* Catholic Youths from France Visited the Church in Korea
Catholic youths, religious and priests from France, who had participated in the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney, came to Korea on July 21, 2008.
Above all, they made a pilgrimage to sanctuaries where the spirit of the French martyrs still lingers on, and they had time to experience Korean culture personally. This visit had profound meaning, especially because of the connection with the French missionaries of the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris, who came to Korea to proclaim the Gospel and died as martyrs about 170 years ago.
Especially, the Most Rev. Olivier de Berranger, Bishop of Saint Denis, accompanied 120 youths from his diocese. Bishop Berranger is a famous figure for Korean Catholics, because he served as a missionary in Korea for 17 years beginning in 1976. The youths from the Diocese of Saint Denis made a pilgrimage to the 'Martyrium Galmaemot,' where many canonized martyrs from France, including St. Daveluy, the 5th Apostolic Vicar of Korea rest in peace. They showed their respect for them by making a deep bow before their tombs.
In an interview with Peace Times Weekly, Bishop Berranger said, "I will never forget the impression which I had at the 'Martyrium Galmaemot.' In fact, I had never been there before, even though I had lived in Korea for 17 years. The image of St. Daveluy, who heroically died a martyr falling a victim to a sword, still lingers before my eyes. The French youths have learned and realized the history of the Catholic Church in Korea and the martyrdom of the French missionaries in Korea." Then he added, "I always pray for the faithful in Korea, even though I am now far away in France." In conclusion, he expressed his hope that the youths of both countries, France and Korea, would cooperate with each other and be agents of evangelization.
The French youths also had a chance to experience Korean culture, participating in special programs prepared for them by 'Seoul Metropolitan BORAMAE Youth Center' and going on a sightseeing tour. They departed for France on July 31, 2008.
*Pastoral Letter on the Peace of Jeju Island
The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, issued a pastoral letter entitled "Let us pray for the Peace of Jeju Island" on July 17, 2008. With this letter Bishop Kang made it clear that the Diocese of Cheju opposes the construction of a naval base in Jeju Island.
Bishop Kang said, "The Diocese of Cheju offered prayer for the peace of Jeju and the world, under the apprehension that the naval base could be constructed," assuming a critical attitude towards Jeju local government, which has been peremptory going ahead with the construction of the naval base.
Moreover, worrying over the principle of development-for-development, Bishop Kang called attention to the warning of the experts who argued that the indiscreet development and excessive extension of roads would destroy the equilibrium and harmony of the ecology of Jeju and cause the chronical flood.
Bishop Kang gave emphasis on the fact that "the natural heritage of Jeju Island itself is a treasure with its least contaminated natural environment, which was even registered as one of the world heritages by UNESCO [as Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes, in 2007], and the site of the planned naval base is the clean sea area which demands absolute preservation."
At conclusion, Bishop Kang said, "Let us pray to God, the Lord of the world and the Creator, in unity for His help for us to overcome this challenge," reiterating his conviction that "we must preserve the precious natural heritage which God has given us."