From the Editor:
After Participation in the International Eucharistic Congress
Headed by Most Rev Paul Kim, auxiliary bishop of Seoul and the president of the Committee for the Lay Apostolate of the CBCK 340 Korean representatives and 12 priests including Most Rev. Michael Pak of Masan and myself participated in the 46th International Eucharistic Congress held in Wroclaw, Poland from May 25th to June 1st. 80 of the participants, mostly members of the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Society of Korea, have stayed in Wroclaw and engaged in perpetual Eucharistic adoration and prayer at the Corpus Christi Church from the beginning up to the end of the Congress. They also performed fan dance and flower crown dance, the Korean traditional court dances, at the City Hall Plaza of Wroclaw and were greeted with a storm of cheers and applause. The same performance was given again at the Corpus Christi Church where a ‘Mass for the Korean representatives’ was celebrated on May 31st.
The Korean representatives were organized in four different groups. The first group was composed of the members of the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Society of Korea who took part from the opening Mass to the closing Mass. The second group arrived in Wroclaw on May 28th and participated in the Congress from the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi on May 29th. The third group arrived on May 31st and participated in events up to the "Statio Orbis" celebrated by the Holy Father. The fourth group was composed of the Korean Catholic Rosary Choir who performed the ‘History of the Korean Martyrs’ at the Opera House in Wroclaw together with a Choir of Korean Catholics residing in the United States.
All celebrations and events were very well prepared and excellently performed, and helped many to reflect on the rich theme of the Eucharist and its relation to freedom. However the Korean participants felt handicapped because of the language barrier and they could not participate in the lectures given in seven languages on various themes every day after the 10 O’clock Mass at Hala Ludowa.
The fact that the 46th International Eucharistic Congress which had as its main theme “The Eucharist and Freedom” was held in Poland which has witnessed the drama of entire nation being subjugated to totalitarian regimes was a good opportunity for us to recognize the value of freedom and to learn from the deep faith of the Polish people. The Congress itself was excellent and was very well organized. However as a foreign participant to the Congress I feel it would be better if there was a little more concern for the foreign representatives such as giving them priority of participation in various celebrations.
Rev. John Kim Jong-su
Secretary General Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
New Bishop of the Diocese of Suwon
Most Rev. Paul Choi Succeeds Most Rev. Angelo Kim as Bishop of Suwon
Most Rev. Paul Choi (49), Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon, has become the diocesan Bishop of Suwon as of June 4th in accordance with Can. art. 409, as the Holy See has accepted the resignation of Most. Rev. Angelo Kim who retires on reaching the age of 75. The installation ceremony of the new Bishop and the retirement of Bishop Kim is set to take place on Sep. 8th, the feast of Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Most Rev. Paul Choi who was ordained as Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon on Feb. 22nd, 1996 is the 3rd Korean coadjutor bishop to succeed as diocesan Bishop following Archbishop Paul Ri of Taegu and Most Rev. James Kim of Wonju.
“I Will Make Open Pastoral Structure”
Questioned on his pastoral vision as new Bishop of Suwon Bishop Choi said with much feeling that: “I will try to fulfill faithfully my duties as diocesan Bishop by questioning myself as to what does it really mean to be a bishop? My pastoral vision is to make an open pastoral structure by reorganizing the offices of the diocese; to make a diocese that is at one with all the constituents of the diocese by seeking their active participation, and a diocese that thinks with the faithful; to minimize as much as possible any pastoral vacuum by revitalizing the small Christian community system and by the partition of big parishes into smaller ones; to participate positively in social issues especially in the area of labor, environment, welfare and foreign workers’ problems. With the attitude of Jesus, I want to make a diocese that is for the faithful, that discusses with and consults the faithful. I will try to solve pending problems in the diocese through an open pastoral approach in unity with all members of the diocese. Finally I will make a democratic pastoral structure. A passive ministry is very different from an active one.”
Most Rev. Angelo Kim served the diocese of Suwon for 23 years since his appointment as its second Bishop in Nov. 21st, 1974 succeeding Most Rev. Victorinus Youn Kong-hi. Bishop Kim was born in Yanji, Kando in Manchuria and was ordained to the priesthood in 1948 at Dokwon seminary in North Korea. He obtained a doctorate in theology at the Urbanian University in Rome with a thesis on the “Basic Principles of the Buddhism”.
Message of Justice & Peace Committee on Political Progress:
Let Us Get Rid of Sinful Structures
As the Korean people prepare for the presidential election in coming December, the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCK issued a special message and urged the government and politicians to change election laws and to get rid of sinful structures. Following is an excerpt of the message.
The Korean people is marching toward the 21st century with great hope and expectation and advancing countries are devoting all their time and energy to preparations for the new millennium. Recently former presidents of the United States gathered for a mini “summit” with members of the new generation and cleaned up a street. Such action can be called a cross section of what is happening in that nation.
What is our reality? Korea is the only country in the world that is still divided. We are living in such a shameful time. In North Korea people suffer terribly from hunger while in the South two former presidents are in jail and the incumbent president has lost the respect of people because of his connection with businesse circles. In the midst of this desperate situation we have to face a presidential election. Our politics and policies have failed because of human greed for money and power. Unless there is a radical political reform we won’t be ready to enter into 21st century. We have laws but no politicians observe them. No progress can be expected when violation of laws is not dealt with Constitutionally but politically. Genuine democracy can exist only in a constitutional state. Politicians should abandon sinful structures in order to bring back politics to its right track. We urge the government and politicians to change election campaign practices that are used to mobilize throngs of people to stumping grounds and that entail the use of astronomical sums of money.
Our reality today is not something that solely concerns the ruling or opposition camps but concerns all of us and that is related directly to the future of our country and our people. Therefore we urge the entire Korean people to face up to reality with a sense of responsibility and to participate in the effort to find a new path. For this to succeed self-reflection and a renewal of political authority as well as individual conversion are vital. All law makers, executors and observers should fight against structural sin by getting rid of sinful structures. In a spirit of love and justice we urge all those who believe in Jesus Christ the Savior to commit themselves to such renewal.
As the world Church prepares for the Great Jubilee Year which celebrates the 2000th anniversary of the coming of our Savior we ask all Korean Christians to be reborn as His true witnesses.
May 11th, 1997
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak
Message on "Sunday for Life:
People of Life
The message on the 3rd Sunday for Life issued by the Family Pastoral Committee urged Korean Catholics to promote a culture of life by rejecting a culture of death and called on them to bear witness to life by sharing rice with the starving North Koreans.
1. Our Lord Jesus came into the world sothat people may have life, and have it abundantly(cf. Jn 10,10). The “Gospel of life” is at the heart of the Good News that Jesus has proclaimed. The Church, Mother and Teacher, has to proclaim with joy the Good News of Life to the Korean people and the whole world. This is why the Church in Korea established the last Sunday of May as a “Day for Life”. On this significant day we want to reflect together on the dignity and inviolability of human life. This is vital for the future of our people and all humanity.
2. Power of Life. On the occasion of the 2nd celebration of Day for Life the Family Pastoral Committee invited you to side with life and to fight against the culture of death. Today we remind you again of our concern about the increasing number of abortions in our society, especially the problem of aborting female fetus after determining the sex of the fetus. In the name of the inviolable right to human life we appeal for the protection of the foetus from the moment of conception. We declare that abortion is murder of an infant and so is a terrible sin. Challenged by the anti-life trend in society we reaffirm our traditional position in this regard and want to promote a culture of life.
3. Strengthening of the Legal Mechanism for the Protection of Life. The Church always has maintained that she is the competent to explain fundamental human rights and that her specific mission is to protect the right to life. Despite the fragility of human life the Church has firmly believed and proclaimed that it is a great gift from God. The Church has endeavored to protect humanity and the world from those who plot to harm life. Legal systems are necessary to protect and support the dignity of human life as well as the fetus from the moment of its conception. In recent times the problem of human cloning threatens the order of human life. Its development may challenge directly the dignity of the human body and give rise to grave moral and ethical problems. Because of this legal measures are required to ban human cloning and all related experiments.
4. Efforts to Promote Adoption. In order to protect the dignity of human life and the fetus we need to protect motherhood and the newborn baby. For this we recommend legal systems that will enable women to give birth to their children in peace regardless the circumstances under which they were conceived. In the same spirit a legal system that would promote adoption will be necessary. We have to do our best so that we may hear Jesus, our Judge, to proclaim on the day of judgement, “I was an unborn child, and you welcomed me by letting me be born. I was an orphan, and you adopted me and raised me as one of your own children”(cf. Letter to Families from Pope John Paul II, No. 22).
5. Support for Brothers and Sisters in North Korea. Our brothers and sisters in North Korea are in a critical situation due to food shortage caused by floods. We hear especially that children, pregnant women and the elderly are in danger of death by starvation. Brain damage to children caused by malnutrition is a very real danger and does not bode well for the future of the country. Thus we must share our love and food with our brothers and sisters in North. By sharing our food we will confirm our humanity and our concern for the dignity of life.
6. Our Pledge. Since life is a wonderful gift from God, respect for life is an act of giving glory to God. Since God is the only Master of life, the people of God becomes a “people of life” by fostering a culture of life. We have to respect life and nourish it by rejecting the “culture of death” that threatens our society. As a “people of life” we have to cultivate a “culture of saving” that is against a “culture of killing”. The pro-life movement is an awakening of human conscience, a yeast of hope for the future of our family, our nation and the world. Love for life demands great efforts at self sacrifice and great determination. “People of life” must be determined to protect life and nourish it. This is what we are called to.
May 25th, 1997
Day for Life
Most Rev. Alexander Sye President of Family Pastoral Committee
It is Time for True Forgiveness
On the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the Kwangju civil struggle for democracy of May 18th, 1980, Most Rev. Victorinus Youn Archbishop of Kwangju issued a message and made clear his position on the question of amnesty for former presidents Chon Douhwan and Roh Tae-woo who are serving prison terms after being charged with mutiny, military rebellion and bribery. Chun is serving a life sentence and Rho a 17 year one. He said that talking about amnesty for the masterminds of the brutal massacre of hundreds Kwangju citizens is against justice. The following is a brief excerpt from his message.
As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of our diocese tragedy of the Kwangju civil struggle for democracy on May 18th, 1980 takes on a special meaning for us. The Kwangju event was indeed a heroic struggle against dictatorship and repressive military power. It paid a high price with the sacrifice of innocent people, who fought for a just world where people can live in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters. Their struggle to the death for truth, justice and peace was a denouncement of the unjust oppression and an outcry from the human conscience. What Kwangju citizens wanted was the restoration of a society ruled through the realization of truth, justice and love. The sufferings of those who fought a lonely struggle for justice and who suffered terrible humiliations should bear fruit for the realization of democracy in this country and Kingdom of God.
The Kwangju people’s struggle shouldn’t be manipulated for political interest. Under the excuse of a grand reconciliation of the nation, it is said that certain politicians are considering amnesty for the two former presidents. This is totally against the spirit of justice. If ever an amnesty is granted we can never consider it as a realization of true pardon and the grand reconciliation of the people.
It is time for our country to make a greater effort at true forgiveness and reconciliation. This effort is more urgent than pardon itself. At last the truth and historical meaning of May 18th have been recognized officially but what is necessary for the grand reconciliation of the country is a healing of the hurts and bitter feelings of the victims and their families and friends through the forgiveness and love of Christ. Only then will the priceless sacrifice of the people of Kwangju shine its light upon the history of the nation. From this year the annual memorial Mass for May 18th will be celebrated in each parish so that its spirit will be remembered liturgically.
Catholic Food Sharing Campaign for North in Full Swing:
Let's Share Rice, Let's Share Love
"Give your bread to those who are hungry, and your clothes to those who are naked. Whatever you own in plenty, devote a proportion to almsgiving; and when you give alms, do not do it grudgingly”(Tb 4,16).
The world has been well informed of the tragic situation of poverty, hunger and malnutrition in North Korea caused by the two consecutive severe floods of 1994 and 1995. Accordingly eight million people out of a population of 22 million are in danger of starving to death. Their daily food ration per person is 80-100g, just 10-20% of the minimal necessary nutrition. In particular children and the aged, the most vulnerable ones in society, are exposed to the danger of death. The heads of the U.N. World Food Program and Caritas Hong Kong agree that the situation is like “a time-bomb” which could end in disaster. Kathie Zellweger, director of the International Aid Program of Caritas Hong Kong, who visited North Korea in April, reported that there are more and more under-nourished children some of whom are not even strong enough to stand. The people eat whatever herbs, roots, vegetables and other edible items they can find, she said. The U.N. World Food Program estimates that North Korea needs an extra 1.3 million tons of grain, a quarter of its annual needs, to feed its people until next Autumn’s harvest. As the concerns and efforts of the S.Korean Catholics for North Korea continue a number of appeals and statements were published by the Church leaders and ongoing food aid campaigns are being carried out across the country.
Recent Activities of the National Reconciliation Committee(NRC) of Seoul
March 2nd, 1997: Most Rev. Andrew Choi, president of the NRC, proposed March 2nd as a “Day for sharing noodles with our North Korean brothers and sisters” and sent an official memorandum and preaching guidelines to all parish priests. The NRC sent 430 million Won to the Korean Red Cross to purchase 85,294 sacks of flour(10kg per sack). The flour was distributed to 26,000 families in 15 cities in NK including Shinuiju, Pakju and Jongju.
March 28th to April 1st, 1997: Six major religion groups of Catholic, Buddhist, Protestant, Confucianist, Won Buddhist and Chondokyo launched a supra religious campaign to send 10,000 tons of corn to North Korea and collected the equivalent amount of money.
April 10th, 1997: The NRC aiming to send 100,000 tons of corn to the North, issued an official appeal to all parishes in the Seoul archdiocese and asked the faithful to fast for one meal on Fridays to help their brothers and sisters in the North.
April 12, 1997: Cardinal Stephen Kim of Seoul pledged 10,000 tons of corn at a Corn Soup Dinner Party hosted by the Korean Sharing Movement.
April 12th, 1997: The NRC’s campaign office announced the collection of US$2,536,045 which came from dioceses and parishes around the nation, religious institutes, schools, organizations and individuals including Cardinal Kim’s pledge.
May 20th to 31st, 1997: 3,600 tons out of 15,000 tons of corn purchased by the NRC were delivered to Sinuiju via Tandong in China.
June 4th to 6th, 1997: Catholic delegates from South and North Korea met for the second time in Beijing. Participants from the South included Most Rev. Andrew Choi and six others, from the North Samuel Chang Jae-ch’ol, president of the Association of North Korean Catholics and three others.
June 7th, 1997: The NRC’s campaign office collection totaled US$4,069,406.
June 20th to 27th, 1997: The NRC delivered 6,400 tons of corn to Hamkyong Bukdo area. For the first time the donor’s name viz, “The National Reconciliation Committee and the Headquarters of the One Heart One Body Movement of the Archdiocese of Seoul” was shown on the sacks as had been agreed by the South and North Red Cross.
Novena for National Reconciliation and Unity
On the National Reconciliation and Unity Day June 22nd, Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, president of the North Korean Evan-gelization Committee invited all Catholics, clergy and religious to join in a Novena from June 14th to 22nd and issued prayers to be used during the novena. The committee distributed the Novena prayers and posters and asked that each day be concluded with a prayer for reconciliation and unity and the recitation of the rosary. The message focused on helping North Koreans who are hungry and said “Sharing is the shortcut to reunification”. Korea commemorates its 52nd year of division and the 47th year since the outbreak of the Korean War.
The prayer intentions and Gospel meditations of the Novena
1st day: To reflect on the sins of national division(Jn 1,5-9)
2nd day: To wash each other’s sins in forgiveness(Lk 6,27-38)
3rd day: For a sincere reconciliation of South and North(1Cor 5,17-19)
4th day: For the divided Korean people(Ezek 37, 15-28)
5th day: For the North Koreans(Am 8, 11-13)
6th day: For the Church in North Korea(Mt 18, 19-20)
7th day: For the mission to North Korea(Mt. 28 18-20)
8th day: For peaceful reunification(Is 2, 2-5)
9th day: For perfection of love(1 Jn 4, 17-21)
Religious Leaders Welcome Red Cross Accord
On May 26th, the Korean Sharing Movement a supra religion campaign to help North Korea which is composed of the six main religions viz, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Confucianist, Won Buddhist and Chondogyo, welcomed the agreement reached at the inter-Korean Red Cross meeting on May 27th in Beijing and called on the government, companies and the media to participate actively in the aid campaigns.
“We greatly appreciate the accord which allows the use of name labels and the logos of the South Korea Red Cross and other donors on aid packages, and the designating of aid to specific places and organizations,” they said. The religious leaders hope that the agreement will help to normalize inter-Korean relations, lead to productive dialogue, mutual trust and respect and ultimately peaceful reunification.
Under the agreement the South Korean Red Cross said it will supply 50,000 tons of corn to the North by the middle of July.
Next Time, Let Us Meet in Pyongyang!
From June 4th to 7th, Catholic delegates from South and North met for the second time in Beijing since their frist meeting in New York in October, 1995. Unlike the first meeting the second one in Beijing which had as its theme “The Catholics’ Efforts for Peaceful Reunification” was held in a very relaxed and free atmosphere. It had been agreed that nothing formal like the exchange of name cards or placards would be used. The discussion focused on mutual exchanges between Northern and Southern Catholics, Cardinal Kim’s visit to the North, the question of a sisterhood relationship between Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul and the Changchung Church in Pyongyang, food aid for the North and the method of delivery etc.
The delegates from the South were Bishop Andrew Choi, president of the National Reconciliation Committee of Seoul, Revs. Chang Deuk-pil and Oh Tae-sun including Mr. Moses Ryu Deuk-hui, Prof. Cho Kwang and three journalists. From the North were Samuel Chang Jaech’ol, president of North Korean Catholics’ Association, Thomas Han In-ch’ol and Peter Shin Sang-ho. Msgr Kim Young-hwan who ministers to Korean Catholics in Beijing and Rev. Maeng Jae-young who is studying in Beijing attended as observers from the South and a Protestant minister Rev. Lee Ch’unku as an observer from the North.
Bishop Andrew Choi who concelebrated Mass with Revs. Chang and Oh underlined in his homily the nature of Christian love by saying that “We who are loved by God can return this love to Him only when we share our love with our neighbors”. Samuel Chang Jae-ch’ol from the North insisted that unity will be possible only in an atmosphere of mutual love and forgiveness and not through confrontation and hatred. He thanked the Southern delegates for the fraternal concern that Korean Catholics have shown to them.
● News from the Church in Korea
● National Committee for the Great Jubilee Year Started
On May 23rd, the National Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 was formed during a meeting held at CBCK in Seoul in the presence of Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong, president of the Special Episcopal Commission for the Great Jubilee Year(SECGJY) and its Bishop members as well as Vicar Generals, delegates from men and women religious and the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea.
The new Committee aims to promote interdiocesan exchanges and collaboration to prepare for the Great Jubilee Year, especially in the area of pastoral planning and effective outreach of the spirit of the Jubilee Year. In this regard the SECGJY will provide basic guidelines and assistance.
Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong underlined in his keynote address that the conversion and transformation of the Bishops and clergy are the most vital elements necessary for renewal of the Church in Korea. He said that "The celebration of the Jubilee Year is not a mere conventional practice but a spiritual renewal deeply rooted in the Gospel and our faith. Compared to the quantitative growth of the Church in Korea her quality growth lags far behind. The Holy Spirit is present in a healthy Church. Is our Church healthy? We should examine ourselves humbly and answer truthfully. Up till now we have regarded the lay people as the objects of renewal and conversion. I don’t agree however and in fact the first renewal necessary is that of the Bishops and clergy. To be honest I think that the renewal of existing clergy will be very difficult. Therefore the Bishops have to pay special attention to the formation of future priests by a renewal of their education. The renewal of the Church is not something that we can choose or not but it is a necessity in our times. Therefore the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is not a temporary task for us but a work that must be continued through interiorization and the practice of its spirit. Spirituality is our focus and not programs or activities. Our goal is to open new horizons of evangelization in order to enter the third millennium with a renewed spirit and vision,”
● Vatican’s Greeting for Vesakha Welcomed by Korean Buddhists
On the occasion of the celebration of the 2541th anniversary of Buddha’s birth, May 14th, the Korean Buddhists welcomed the messages of greeting from Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Cardinal Kim of Seoul. Echoing Pope John Paul II’s call for peace Cardinal F. Arinze called on Christians and Buddhists to work together toward a common goal of realizing world peace by setting out on a true pilgrimage of peace. Noting the coming of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 to commemorate Jesus Christ’s birth and the new millennium, he quoted Buddha’s teaching in Dhammapada; “Among those who hate, blessed are we who live without hatred; in the midst of people who hate, we remain free from hatred(Dh. 197) and “The winner engenders hatred and the loser dwells in distress while the peaceful man rests tranquilly abandoning simultaneously both winning and losing(Dh. 201).
On that day South and North Korean Buddhists offered joint prayers simultaneously in 8,500 temples in the South and in 760 temples in North. “We Buddhists and our 70 million Korean brethren are still enslaved by hatred and the pains of 52 years of division,” said the prayer. According to the NK Buddhist Federation there are about 300 monks and 10,000 followers who attend 760 temples in the North.
● Construction of the International Catholic Hospital to Continue
A delegation from the Najin International Catholic Health Cooperation made a 9-day visit there from April 22nd and agreed with the North Korean authorities to move ahead with the construction of the Catholic Hospital in the Najin-Sonbong area and to complete it by October in 1998.
The project was initiated by the International Catholic Health Cooperation of which the Benedictines in Ottilien Germany are a key players and had the ground-breaking ceremony in April, 1996 together with the Committee for the Promotion of Foreign Economic Cooperation of NK. However construction was postponed due to the political and economic difficulties in North Korea.
Abbot Wolf said in a press interview with the German media that North Korea is very much interested in industrial development and construction in the Najin-Sonbong free economic zone, in the construction of health facilities and international cooperations.
● Cardinal Kim Leads ’Clean Poverty’ Movement
In a society where materialism is taking over moral and humanitarian values the archdiocese of Seoul has made clear its “option for the poor” by launching the Clean Poverty Movement on March 28th. At the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Catholic Urban Poor Pastoral Com-mittee(CUPPC) of Seoul archdiocese it has issued a “Clean Poverty Declaration,” and urged the Church to become a light to a society indulged in materialism.
The Clean Poverty Declaration is necessary and its implementation is vital for the renewal of the entire Church in Korea,” Cardinal Kim stressed in his homily. The Church adopted the term “clean poverty” which refers in Korea to a public servant who rejects bribes. The CUPPC warned that “Materialism has taken over moral and humanitarian values in Korea, and the poor are losing their place even in the Church,” and added “if the Church is not with the poor, then it doesn’t bear witness to Christ. All priests are called to live a simple life as Christ did.” The statement pointed out that Korean society is suffering from sinful structures, corruption, egoism, failure of reforms, and a vicious cycle of poverty and it warned that the Church is also showing symptoms of such problems.
● Survey Shows 93.1% of Catholics Think Inculturation Necessary
A survey conducted by Woori Theological Institute and which was presented at the 1st symposium of Korean Thought Institute held on May 14th showed that 93.1% of Korean Catholics think the Church needs Koreanization or inculturation. In regard to the possibility of salvation by other religions, 48.2% said Yes showing a relatively open outlook in this regard and 34.5% answered that regardless of their religion good people would be saved. When asked about the efforts being made by the clergy towards inculturation, only 29% answered positively. More than three-fourths of the respondents said they observe religious rites for their ancestors, but “the traditional Confucian style ceremony” was preferred over “the Catholic style” by a margin of 2-1. laypeople who are committed to the struggle for the Kingdom of God, while Rev. Choi Ki-bok, president of the Catholic Univ. of Inch’on, said that the Korean people’s mission is to become a light to Asia and the world through their profound religiosity. Bishop Paul Choi of Suwon commented that one of the most serious obstacles to Koreanization of the Korean Church is the authoritarian way of the Church. This obstacle slows down inculturation, Bishop Choi said, adding the“Koreanization of the Church presupposes the education of laity.”
● Priests Village Opened
A village for retired priests was opened on May 30th with Bishop Angelo Kim of Suwon presiding at the ceremony. The Priests’ Village, the first community for retired priests in the history of the Catholic Church in Korea is located in the compound of St. Lazarus Village, a beautiful area of Mol-ak Mountain, Kyonggi Province. Started by Rev. Alexander Lee, founder and director of the St. Lazarus Village, in 1995, the Priests’ Village has five small individual houses, a chapel, a refectory and recreation room, a health room and one house reserved for foreign priests who may visit Korea.
Bishop Angelo Kim thanked Rev.Alexander Lee and 150 members of the supporters’ association and the 30,000 sponsors across the nation. The village will be open to all retired diocesan priests and to any priest who wants to come to have a peaceful time of prayer and rest. The Village will be run completely on the donations of supporters and will be free of charge for priests. “The purpose of the Village is to offer retired priests an opportunity to spend their rest of lives in peace and joy without material worries and to continue their prayer life and spiritual service to the people,” Rev.Lee said.
● 3,200 Public Servants Have PrayerDay
The 14th prayer day for public servants took place on June 1st in Wonju, with theme “Wash one another’s feet”(Jn13,14). Over 3,200 people participated in the retreat. Bishop James Kim Ji-sok of Wonju reminded them once again in his homily of the meaning of the Christian vocation to be “salt of the earth and light to the world” to which public servants are called in particular way. He placed great emphasis on the virtue of ‘clean poverty’ and asked them to fulfill their duty as Christians in today’s society by washing one another’s feet with humility as Christ did.
● Catholics Oppose Computerized Citizen ID Card System
The Catholic Human Rights Committee of Seoul(CHRC) declared its position regarding the government’s plan to introduce an electronic ID card system beginning next April. The card will be used as resident registration card, driver’s licenses, medical insurance and national pension certificates, seal certificates and citizens’ registration documents which include 94 items of personal information and the holder’s fingerprints. Some Catholic organizations said they fear that the Agency for National Security and Planning may use them to control people. John Kim Hyong-tae, chairman of the CHRC, said that the new ID card system will put people’s right to privacy at risk because it contains “too much” personal information and there is always the possibility of leakage or misuse of personal data. An individual needs to have some space outside government control and such privacy is the essence of human rights, he said.
● Parish Pastoral Council of the Laity Wants More Participation in Decision Making
The Lay Apostolate Council of Korea(LACK) at its second plenary meeting of 1997 held on June 7th in Naju said that the laity should take part in decision making processes of parish and decided to make this proposal to the president of the CBCK. This decision would imply a change in the parish structure which till now was largely clergy centered. Art. 174 of the Statutes of the LACK defines the council as a consultative body and not a deliberative one. However the LACK’s standing committee said that the parish council needs to become a deliberative body and not just a consultative one in order to promote more participation of parishioners in the parish life. They agreed that the lay people should have more say in what is being done and planned in parishes.
News in Brief
● The Korean government agreed to ease the working conditions of migrant workers and industrial trainees by introducing a labor permit system. The new system is expected to solve the problems of as many as 140,000 illegal workers and improve their human rights situation.
● The Catholic Church in Korea has begun to worry about its general growth and in the number of priestly vocations according to the statistics made public by the Catholic Conference of Korea. For the last decade the rate of increase of Korean Catholics has dropped every year by 0.3 percent. The 1996 statistics show that Korean Catholics number 3,562,766 or 7.8% of the population with an increase of 111,500 for the year.
● 700 Catholic prison officers held their 4th plenary meeting on June 1st in Taegu. The participants reconfirmed the special mission of the Christian prison officers which calls for an exemplary life of faith and compassion resembling Christ’s compassion shown to sinners.
● The Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Korea, in the name of 8,000 sisters, sent an open letter to President Kim Young-sam, on April 28th, concerning the Hanbo loan scandal and urged the extermination of government officials’ corruption.”All politicians should work for the common good of the people by renouncing party interests and individual glory” they urged.
● At a meeting held in Tokyo from April 14th to 17th, Korea and Japan’s major superiors of women religious agreed to pray for the reconciliation of the two countries and for peace in the world on the 15th day of each month. They visited A-bomb victims in Nagasaki and Hiroshima and discussed broadly pending issues such as the “Comfort Women”, and peace and reconciliation between the two peoples.
A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea 
by Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Prof. of Korea University
Department of Korean History
The Church in Korea in the 1960's (2)
3. Renewal of the Church and Its Development
Korean society in the 1960’s was the victim of a military coup. However during this period the Korean people built up a momentum for economic progress and overcame the hardships of the coup by challenging the authoritarian government. In order to rule this situation then President Park Chung-hi intensified his dictatorial regime by attempting a kind of royal coup d’etat in October, 1972. From the April 19th Democratic Revolution in 1960 until the “Yushin coup d’etat” in 1972 the Church in Korea had pursued constant self renewal and made considerable progress.
One important impetus for the renewal and progress of the Church was her self awakening and this was strengthened by the Second Vatican Council. During and after the Council all dioceses and parishes engaged in a study of the Council documents. Not only the Bishops who participated in the Council and the clergy but even lay people were eager to study the documents and implement them. The Church leaders at that time had reflected much on the history of the Church in Korea. They valued the tradition and heritage of the martyrs all the more and agreed on the need of the social participation of the Church for universal salvation. The image of the Church was renewed in many aspects.
The devotion of the Korean Catholics was characterized by their devotion to the martyrs. The faithful reflected on their mission and understood that their duty is to save the nation by trying to follow the example of their ancestors in the faith. Devotion to the martyrs flourished with the canonization movement for the 24 martyrs who died during the 1866 persecution and reached its peak in 1966 with their canonization. In 1967 the Church published The Catholic Prayer Book and The Catechism of Catholic Church in which modern and everyday language was used. The Mass was celebrated in the Korean language and this helped the faithful to participate more in the liturgy in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. As well as this a new theological approach aimed at inculturation was attempted and the Bible study movement initiated by the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and others helped the faithful to deepen their Biblical comprehension.
The organization of the Pastoral Council of Lay People in the parishes, which is a consultative body, made the actualization of lay people’s participation possible. Lay associations at both national and diocesan level were born in 1968 and dioceses were organized as they are today with the establishment of the dioceses of Inch’on, Suwon, Wonju, Masan, Andong and Cheju. Archbishop Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, of Seoul, was appointed Cardinal in 1969 becoming the first cardinal in the history of the Catholic Church in Korea. Since then his activities have had considerable influence on the history of the Church as well as on the modern history of Korea.
The number of Korean Catholics increased from 450,000 in 1968 to 800,000 in 1980. In 12 years the number of Korean Catholics almost doubled. The number of Korean priests increased from 243 to 571 in the same period and the number of women religious from 721 to 2,193. The Church in Korea at that time was characterized by a high increase in the number of the faithful, abundant priestly and religious vocations, and an overall zeal to serve in any way towards the progress of the Korean society.
4. Church in Society
Since the Second Vatican Council the Church in Korea has undergone a great deal of change. One of the remarkable changes has been the dialogue with other religions. Until the 1960’s the Catholics and Protestants had no communications and dialogue with Buddhists or other traditional religions were banned. This hostile atmosphere was replaced gradually by a friendly relationship. Delegates from the Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Buddhist, Confucian and Chondogyo formed The Association of Religions of Korea in 1965. Following that The Conference of Religious Organizations of Korea was formed in 1972 and later on other pan religion organizations such as The Korean Conference on Religion and Peace. One thing worthy of note was the improvement in the relationship with the Protestant Church. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea has made tremendous ecumenical efforts and established the Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue(CPCUID). Catholic priests and Protestant ministers made mutual visits and preached in each other’s Churches. Prayer meetings for Christian unity were held and to some extent mutual collaboration was practiced. The outstanding fruit of the ecumenical movement was the common translation of the Old and New Testaments into the Korean language. The CPCUID consulted the Protestant Church for the common translation of the Bible in 1967 and as a result the New Testament was published in 1970 and the translation of the Old and New Testaments was completed and published in 1977. Since then this Bible has been officially recognized and used in the Catholic Church in Korea .
With a new understanding of and insights into social justice the Church began to engage in the cause of human rights and the progress of Korean society. The Church vocally supported the dignity of human life against the population control policy of the government. In 1964, when the Korean government attempted in the National Assembly to pass the so-called “eugenic bill” the Catholic Church demonstrated strongly against it and as a result the bill was not passed. Also in 1970, when the government tried to legalize abortion by introducing the Mother and Child Health Law the entire Church opposed it and forced the rejection of the bill. This did not stop abortion however and the huge numbers of abortions that are carried out tacitly in Korean society have made the public keenly aware of the importance and necessity of a prolife movement in order to protect dignity of human life.
With the increasing social concern among Church leaders and with their support the J.O.C. movement flourished. The Catholic Farmers’ Movement which was established in 1966 showed the pastoral concern of the Church for farmers. When labor disputes connected with the J.O.C. occurred in Kanghwa Island in 1968 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference took the side of the workers and issued a joint statement entitled “Let us overcome the current absurdities” in which the Bishops denounced strongly the repression of the human rights of the workers. The positive participation of the Bishops in social problems was a good opportunity for the Church and its leaders to be reevaluated by Korean society. This period was for the Church a time of building up its theoretical foundation of social justice and its potential for resistance that many Catholics have demonstrated against the Yushin coup.