CBCK Newsletter

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CBCK Newsletter No.6 (Spring 1994)

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From the Editor:

 

Bishops Speak for the Family...

 

  Dear Friends,

  Spring is here again and our hearts are already awaiting the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord. In this Lenten season, a time of reconciliation and repentance, we anticipate sending you our warmest Easter greetings and thank you for your interest in our Newsletter which marks its second year of publication.
  The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held its Spring General Assembly (March 7-10) and issued a joint Pastoral Letter to mark International Year of the Family, entitled "For the family that is a community of love and life" . By doing an analysis of the changing family situation in the world and in Korean society the Bishops are convinced that the problems of the family are a fundan1ental question for humanity. Because the future of the world and the Church depends on the family they urged the Korean government to set up a fair policy to protect the family.
Insisting that all "development" policy should be focused on promoting basic human rights and pursuing the good of the family, the Bishops called on the government to revise art. 135 of the pending Criminal Law, and to abolish art. 14 of the Mother and Child Health Care Law, that permits limited abortion. They appealed for a serious revision of policy on population regulation centered on economic development and asked for countermeasure to the manipulation of human life such as gene cloning and artificial insemination. They also called for the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable people in our society; children, handicapped people, women, single mothers and elderly people. They said all Church organizations should take as their priority the Evangelization and sanctification of the family and education of youth.
  We are happy to announce that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II appointed two Korean auxiliary bishops n:cently. Most Rev. Andrew Chang-mu Choi, who dedicated 25 years of his life for the education of clergy as professor and president of Seoul Catholic Seminary, was appointed as auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese and Most. Rev. Alexander Chung-duk Sye, who spent 23 years as an army chaplain and worked as chancellor of Taegu Archdiocese Office, was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Taegu. We invite you to join us in this happy event for the Korean Catholic Church!
  Wishing you abundant grace in our Risen Lord.

 

Rev. Dionysius Namik Paik
Secretary General Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea

 

 

The 1994 Spring General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference


CBCK Issues Joint Pastoral Letter on Family and

Confirms the Principal of Tax Payment by the Catholic Clergy

 

  The 1994 Spring General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference was held March 7-10 in Seoul. It followed a seminar on the theme of 1994 Synod of Bishops, "Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and in the World" , with the attendance of some 100 superiors of Religious men and women. Presentations and reflections on the theme were made by Bishop Peter Kang of Seoul Archdiocese and Sr. Angela Choi, OSB. They focused on defining the identity of consecrated people. There was also a close self-examination of, and challenge to, their actual situation in the light of Vatican Council II and their vision of the future.
  The Bishops, on the occasion of the International Year of the Family, issued a loint Pastoral Letter on the Family entitled, "For the Family that is a Community of Love and Life" (full text on page 3). It emphasized the nature of the family and its important role in society and for the future of humanity. The Bishops urged the government to set up a healthy policy to protect the family and reminded Christians of their task. The Bishops made plans for the national and world celebration of the Family Year.
  The Bishops also confmned the principle that Catholic clergy should pay Earned Income Tax (Grade A), a project taken up at the Autumn General Assembly. However it was decided to leave to the discretion of each diocese the definition of taxable income and the time to implement it. Public opinion has welcomed the Bishops' decision to give up the privileges of tax exemption for clergy and follow the common obligation of citizens to pay taxes commensurate with their revenue. The media saw it as an epoch-making and timely decision. Hitherto, some clerics have paid their income tax voluntarily on an individual basis. This is the first time that the leaders of a religion in Korea have ecided on tax payment by all its clergy and Korea is the first Catholic Church in Asian countries to do so. This decision on tax payment will affect some 1,800 Catholic priests and may also influence the Protestant Churches, Buddhist and other religions in Korea.

 

 

 

CBCK Welcomes Two New Bishops


  The Holy Father,. Pope lohn Paul II, has nominated two auxiliary Bishops: Rev. Andrew Chang-mu Choi of Seoul Archdiocese and Rev. Alexander Chong-duk Sye of Taegu Archdiocese. With them the number of the Bishops in Korea reached 21.


On February 22, Pope lohn Paul II nominated Rev. Andrew Chang-mu Choi, President of Catholic University of Seoul, auxiliary bishop of Seoul Archdiocese. The new bishop dedicated 25 years of his life to the education of clergy as professor and president of Seoul Catholic University.


Profile ofMost Rev. Andrew Chang-mu Choi :

• Born September 1936, in Kyongki-do
• 1960 : Completed stud.in Philosophy and theology at Seoul Major Seminary
• 1962 : Graduated from Freiburg University
• 1963 : Ordained Priest in Freiburg
• 1969 : Obtained doctorate in moral theology at Freiburg University
• 1970 : Professor of moral theology at Seoul Major Seminary
• 1979 : Rector of Seoul Major Seminary
• 1992 : 1st President of the Catholic University
• 1994 : Auxiliary bishop of Seoul Archdiocese


  The Seoul Archdiocese is the largest ecclesiastic circumscription in Korea (3,768 sq km. Pop. : 12,073,746) and has 1,095,025 Catholics with 163 parishes and 12 mission stations. The Archdiocese has 442 seminarians and is served by 536 diocesan priests, 52 Korean Relig.priests, 93 foreign priests, 146 Relig.brothers, 1,786 women Religious, 3,956 teachers of relig.instruction working in 156 Sunday schools and 14 catechists, according to the 1993 statistics given by CBCK.


On March 4, Holy Father Pope lohn Paul II appointed Rev. Alexander Chong-duk Sye auxiliary bishop of Taegu Archdiocese. The new Bishop served 23 years as an army chaplain and worked as chancellor at the Taegu Archdiocese Office.


Profile of Most. Rev. Alexander Chong-duk Sye :


• Born in 1937 in Taegu
• 1961 : Completed stud.in Philosophy and theology at Seoul Major Seminary
• 1962 : Ordained Priest in Taegu
• 1963 : Joined the army as chaplain
• 1980 : Promoted to Colonel
• 1987 : Pastor of Samduk Parish
• 1991 : Chancellor of Archdiocese Office
• 1994 : Auxiliary bishop of Taegu Archdiocese

Taegu Archdiocese has 296,536 catholics with 95 parishes and 124 mission stations served by 248 priests, 1,033 women relig., 55 men relig. and 1,526 Sunday school teachers. It has 137 seminarians.

 

 

 

Recovery of Human Dignity Starts From Family

A statement issued by the Justice &Peace Committee ofCBCK on the occasion ofthe 12th Human Rights Sunday

  On the occasion of the 12th Human Right's Sunday we are making an appeal to work for the recovery of human dignity starting from the family. As 1994. chosen by the U.N. as 'year of the Family' . approaches this appeal becomes urgent for us. In this age human dignity and the meaning of the family are more seliously threatened then ever. Pope John Paul" has repeatedly urged us to build a 'culture of life' while seliously waming us against the 'culture of death' .
  The family is the basic cell of society so the future of humanity depends on the family. The family is the cradle of life and love and a place where 'human beings are born and grow' . However, to our regret. the community of the family is seliously threatened by trends of egoism. hedonism and matelialism. The absolute value of human life is disintegrating and the truth is distorted. As a result. anti-life trends such as murder. abortion and mercy killing are widespread under the name of 'light' and climes such as flesh trade, burglary. and sex violence are rampant in our society.
  In the midst of this reality an appeal on behalf of human dignity and human lights, to "prepare a way for the Lord, make the Lord's path straight" , starting from the family. is long needed.


  I. Firstly, conversion must start from the family. Almost all families have taken part in the 'culture of death' for over two decades in the name of economic development. They played the leading part in mass murder that took the right to life from as many as 20 million unborn children since 1973, the year that the Mother and Child Health Law was enforced. We have kept silence for too long before this enormous fact. Now is the time to be converted for the sake of the recovery of human dignity. To recover the dignity of human beings, human lights must be respected and protected. As long as the light to life, the most basic human right, is not respected all other cries for human rights are only self-contradictory. Human beings, made in God's image, have a sacred value and an inviolable light to life. Therefore human beings are in charge of the light to life from the moment of conception until natural death, in all moments and circumstances, whether healthy or sick or disabled, rich or poor. The reality of killing 1,500,000 foetuses per year, by abortion, is urging all of us to a sincere conversion.


  2. A harmonious society, in which women's lights are respected, is the desire of all of us. Yet it is in the family that this desire has to begin to be realized. Where sexism exists in the family it is impossible to change society. Of course vaIious social laws and systems that are discriminatory should be corrected but at the same time the long-established tradition and mentality of sexism should be addressed. In order to bling about such refoml of consciousness we need to examine the male-child-preference mentality, widespread in our society, which is the starting point of sexism. Furthermore the abortion of several thousand female foetuses, because of male-child-preference mentality is causing an imbalance between the rate of male and female birth which generates a serious social problem. There is no doubt that to kill a baby because of the simple reason of its being female is a devilish convention that encourages us to be inhuman. Sexual violation of teenagers by adults is another painful reality that is darkening our streets, work places and even the family. Realities of our society such as making sex a tool or object of commerce and the flesh trade that violate the dignity of women urge us to a general change of social consciousness.

  3. We must remember that the goal of all laws and systems lies in the genuine service of humanity. We must not forget that economic progress is not a goal in itself but a means to serve humanity. Nothing should be considered more important than human beings. Yet there still exist problems of political plisoners, torture by climinal investigation agency, pro-communist fabrication, harsh treatment of people in detention and surveillance as well as their families. This is truly regrettable.

  Also among our neighbors are fanners, urban poor, elderly and handicapped people who never should be marginalized and those suffering from pollution and radioactivity. We urge the new government to conduct a determined and resolute amendment, in its reform drive, of all evil laws and systems that cause violation of human dignity. Human beings should never be used as a means or a tool of development or progress. Respect and promotion of human dignity, the common good of society and integrity of people should take precedence over everything in the socio-economic world. People are not just the bui Iders of the socio-economic world but are its center and goal
  Thus we demand that the evil laws and systems that violate the absolute light to life and dignity of the human person, including the Mother and Child Health Law, be repealed as soon as possible. Especially the revised climinal law bill, an. 135, which actually legalizes abortion should be amended. To legalize abortion is unacceptable because it is contrary to justice and truth even for the reasons of deformed pregnancy, rape or incest.

  4. Workers should never be considered a tool of production or development and never degraded as tools of economic interest. In this respect. inhuman working conditions and ill treatment should be overcome. On July 29, 1993, we issued a statement on behalf of foreign  workers entitled, 'Do no wrong to the stranger for you were once strangers yourselves' . We should not be indifferent to the problems ofoverdue wages and industlial accidents that the foreign workers have to endure under difficult circumstances far from their family, loved ones and homeland as they seek a bener life. Above all the government and employers should respect the basic human rights of these workers and protect them even if they are illegal workers. Basic human lights are to be respected in all places and in all circumstances.

  5. The ultimate goal of science and technology is to serve human beings. Modem science and technology offer many conveniences to us but has also caused considerable abused of human rights. Recently we heard astonishing news about an experiment that took place in the United States which divided a human embryo by gene cloning to produce identical twins. We are deeply concerned about scientific technology that goes beyond bionics such as 'gene cloning' ,and 'artificial insemination' . The moral conscience of humanity cannot be indifferent or stand idle before this tremendous progress of science. Scientific technology or good intentions don't justify the means. Therefore caution is necessary lest we idolize scientific technology and violate human rights with our technical know-how and information.

  6. Finally, on Human Rights Sunday, we have to remember the duties and the responsibilities that correspond to rights. We have to be aware that asserting my rights should neither violate nor neglect the rights of other people. Education on respect for human dignity and human rights should begin from childhood. Thus family education for the recovery of human dignity is a very important need. This education demands a renewal of mind based on respect for human dignity and the human person. Education for justice starts in the family. Thus Church, school and society must promote it.

  Let us listen to the call of Our Lord and commit ourselves to it; "Prepare a way for the Lord, make the Lord's path straight" . Love for Christ and justice towards neighbors are inseparable. Because love involves justice and we must recognize the right and dignity of our neighbors. Let us work together to overcome the 'culture of death and to build a 'culture of life' beginning with our family.

December 5, 1993
The 12th Human Right's Sunday
Justice and Peace Comminee of CBCK

 

 

 

Church's Concern for Korean Farmers:


The Korean fanners' hope was shaken when the Uruguay Round settlement in Geneva announced on Dec. 14 that
rice imports equal to 1-4percent ofthe domestic rice market would begin in 1995 with a 10-year grace period before its full opening. Korean fanners, including Catholic fanners, priests and civilian groups have strongly reacted gainst this development. Here we publish Cardinal Kim's homily, given at a Special Mass for the Nation on Dec. 12, 1993, four days before the GATTagreement. We also include Bishop Joseph Kyeong' s message to his faithful on the Prayer Dayfor Fanners.

 

The Rural Community is Our Homeland. Rice is Our Flesh, Blood and Culture

  Dear Brothers and Sisters,


  We are here today to celebrate Mass and pray for peace and stability, for the progress and prosperity of our beloved country which is going through difficult times due to the nuclear problems of North Korea and the opening of the rice market at GAIT. On this occasion which was organized by the Korean Lay Association, we must pray especially for those involved in agriculture who are deeply frustrated because of the crisis caused by the opening of the rice market. We pray that God will renew their hope and courage. First of all, we must share their sufferings and pledge to make every effort possible to revive our rural communities. This issue of the rice market opening, which has long worried us, has almost become a reality.
  A couple of days ago President Kim Young-sam made a statement about the opening of the rice market and apologized to the people for being unable to prevent it. He promised to make a new agricultural policy to revive the rural community. However people protest against the government because of its incapacity to act out of conviction that our rice has to be protected. We are deeply concerned not only about the rice market opening but also about the division of National opinion on this issue. Our call to the govemment is to present us with clear and concrete data, based on the research of experts, on the, advantages and disadvantages of both opening or not opening the rice market in this globalization era. In that way the government would help people gain a balanced understanding of the situation.
  The rural community is our homeland, rice is our flesh and blood. It has been with us through our five thousand year long history. It is our culture. It will be truly regrettable if we cannot protect our rice and our rural communities.
  It is very difficult for us to accept the rice market opening in both our minds and hearts. If there is any room still left for negotiation between Korean and the United States, the US. should rethink the rice market opening policy. The US. should not only consider its own national interest and the benefit to American farmers but also the impact such import will make on a fragile Korean farming industry. It can bring about the impoverishment of Korean rural communities with social, political and economic instability. If the US. truly cares about Korean-American friendship the conditions and feelings of the Korean people must be understood.
  Nevertheless we view the situation openly. We have to reflect and take a new look at the root cause of the decline of our agri.culture and the impoverishment of our rural community. Some time ago, in a Press Conference held in relation to the rice market opening one person said, 'We have to make our best efforts to prevent the rice market opening but it would be wrong to think that not opening the rice market is the solution to the problem of the rural community. The problem of the rural community existed before the rice market issue' .
  When I reflect on these words my understanding is that the problem of the rural community in Korea today lies in a deeper cause than the rice market opening.
  As we all know, our economy has been developed over several decades by focusing on industrialization. During that time neither the government nor the people were·conscious of the great importance of rural values. We have to admit that the proverb, ''The farmers are the great foundation of the world" , has remained only in lip service as neither the government nor people made any effort to bring life to the rural areas. What we Tl\ust think about as we reflect on the deeper cause of rural crisis is, "How can we revive the rural area?"

   Most important in this regard is the need for the government to commit itself to research and establish a proper rural policy. All Korean people including ourselves must understand the seriousness of the rural problem and be aware of the urgency in reviving the rural community.
  The rural community has been our true homeland, land giving life to our body and soul for five thousand years. The rural community is the mother' s womb of our culture. When we lose it we will lose our homeland. When the rural community dies our Korean people will perish. Therefore we have to embrace the sufferings and fears of farmers as our own sufferings and fears. We have to be prepared and willing to share their worries and concerns. When we are one with them then we can bring our rural community to life and make it once again our beautiful homeland.
  We must not fear internationalization and openness. Instead we must cope with them more positively, with courage and determination. We must be confident that we can win in international competition. If other countries can produce good quality farm products and export them, why can't we? I am confident that we, who developed our economy from almost nothing, are able to produce farm goods that can compete in international markets. It will depend on our deternunation and that of each of our Korean farmers.
  This is an opportunity to unify and consolidate our desires and efforts on behalf of our farm community's concern. The pro and cons of rice market opening are seriously debated and balanced. I wonder if there ever was such a heated moment in our history in the interest of the rural community.
  Now, not only farmers but politicians, econonlists, intellectuals,
workers, students and all Korean people are concerned about the rural community. I wish that this interest and national awareness continues pennanently, deepens and strengthens. Also we must implement our pledge to revive the rural area ourselves.
  The day the Catholic Farmers held the Press Conference another person said, "If the government uses this opportunity to improve the rural structure and support it systematically and materially, and above all if people in cities understood the truth that our bodies and our souls are not two but one; if people in the cities decide to develop the campaign to buy and eat local farm products instead of imported goods, in ten years the rural community will defuliteIy be revived" .


  Dear Brothers and Sisters,
  We must truly listen to the voice of this farmer. Farmers's expectation should not be denied. As our Lord told us to love our neighbors we must make the sufferings of the farmers, who are our neighbors, our own sufferings and work together to resuscitate the rural area. We must mediate on today' s second reading, II "Rejoice always; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God" . When we do our best and when we are determined to overcome
today' s difficulties in faith, Our Lord will come to our assistance. Our God is God Immanuel, God with us.

 

Dec. 12, 1993
Stephen Cardinal Kim
Archbishop of Seoul

 

 

 

My reflection and recommendation on Prayer Day for Farmers

 

  First, it is my opinion that people who are born in this land should live on farm products that are grown in this land. We say that "the human body and soil are not two but one," and this saying has a deep meaning. In the Bible it is said that God created human beings out of soil from the ground, thus people return to soil when they die. This land is a holy land where our ancestors were born, died and were buried. This soil has produced abundant goods to nourish us. Therefore, our body and this soil are not two but one.  This means that we are one with all agricultural goods that grow and are produced from this soil. Therefore it is natural, and God's providence, that people who are born in this land should live on rice and farm products of this land. With the UR settlement and rice market opening, it is expected that cheap foreign farm products will overflow our streets very soon. If we buy these foreign goods only for the reason that they are cheaper than home products it is certain that our physical energy will be weakened and our national spirit will become ill. Then our farm community, the homeland of our soul, may perish and disappear.

  Even if it is inevitable for Korea to rush toward industrialization and the development of technology, agriculture must remain as "the great foundation of the world" for the Korean people. Under all circumstances the government, including all of us, must struggle to protect our rural community so that our farmers can commit themselves to farnling with pride and vision. I urge all members of my diocese to take the lead in the campaign to "Eat Our Own Farm Products".
  Secondly, we must conduct a healthy consumer life which means that we should prefer home products over foreign goods and elinlinate all aspects of a luxurious lifestyle as well as excessive consumerism. The widespread trend of consumerism in our society is like a disease. This is not limited to a special class of society but everybody is affected by this disease in their own way including ourselves; people of high education in their way and less educated people in their own way, poor or rich, believers or non-believers are all same. Everybody is involved. This unfortunate consumerism has become a chronic malady for all. 'When we  analyze it, we fmd its root cause in the national character ofthe Korean people which has been shaped by our dark past history, especially flunkeyism and the tendency to show off wealth. How can we survive in an epoch of internationalization and open-door policies unless we change our attitude and elinlinate this malady that affects all of us unconsciously.
  It is never too late! Let's commit ourselves to the movement to protect home products and to live within our means! This movement should be a crusade against the trend toward luxurious lifestyle and the extravagance of people who love foreign products unconditionally. I sincerely urge all members of our diocese to initiate this movement and carry it through to the very end. Thank you.


Dec.29,1993.
Most Rev. Joseph.Kyeong
Bishop of Taejon

 

 

• News from the Church in Korea

 

 

• Ordination of 34 New Priests


In the course of the month of January, 34 young men were ordained to the priesthood in four dioceses including members of the Passionist Order and the Korean Foreign Mission Society. The number of new priests in each dioceses is as follows: Diocese of Suwon : 17, Cheju : 2, Kwangju : 9, Chonju : I, Passionists : 2, Korean Foreign Mission Society: 2.


 

• "Love is Sharing and Coex i stence"


  On the occasion of the 4th Caritas Sunday, Jan. 30, the Caritas Coreana Committee led by Most Rev. Ignatius Pale, Bishop of Andong diocese, made a strong appeal to all Korean Catholics calling for fraternal love and sharing with people in need. The message was entitled, 'We think of our brothers and sisters who suffer from hunger" .
  "More than one billion people in the world suffer from starvation and two billion from absolute poverty. They are our brothers and sisters no matter where they live and who they are. Fraternal love means sharing and coexistence" , it underlined.
  For 1993 alone the Korean Catholic Church was able to send more then one billion won (US$I.2 million) to 20 countries in need across the world. Caritas Coreana plans to expand aid to Asian countries in 1994 besides continuing assistance to the Church in Africa. Bishop Pale recognized the generous participation of the faithful and said that, "If our Church has turned to being a donor Church from having been a receiving Church it is thanks to the generosity of each Korean Catholic who took the teaching of Jesus seriously" .
  Bishop Pak urged the faithful to simplify their life and think of those who are in need. "Often the poor are voiceless people but they are most beloved ones of God" , he stated.

 


• The Lay Apostolate Counc i I Issues a Cha II enge for the Recovery of Social Morality


  The Lay Apostolate Council of Seoul (Pres. :Lee Kwan-jin), which celebrated its 25th anniversary recently, invited all Korean Catholics to a spiritual renewal and to lead the rebuilding of the value system of Korean society which has been disoriented and degraded.
  ''In the process of advanced industrialization, and following an economycentered policy, our society encountered crucial problems such as a deterioration of culture and traditional values as well as drastic environmental destruction. Above all we deplore the ethical decadence. We, the three million Korean Catholics who are called to holiness, have to reflect sincerely on our lay vocation to be the salt and light in the world" , it said.
  Bishop Paul Kim of Seoul Archdiocese, gave the homily during a Mass for the 25th year of the Council. It was attended by some 200 national lay representatives. Bishop Kim recognized the important role that lay people played and their contribution to the progress of the Church. He said, "If our Church is full of life and dynamism, it is thanks to your remarkable activities and dedication".

 


• Chu rch Condemns MedicaI Use of Abo rted Baby's Bra in Cell


  The Family Pastoral Committee of CBCK (Pres. :Bishop Thomas Stewart of Ch' unch' on) issued, Jan 31, an important statement in relation to the medical treatment of a Parkinson patient by the use of brain cells from an aborted baby. The operation was conducted by a medical team of Seoul National University Hospital at the end of 1993. The Family Pastoral Committee denounced it as anti -morality, anti -life, inhuman and a homicidal act and said that "It is a homicidal act contrary to divine law, to justice and morality". It reaffirmed the Church' s moral stance on the nature of a fetus. According to the Catholic viewpoint a fetus is a complete human being from the very moment of conception and not an object to be manipulated at one's will. Therefore under no circumstances may the organs of a fetus beused for clinical treatment purposes.
  Seoul National U. Hospital denied that its conduct was either illegal or immoral because it was based on the Mother and Child Health Law. The Catholic Church in Korea is in ftrm and clear opposition to this law, considering it as an evil law that permits limited abortion, killing of an unborn child. On this occasion the Church again urged the medical world to respect human life including the inviolable life of a fetus who is an individual human being from the moment of its conception.   Meanwhile the Justice and Peace Committee of CBCK led by Bishop Joseph Kyeong of Taejon announced a seminar to be held on the necessity of "Legal Protection of the Unborn Child" .

 

• Church's Support Continues for Vietnam


  Rev. Oh Tae-sun, one of the joint representatives of the Supporters' Association for Korea-Vietnamese Cultural Exchange, said that on Feb. 21 he handed over to the Education Minister of Vietnam a sum of $246,000 USD and mechanical equipments including seven commuter buses that are the equivalent to $250,000 USD on behalf of the Job Training Center for Korean- Vietnamese. Also a Supporters' Association was formed with Korean businessmen who are working in Vietnam.
  The Center was opened in Ho Chi Min City, last September under the sponsorship of the civilian-run Supporters' Association for Korea-Vietnamese Job Training to provide vocational training and material assistance including computers, automobile maintenance and other technical programs. The Catholic Church in Korea, especially through its "One Heart, One Body Movement" , has been actively involved in this project since 1992.

 


• Catholic University and Songsim Women's University to Merge

 

  On Dec. 14, Seoul Archdiocese headed by Stephen Cardinal Kim officially announced the merge of the Catholic University, estabbshed in 1855, with Songsim Women's University which is directed by the Sisters of Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They will become a single university from the 1995 academic year.
  A merger coordination committee will be formed to hammer out a master plan and to develop the new university. Also a 10-year development plan will be drawn up. The goal of the merger is to promote and create the integrity of human culture by research and education. Ultimately it aims at contributingto the promotion of the human community and world peace and the realization of true humanization and social justice through the integration of faith and human intelligence, based on Catholic teachings.
  The Catholic University has a 138 year long history and operates a College of Theology and the Catholic Medical College which runs eight hospitals. Songsim Women's University has 17 academic departments.
  The projected Catholic foundation will also be responsible for the operation of Dongsung Middle and High schools under Seoul Archdiocese and Kyesung Girls High School and Kyesung Primary School run by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres.

 


• Education for the North Korea Mission


  The North Korea Evangelization Committee of CBCK (President: Rt. Rev. Placid R.i, OSB) decided to develop a special educational program for the mission to North Korea and to promote research and study on this question. The program intends to include publication of a catechism text book for the future unified Korea. Also Rt. Rev. Ri proposed setting up a Pan-Religion Fund for National Reunification. "Since religious exchanges between North and South Korea are limited and difficult, asystem of sharing and cooperation among religions would help ease this. Also a joint financial assistance system for exchange projects would help religions to cooperate closely" , he said.
  According to the report of the N.K.E. Committee, about 3,000 registered Catholics and supposedly 10,000 unrevealed Catholics are in North Korea. In 1988, the North Korean governmentpermitted the building of Changch'ung Catholic Church in Pyongyang. It is run by the North Korean Catholics Association (Pres.: Chang Jae-ch'ol). There are no priests since 1950, the start of the Korean War. According to statistics, based on a report of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, there were about 57,000 Catholics in North Korea in 1945, the year Korea was liberated from Japan. Since then Christians had to flee from North Korea to avoid persecution.

 


• Prison Apostolate's Activity Expands


  The Prison Apostolate in Seoul (Pres. Rev. Kim Song-woo) held its 25th General Meeting recently to discuss new projects for 1994. The priorities set for the new projects were: plan for police officers' pastoral care, ways to improve the present prison correctional system, more rehabilitation centers for released convicts and reactivation of the Church drive to abolish the death penalty. The Prison Apostolate agreed to sponsor workshops and seminars to explore radical reform of the present prison system in Korea. To abolish the death penalty the Catholic Church in Korea began an on-going campaign in May 1992 backed by Stephen Cardinal Kim of Seoul Archdiocese. Cardinal Kim said in his 1992 statement, "Resolution against the Death Penalty" , that the death penalty violates a person's right to life and not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
  According to the Prison Apostolate about half the states in the world have now abolished the death penalty either in practice or in law. South Korea ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1990 and recognized that death sentences should be restricted to the most serious crimes. However, nine convicted murders were executed in 1992 alone and some 50 prisoners were reported to be under sentence of death in 1993.
  The Prison Apostolate runs five centers for released convicts including one for females in Puch'on and has about 250 catechists and staff. "People of Light" is a monthly bulletin published by the Prison Apostolate for inmates serving sentences in 39 correctional institutions in Korea.

 


• Church Speaks for Foreign Workers and Government Takes Measu res


  The North Korea Evangelization Committee issued a petition calling for President Kim Young-sam to reconsider the inhuman measure that the government took last November with regard to some 45,000 illegal foreign workers residing in Korea who refused to report themselves. They were to be deported when found by law enforcement authorities. The petition demands were * to extend the grace period for reporting, *exemption of judicial measure and leniency for those who report themselves, *government to intervene in wage disputes and the unlawful manipulation of foreign workers by employers.
  Besides that the Committee insisted on the necessity of a special consideration for ethnic Koreans from Yonbyon, China, and to give them priority when the government allows 20,000 aliens to come to Korea for a two-year program of technical training.
  On Feb. II the Korean labor ministry announced that the illegal foreign workers in South Korea will be entitled to the same protection as Korean workers. The new policy, based on a "humane" interpretation of Art. 5 of the Labor Standards Law, states, "No foreign workers can be discriminated against simply because of their nationality once they sign contracts with local employers even without government authorization."

 

News in Brief

 


 • Inch'on diocese obtained, Dec. 29, 1993, the government authorization for the foundation of Inch' on Catholic University which will be the 7th CU in Korea.

 • Cardinal Kim, during a New Year's Mass on Jan. 24 for the 61 members of the Congress, asked the law makers to consider sincerely whether the political institutions and laws of our country work truly for the common good of people and asked them to place the common good of the nation above pursuing party interests.

 • Prof. 1m Chin-ch' ang, Professor at Sogang University, was appointed, Jan. 18, member of the new Pontifical Academy of Social Science.

 • Rev. Paul 1m Bok-man (84), the first Korean missionary who went to China in 1942 and spent 50 years in northeastern China either in prison or clandestine ministry, died Jan. 15.
 • Rev. Moon Ik-hwan (76), a Presbyterian minister respected as a symbol of the people's conscience of Korea died on Jan. 18 of a heart attack. He was jailed six times for pro-democracy activity including an unauthorized visit to Pyongyang to meet Kim ll-song, President of North Korea, to discuss the reunification of Korea. Cardinal Kim sent a wreath and message of condolence to his funeral. One boy and one women recovered full eyesight thanks to Rev. Moon' s donation of his eyes for transplant after his death.

 • Maryknoll Sister Yohanna Moon (63) was honored as joint winner of the 1993 Human Rights Prize of Korean National Council of Churches. Sr. Moon was cited for her valued and prominent dedication for human rights work for prostitutes and in cases of family violence.

 

 

 

A Brief History of Cathol icism in Korea [5]


by Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Prof. of Korea University
Department of Korean History

 


The Impact Catholic Faith has Made upon Korean Traditional Society

 

1. Premise of Analysis


  All religions and beliefs influence the society in which they are situated and are in tum influenced by it. Such a reciprocity has existed between Korean traditional society and the Catholic faith since it was introduced to Korea at the end of the 18th century. What follows is a brief survey to see what impact the Catholic faith has made upon Korean traditional society and history, in order to have a clearer understanding of the history of the Catholic Church in Korea.
  Thee points need to be considered: first, an accurate understanding of the characteristics of the Catholic faith when introduced to korea and the theological trends in that era. Second, an understanding of the conditions under which the Catholic faith was received and the social context at that time. Third. an analysis of the social function of those who practiced the Catholic faith. By reflecting upon these points we will examine the Catholic influence on traditional Korean society between 1784, the year that the Catholic faith was introduced to Korea, and 1876, the year considered as the start of the modernization of Korea.
  Here we should point out that the Catholic faith which was brought to Korea in the 18th century had medieval characteristics which were out of step with modem theology. Korean traditional society at that time was also at a turning point after the medieval age and was searching for modem values. Certain intellectuals had already begun to embrace the Catholic faith which was spreading among the lower classes. The Catholic faith, in the context of Korean traditional society at the end of medieval times, was considered a valuable life system of those who belonged to the lower class and consequently, its practice implied a social resistance.


2. Affinnation of Human Dignity

  One of the effects of the Catholic faith on the beliefs and value systems of Korea was the affirmation of human dignity. The dominant value system of that time was Neo-Confucianism which justified the existence of the ruling class of nobles. Neo-Confucianism was based on the inequality of human beings and justified the patronization of the lower classes. However, this way of thinking was challenged by the lower classes in Korean society in the 18th century. The outlook on human beings in the Catholic faith was different from that of the NeoConfucians. The Church preached the equality and dignity of all human beings as they are created in the image of God. It advocated respect for the value of the human person and human freedom.
  Such teachings of the Catholic faith were a shock to certain intellectuals. Eventually it led them to rediscover the value of Asian wisdom with regard to respect for human beings. For instance, Chung Yak-yong (1762-1836), a prominent philosopher influenced by Catholic books, placed a great emphasis on human dignity unlike the Neo-Confucian sages. On the basis of this new o~t1ook on human beings, inspired by the Catholic perspective, a broad reflection on ruling methods and social structures was made. As a reslJlt, an awareness of human equality, women's basic rights and the dignity of children emerged. The Catholic faith played a significant role in promoting human dignity during that time.


3. Promotion of Human Equality


  Korean traditional society was an unequal society based on people's farnily origins. As in many other traditional societies women were sexually discriminated againSt and children were undervalued. In such a social context the contribution made by the Catholic faith to social development, by placing importance on the idea of human equality, was considerable.
  Korean Catholics, from the very beginning of the Church's introduction into Korea, formed a new community in faith which went beyond family origin and social position. In practice they rejected the class system which divided people into nobility, rniddle and lower classes and called each other "friends in faith" (Kyowoo). Such a phenomenon was intolerable for a society based on a rigid class system. Some upper class people, when they were baptized, freed their male and female servants for they were taught that servants were equal human beings. During that time, lower class people thought they were experiencing an "earthly paradise" in the Catholic Church. Korean society understood the relationship between male and female as that of master-servant and vertical relationships. On the other hand the Catholic Church advocated the equality of males and females and tried to promote the position of women in society and a modem society based on sexual equality.


4. New Cultural Awareness


  In the context of Korean traditional society the Church raised a new cultural awareness and carried it into practice. While Korean society was centered on Neo-Confucianism as the only acceptable cultural system, the Church advocated respect for cultural pluralism and stressed cultural openness. In this respect, the Church s contribution to Korean traditional society and to modem cultural understandings and approaches to the trends of the world, have been recognized.
  The Church also contributed a great deal to the study of, and use of, "Hangul", the Korean alphabet. Books on religious subjects were written in Hangul, not in Chinese characters. Grammar books and Hangul dictionaries were published by the Church.
  The Church tried, despite persecution, to assist orphans with the help of the ''La Saint-Enfants" and cautiously attempted to develop a system of school education.
  As mentioned above the effect of the Church in traditional Korean society was not insignificant. Due to harsh persecution, its function as an advocate for social progress in Korean society was potential rather than active. Yet there is no doubt that the Church made a positive contribution to the progress of Korean history and participated in its modernization.

 

 

A Joint Pastoral Letter by the Cathol ic Bishops' Conference of Korea


"For the Family that is a Community of Love and Life"

 

Dear Brothers, Sisters and People who Share Our View,


  On the occasion of the International Year of Family we, the Bishops of Korea, reflecting together on the problems and tasks that the modem family has to confront, remember the importance of the family which is the source of love and life and on which depends the future of humanity.

1. Family, the Future of the Society and Church
  The family, a natural institution established by God, is the "foundation of the society" (Gaudium et Spes, 52). The family is at the service of society and forms and fosters society continuously. In reality, it is in the family that every member of society is born and learns social values. Therefore the family is the first school and the experiences of unity and sharing in this school are what make the basic and important contribution to society. All values that contribute to the progress of humanity such as love, justice, respect for life and human rights, protection of nature and environment spring from the family. Therefore the society where the family is shaken sinks in chaos and looses· dynamism but the family in harmony and the mature family make an important impact to the justice and progress of the society. In that sense, the family is a place where a creative contribution is made to building a peaceful and just society. The Christian family builds the Church. The Church enters the human generation through the family that is born by means of the the sacraments and in their turn the family enters the Church (cf: Familiaris Consortio 15). Therefore problems with the family are truly a fundamental question of humanity because the future of society and the Church depends on it.


2. Changing World and Family
  Today's family is confronted by a historical situation intersected by light and darkness. On the one hand there is a growing awareness of human freedom, interest in promoting women' s position, responsible child birth and education but on the other hand there is a clear symptom of confusion and destruction of fundamental human values. For instance, the egoism of family members, materialism, divorce, artificial contraception and sterilization, abortion and family violence have seriously increased. Beneath such trends there lies a distorted concept of freedom. Not only does artificial contraception dry up the genuine love of couples but it also stirs up degradation of the sexual ethic and abortion. Such violation of the right to life of the unborn child, caused by the trends of contempt of life leads directly to the loss of identity of family. Here lies the root cause of all social problems.
  Also the mentality which belittles women and the erroneous sex culture which leads to abortion of female child because of male child preference, flesh trade and all kind of destruction of human dignity and violation of human rights which does not treat women as a human person. Family violence is one of the major social crimes, yet it is the least recognized one. Because of an exaggerated male superiority complex and patriarchy the sufferings of barren women, widows, separated or divorced women and single mothers are continuously increasing. As the nuclear family system expands the I elderly people are marginalized more and more. Child abuse occurs frequently too. All these problems are our social problems and we must solve them together with family.


3. The Government's Efforts for Healthy Family Community
  In God' s plan the family is given priority regarding duties over nation or other community. If the nation wants to make progress, naturally, it has to protect and help the family. The family is the cradle of life and love, the place in which the individual "is born" and "grows" . Therefore a primary concern is received for this community, especially, in those times when human egoism, poverty, consumerism, hedonism and violence threaten to make these very springs of life dry up.(cf. Christifideles Laici, 40). From this point of view the Korean government has to develop policies on family well being in order to create "a new Korea" , relating to areas such as education and social welfare.
  Today' s systems and laws often unjustly ignore human and family rights because of majority opinion I that is contrary to the natural law and·to the basic spirit of the law. The primary task with regard to the family problem consists in setting up a right policy to protect family. In that case policies regarding law, economy, labor and employment, tax, education and social welfare must be focused on basic human rights and family welfare. Therefore revising art. 135 of the pending Criminal Law and abolishing art. 14 of the Mother and Child Health Law are a basic demand on the ground of the spirit of the law and human dignity. Also any kind of manipulation of human life in its fIrst stage such as gene cloning and artifIcial insemination are a clear violation of human dignity and of its fundamental rights. Thus government countenneasures are urgently needed. Also the government policy for population regulation centered on economic development should be revised. Housing laws, health insurance, income tax. related to the population regulation need to be amended. All "development" policy should be implemented to promote the basic human rights and to pursue the good of the family. Especially the rights of the most vulnerable people such as children, handicapped people, women, single mothers and elderly people must be protected.


4. Social Consciousness Change Regarding Family
  Pope John Paul n, in emphasizing the role of the family, said that the family is the subject of the social refonn. If the family doesn't fulfIll its responsibility for social refonn it will become the fIrst victim of social evil. Thus the family has to serve the society but also the society has to serve the family.
  Today there are efforts being made on behalf of the family through the citizen groups and family counselling centers but at the same time an atmosphere that violates the identity of the family such a sexual violence and increasing divorce which is under the evil influence of mass media, drinking and gambling has expanded.
  If the family is to be healthy people ought to be educated as democratic civilians. The academic education need to turn to an integral education system from entrance exam centered one. The education of youth on the profound meaning and value of human sex and birth is important. The medical people who are at service of human life must respect life from the moment of its conception and should not keep silence any longer on the adverse side effects of abortion and contraception on women both physically and psychologically. Also companies should pay a decent living wage to enable people to look after their families and for their happiness. They should not make demands or plan that infringe friendly relations and the purpose of the family. In order to remedy various problems we call on people who work in the fIeld of the media to make a serious effort.


5. Christian Task
  The Church, deeply convinced that the well being of society and Church are closely related to the family, perceives her mission to proclaim to all people God's plan for maniage and the family (cf. Farniliaris Contortio, 3). The Church has continually worked for protection of human rights and sanctifIcation of family. However we have to redouble these efforts now and each organizations and group must have as its priority the evangelization and the sanctifIcation of the family as its task.
  The family, a small Church praying in communion with Christ, has to show its original image of servant to society. Christians have to understand the importance of the sacrament of matrimony and prepare gradually for maniage with the assistance of Church and remain faithful to the teaching of the Church.
  The Holy Father reemphasised that the family founded on maniage is the "fIrst fundamental structure for a human ecology" (Centesimus Annus, 39) and urged us to rediscover the truth and proclaim it. Therefore Catholics are encouraged to read "Humanae Vitae" and "Familiaris Consortio" and implement them in their lives. They are also invited to bear witness to the truth about the family in this way.
  The Church has to be at the service of family. The parish pastors, religious and professional lay people must be more positively committed to the family pastoral. Young people must be given education on faith and chastity. Choice Programs, Cana conferences and natural family planning, Maniage Encounter must be activated and homilies and education programs should stress on: the importance of the sacrament of maniage and the family. Regular family days and family events should be encouraged and assistance for poor, children, elderly people, handicapped people and families in need promoted.
  Dear Brothers, Sisters and People of Korea,   To recover the original image of the family based on the truth is the foundation stone to construct the future of Church and society. To love family means to foster the value and capacity of the family and to eradicate all kind of evil elements that threaten the family. It also means to strive to create conditions for the development of family. This is a common task to be fulftlled both by family and society, Church and government in this year of the family. So we pray to commit ourselves that this International Year of the Family will become a year of abundant grace for all of us. We have to exert ourselves to construct a life-giving culture and a community of love and life which the Church has proclaimed unceasingly.
  We pray through Mary and Joseph, the model of family life, for all families abundant love and peace of our Lord.

 

March 19, 1994
Feast of St Joseph
Catholic Bishops' Conferenceof Korea

List of Articles
No. Subject Date

CBCK Newsletter No.17 (Winter 1996)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.16 (Fall 1996)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.15 (Summer 1996)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.14 (Spring 1996)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.13 (Winter 1995)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.12 (Fall 1995)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.11 (Summer 1995)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.10 (Spring 1995)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.9 (Winter 1994)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.8 (Fall 1994)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.7 (Summer 1994)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.6 (Spring 1994)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.5 (Winter 1993)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.4 (Fall 1993)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.3 (Summer 1993)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter



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