|* Korean Priest Obtained Theological Doctorate on the Mission for North Korea at Pontifical Gregorian University|
"For the Mission for North Korea, current parish system and structure have to be reformed into the laity-centered ones under the principle of 'communion', core concept of the Second Vatican Council, for it is impossible to implement the mission without the participation of the laity." said Rev. John Kim Jin-hyeong who obtained the doctorate in theology on the mission for North Korea.
Rev. John Kim Jin-hyeong, the first missionary priest sent abroad by the Catholic Church in Korea to work in Papua New Guinea, received his doctorate in theology at Pontifical Gregorian University on last Dec. 4, 2001 with dissertation on the Mission for North Korea. He is the first person who obtained a doctorate at a Pontifical university with such a subject.
His dissertation attracted attention among Vatican people because the Holy Father signed on it, and it was the first time he signed for a doctorate dissertation at special audience granted to him on Dec. 28, 2001.
He said, "To counter problems such as difficulties of mission and increasing number of tepid believers, it is more realistic to look for ways for adapting parish system and structure to new social circumstances than to reform existing parish programs."
For this thesis, after analyzing and assessing documents of the Second Vatican Council, Encyclicals, and documents issued by various dicasteries of Roman Curia, he established theological principle of 'communion' and applied norms of canon law regarding parish mission.
Based on this close study, he suggested to prepare for the mission for North Korea that existing territory-based parish form could be maintained but should be gradually changed into person-based one for operation of parishes and that the rights to supervision and sacraments be reserved for priests only while participation of the laity be assured.
"Parishes of independence and autonomy as those in times of persecutions may be applied in modern times. In this context, we should open the possibility for the religious and the laity to act as missionaries for North Korea if they completed certain standard of formation. In reality, what is important is to establish parishes as community of communion of believers, (not the mere word 'mission for North Korea'). It is important that the laity establish community and it should be recognized as a parish in the aspect of canon law." he said.
Rev. John Kim, who currently studies canon law at Pontifical Lateran University, plans to finish doctorate course in canon law in two years and make more detailed proposals concerned based on this thesis.