◎ Diocese of Masan Welcomes New Coadjutor Bishop
Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok (55) who was nominated as Coadjutor Bishop of Masan (area 8,994 square kilometers, populations 2,514,177, Catholics 136,337, priests 122, parishes 122, religious 360) by the Pope John Paul II on Octover 23rd, 2000 was ordained to the Bishop on January 8th, 2001.
The ordination Mass for the new coadjutor bishop was concelebrated by His Eminence Stephan Cardinal Kim, the first bishop of Masan and Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, and other 15 Bishops of the CBCK at the Changwon Indoor Gymnasium, whch is near Masan.
Some 4500 participants from 63 parishes including 150 priests and religious welcomed the new bishop with enthusiasm.
His Eminence Cardinal Kim said to the new bishop that "A bishop is not a person who reigns over the people but a faithful servant of God who should work for the good of all," and encouraged him to be a man of prayer and distributor of divine graces to the people of God.
"God intrusted a new assignment to me, an undeserved servant. With His grace, I will devote all myself for the love of God and to the service of His people," the new bishop promised.
He asked all diocesans, clergy and religious to accompany him by close collaboration and solidarity by sharing his joys and sorrows. "It is a place to repent my shameful past but at the same time a place to respond to a new call which is the episcopate." he said.
The Coadjutor Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn was born in Masan in 1945 and graduated from Kwangju Major Seminary, and ordained a priest in 1975. He studied at the Leopold-Franzens-University of Innsbruck, Austria and obtained a master's degree in theology (moral theology). Until he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of Masan, he worked as rector and professor at Pusan Major Seminary.
◎ Politicians Should Work for Common Good of the People -- Says Archbishop of Seoul
On January 1st, Archbishop Nicholas Cheong of Seoul Archdiocese said in his message on the World Day for Peace, that Korean politicians should seek for the common good of the people instead of playing partisan politics.
He called upon Catholic lawmakers to witness Christian faith and love beyond their political and partisan interest. "Although there are a great number of Catholics among the lawmakers and politicians both in ruling and opposition parties, they are unable to show Christian fraternal love to each other by overcoming partisan boundaries.
Regarding the continual conflict between the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and opposition Grand National Party (GNP) the Archbishop said that "Focus of the political power should be put ultimately on the common good and wellbeing of the people, especially try to build a society of justice and peace in accordance with the Words of God.
Among 273 Korean lawmakers 66 are Catholics; 31 are from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party(MDP), 30 from the main opposition Grand Opposition Party(GNP) and 4 from the United Liberal Democrats(ULD). The president of the MDP, Thomas Kim Dae-jung, and the president of the GNP, Urlaf Lee Hoi-chang, both are Catholics.
◎ Korean Bishops Call for the Abolition of the Mother and Child Health Law
On December 27, the CBCK presented to the National Assembly the petition for the abolition of the Mother and Child Health Law.
The petition pointed out that "the Mother and Child Health Law" is against the right for human dignity and fundamental rights that are guaranteed in Art. 10 of the Constitution.
The CBCK's delegation team including Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul and Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Secretary General of the CBCK, visited Rep. Lee Man-sup, the Speaker of the National Assembly on Dec. 27 and handed him out the petition signed by 19 Bishops of Korea and 1,231,081 signatures including those of 50 Catholic lawmakers of both the ruling and opposition parties.
The One Million Signature Campaign for Abolition of the Mother and Child Health Law was initiated by the diocese of Cheongju on March, 2000.
With the petition, the Catholic Bishops appealed to all religion people, educators, medical and judicial circles to understand the critical situation of abortion in Korea and contribute in creating a new culture of life that respects human life and restores moral.
Meantime, on December 28th, in the Hwa-yang Parish, Seoul, the faithful prayed Way of the Cross for aborted babies and celebrated Mass.
A woman who had experienced abortion said "I repented my wrong decision and sins before God. For the rest of my life, I'll commit myself to the pro-life movement as sign of my repentance."
"The purpose of today's Mass is to educate and console those who live with burden of experience of abortion and to provide them opportunity to repent their acts and awake Christian consciousness so that they must take lead to change our society that is immersed in the culture of death into a society that respect human life." said Rev. Yoon Song-ho, the pastor of the Hwa-yang parish.
◎ Religion Leaders Join Voice for New Legislation
Some 150 religion leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist and Won Buddhist including other civic movements held a joint prayer meeting and rally at the entrance of Myongdong Cathedral, downtown Seoul on January 8th.
The participants demanded the government and politicians abolition of the National Security Law(NSL) and the legislation of human rights and anti-corruption bills, and declared to carry out campaign until their demands are heard.
The participants urged Kim Dae-jung administration to keep the election pledge to abolish National Security Law and to make an authentic political reform.
"Korean people's anger and disappointment against the current government reached the limit because during the three years of so-called "the government for people" there was no real political reform and President's election campaign pledge to make Korea a nation of democracy and human rights has remained as a lip service," Rev. Moon Kyu-hyon.
A group of human rights activists staged 13 days of fast for the abolition of the NSL in freezing weather from December 28th at the Myongdong Cathedral compound.
Among the participants found 60 Sisters from the Korean Catholic Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious, members of the Priests' Association for Justice, 26 Protestant ministers and 24 Buddhist monks.