From the Editor
Immediately after the joyful festival of Palm Sunday, we prepare for the dramatic moment of Holy Week. In this climate of calm before the storm, we may toss out questions. Why is God like this? How can he be God if he appears so weak and miserable? Where is God who is so dignified in the Old Testament? Why? To answer these questions, we cannot but think that it is because of his love. Then one question still remains. What is the love of God like?
The whole Bible is a "love story" between God and humanity. The reason why God set out on the great work of creation was to "capture" the heart of humanity. In this sense, the entire universe is a bridal hall which God has prepared for His only love, for human beings.
Man is always the cause of His jealousy, His lovesickness and His languishment. God seeks, desires and yearns for man who leaves Him again and again. Despite the repeated betrayals, He never gives up but stands up once again to search for man. Can't we find such scenes here and there in the Bible? In His voice asking, "Where are you, Adam?" (Gn 3:9), we feel the suffering of the one who has lost his beloved. "Where is your brother, Abel?" (Gn 4:9) Here He seems so sad to see us wasting life in fighting. Asking "Where were you, Thomas?" (Jn 20:24), His heart is filled with sorrow. Whenever He asks, He always has some disappointment but He says that "I am happy that I can love you. So please never tell me not to love you." As St. Augustine says, we are God's very yearning and the object of His love. Each one of us is the glory, dream, lover of God. Indeed, the Trinitarian doctrine is the one God's threefold confession of love for humanity.
The Bible tells us a story that God loved humanity so much that he himself became a human being. Even God cannot stand the solitude of being alone. Knowing that He will ruin Himself, He prepares to leave His home on behalf of His love. He is so impatient that His hurrying footsteps seem dangerous. Isn't the entire Bible speaking of this love story? Jesus is the lost son himself who left His heavenly home because of His crazy love for humanity. The suffering of Jesus is the total expression of the reconciling will of God who loves man even amid tragedy and contradiction. The way of Jesus in abandoning Heaven and dying in suffering and misery was the destiny of this God who loved humanity so much. Dying on the Cross humbly, even without clothes, Jesus showed the end of this irrepressible love of God. Running to win our love, to hear the voice of His love, He cried in the end, "Men, men, why have you forsaken me?"
During the Lenten season, and especially during Holy Week, what do we see? What we encounter is the love of Jesus who stumbles over a stone in hurrying to meet us. Even though we are not ready to receive His love, He runs to us because of His "crazy" love for us.
Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
2007 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
2007 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK Held
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held its 2007 Spring General Assembly from March 12 to 14 and made the following decisions:
1. The bishops issued a statement entitled "Toward a Culture of Life!" in the name of the CBCK to make clear the position of the Catholic Church on life issues, such as research on embryonic stem cells, abortion and artificial fertilization.
2. The bishops approved the draft of CBCK Guidelines for Overseas Aid for effective and prompt aid to other countries.
3. For effective documentation that conforms to a digitalized scheme, the bishops approved the draft of the revised form for pastoral documents.
4. The bishops elected the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho as the delegate and the Most Rev. John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju as the alternate delegate for the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops slated for October 5 to 26, 2008. The theme of the meeting is "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
5. To unify the organ of the Episcopal Conference, the bishops decided to stop publishing Samok ("Pastoral Ministry") and to merge it into Gyeonghyang Magazine as of April 2007. The nature of Gyeonghyang Magazine will be renewed from January 2008. In a related move, the bishops also decided to close the Pastoral Institute of Korea.
6. The bishops decided to support the Military Ordinariate in Korea until the end of 2008 for the construction of a church and an education center within the Nonsan military training camp.
XV World Day of the Sick Celebrated in Seoul
XV World Day of the Sick Celebrated in Seoul
The XV World Day of the Sick was celebrated this year in Seoul, Korea from February 9 to 11 around the theme "The spiritual and pastoral care of patients with incurable illnesses."
The three-day program consisted of a Scientific Day, a Pastoral Day, and a Liturgical Day and included academic seminars, meetings with healthcare pastoral workers, visits to Catholic medical centers, a musical concert with young people, and a solemn Mass during which the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick was administered.
On February 9, beginning with the opening Mass presided over by H. E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyong-yang, there was an opening ceremony where H. E. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and special papal envoy for this event, gave a keynote address around the theme "Beyond Palliative Care". The Scientific Day featured an academic seminar and a visit to the Songgabokji Hospital run by the Little Servants of the Holy Family of Seoul.
On the second day, a Pastoral Day, there was a meeting with pastoral health care workers around the theme "The situation of pastoral health care in Asia and Korea." A musical concert attracted young people to the celebration.
The Liturgical Day of the three-day celebration was centered around a solemn Mass and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at the Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul. Cardinal Barragán presided at the solemn Mass that was concelebrated by Korean cardinals, bishops and priests. Some 6,000 people who participated in the Mass were granted a plenary indulgence according to the decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and among the participants some 700 patients received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
Cardinal Barragán said in his homily, "The current culture does not defend life itself but only respects life which is healthy and without defects." He criticized the culture of death, saying, "Paradoxically, the same culture provokes life-destroying acts, from abortion to euthanasia."
He also said, "For Christians, illness and happiness can coexist. When we are certain of reaching the joy of resurrection with Christ, we can entrust our soul to God even in suffering, such as incurable diseases.... This belief and hope give serenity and joy to Christian patients, especially those with incurable diseases." In conclusion, the Cardinal asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to take care of all the sick with incurable diseases and to intercede for those who need the light and tenderness that only our Lord can give.
After the celebration, the Most Rev. John Chang Yik, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, said, "Hopefully this event can become a fresh impulse for our society to embrace people with love, rather than to follow the logic of power."
Declaration of the CBCK on Life
Declaration of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
TOWARD A CULTURE OF LIFE!
1. Human life and dignity must always be respected regardless of sex, race, color, nationality or age. We should not forget that the human embryo and the unborn child undeniably possess human life. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea has long and constantly insisted on the dignity of human life and has expressed great concern for the birth control policy found in the "Mother and Child Health Act," a law which legalizes abortions, and experiments on human embryonic stem cells, an issue that has recently emerged as a matter of grave concern on the international level. Unfortunately, however, the law-makers still promote policies and laws violating the dignity of human life under the pretense of economic efficiency. As a result, Korea has had to face the sad realities of the lowest birth rate in the world along with a seriously high rate of suicides and abortions.
2. Reiterating our stance on the widespread trend of devaluing life and on the spread of the anti-life culture, the Korean Catholic bishops hereby make clear our position toward recent policies which we think violate the dignity of human life.
First, a human embryo definitely possesses life. Therefore, we denounce as acts destroying the dignity and sacredness of human life all experiments or research using embryos. We call for the government to reject the amendment of "the Bio-ethics and Bio-safety Law" that would legalize research on cloned embryos developed from somatic cells. As an alternative, we have developed the donation of hematopoetic stem cells for patients with incurable diseases and have promoted research and treatment in this direction. We urge the use of adult stem cells, a method which is ethically safe and clinically proven to be very effective. It is very dangerous to recommend the cloning of somatic cells and research on embryonic stem cells that involves many ethical problems. This path follows the current ways of thinking that regard life as a means for economic gain. Such anti-life research must stop immediately.
Second, the Catholic Church clearly points out that in vitro fertilization and artificial procreation are unethical. New human life cannot be artificially manufactured by man; it is always a gift from God as the fruit of conjugal love and union. While we share the suffering of infertile couples, we cannot but point out that artificial procreation is unethical both in its methods and in its process. Artificial procreation leads to selecting a few healthier embryos while at the same time destroying the rest of the implanted embryos or it leads to the production of surplus embryos for research and experiment. Thus, we the Korean Catholic bishops object to the government policy of financially supporting couples using artificial fertilization and procreation in this way as a solution to the low birth rate.
Third, the Korean Catholic bishops have repeatedly urged the revision of the Mother and Child Health Act that has for over thirty years been used as a means to facilitate abortions. The stipulation of the Act that permitted abortions conforming to the birth control policy of the past is the main cause of Korea's low birth rate and also of the widespread culture of death that deadens the conscience of people. When the Government invests an enormous portion of its budget to encourage child birth while at the same time it permits abortions, it is acting in a self-contradictory way and neglecting its duty.
3. Our society has seen rapid development in its economy as well as in other sectors. On the other hand, we have also witnessed a serious reversal of values so that material and economic values are placed over spiritual and ethical values. True progress is possible only when it is based on well-ordered values and on truth. In a society where the fundamental value and dignity of human life and the family are disregarded, authentic progress and development cannot be realized.
Looking forward to seeing the day when a beautiful and dignified culture of life flourishes, we wish all those working to protect life an abundance of God's grace.
March 15, 2007
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Message for the Week for Sanctification of the Family
Message for the Week for Sanctification of the Family (summary)
Prayer is the Strength of the Family
+ Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The family is the most blessed place in the world.
God, the Creator of the universe and the one who made man in His own image and likeness, willed that a man and a woman be joined as husband and wife and create a family together. In this family the blessing of God is realized and man can become a collaborator with God in transmitting human life, the image of God, through procreation. God "so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (Jn 3:16), and He accomplished the work of salvation through the family of Mary and Joseph thereby elevating the dignity of the family. Thus, Jesus' taking flesh in the womb of Mary and His coming to life in a family means that the family is the door to salvation and the beginning of life.
"A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh" (Mk 10:7-8). These words explain the meaning of becoming a married couple. To become a true couple, a man and a woman should "leave" their parents and become "one."
Nowadays, however, young couples tend to remain dependent upon their parents psychologically and financially after marriage and this disturbs the deep unity between husband and wife and prevents them from faithfully carrying out the obligation of educating their children. Moreover, there is a trend for people to think of marriage and procreation as an option, not a necessity, and this has become the cause of increasing premarital cohabitation and divorce. The collapse of the family in this way has also led to various social conflicts, such as the problems regarding the young or the elderly, and it has also weakened the faith of believers.
For the family to function as a living cell, it should recognize the presence of God and develop a life of prayer. The family is the basic community where the words of Jesus are realized: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20). By praying, parents and children can meet "Our Heavenly Father" in their family and find strength and spiritual unity. For this reason we invoke the Holy Spirit during the nuptial Mass to unite the family in love and truth and to strengthen the bond among family members. "May the grace of the Holy Spirit be emitted upon them so that Your love may be diffused in their hearts and they may stay in the fidelity of the matrimonial covenant" (Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium, n.74).
We should make every effort to make the family a community which always prays to the Father "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3:15). We should faithfully carry out our apostolate to take care of those families who are destitute and suffering.
December 31, 2006
On the Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
+ Jacobus Kim Ji-Seok
Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
of the CBCK
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2006
The Korean Wave of Love
- Let Us Spread the Love of the Church in Korea to Overseas Countries!
Dear brothers and sisters,
1. The Catholic Church in Korea has made efforts for the last 14 years (1993-2006) to render prompt support to foreign refugees in line with its transformation from a receiving Church after the Korean War to a giving Church. Our activities are similar to the work of the "Good Samaritan," to offer a simple response to immediate needs and specific situations (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n.31).
2. The tsunami which struck southern Asia at the end of 2004 was called the "calamity of the global village" because it killed, injured and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the area. Since then, there have been a series of disasters in the Asian area: the earthquake that erupted in Pakistan and India in 2005; the landslide in Southern Leyte, the Philippines, in February 2006; the earthquake in Indonesia in May 2006; and most recently, the typhoon in December 2006. It is difficult even to measure the total scale of damage.
3. The Second Vatican Council pointed out that "charitable activities and works... can and should reach out to all persons and all needs" (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem, n.8). His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI also highlighted in his first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est that the charitable activities of the Church face various requests in accordance with the social changes.
Thanks to the generous offerings of the faithful, the CBCK Committee for "Caritas Corea" over the last 14 years has annually sent an average of KRW 1,200,000,000 (or USD 1,270,000) to 450 projects carried out in 80 countries. In addition, Caritas Corea last year was entrusted with the work of Caritas Internationalis to give aid to North Korea on behalf of the worldwide Church. It has also expanded its scope of activities for local development and welfare in Asia.
These days Korea is drawing attention because of the "Korean Wave" sweeping across Asia. ("Korean Wave" is a recently coined term referring to the popularity of Korean popular culture in other countries.) Those children we support in Bangladesh, India and the Philippines may not be able to enjoy this Korean Wave of popular culture, but they can experience the new "Korean Wave of Love" expressed by the sharing of love on the part of Korean Catholics.
4. To respond to the ever increasing calls made on the Catholic Church in Korea, the generous participation and help of Catholics is urgently required. Fortunately, a culture of regular and voluntary donations is progressively spreading in our society. We Catholics should set an example by opening our minds and living out the love of God and of our neighbors.
"If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth" (1Jn 3:17-18).
On January 28, 2007
Overseas Aid Sunday
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Committee for "Caritas Corea"
of the CBCK
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (summary)
"He Even Makes the Deaf to Hear and the Mute to Speak" (Mk 7:37)
The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2007, jointly prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, could be summarized as "evangelical passion and responsibility in solidarity." The Church sent by Christ must listen to the cry of all those suffering and respond to them in sympathy and open the way for the mute to speak with evangelical passion and responsibility in solidarity.
Jesus put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then He looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!"). Thus, He made him listen to what he had never heard and speak what he had never said (Mk 7:31-37). What the Lord desired in His healing of the deaf man was communion among those who believe in God. For Jesus hoped that His disciples could be one in unity as He himself enjoys communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 17).
I would like to ask all Christians to practice two things during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year.
First, let us ask our Lord to open our ears to various voices urging Christian unity. We should pray that every believer may understand the common confession of the faith, rather than the differences in the congregations, and that all may embrace one another, rather than object to one another.
Second, the voice asking for Christian unity should lead to our inner conversion to feel the pain and needs of other people and, in the end, to help them. The way of reaching Christian unity is not so far, if we meet frequently and show more attention and fraternal concern for the suffering, transcending prejudice among various confessions.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Christian unity is the essential mission of the Church. Now, we should stop writing the history of conflicts and keep silent no longer. When we listen to each other, have conversation, and become one in mind with universal fraternity following the example of Jesus, the Holy Spirit who "intercedes with inexpressible groans" (Rom 8:26) will unite us and stay with us in prayer. Let us put our hope in the Holy Spirit. Let us strive for Christian unity until the day when we see "face to face," even though "at present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror." (1Cor 13:12)
On January 18, 2007
+ Hygius Kim Hee-joong
Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue
of the CBCK
News from the Church in Korea
● Promoting Beatification and Canonization of a Lay Missionary
The Diocese of Incheon opened the official process for the promotion of the beatification and canonization of Mr. John Song Hae-bung, a lay missionary, who died a martyr during the Korean War (1950-1953), and the diocese has established a committee for this matter.
The Very Rev. Msgr. Joseph Lee Hak-roh, diocesan vicar general, was appointed president of the committee; the Rev. Nobert Cha Dong-yeop, Director of the Future Pastoral Institute, is the actor; and the Rev. Joseph Jeong Gwang-woong, diocesan pastoral administrator, is the postulator. This is the first instance of the promotion for beatification and canonization of a lay Catholic who died a martyr after the Japanese colonial era.
This year the committee will search for relevant documents and materials and record witnesses for the organization and verification of basic data. The life story of Mr. Song, Only Twenty Four: An Untimely Smothered Flame, will be published and distributed soon.
Mr. Song was born as the first son of Catholic parents. In 1944 he entered the seminary of Dukwon to become a priest. But after the liberation of Korea from Japan in 1945, he gave up theological studies and became a lay missionary in the area of Gimpo near Incheon where he opened a night school for the poor. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, someone falsely accused him of being a communist and he was sentenced to death by a firing squad.
● The Ceremony for the Mystery of Life Awards 2007
The first Mystery of Life Awards ceremony was held at Coste Hall of Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul on January 15, 2007. These awards were given by the Seoul Archdiocesan Committee for Life. The three chosen for the Life Science category were Prof. Chung Myung-Hee (Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul), Prof. Oh Tae-hwan (Director of Aging and Brain Diseases Research Center, Kyung Hee University, Seoul), and Prof. Heinz Wässle (Director of Max-Planck Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt a.M.), For the Humanistics category awards were given to the Most Rev. Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and the Rev. Michael Kim Jung-ho, Director of the Catholic Institute of Bioethics of the Catholic University of Korea. In the Pro-Life Activity category the award went to Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, professor at Harvard Law School and President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
In his congratulatory address, the Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, President of the Seoul Archdiocesan Committee for Life, said, "Nowadays, people place more importance on values other than life itself. But I firmly believe that our small efforts for the protection of the dignity of human life and for research on incurable diseases will be a stepping stone for the next generations by teaching them the value of healthy and precious life."
The name of the award comes from Vitae Mysterium, the motu proprio of His Holiness Pope John Paul II published on February 11, 1994. To select the candidates for the award, the committee held 10 meetings of very rigorous and sincere consideration. The winners received a prize of $20,000 - $30,000.
● 'The School for the Laity'
The Seoul Archdiocesan Lay Apostolate Council at its 37th annual general meeting held at the Myeongdong Catholic Center on January 20, 2007 decided to open the 'School for the Laity,' which will include the 'School for Vatican Council II' and other existing laity formation institutions and programs.
H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, said, "If the Catholic Church wants to achieve a deeper spirituality and not just outward expansion, each parish must be a community of communion where the Catholic faithful encounter God. The unified pastoral care program which the Archdiocese of Seoul is now about to set in motion is a practical option to realize the image of the Church as a communion." With these words he stressed the importance of the unified pastoral care program for personal communion and he asked for the intensive concern and cooperation of the Catholic faithful in the program. The program will be fully implemented in the Archdiocese of Seoul from the second half of this year.
In his opening address Prof. Thomas Han Hong-soon, President of the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, said, "With the help of all of you we were able to accomplish many successful projects last year." After praising their help, he asked them for their continuous concern and support for the council.
● Joint Prayer Meeting for Christian Unity
In solidarity with the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue (President: the Most Rev. Hygius Kim Hee-joong) held the 2007 joint prayer meeting for Christian unity on January 23 at Sudong Anglican Church in Cheongju.
The theme of the prayer meeting was "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak" (Mk 7:37). Some 250 Christians, including Catholics, those from the member Churches of the NCCK, and Lutherans, joined in this prayer for Christian Unity.
Bishop Kim stressed, "Today's meeting is to confess our sin and to ask forgiveness. Even though we have the same faith, we cannot realize unity because of different interpretations of the faith and prejudice towards each other.... Being a Christian does not mean that we belong to a particular church or that we are committed to a specific interpretation of doctrine."
After the prayer meeting, both the Catholic and Protestant theologians discussed the preparation of the Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2009 and decided to establish a preparatory committee composed of five members from both sides. The resources, reflecting the specific situation of Korea, will include a prayer formula seeking peace and reconciliation.
● Message Issued for the Consecrated Life
On the occasion of the Day for Consecrated Life on February 2, 2007, the Rt. Rev. Abbot Simon Peter Ri Hyeong-u, O.S.B., President of the Korean Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, issued a message in which he stressed that "for the qualitative growth of the Catholic Church in Korea religious should devote themselves to their role of living a life of service" in their respective places. Abbot Ri emphasized that "Christianity is characterized by belief that is witnessed, and so it is that the proclamation of the Word can have genuine power when it is accompanied by the witness of life." He also added that "religious can live a life of witness for God and the Gospel when they recognize their identity as servants of God and live it out faithfully."
At present, there are some 11,000 active religious in some 150 religious institutes.
● Cardinal Cheong's Message for Lent 2007
H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, issued a message for Lent 2007 and asked the people of the Archdiocese of Seoul to repent and renew themselves in the grace of God.
In his message entitled "Repent, and Believe in the Gospel", Cardinal Cheong emphasized, "Faith in God manifests itself in concern and love for our neighbors who are poor. During the Lenten season, the observance of fasting and abstinence from meat as well as voluntary sacrifices have meaning only if we share in charity with our neighbors."
He continued, "The Church should listen carefully to those who are suffering and in difficulties and heal their wounds. Charity grants both givers and receivers spiritual richness."
He said, "True repentance is not only to repent of one's sins, but also to convert oneself to God.... Let us make this Lent one that is full of grace by repenting, following the Gospel, overcoming death and witnessing life."
● Statistics of Overseas Korean Catholics
The Statistics of Overseas Korean Catholics published by the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (President: the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho) shows that as of December 31, 2006, the number of Korean Catholics practicing their faith in overseas Catholic churches and missions totaled 150,421. This is an increase of 8,523 or 6% from the previous year. Men number 68,626 (45.62%) and women number 81,795 (54.38%). Those newly baptized are 4,501 and catechumens are 2,026.
Among the dioceses and the religious communities sending the largest number of Korean pastoral workers were the Diocese of Pusan (8 countries, 27 priests) and the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyrs (3 countries, 27 sisters).
According to the statistics published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, overseas Korean Catholics are calculated as 2.27% of the total number of overseas Koreans (6,638,338). There are 110,113 Catholics in North America which is about two-thirds of the total overseas Korean Catholic population. There are 17,063 in Oceania, 8,672 in Asia, 7,681 in South America, 6,488 in Europe and 404 in Africa.
In 61 countries where overseas Korean Catholics are living there are 163 parishes and 162 mission stations, 192 priests, 18 brothers and 119 sisters have been sent to those countries to provide pastoral care.
Most of the overseas Korean Catholics are concentrated in the United States (90,258), followed by Canada (19,631), and Australia (12,080). In those countries the number of Korean Catholics has been increasing continuously. In Asia, most of the Korean Catholics are concentrated in three countries: China (1,700), Japan (1,230) and Indonesia (1,289).
● Celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diocese of Pyong-yang
H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyong-yang, presided over a Mass celebrating the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Diocese of Pyong-yang, at Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul on March 18, 2007.
In his homily Cardinal Cheong said, "We can devote ourselves to more intensive prayer for our North Korean brothers, if we know better the situation of the North Korean dioceses which have remained in silence since the division of Korea." He urged the Catholic faithful "to pray ardently to God for our North Korean brothers, especially on the occasion of this anniversary."
A congratulatory ceremony followed the Mass. In his congratulatory remarks H.E. Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul and the former Apostolic Administrator of Pyong-yang, said, "We can tell that the Diocese of Pyong-yang still remains in silence when we look up facts about this diocese in the Pontifical Yearbook. There continue to be only blanks." He added, "We can keep on hoping in the midst of a situation where there is no hope, because we believe that Jesus Christ is always with the persecuted."
The Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea, urged the Catholics "to remember the North Korean brothers and sisters in prayer, and show Christian solidarity with them by acts of charity."
The Rev. John C. Sivalon, Maryknoll Superior General, a special guest for this 80th anniversary, said, "I sincerely wish that I could go to Pyong-yang and resume the mission which was interrupted under compulsion. I would like to bear witness to the great love of God and participate in God's work to rebuild the sacrament of salvation."
This celebration for the anniversary of the Diocese of Pyong-yang is the second one following after that for the 50th anniversary in 1977.
News in Brief
The Rev. Paul Yun Kyeong-cheol was appointed the 4th President of the Catholic University of Pusan. The appointment, made on December 19, 2006, is for four years. Father Yun was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. Besides being pastor in many parishes, he has had experience as diocesan procurator, director of Maryknoll Hospital, director of Busan St. Mary's Medical Center, and executive director of the educational institute Sungmo.
The CBCK Committee for Youth Ministry (President: the Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man) is to hold the first Korea Youth Day from August 18 to 21, 2007 in the Diocese of Cheju. The theme is "I pray that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21). In a related development, the World Youth Day Cross and Icon arrived in Korea on February 18 and made a journey from February 21 to 25, in the Dioceses of Cheju, Uijeongbu and Seoul.
The Office of Evangelization (Director: the Rev. John Moon Hi-jong) of the Diocese of Suwon launched a diocesewide, three-year movement for the sanctification of the family beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 21, 2007. This movement recommends every family in the diocese to have a "day of family prayer" once a week, to attend Mass with all family members once a month, to have a "family-loving day" once a month for dialogue, and to practice a "day for sharing love" by voluntary sacrifice, working in charitable organizations, and so on.
On March 11, 2007, Marriage Encounter of Korea (Directors: Mr. Hugo Lee Yun-sik & Mrs. Angella Jo Yun-suk, Spiritual Director: Rev. Joseph Kim Ung-tae) celebrated a thanksgiving Mass at St. Ignatius Hall of Sogang University to mark the 30th anniversary of its inauguration. ME Korea was initiated in February 1976 by three Korean couples and a Maryknoll priest who held an English 'ME Weekend'. On March 11, 1977, the first Korean 'ME Weekend' was held. Over the past 30 years, 73,000 married couples, 1,600 religious and 1,200 priests participated in 2,962 weekend meetings in Korea, which amounts to around half of all the ME members in Asia.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Anna Kim Chang-gum
Anna Kim Chang-gum was arrested on April 8, 1839, at the age of 51. Anna was born into a Catholic family. She lost her husband when she was young, and was living with her mother in poverty. She spent her time in fervent prayers.
There is little recorded about Anna. It is known, however, that she was taken outside the Small West Gate with seven other Catholics, and all of them were beheaded there on July 20, 1839. Anna was 51 years old when she was crowned with martyrdom.
Saint Sebastianus Nam I-gwan
Sebastianus Nam I-gwan was born into a noble family. His parents became Catholic at the end of the 18th century. His mother died when he was still young. His father was arrested in 1801 and died in exile. Sebastianus was about 20 years old at that time. While he was in exile in Danseong, Gyeongsang Province, he got married. He was not baptized yet, and he could recite only the Our Father and Hail Mary. Since he had no children, he took a concubine without knowing that it was wrong. At the age of 40, when he was very ill, he was baptized and let the concubine go. A few years later he was released from exile and went to Uiju with Paulus Chong Ha-sang and his group to bring Chinese Father Yu to Korea. Sebastianus became Father Yu's assistant and let him stay in his house.
At the beginning of the persecution, Catechist Sebastianus left Seoul for the countryside for some unknown reason. According to witnesses he was too well known to evade arrest. He was preparing himself in prayer for the trials of prison. He was arrested in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. An apostate reported his hiding place to the police and led a group of policemen to arrest him. The police chief tortured him and demanded that he give up his religion, but Sebastianus did not budge. He was twisted and beaten during three different interrogations.
Just before he was taken out for execution, he asked one of the guards of the women's prison to tell his wife that he would go first and wait for her in Heaven. Sebastianus was beheaded with eight other Catholics outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839. He was 60 years old when he became a martyr.
Saint Iulietta Kim (1784~1839)
Iulietta Kim was born in the countryside. Her parents were highly praised by Bishop Ferréol as an outstanding couple. The whole family later moved to Seoul. Her parents wanted her to get married, but Iulietta wanted to live as a virgin and refused to be married. In order to prove her resoluteness, she had her hair cut. The parents finally said that they would decide when her hair grew out again.
When the persecution of 1801 broke out, her family returned to their country home. Iulietta quietly escaped and became a servant in the royal court. Since it was difficult for her to practice her religion in the royal court, she came out of there and went to a Catholic home to live. She made some money by weaving and bought a small house for herself. She had a strong will, and people respected her strictness in words and deeds. She did her best in prayers and meditations. People used to say that Iulietta might never have committed a sin. She was always ready to be arrested.
The police chief made the usual demand that she deny God and reveal where the Catholics and the Catholic books were hidden. Of course, Iulietta refused the demand of the police chief, and she was beaten very severely. In the higher court she was severely beaten again on three different occasions. She admirably endured all the tortures and pains.
Iulietta was finally beheaded with eight other Catholics outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839. She was 56 years old when she was martyred.