third, human rights are poorly respected in North Korean society. The economic difficulty and political and social unrest of the society lead to the imposition on the people of strict government control and violent procedures, a matter of grave concern for the Church. Fourth, there is also division in South Korean society. The social discussion over reunification has not found its place in society while ideological confrontation and biased thoughts provoke confusion in society. Given this situation, sacrifice, prayer and practical efforts by believers are essential for the reconciliation and unity of Korean people.

Living in the Hope of Peace

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our faith and our effort for peace can bear sufficient fruit to overcome every difficulty. As long as we hope to understand the poor situation of our brethren and proclaim the Gospel to them, God will accomplish marvelous plans for our people. Indeed, such a plan seems to be bearing fruit already. Many citizens have visited North Korea on various occasions, a joint factory has been set up in Gaeseong, and the Gyeongui and Donghae railway lines that are meant to link the two Koreas have been completed and trials have been run. In February, to our joy, the Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, was appointed as Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. In addition, former President Kim Dae-jung will soon visit North Korea for the second time.

Let us become the instrument of peace in this land by realizing reconciliation in our society and then among the two Koreas, in conformity with the command of our Lord who entrusted the mission of reconciliation to us.

On the 2006 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity  of Korean People

+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
President Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the CBCK

 

 

 

News from the Church in Korea

* New Executive Secretary of the CBCK Appointed

"I have no idea how God will use 'a stone stuck in the seminary' who knows nothing. However I will do my best to contribute to the growth of the Church of God with sincerity and fidelity."

This humble comment is how the Rev. Peter Pai (Diocese of Suwon) viewed his new ministry after being appointed Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and Secretary General of the Catholic Conference of Korea at the 2006 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK.

After obtaining a master's degree in fundamental theology at the Leopold-Franzens-Universit둻 Innsbruck in Austria in 1984, he was ordained a priest in 1985 and started to teach seminarians at the Catholic University of Suwon in 1989. He received a doctorate in theology at the Catholic University of Korea in 2000.

He has served as a member of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the CBCK since 1999. In the Catholic University of Suwon, he has served as the rector of postgraduate students since 2003 and the dean of academic affairs since 2004. He has also served as the procurator-advocate of the Diocesan Office since 2004.


* Bishops' Easter Messages Call for Establishing a Culture of Life

For Easter Sunday 2006, each diocesan Bishop issued an Easter message that appealed to the faithful to join in the establishment of a culture of life so that they could be witnesses of the Risen Jesus.    

The Bishops noted especially that "the resurrection of Jesus is the climax of the history of salvation which shows us the way toward eternal life" and they stressed with one voice that, "to make His resurrection the Good News for the world, the faithful should respect life through their lives."

His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, said, "The Sacrament of the Eucharist is a privileged place to encounter the Risen Christ....One way to live out the spirit of the Eucharist in our daily life is to respect life. Therefore, let’s reject actively the unethical acts of destroying life, such as abortion, euthanasia and murder."


* Commemoration of the Late Pope John Paul II

The Lay Apostolate Council of Korea commemorated the first anniversary of the late Pope John Paul II’s death with a day entitled, "I Am Happy and You Should Be Happy Too" to cherish him with respect and affection. It opened at Coste Hall of Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on April 6, 2006.

It included the following programs: a chorus by Trinitas Choral Society; a presentation of audio-visual materials on the life of His Holiness Pope John Paul II; a reading of a poem entitled "O! Our Unforgettable Holy Father" written by Sr. Claudia Lee Hae-in, OSB; and various testimonies and recollections from those who had met the late Holy Father.

Opening the day, the Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, President of the Committee for the Lay Apostolate of the CBCK and Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, gave an address and expressed a desire for the beatification of the beloved pope who was called the apostle of love and peace.

In addition, Mr. Thomas Han Hong-soon, President of the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, spoke on the subject of "The Roman Pontiff and the Catholic Church in Korea." He stressed the deep concern of the late Holy Father for the Church and people of Korea and invited all the Korean faithful to foster mission efforts among Asian peoples, in accordance with the exhortation of the late Holy Father.


* The 92nd Korean Migration Day Celebrated

On the occasion of the 92nd Korean Migration Day on April 30, 2006, the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho, President of the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, appealed to the faithful to be closer to the ever increasing number of migrants in Korea. 

Bishop Ri reflected on the reality of Korean society: Shortly after the Korean War, people longed to go to the United States imagined as a fantastic paradise owing to the "C-ration" boxes issued from the US Army. Now the pastoral focus on migrants is changing from overseas Koreans to immigrant workers in Korea. He urged Catholics to live in communion with and provide hospitality to the 500,000 migrant workers and the 200,000 people involved in international marriages in Korea. 

In line with this, Exodus, a training program for those in charge of the pastoral care of migrants, was arranged by the CBCK committee at the "House of Grace" in Busan from April 18 to 21. Through the Exodus program participants were alerted to the reality, problems, and current trends in the pastoral care of migrants.


* Message Sent to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh 2006

His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, issued a Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh 2006 on May 5, 2006. He said, “There are incessant conflicts, hatred, confrontation, and many kinds of discrimination in this world where we live. We may solve these problems when we all try to be as merciful as Buddha and practice love, which is the fundamental teaching of all religions.”

He added, “We can make the world a truly peaceful place when we respect each other and share with others what we have. I hope that we will build a peaceful society and contribute to the common good of all human beings through a more invigorated interreligious dialogue.”

Lastly, he expressed his appreciation to those Buddhists who congratulated him warmly as he was named a new Cardinal in Korea.


* Korean Catholic Encyclopedia Completed

The compilation of The Korean Catholic Encyclopedia is at last finished. The Korean Catholic Encyclopedia in 12 volumes contains over 8,000 articles and about 10,000 pictures.

The Research Foundation for Korean Church History started the compilation of The Korean Catholic Encyclopedia in 1993. Twelve years after the publication of the first volume, the twelfth and final volume saw the light of the day on April 25, 2006. 

Over 2,500 experts and more than 12 million US dollars were needed to complete The Korean Catholic Encyclopedia, which was written according to the spirit of Vatican II for the first time in Korea.


* Symposium Held for the Centennial Anniversary of the Kyeonghyang Magazine

A symposium for the centennial anniversary of the Kyeonghyang Magazine was held in the auditorium of the CBCK on May 12, 2006.

The Most Rev. Paul Choi Deok-ki, President of the Committee for Social Communications, said in his congratulatory speech, "The Kyeonghyang  Magazine, which has cast its fortune with the Catholic Church in Korea and the country itself, reflects modern church history in Korea. And it also has served the Catholic Church in Korea well as a 'pastoral' magazine mirroring the zeitgeist." He urged that the Kyeonghyang Magazine continue its place as an official magazine of the Catholic Church in Korea.

Prof. Youn Se-min of Kyung-In Women's College, who presented the keynote paper for this symposium, said, "The Kyeonghyang Magazine is the pride of the Catholic Church in Korea....It has served the Catholic Church in Korea as her voice and helped the faithful as a guiding light....It also has contributed to the promotion of Hangul, i.e. Korean, as it started as a magazine using exclusively Hangul." He advised that the magazine confirm its identity to keep the spirit of the foundation and editorial philosophy. He added, "It has to engage in public relations and marketing very actively with scientific strategies aimed at the non-faithful, not to mention the faithful."


* Catholic Church in Korea Joins in Providing Relief Aid to Quake Victims

To help the victims of the earthquake which hit Yogyakarta, on May 27, 2006, charitable organizations in the Catholic Church has started to send donations and relief workers to the devastated area.

The CBCK Committee for "Caritas Corea" (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) announced in a letter dated May 30 that it would promote a donation campaign in collaboration with Caritas in other countries and called on the faithful to take part in this practice of charity, sharing the suffering of the victims and practicing a spirit of solidarity. It also asked each diocese to make a special offering for relief aid at Masses.

The One Body One Spirit Movement of the Archdiocese of Seoul also promptly sent emergency relief aid of USD 50,000 via Caritas Internationalis and continued a fund-raising campaign to send another donation.

The headquarters of the movement also issued a letter and urged the faithful to help the 200,000 victims "who are living in makeshift residences made of tents or boards because of fear of aftershocks or volcanic eruptions." It already sent medical supplies and necessities of life and is broadening the scope of relief to dispatching medical workers.


* Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2005 Published

The Catholic Conference of Korea published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2005 on June 10, 2006. According to the statistics, about one fourth of Korean Catholics attended Sunday Mass last year.

As of December 31, 2005, the number of Catholics amounted to 4,667,283 or 9.5% of the total population. This indicates an increase of 129,439 or 2.9% from the previous year.

Those newly baptized were 148,175, an increase of 9,460 from the previous year. Among them 76,398 were men and 71,777 were women. Since 1995 when the new method of collecting statistics was introduced, this is the first time that newly baptized men outnumbered women.

Since only 26.9% of the faithful attended Sunday Mass and since only 23.4% received the Sacrament of Penance during Advent and Lent, it seems necessary that fundamental measures be taken to re-evangelize the faithful.

These statistics showed a significant difference in the number of Catholics from those published on May 25 by the Korea National Statistical Office. According to the government statistics, the number of Catholics was 5,146,147 or 10.9% of the total population, a difference of some 480,000 from that of the Church statistics.

On this issue the Pastoral Institute of Korea (Editor: Rev. Peter Pai Young-ho) made an announcement that the gap originated from the different ways of collecting data. The Church statistics counted only those faithful who were baptized and registered in parishes. On the other hand, it is assumed that the government statistics counted all those who considered themselves as "Catholics," including catechumens and lukewarm Catholics.


* Eucharistic Congress Opened in the Archdiocese of Seoul

On June 18, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Archdiocese of Seoul began the diocesan Eucharistic Congress with an opening Mass in each parish. The Congress will conclude with a solemn Mass in October.

The Eucharistic Congress has "Christ, Our Life" as its main theme and "Choose Life" (Dt 30:19) as its sub-theme. With this focus on life, it will promote diversified activities among the faithful, such as organ donation, promotion of the culture of life, and the campaign of saving 100 won (about 10 cent) a day.

Cardinal Cheong, said in his homily during the opening Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, "The essence of the Eucharist is the act of love, sharing our own life and our service in a spirit of humility." He also urged people to "become the workers in defending life, going against the anti-life trend of the world where a declining birth rate, abortion, euthanasia, war, violence, the break-up of the family, and manipulation of life in bioengineering are prevailing."

As a part of the life campaign, all the diocesan priests, including Cardinal Cheong, submitted written promises of organ donation on June 23, the World Day for Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.


News in Brief

The Korean bishops concelebrated Mass on March 23 marking the first anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, with 500 believers gathered at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. In his homily, the Most Rev. Emil P. Tscherrig, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, invited the faithful to pray for the Pope, saying, "Together with him let us give witness through truly Christian lives that God's love has been revealed in His Son."

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of Korea's national day for the disabled on April 20, 2006, the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Episcopal Vicar for the Social Ministry Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Seoul, issued a message entitled "Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God"(1 Cor 10:31). Bishop Kim said in the message, "It is not physical disabilities but social indifference and prejudice that are the 'obstacle' for the disabled." "Let us strive," he stressed, "to share the meaning of our life, joy, love and hope with the disabled."

The 14th meeting of AMOR (Asia Oceania Meeting of Religious Women) took place at Aaron Retreat House, Gyeonggi-do, from April 24 to May 4.  One hundred religious women from 21 countries of Asia and Oceania participated in the meeting. The meeting was centered on the theme "Mary and Religious Women of Asia & Oceania - Contemplative Prophets," with a special reflection on Mary, the contemplative model for all humanity.

The 12th world meeting of the International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements (FIMARC) was held at St. J. Hasang Education Center in Daejeon from April 23 to May 13, 2006. "Democracy, Sovereignty, Good Governance, New Structure for Humane Development" was the theme of this meeting. The participants discussed the current crisis of agriculture and rural areas, caused mainly by the recent Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organization.

The Catholic Conference of Korea recently published two important books to foster the Christian life of the faithful: the Korean translation of Deus Caritas Est, the first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI on the theme of "love," and Proper Marian Devotion, a guide for the faithful to practice Marian devotion properly, which was prepared by the CBCK Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith over three years.

 

 

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea

Saint Yi Yong-hui Magdalene (1809~1839)

Yi Yong-hui Magdalene was born of a poor but noble family. Her mother, Ho Magdalene, her elder sister, Yi Barbara, and her aunt, Yi Theresa, were all fervent Catholics, but her father was a staunch pagan who hated the Catholics, so they had to practice their religion secretly. Her father tried to have Magdalene married to a pagan, but she wanted to live as a virgin and refused to abide by her father's wish. She decided to run away.

One day Magdalene told the young Catholic servant woman working at her home: "I hear that it is 12 kilometers from here to Seoul. My father is going to Seoul tomorrow. Please follow him, and I will follow you."

At night Magdalene put on old clothes and went out of her house carrying her usual clothes with her. The house was located in a forest. She went into the forest and cut herself enough to draw blood. She sprinkled her blood on the ground and on her clothes, which she ripped and scattered around the road. Early next morning her father left for Seoul, and the servant woman and Magdalene followed him. She went to her aunt, Yi Theresa. To her startled aunt, Magdalene told the whole story.

Meanwhile, in the country, her whole family tried to find Magdalene, who was missing. Her mother was very sad. One of Magdalene's uncles went into the forest and found traces of blood on the road and Magdalene's clothes stained with blood and all ripped. He rushed to Seoul and told Magdalene's father, who was with his sister, Yi Theresa, that Magdalene had been killed by a tiger. Magdalene's father fainted at the news. The only one who knew the whole story was Yi Theresa. Magdalene's father hired some hunters to catch the tiger in the forest. Three months elapsed. Magdalene's mother found out the whole story somehow and no longer showed her sadness. Magdalene's father asked her: "You are less sad now. Tell me the whole story. I promise not to oppose Magdalene's wish." Magdalene's mother told her husband the whole story. He rushed to Seoul and was very happy to find Magdalene safe at the home of Yi Theresa. He told her that he would not insist on her marriage, and allowed her to stay in Seoul.

Magdalene and three other pious women surrendered themselves to the police.

Magdalene was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20, 1839, with seven other Catholics. She was 31 years old when her heavenly spouse crowned her with martyrdom.


Saint Yi Chong-hui Barbara (1799~1839)

Yi Chong-hui Barbara was a daughter of Ho Kye-im Magdalene, a sister of Yi Yong-hui Magdalene and aunt of Yi Barbara. One can see that she really came from a family of martyrs.

Barbara was born in Pongchon (Siheong, Gyeonggi-do) in 1799. She showed tremendous faith and a strong will when she was still young. Her father engaged her to a pagan man, but she didn't want to marry him. She pretended to have a disease that weakened her legs, and spent three years sitting and lying down on the floor. The man got tired of waiting and married another woman. Barbara then married a Catholic man. Two years later her husband died and she returned to her home. Then she went on to Seoul and lived at the home of her aunt, Yi Theresa. Her sister, Yi Magdalene, joined her in the same house.

In 1839, Barbara was arrested and courageously endured severe tortures. According to the government document Sungjongwon Diary, Barbara was taken outside the Small West Gate and beheaded there on September 3, 1839, with five other Catholics. She was 41 years old when she was beheaded for the sake of God.


Saint Ho Kye-im Magdalene (1773~1839)

Ho Kye-im Magdalene lived in Pongchon with her family. She married Yi, who was a pagan. Magdalene could not convert her husband, but she raised her children Catholic. Among her daughters, Yi Magdalene was martyred on July 20, 1839, and Yi Barbara was martyred on September 3, 1839.

Not much of recod has been left about Ho Magdalene. All we know about her is that she was severely tortured but endured all the pains with courage and patience. Her courage was as great as that of her two daughters, Yi Magdalene and Yi Barbara. The mother of the two martyrs also became a martyr. This glorious family of martyrs is a blessing of God.

Magdalene was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839, with eight other Catholics. She was 67 years old when she was beheaded.


Saint Yi Mae-im Theresa (1788~1839)

Yi Mae-im Theresa was an aunt of the martyrs Yi Chong-hui Barbara and Yi Yong-hui Magdalene. Theresa and three other pious women gave themselves up to the government authorities. Theresa was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20, 1839, with seven other Catholics. She was 52 years old at the time.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
70 CBCK Newsletter No.70 (Spring 2010) May 06, 2010
69 CBCK Newsletter No.69 (Winter 2009) Mar 04, 2010
68 CBCK Newsletter No.68 (Fall 2009) Oct 28, 2009
67 CBCK Newsletter No.67 (Summer 2009) Aug 27, 2009
66 CBCK Newsletter No.66 (Spring 2009) Aug 27, 2009
65 CBCK Newsletter No.65 (Winter 2008) Aug 27, 2009
64 CBCK Newsletter No.64 (Fall 2008) Aug 27, 2009
63 CBCK Newsletter No.63 (Summer 2008) Aug 27, 2009
62 CBCK Newsletter No.62 (Spring 2008) Aug 27, 2009
61 CBCK Newsletter No.61 (Winter 2007) Aug 27, 2009
60 CBCK Newsletter No.60 (Fall 2007) Aug 27, 2009
59 CBCK Newsletter No.59 (Summer 2007) Aug 27, 2009
58 CBCK Newsletter No.58 (Spring 2007) Aug 27, 2009
57 CBCK Newsletter No.57 (Winter 2006) Aug 27, 2009
56 CBCK Newsletter No.56 (Fall 2006) Aug 27, 2009

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