As the global protest against the U.S. plan to attack on Iraq the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea(President: Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-mou) issued a statement on February 14 and declared their clear position against war saying, "We, the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, together with Pope John Paul II and all our brother bishops of the United States and the Middle East are firmly opposed to the war. We strongly condemn all powers that threaten peace." The CBCK sent the statement to President George W. Bush of the U.S.A. and U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard to Seoul. In the meantime, on February 18, thousands of people from 34 Catholic organizations including 700 civic, religious and academic groups rallied in Seoul and other major cities to protest against a possible war between the United States and Iraq and called for a peaceful resolution to the North Korea nuclear issue. The full text of the statement of the CBCK is as follows:
We Want Peace, Not War!
True peace building is always the most serious task that all humankind must pursue. However, now the entire world is overwhelmed by the threat of war. At this time when the threat of an attack by the United States on Iraq increases by the minute, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, concerned about the dark shadow of war, has urged every country of the world to work for peace and has appealed to all humankind to pray for the realization of peace. Peace can never be achieved only by a balance of armaments nor by an international agreement. If one country increases its military strength, others are immediately roused by a competitive spirit to augment their own supply of armaments(cf. Pacem in Terris, 110). When it would be possible to solve the problem of poverty and famine in our world with a mere one-hundredth of the amount of money the major powers of the world spend on the arms industry, armaments must be reduced. This also makes it possible to realize justice and peace in our world.
We must not sacrifice numerous innocent lives in the name of 'war against terrorism'. We do not find moral legitimacy in the declaration of an attack on Iraq by the United States. Such an attack will only lead to a vicious cycle of more violence. We, the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, together with Pope John Paul II and all our brother bishops of the United States and the Middle East are firmly opposed to the war. We strongly condemn all powers that threaten peace. The powerful nations that possess nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction should be the first to disarm and demonstrate tolerance. All countries concerned with the danger of war should solve their conflicts through peaceful means. We hope that dialogue in the international communities including the United Nations will result in decisive action that will prevent war.
We also deplore and oppose the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea because this threatens the future of the Korean people. North Korea's attempt to push towards a war which endangers the lives of seventy million people on the Korean peninsula and aggravates international tension should be stopped immediately. We condemn the logic of power, but support a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation. We have to open our heart and be reconciled with each other. All nations should build close fraternal relationships. All people must march together towards 'peace', the common good of all humanity, and pursue coexistence and mutual prosperity. We must all strive together to root out the culture of death and build the culture of peace and the culture of life in our world.
Those who work for the sake of peace will be blessed. Let us pray unceasingly that the peace which Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace taught us, will be firmly implanted in the Korean people and in the international community. We beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph to intercede for us. The Holy Father asked us especially to pray the Rosary for world peace. We pray with all people of good will for peace in our country and throughout the world.
February 14, 2003 The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea * Archbishop Choi Sent Telegram for Victims of the tragic subway fire in Daegu
On February 20, the Most Rev. Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-mou, President of the CBCK, sent telegram to Daegu Mayor Cho Hae-nyong and expressed condolence to the victims of the tragic subway fire in Daegu on February 18. Over 130 people were either killed or injured in an arson attack.
"On behalf of the Korean Catholic Bishops and all the faithful, I would like to extend deep condolences to all victims of the tragedy on February 18, especially to those who lost their beloved ones. We also want to express our heartfelt gratitude and encouragement to authorities of Daegu and those who are striving hard to save lives and reduce casualties.
In union with the Holy Father Pope John Paul II who is saddened by the great loss of life in this accident we pray to God for the eternal repose of the victims and serenity of the bereaved families.
* North Korean Catholics to Visit Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul
The Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK (President: Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe) had the 15th National Assembly on February 13 and decided to offer "Mass for the Unity of Korean People" on June 22 at the restoration site of the Gyeongui Railway linking Seoul in South Korea and Sinuiju in North Korea.
The Committee also sponsors North Korean Catholics' visit to Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul as a part of the "3․1 National Meeting for Peace and Reunification of Korean People" which will last for three days from March 1st to 3rd in Seoul area." It will be the first time for North Korean Catholics to visit a church in South Korea. Some 15 North Korean visitors including Mr. Samuel Jang Jae-eon, the Chairperson of the Association of North Korean Catholics, will visit Myongdong Cathedral and the Archdiocesan Office of Seoul and meet South Korean Catholics.
The Committee also decided to concentrate on various activities to promote effectively the reunification of Korean people such as prayer movement for the reconciliation and reunification of Korean people; animating the sub-committee for collaboration and strengthening the research techniques; aid to North Korea; public education and publicity on the matter of the reconciliation of Korean people etc.
In this regard, the Committee decided to initiate a Novena for the reconciliation and reunification of Korean people from June 14 to 22 and to launch a movement to recite rosary throughout a year for the same intention.
With regard to the North Korea relief activities, the channel of aid will be unified to the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK while respecting the existing channels of each diocese.
The Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe said, "it was a good opportunity to see how we can effectively deal with things for the reconciliation of Korean people with the spirit of the Church," and he hoped that useful information can be exchanged through frequent meetings so that each section can play appropriate roles."
* Archdiocese of Seoul Reacts to Government's Life Ethics Bill
The Archdiocese of Seoul copes with to the Life Ethics Bill recently finalized by the Korean government, since it allows the cloning of human embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer for the purpose of cure of the rare and incurable diseases.
Considering the bill to be against the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese issued a statement on this matter and will launch a signature-collecting movement to urge the enactment of a sound Life Ethics Bill.
The Catholic Church in Korea opposes to this Bill because it, by allowing the cloning of human embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer, manipulates human life, causes the destruction of human dignity, reduces human being into biological material and instrument and commercializes it.
The Archdiocese also plans to send protest letters to Minister of Health and Welfare and the Health & Welfare Committee of the National Assembly, for the speaker of Public Hearing on this matter did not include people from women's and religious circles. Of the six people who made the presentation at the hearing, three were from bio-technology field, the interested parties. To the opinion of the Church, it shows that the government is willing to accept the opinion of some parts of bio-technology fields.
The bill finalized by government included a new stipulation that cloning of somatic cell for the purpose of the cure of rare and incurable diseases shall be allowed selectively, without the screening process of the National Advisory Committee for Life Ethics.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea * Archbishop Choi Sent Telegram for Victims of the tragic subway fire in Daegu
* Archbishop Choi Sent Telegram for Victims of the tragic subway fire in Daegu