CBCK News


Communications on Aug. 24, 2001

2009.08.24 11:08


* Korean Catholics Welcome Ancient Documents of their Faith Ancestors

On Aug. 10, the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, opened the chest with emotion containing ancient documents of the faith ancestors of the Church in Korea, which was sent from the Vatican.

Contents of the chest were the original script of the Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo and letters sent to the pope by Korean faithful in 1811 and copies of letters sent to the pope in Rome in 1824 and 1835.
These documents were sent from the Vatican to be displayed at the exhibition of “Perfume of Martyrs” in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Sinyu persecution in 1801 from Aug. 15 to Oct. 15 at the Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine in Seoul.
The letters explain the hard situation of the Church in Korea in persecution and ask the pope to send bishop and priests so that they can have Sacramental life.
“There are about 10,000 Catholics here, however, we have neither bishop nor priests. Counting on the great merit of martyrs the Korean faithful wish the spiritual salvation with tears. We want you to send us priests who will resurrect our souls by Sacraments" (Letter in 1824).

During the great persecution of 1801 that was provoked by the promulgation of prohibitory decree against the Catholic faith by Queen Jeong Sun, over 300 faithful died including martyr. Father James Zhou Mun-mo, a Chinese priest of the diocese of Beijing and the first foreign missionary to Korea since the Catholicism was introduced by Korean scholars in 1784.
The Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo (a long letter of appeal), which St. Alexander Hwang Sa-yeong(1774-1801) wrote with a small brush on a piece of white silk(62cm x 38cm) with 13,384 words and addressed to the bishop of Beijing, is divided into three parts: 1) the history of Father James Zhou Mun-mo and more than 30 other martyrs, who were killed during the persecution in 1801, 2) a political conflict as the cause of the persecution and its development, 3) five personal suggestions for rebuilding the Church and freedom of religion. In this appealing letter, he begged the bishop of Beijing to send foreign powers to intervene in order to save the Church and the country, and this caused a great turmoil among the government authorities who considered Hwang Sa-yeong to be a betrayer of the country and an agent of foreign power.

The original script of Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo had been kept in the warehouse of the Korean government for about 100 years until it was discovered and handed over to the Archbishop Mutel(French) of Seoul in 1894. The Archbishop Mutel sent it to the Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a gift on the occasion of the Beatification of the 79 Korean Martyrs. Since then, it was housed at the archive of the Vatican. After the exhibition in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Sinyu persecution the four ancient documents will be returned to the Vatican.
The first persecution of Korean Christians began in 1785, about one year after the Catholic Church was established in Korea and it was followed by persecutions in 1791, 1801, 1839, 1846 and 1866 until the freedom of religion was granted in 1886 with the contract of the Treaty of Commerce and Amity with France.

* CBCK's Sub-Committee for Environment Established

Sub-Committee for Environment affiliated to the Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK was established on Aug. 17 with the Most Rev. John Choi as the President and Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young as the Executive Secretary.
“The purpose of the new committee is to spread the social teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the environment, to promote related studies and to coordinate environment activities on national level. Also it has a prophetic role and mission to awake the signs of times in environmental field." Rev. Paul Lee said.
In terms of national level cooperation, this committee will play an important role to bring many small and big environmental organizations together into one body.

* Research on Human Embryo Stem Cell, Illegal Act which Violates Human Life

In an interview with the Catholic Times(Korean Catholic Newspaper) regarding U.S. President G.W. Bush's policy on embryonic stem cell Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young, Executive Secretary of the Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK, took a clear position of the Church and said that the research on human embryo is an illegal act which violates human life.

“According to the declaration of the Pontifical Academy for Life made in August, 2000, regarding the production and the scientific and therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells, on the basis of a complete biological analysis, the living human embryo is - from the moment of the union of the gametes - a human subject with a well-defined identity, which from that point begins its own coordinated, continuous and gradual development, such that at no later stage can it be considered as a simple mass of cells. From this it follows that as a human individual it has the right of its own life. Therefore, every intervention which is not in favor of the embryo is an act which violates that right."Rev. Paul Lee said.

“The Church considers the research on human embryonic stem cell as an illegal act which gravely violates human life and to be morally unacceptable whether it is for therapeutic use or not. Bush's decision to support research that relies on the destruction of defenseless human beings is for the possible benefit to others and cultivate disrespect for human life. The U.S. government justifies his decision by saying that it is for therapeutic reason for incurable deceases. However, killing a living human being that possesses a right of life but has no power to defend itself is a murdering act." He pointed out and went on, “The Church will make double efforts to fulfill her mission to protect human life as it is sure that Bush's decision would provoke a serious impact to the world of Korean bioethic technology." Rev. Lee said.
Rev. Paul Lee was recently invited to MBC TV program ‘100 minute Debate’ on the issue of so-called morning-after pill and defended the principles of the Church regarding the human life.

* South-North Koreans Pray Together

South Korean Catholic delegation to Aug. 15 festivities commemorating 56th anniversary of Korea liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 attended Mass at Jangchung church and prayed together with North Korean Catholics for peace and unity of their divided country.
About 80 catholics from the North and 23 from the South attended Mass celebrated by Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Secretary General of the CBCK and who led the Southern civic delegation organized by the Organizing Committee for 2001 Inter-Korean Joint Events.
In the sermon, Rev. Kim stressed on the need to put an end to the bitter sufferings from the national division and expressed regrets about controversy caused by some Southern participants to the event.
“There are many obstacles on our journey toward the unification, however, we will make it someday.." he said while Samuel Jang Jae-eon, Chair of the Association of North Korean Catholics, said “At this juncture of the new millennium, God certainly will bless us, North and South Catholics and priest praying together here today for peace and unity of our Korean people."
Meanwhile South and North Protestants prayed at Bongsu Church in Pyeongyang while others gathered with Northern Buddhists at a mountain temple and attended prayer service.
The authority of North Korea allowed to build Catholic and Protestant churches in Pyeongyang by mid-1980s as well as translation and publication of sutras carved on wooden blocks.
Among 366 members of South Korean civic delegation found leaders of the seven religions in Korea including Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists.
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