CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

 

 

 

From the Editor:

 

  Praised be Jesus!

  The CBCK held the election of its officials at its General Assembly last October and elected me as president of the Episcopal Conference. As new president of the CBCK I send peace and greeting to all readers of the CBCK Newsletter throughout the world.
  The Catholic Church in Korea and its dioceses are working arduously to ensure apropriate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. For the renewal of faith life of believers we focus, first of all, our efforts on the education of consciousness. We think that the unity and consistency of faith and life is more important than anything else. In Korea we have many social problems because not only Catholics but also believers of other religions don’t live out their faith life as they should. Indeed, we are very concerned about the social trend that shows contempt for life and which is widespread in our society. In these days, respect for the life of human being that God created in his image and its sacredness has been denied in our society. Among the prevailing evils the most vicious evil is abortion. Abortion means that the mother’s womb which should provide the most secure and happy existence of all is transformed into an execution place of death. All kinds of social problems and social deteriorations, including family and youth problems can be traced back to this absence of respect for human life. This contempt for human life is indeed the root cause of all social evils and dilemmas. In order to heal this social illness we must spread a “culture of life” to every corner of society. For this, we the faithful who first heard the Good News of life, have to bear witness to the Gospel through a consistent faith life. In order to help Korean Catholics in this renewal of their faith life the Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 has published three booklets of “Guide for the Great Jubilee” and spread them throughout the whole nation.
  As we prepare for the 2000th anniversary of birth of Christ, the Catholic Church in Korea has proposed creative and constructive faith life for individuals and communities by inviting them to self-reflection and renewal of their faith in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father. This means the evangelization of the national community of Korean people through reconciliation and solidarity, and an evangelization of culture by transforming a “culture of death” into a “culture of life”. As we march toward the Great Jubilee Year, we are aiming to achieve national reunification, the ultimate desire of the Korean people. Also we are facing the great challenge of evangelizing the Asian continent. We ask your help and prayers for the success of our ardent desires and efforts. Thank you.

 

Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong
Bishop of Cheongju
President Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea

 


1996 Autumn General Assembly of the Bishops’Conference

 

  The Autumn General Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference was held at the CBCK Conference Hall in Seoul from Oct. 14th to 17th.
  The Bishops mapped out an itinerary to prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and held elections for the presidency of the CBCK, Episcopal Commissions and National Committees.
  The Bishops agreed to issue a joint pastoral letter preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 focusing on new evangelization for the third millennium. This joint pastoral letter of the Korean Bishops which will be the third one since 1980 is expected to become a lever to reinvigorate the faith of the Catholic Church in Korea and to fulfill the Church’s evangelical mission in society. They agreed on December 1st, the first Sunday of Advent, as the date to begin using the revised Korean version of the Order of the Mass. The revised Korean Order of the Mass which had been undertaken by the Liturgical Commission since 1987 was given final confirmation by the CBCK at its Spring General Assembly of 1995 and was recognized by the Apostolic See on April 19th, 1996. Also they agreed on making a petition for the beatification and cononization of Father Thomas Choi Yang-up(1821-1861), the second Korean priest.


Newly Elected Officers of the CBCK                                  

President: Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Bishop of Cheongju    

Vice President: Most Rev. Michael Pak, Bishop of Masan        

Secretary : Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong, Bishop of Taejon         

 

Newly Elected Chairmen of the Episcopal Commissions
Episcopal Commission for Clergy & Religious: Most Rev. Paul Ri
Episcopal Commission for Doctrine: Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong
Episcopal Commission for Mission & Pastoral: Most Rev. Angelo Kim
Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs: Most Rev. Gabriel Lee
E Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000

:Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong

 Rev. John Kim Jong-su, former undersecretary of the CBCK, was appointed as Secretary General.

 

Profile of Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the New President of the CBCK
1931: Born in Seoul
1961: Graduated from Songshin Major Seminary and Ordained Priest
1962: Secretary of the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Seoul
1965: Secretary of the Catholic Conference of Korea
1970: Grad. from Urbaniana Univ. in Rome with a doctorate in Can. Law and consecrated bishop and became ordinary of diocese of Cheongju
1990: Secretary of the Permanent Council of the CBCK
1993: Vice President of the CBCK
1996: President of the CBCK

 

Most Rev. Cheong is the author of a dozen books and has translated verious books of spirituality.

 

 

 

 

1997 Pastoral Letters of Korean Bishops

 

Bishops of all fourteen dioceses and the Military Ordinariate in Korea issued their pastoral letter on the first Sunday of Advent Dec. 1, and mapped out their pastoral itinerary for 1997. As the Church steps into the first year of a three-year preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 the Pastoral Letters focused on new evangelization through a deepening of faith and inner conversion. The revitalization of small Christian communities, the restoration of moral values in society, respect for life and family sanctification were given special attention. Following are some excerpts from their letters.

 

  Cardinal Kim of Seoul appealed to his faithful for a “renewed faith life, conversion and evangelical witness” during the 3 years of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and urged the revitalization of the small Christian community movement as a pastoral lever for new evangelization. The letter underlined the importance of pastoral attention for working people and youth and recommended that a youth pastoral committee be set up in each parish and that it be given due financial and moral support.
  Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong of Cheongju stressed evangelization through small Christian communities formed by a few families living in the same neighborhood and said that this is the future of the Church. A new evangelization with new zeal, a new method and a new expression, and on-going pastoral efforts for family sanctification and youth should be pursued in conjunction with respect for life.
  Most Rev. Michael Pak of Masan placed his pastoral focus on the restoration of moral values in society and a new evangelization through small Christian communities. He said that “to restore the social order and customs which are of extreme confusion is the task of the Church today,” and asked the faithful to carry on this faith movement where they are and where they can in order to purify society. He proposed a general restructuring of diocesan organizations to respond effectively to the new challenge of the century.
  Most Rev. William McNaughton of Inch’on placed his pastoral emphasis on the active participation of each catholic in the preparation for the Jubilee Year and the Inch’on diocese synod. He called his diocese to make 1997 a foundation stone of faith in the light of “Tertio Millennio Adveniente” and “Guidelines of preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000”. A campaign to find “lost sheep” and make “new sheep”, to restore environmental and social order, to release political prisoners and protect the human rights of foreign workers should be carried out with vigor.
  Most Rev. John Chang of Ch’unch’on set the focus of his pastoral on activation of small Christian communities and the living out of the Christian vocation to be the salt and light of the world. He said that “the Church has to be open to the exterior world and at the same time to revitalize its inner life. For this we need to create family size communities where people can approach each other easily and in a natural way. District level communities, neighbor communities and mission outstations should live in a relationship of ‘neighbor community’ in communion, mutual service and sharing.” He invited his faithful to participate in the efforts to reanimate the faith of the local Church and in campaigns to protect life and environment through care for the countryside.

 

 


Message on the 15th Human Rights Sunday:

 

New World Requires Restoration of Justice

 

A message issued by the Justice & Peace Committee of the CBCK on the occasion of the 15th Human Rights Sunday on Dec. 8th.


  1. The Catholic Church, today, prays that the dignity of people who are created in the image of God(cf. Gen 1,27) will be more respected and wants to reaffirm that all efforts and activities to protect human rights are among her fundamental tasks.

  2. The prophets speaking to us at this particular time of Advent are spokespersons of the “covenant” that God made with his people. God promises “newness” namely, new hearts, a new people, a new earth and a new heaven. In the first reading in today’s liturgy, we see that God is the one who initiates dialogue and comes to visit his people(cf. Is 40,3). The Son of God has identified himself with humankind and has become reconciled with them through the mystery of his Incarnation. Now people can participate in the divinity of God because of him who united himself to our humble humanity. The mystery of the Incarnation(cf. Jn 1,14) shows clearly the greatness and dignity of human beings who are loved by God. As well as this, Jesus Christ is the recreator(cf.Eh 1,10) and his work not only includes humankind but also the whole of creation(cf. 1Cor 15,28). Therefore, all creation reflects the glory of God.

  3. “The complete newness” that God wants to be realized in the world requires the free response of people and their responsible collaboration. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”(Mk 1,3). The general phenomenon we observe as our society gets materially more affluent and politically more democratic is an awareness of the dignity of the human person and the expansion of this belief. Such consciousness of the dignity of the human person means that people have experienced more freedom and are more aware of it. The yearning of people who long for complete freedom require political, economic, social and cultural conditions which will make its realization possible. By their nature people are social beings who are destined to live together. Therefore freedom is not something that can be acquired just for one’s own satisfaction while ignoring the relationship we have with other people. On the contrary, freedom is realized through mutual collaboration in justice and truth which are the foundations of any authentic relationship with others. Thus truth is the only real condition and criterion of genuine freedom. The problem with modern people is that they pursue freedom by trying to escape from the truth which is an objective and universal principle. At the bottom of the modern social crisis there lies a crisis of truth(cf. Veritatis Splendor 13-14). This is clearly seen in the prevailing individualistic, collectivistic and consumeristic culture of our time.

  4. Our society is suffering from a general pathological crisis and malaise of corruptions. The recently proved illegal actions and corruption crisis of certain public officials have provoked outrage of the people. We regret to say that quite a few Catholics were among those convicted. This is clear evidence that we, Catholics, are also part of the corruption and have been infected by the evil and injustice of the secular world. We cannot deny the fact that the government’s drive for reform has weakened with the passing of time. Those who were indicted for corruption scandals have been given early amnesty and reinstated. That has provoked people’s mistrust in the government. The purpose of the law is to serve the common good of people by maintaining social order and so we can say that the law is a symbol of justice. In our society, however, the purpose of the law has been distorted by its unfair application and manipulation of those who hold power seeking for their own profit. In order to cure such pathological phenomena and widespread corruptions we will have to restore a justice which is based on the practice of sound principles.

  5. The environmental crisis caused by the destruction of the ecology has become a global question necessitating a new form of life, a change of consciousness and a new value system. For this reason a recovery of “Justitia Terrae” which stresses our need to accept nature as our brothers and sisters and the need to think cosmically with all and to have a broader social solidarity are urgently needed. One of the root causes of environmental destruction is selfish consumerism. We, Christians, must be aware of the fact that in a society where all means are mobilized to attract people to a life of excessive consumerism, that this is directly connected to the destruction of environment. If we are sincere Christians, we should bear witness to the evangelical meaning of life by living simple lives and go “to the desert” like John Baptist. “A man is more precious for what he is than for what he has”(Gaudium et Spes 34).

  6. While the North Korean people who are our brothers and sisters are still suffering from the trials and hardships caused by the flooding disasters, 8 trillion won worth of food is wasted every year in South Korea. In this contradictory situation we see the modern day tragedy of the rich man who was indifferent to his neighbor, poor Lazarus(cf. Lk 16,19-31) who longed to ease his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table. The Church should be a sacrament of unity and embrace our North Korean brothers and sisters with affection and accept them unconditionally. To foster this we should participate in the various movements to help the North Koreans such as the “Noodle sharing campaign”.

  7. Dear Brothers and Sisters, The World Church is in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the 2000th anniversary of the birth of our Savior. The radical newness that humanity is seeking for abides in the spirit of the Jubilee year which is a “year of grace”(cf. Lk 4, 18-19).
  One of the main goals of the Jubilee is general “emancipation”(cf. Ex 23, 10-11) of all the dwellers on the land in need of being freed(cf. Ex 23, 10-11; Deut 15,1-6; Lev 23,10;25,1-8). The Jubilee year was meant to restore equality among all the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families who had lost their property and even their personal freedom. Justice according to the Law of Israel, consisted above all in the protection of the weak. The Jubilee was meant to restore this social justice(Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 11-13).

  8. In this time of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the new Advent, we have to brace ourselves with a renewed spirit so that the grace of the Jubilee will be given to the whole world abundantly. Let us prepare our hearts to welcome Our Lord who comes to visit us in dialogue and to make the glory of God shine through our lives. Let us make the paths of reconciliation straight by lowering our arrogance as high as a mountain. Let us correct our shortcomings which are like valleys and break down walls in our hearts that divide neighbors, classes and nations.

 

December 8th, 1996
Human Rights Sunday
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak
President Justice and Peace Committee

 

 

A Declaration of Social Apostolates:

 

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and Social Apostolates

 

  The department of social apostolates of the Archdiocese of Seoul issued a Declaration of Social Apostolates on Dec. 1st, the first year of a three-year preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and invited all the faithful to conversion and reconciliation. In the declaration, Most Rev. Andrew Choi, Episcopal Vicar for Social Apostolates of Seoul, emphasized human dignity, national reconciliation, sharing with North Koreans and the protecting of foreign workers. He urged believers to live out the true meaning of the Jubilee Year in their approach to these problems. The following is the full text of the declaration.


1. Our Attitude to Welcome the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
  2000 years ago Jesus Christ was born for the salvation of our people and all humanity. His Incarnation was to offer true freedom and happiness to all human beings. The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 in which poverty is overcome, captives are freed, prison doors are opened, debts are remitted and the blind have recovered their sight, is fully achieved in Jesus Christ. As we prepare for the Jubilee we look at the 200 year history of the Church in Korea with gratitude and responsibility. At the same time we want to make a sincere self-examination about what we had to do for the salvation of our people since the Church took root in this land but we did not.

 

2. Today’s Challenge
  The Church decided on “Jesus Christ” as the theme of the first step in the three-year preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 and invites all Christians to be reborn as true witnesses of Christ. The challenge of Christians today is to work for the renewal of themselves and to accomplish the given tasks of Christianity in society in response to this invitation. As a response to this reality we want to make the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 the first year of the evangelization of our people.

 

3. Dignity of Human Life
  The right to life is the fundamental right of all human beings. However, the shadow of a “culture of death” is hanging over our society. The government should realize that the fundamental goal of law is to work for human dignity and its primary task at the present time is to review with determination all evil laws including the Mother and Child Law which is opened to abortion. Laws and institutions aimed at increasing respect for human life are needed. The National Assembly should implement its important duty to promote a “culture of life”. Of the two cultures we have to choose culture of life and support it because only it can help us to understand the true spirit of the Jubilee Year and the love of Christ.

 

4. Release of Prisoners of Conscience and Abolition of Death Penalty
  It is true that democracy in Korea has improved. Nevertheless a number of political prisoners are still in prison and their human rights are abused. Tolerance and the release of political prisoners go with the spirit of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of conscience, and with the wish of the Korean people for national reconciliation. Especially those political prisoners who have admitted and repented of their wayward ideological positions, and are now ready to work for the common good of society should be freed without delay. The Church has pointed out the impropriety of the death penalty system and has persistently petitioned the government for its abolition. The institution of capital punishment is inhuman and unjust. Human beings created in the image of God are called to care for life and protect it. A God given right to life should not be violated for any reason. Therefore the death penalty, a “legal” murder by a state power, has to be abolished in the Korean peninsula.

 

5. Efforts for Protection of Nature
  The Jubilee Year exhorts us to make available to all humans a land which is able to provide us food and rest. In doing so the Jubilee Year reminds us that we are the archetype and the protector of the order of creation. However, when we look around us, we can see how seriouse it is the environmental destruction committed in the name of development. Some people exploit nature for their own interests and greeds, and others are unconsciously partaking in it. If we keep silence about this we too will be guilty of the crime of violation of the environment. Eventually this environmental destruction may become a key factor in the destruction of humanity itself. Therefore we urge the government to double its efforts to protect the created order. We, believers, must struggle and collaborate with sense of responsibility so that the creation “longing to see the children of God” can praise God.

 

6. Church and the Solidarity Between City and Farm Community
  Along with the destruction of the created order, farming communities which provide most of our food, are extremely impoverished. The destitute condition of these communities will eventually lead to dependence on foreign agricultural imports which at the moment is a key factor threatening the health of the Korean people. At this point in time, we can almost say that it will be impossible to stay healthy without the revival of farm communities. At this critical time, the Save-Our-Farm movement is expected to play an important role in protecting the right to life of farmers and indeed of all the people. This movement has developed into the Life Cooperative Movement whose goal is to help Koreans to overcome the crises of farming communities, environment and people’s health. In this respect, it is our wish that the Life Cooperative Movement which wants to be a bridge between city and the country may grow further and be developed into a small Christian community movement for the new evangelization of the 21st century.

 

7. Labor Apostolate and New Labor Relation Laws
  In the Jubilee Year the Israelites gave back the land to its original owner. By doing so they respected the will of God to protect the lives of the people. As we prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 we want to examine the question of the right to life of workers in its traditional practice. We reaffirm that the prohibition of The department of social apostolates of the Archdiocese of Seoul issued a Declaration of Social Apostolates on Dec. 1st, the first year of a three-year preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and invited all the faithful to conversion and reconciliation. In the declaration, Most Rev. Andrew Choi, Episcopal Vicar for Social Apostolates of Seoul, emphasized human dignity, national reconciliation, sharing with North Koreans and the protecting of foreign workers. He urged believers to live out the true meaning of the Jubilee Year in their approach to these problems. The following is the full text of the declaration. A Declaration of Social Apostolates: The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and Social Apostolates third party intervention and the right to form multiple labor unions as it is stipulated in the current labor law should be abolished. All laborers must be protected under the Labor Standard Act. When this is done workers’ rights will be promoted and a better life guaranteed for them. On the other hand, the laborers need to develop a “labor spirituality”. We need to confirm that through labor people can come closer to God who is our creator and savior, and can participate in His plan of salvation.

 

8. Fundamental Right to Habitat
  In the Jubilee Year farmers were able to get back their land and homes that they had lost. This shows us in a very graphic way that the spirit of jubilee year is to take care of alienated immigrants, the poor and the oppressed. Nowadays, the right to habitat of people, which aims to promote quality of life by providing decent housing environment, is understood to be a fundamental human right. At the moment, in Korea, there are over 1.5 million families living in one-roomed houses. These people suffer from poor conditions and skyrocketing house rents. The government should make an epoch-making policy in order to find a way out of this critical situation. Also the government should put an immediate end to all forcible evacuation of poor people which is carried out under the name of re-development, but which is in fact a protection of the private wealth of some specific people. First of all the government should protect the rights of the tenants. Government policy to protect human habitat should focus primarily on the building of public rental apartments for low income people. A revision of the “Habitat related law” should be speeded up.

 

9. Reinforcement of Commitment to Social Welfare
  The Jubilee Year calls us to take an option for the poor and marginalized people. Therefore we want to make clear the position of Christians as servants of Christ. We must be clear about the attitude we have to take in our work for children, youth, handicapped and women. We must try to spread and deepen the spirit of the Jubilee year through our engagement with health, counselling and general social welfare organizations. At the same time we must endeavor to provide a systematic mechanism as the basis of mutual collaboration in order to strengthen the service of the Church in this area.

 

10. Establishment of Foreign Workers’ Protection Law
  The Jubilee Year which is a time of bringing freedom and hope to oppressed people should be applied to the migrant workers who are working in Korea. If our human rights are precious, then the same goes for foreign workers too. Today, foreign workers are forced to work long hours and suffer many hardships due to unfair wages and discrimination. The Korean government should establish urgently a law to protect foreign workers’ human rights. In the spirit of the Jubilee Year of hope, life and freedom the Church should keep challenging so that the foreign workers in Korean society are treated as human beings.

 

11. Special Concern for Chinese-Koreans
  The Jubilee Year demands a special concern for those economically weak. There are many people who need our special attention during the Jubilee Year. Among these are the Chinese-Koreans. We want them to live as proud Chinese people with Korean origin with whom we have the same roots, the same blood and culture. From a humanitarian and fraternal perspective, we want to understand their hope and struggle to improve their quality of life. However, many of their lives have been ruined by Korean brokers who exploited them through fraud and cheating while promising them entry to Korea to find jobs. As well as those, the ones who are already in Korea are considered as foreign workers by the Koreans, and suffer from discrimination, unfair and inhuman treatment, humiliation and all kind of exploitation. Thus, the government should introduce a system to root out such swindlers and introduce a proper legal system to punish them while compensating the victims.

 

12. National Reunification and Reconciliation
  Jubilee Year is a “year of grace”, a year of repentance and conversion from our arrogance and selfishness. As we prepare for the Jubilee Year 2000 through conversion we think of national reunification and the reconciliation of our divided country. Since the incident of the submarine infiltration by the North Koreans, military tension between the two countries has visibly increased. No matter what the reason, military tension is detrimental to both sides. We hope there will be no more attempts at hostile actions so that there can be an easing of military tension. Efforts and courage to solve the tension and the confrontation in a peaceful way is an urgent task to be undertaken by the authorities of both sides. At the moment a polite apology by the side that provoked the incident would suffice.

 

13. Sharing with Brothers and Sisters in North Korea
  The Jubilee Year takes on a real significance when we are concerned for each other and share what we have with those in need. In this spirit we have to share what we have with our North Korean brothers and sisters. However such opportunities are at a dead end because of the unfortunate incident of the submarine infiltration. Hostility between South and North and the military confrontation cannot justify indifference and an inhuman attitude toward North Koreans who are experiencing difficulties. Protecting human dignity must be a common goal of all humanity. Food should be provided unconditionally for those who are hungry. Special concern and assistance should be provided for pregnant women and hungry children who are future of our people. Without justification, all measures that ban assistance to those who suffer from hunger are a crime against humanity. We have to keep making humanitarian efforts to share with the North Korean people who are in need.

 

14. Waiting for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
  The Jubilee Year is a year to write off each other’s debts.Therefore the term Jubilee Year means first of all a year of joy and gratitude for the remittance of debts, in other words, of our sins. We want to be apostles of the Messiah and proclaim life, freedom and joy and trust in God who says “I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you heart of flesh”(Ezek 36,26). The God of overflowing glory will shape in us a spiritual being through the Holy Spirit. We wish for all Christians that the coming year of 1997 be a time of true conversion and trust in preparation for the Jubilee Year.

 

December 1st, 1996
First Sunday of Advent
Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu
Auxiliary Bishop & Episcopal Vicar for Social Apostolates of Seoul Archdiocese

 

 

 

● News from the Church in Korea

 

● Special Conference for Advent and Great Jubilee Year
A special conference for Advent and the first year of the threeyear preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 started at Myongdong cathedral on Nov. 29th with a lecture by Most Rev. John Chang Yik having as its theme “The Biblical Foundation of the Jubilee Year and Our Reality”. Other lectures were given on themes such as “The Meaning of the Jubilee Year in the Light of the Christian Faith” by Most Rev. Vincent Ri, “The Practical Tasks of the Jubilee of the Year 2000” by Most Rev. Ignatius Pak and “ The Great Jubilee Year and the National Task” by Most Rev. Andrew Choi.
The four speakers of the special conference are all members of the
Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and their aim is to help the faithful understand the true meaning of the Jubilee Year and so prepare better for it. Some 1000 people showed their interest by attending the opening conference.
Most Rev. John Chang presented the biblical roots of the Jubilee year, its historical development and the rich meaning of its message focused on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness that became the central message of Christianity.

 

● New President of the CBCK Stresses Human Life
Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the newly elected president of the CBCK, said his priority during his term of office would be to protect human life. “In fact, the root cause of the various kinds of social evils lies in the absence of respect for human life. I want to inculcate on people’s minds the fact that abortion is the most abominable sin possible. The easy accessibility of abortion in our society has turned the womb into an ‘execution ground,’ he said. He remarked also that “in the 1970s and 1980s the Catholic Church in South Korea made a significant contribution in providing strong leadership for the country’s democratization. And in the 1990s the Church has continued to work diligently on social issues such as abortion, the family, mass-media, environment and youth.

 

● Canonization Process of Eight Korean Martyrs
The written petition for the Canonization of eight Korean martyrs of the Ulmyo persecution in 1795 and Shinyu persecution in 1801, was submitted by the diocese of Suwon, and was accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Nov. 10th.
On Oct. 11, Most Rev. Angelo Kim of Suwon made public the official permission of the Apostolic See for preparatory work on the canonization of the eight Korean martyrs. The eight martyrs include Paul Youn Yu-il and Father Zhou Wenmo, the first missionary priest in Korea who arrived from Beijing in 1794.
“The document confirmed the work of the Preparatory Committee for the Canonization of the Korean Martyrs done by Suwon and gave permission for the Suwon diocese to do investigation work for martyrs including those who are not within the jurisdiction of the diocese of Suwon,” Bishop Kim said “and with this permission of the Apostolic See, we can now undertake full scale preparatory work for their canonization.”

 

● Catholic and Other Religious Leaders Send Recommendations to the Government on Youth Education
Bishop Paul O. Kim, Vicar General of Seoul Archdiocese, and Ven. Song Wol-ju, chief administrator of the Buddhist Chogye Order together with other religious representatives of Protestant, Won Buddhist and Chondogyo at the end of a seminar which had as its theme “Youth and Religion”, visited the Prime Minister, Lee Soo-sung, on Nov. 12th and presented a recommendation to the government on youth education. In the recommendation the leaders pointed out that the root cause of the deteriorating social environment for youth comes from excessive commercialism coupled with a lack of moral responsibility and youth education which focuses only on college entrance exams, and called on the government to take adequate steps to redress social wrongs.
150 leading figures from various walks of life joined them and issued a special statement calling for a comprehensive measures against corruption in officialdom and a continuance of the relief aid to North Koreans suffering from a serious food shortage regardless of the military tension and ideological difference.
Meantime the Minister of Sport and Culture met three auxiliary bishops of Seoul and called on the Catholic leaders to pursue the Church’s mission of upgrading civil ethics and juvenile culture and asked their collaboration with the government in enhancing social morality.

 

● Cardinal Kim Presents Petition for Protection Law for Foreign Workers
Cardinal Stephen Kim has presented to the president of the National Assembly and leaders of all political parties a petition calling for legislation to protect foreign workers. In the petition Cardinal Kim pointed out serious working condition and human rights abuses of migrant workers and said “no law exists for 200,000 foreign workers working in Korea.” By focusing on critical problems caused by the industrial trainee system he underlined that “the only way to solve the problems of foreign workers is to establish a foreign workers protection law.” He suggested the introduction of a “committee of foreign workers’ employment” under the Labor Ministry that would study and discuss important questions related to foreign workers such as administration, protection and discrimination. The foreign workers should enjoy the protection of the same laws as Korean nationals do, he said.
The petition included a list of 58,915 signatures gathered during the national campaign for a foreign workers’ human rights protection law backed by the Labor Pastoral Committee of the Social Apostolates and by the Justice and Peace Committee of Seoul archdiocese.
Meantime Christian labor activists and some 26 civic movement groups called for the reform of the migrant workers’ system and the abrogation of the industrial trainee workers’ system under which unskilled workers have been brought in Korea from Asian countries.
'The numerous fraud cases involving Southeast Asians and Korean- Chinese seeking jobs here stem from this unreasonable trainee system, it claimed, and asked the government to introduce a work permit system to make the procedure for bringing in the migrant workers more transparent to the public.
As of Sept. 15th, a total of 117,051 foreigners work here without permission, according to government officials. These include 20,000 trainee workers who deserted their assigned workplaces for better paying jobs elsewhere without authorization.

 

● "No Death Penalty Ever.....
A recent ruling by the Constitutional Court that recognizes the death penalty provoked protests from Catholics and human rights organizations. To the petition presented by Chong Sok-bom(25) to the court, asking whether or not the death penalty stipulated in the Criminal Law is in compliance with the country’s basic law, the Constitutional Court ruled, on Nov. 28th, that the death penalty is not against the country’s basic law and recognized it as an indispensable tool of the criminal law system in Korea. “Punishment should be in proportion to the crime committed,” it said.
Against the ruling Catholics and human rights activists argued that the right to life is a God-given right and therefore cannot be violated for any reason. The criminal system of capital punishment is not a realistic way of punishing a criminal but rather it promotes a retaliation culture and ignores the responsibility of society whose duty is to work for the correction and conversion of criminals.
Chong was sentenced by district court to death for raping and murdering an elementary school girl. State executions are still carried out in South Korea, but the last round of 19 executions, at various prisons on the same day last year, was held with no advance public notice.

 

● Korea Women Religious Pray for Comfort Women
The Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Korea (AMSWRK) held a three-day prayer meeting from Nov. 25th to the 28th, at the St. Francis Education Center in downtown Seoul seeking justice for the “comfort women” or women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan. Superiors from some 40 religious institutes attended the prayer and fast meeting.
The meeting was held simultaneously
with a “prayer and fast for justice for the comfort women” which was held in Tokyo in front of the Japanese National Assembly building and led by Rev. Edward and his associates from the Asada church. In a statement, the Korean women religious made a repeated demand a due apology and state compensation from the Japanese government, and the immediate withdrawal of the compensation which is made with civilian contribution. “This is a double humiliation to the ‘Grandmothers,’ they claimed. On several occasions we have sent letters to the Prime Minister of Japan and demanded a recognition of the wartime crimes, barbarous sin of the comfort women’s system and due compensation from civilian funds, but we did not get any feedback, they said. After the concluding Mass the participants marched to the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul and held a protest rally together with members of the Catholic Women’s Community for a New World and other participants.
Last Dec. 4th, over 2000 Korean women religious held an all-night prayer meeting at Myongdong cathedral and marched in silence to the Japanese Embassy for the same cause.

 

● 96 Catholic National Convention of Mass Communication Held
Held Catholic experts in media met together for a two-day convention sponsored by the Mass Communication Committee on Nov. 23-24th at the One-Heart Training Center in Uijongbu near Seoul. The Convention had as its theme “New Era and Mission of the Catholic Media” and was attended by some 150 delegates from UNDA, UCIT and OCIC. They adopted a resolution focussing on the role and mission of the Catholic communication and press people.
“On the one hand the Catholic press people are called to a prayer life as believers and on the other hand they are called to have critical view points and act as media people, therefore we will endeavor as to how to integrate and live out this twofold identity of the media people.” the resolution stated.
Bishop Gabriel Lee, president of Mass Communication Committee, invited the participants to be aware of the importance of their mission and asked that they try to make God felt through their work.”Education of faithful, outreach of non-believers and youth by multi-media, and the good use of the media are important”, he said.

 

 

News in Brief


● On Oct. 15th, in a special Mass at Myongdong Cathedral, the Korean Bishops marked the 18th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s election as Pope and the golden jubilee of his ordination. 500 clergy, superiors of religious institutes and faithful attended and in union with the whole church prayed for Pope John Paul II.

● Catholic Workers’ House of Shihwa, a counselling center to help with industrial accidents and overdue wages, was opened in the Shihwa industrial complex in Kyongki-do in September. The center will be available for both Korean and foreign workers in Shiwha area.

● Cardinal Kim was named as the most influential person in Korean society in a poll conducted by 200 journalists of the central media agencies. The “Newsmaker”, a weekly magazine wrote about the “Ten influential figures of our Time” in its September issue’s cover story and named Cardinal Kim as the most outstanding figure having a strong spiritual leadership in Korean society.

● North Korean Catholics, helped by South Korean Catholics in the USA, have been cultivating high quality flowers and vegetables to sell to hotels and restaurants. The project was initiated by Rev. Park Ch’ang-deuk in the USA to help the Catholic families in NK financially and to promote solidarity.

● On Oct. 31, Cardinal Kim conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on over 114 air force college students at Jaoundae Church and gave them a special lecture about “Values to be kept to the end”. Over 400 students from the army, navy and air force academies and their families attended the ceremony.

● Pax Romana, the International Catholic Movement for intellectual and Cultural Affairs elected Anselmo Lee Seoung-hoon as its new secretary general at its plenary meeting. Lee was on the Hong Kong-based Asian Team of the International Movement of Catholic students of Pax Romana.

 


A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea [16]

 

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

The Catholic Church in South Korea after the Korean War (2)


3. The Church and Rhee Syngman’s Regime
  Rhee Syngman who led the independent movement in America, returned to Korea following the national liberation from the Japanese colonial rule and committed himself to the foundation of the new nation. Rhee Syngman, a Protestant, eventually became the first president of the Republic of South Korea. The relationship then between the Catholic Church in Korea and President Rhee was relatively smooth because the clear anti-communist theory of the Church was in accord with his policy. Also Rhee who did not have a strong political base in South Korea wanted to get the support of the Catholics. So he did his best to leave them with a good impression of him.
  However, the relationship between the Church and Rhee began to breakdown by 1952, during the Korean War. Rhee’s misrule and dictatorship provoked discontent and the hostility of the people and he had to cope with this legitimate resistance. The resistance against him was initiated and led by the Catholic-run “Kyonghyang Shinmun”, a daily newspaper. In 1951, Prime Minister John M. Chang who was backed by Bishop Rho Kinam of Seoul resigned from office and fully involved himself in the anti-dictatorial movement. Because of this Rhee Syngman came to consider the Catholic Church as an enemy and launched a campaign to suppress it. However John M. Chang was elected as vice-president in 1956 and became the leading figure of the dissident movement. This caused the antagonism of Rhee against the Church to increase.
  The hostility and repression by Rhee and his associates against the Kyonghyang Shinmun were intensified and they finally stopped its publication. They accused Bishop Rho Ki-nam, the publisher of the Kyonghyang, as being “a political bishop” or “a dissident bishop” and attacked the Church blatantly from October in 1957. His political persecution of the Catholic Church became salient to the point that he ordered the nullification of the election of all Catholic candidates at the general election for the National Assembly. Also Catholic public officials were forced to resign their post or be downgraded. In addition to that he even sent the Justice Minister to the Vatican and asked the Church authorities to replace Bishop Ro Ki-nam. As a consequence, the Vatican delegated Cardinal G.P. Agagianian to come to Korea to investigate the real situation.
  The harassment of the Rhee Syngman’s administration was a challenge and confrontation with the prophetic role that was carried out by the Church leaders and Church publications. But while the Church herself was committed in the fight against dictatorship and risked suffering and persecution, the social confidence and popularity of the Church were increased even more. Here we see one of the main reasons for the rapid expansion of the Catholic Church in the second half of the 1950s.

 

4. The Church and Political Power of the Democratic Party
  The relationship of the Rhee Syngman’s administration with the Kyonghyang Shinmun and John M. Chang was regarded as the relationship of the Church and the government. The Church, not denying her awkward relationship and conflict with the government, had to use all means at its disposal to exist under this pressure. Meanwhile, the majority of Catholics backed John M. Chang with affection and zeal.
  The struggle of the Kyonghyang Shinmun and John M. Chang against dictatorship was regarded as part of the Church’s activities. The democratic revolution of April in 1960 caused the downfall of Rhee’s dictatorial regime. The Church cheered the victory of the people and supported the revolution movement. Catholic students’ resistance organizations and the priests who were in charge of them were very dedicated in taking care of the victims at great personal risk. Many Catholics followed this initiative and helped those who were injured in the course of the revolutionary struggle. Such participation by Catholics in the democratic movement spread to many parishes and cities including Pusan and Masan.
After the victory of the democratic revolution the Constitution was revised and the Cabinet system was introduced as a result. Also the Kyonghyang Shinmum was revived. The Catholic Church which had made its social position clear asked for support to Catholic candidates at the general election. As a result the Democratic Party headed by John M. Chang gained power and he was elected as Prime Minister according to the revised Constitution. The Church’s support for John M. Chang was almost exclusive.
  Under John M. Chang’s government the Church in Korea tried to reflect on the mutual relationship between “religion and politics” and the duty of the Catholics as citizens. As a consequence the Church came out clearly with the fact that the separation of Church and State does not mean the separation of the faithful and the State. Then the Church emphasized the duty of the faithful to express their opinions according to the Church’s teachings and recommended faithful and clergy to make a positive social participation. The Church made a great contribution in raising the social consciousness of the Korean faithful in the beginning of the 1960s by encouraging them to live as active elements of history both as Catholics and as Korean citizens.

 

5. Conclusion
  Since the armistice ending the Korean War the Church has made rapid progress. However right after the cease fire treaty the Church was under the rigid control of the Rhee Syngman government. The repressive control of Rhee was directly connected to John M. Chang, the head of the opposition party and it was overthrown by the rise of the Democratic Party.
  In a sense, under the government led by the democratic Party, the Church enjoyed the opportunity of making mature approaches to problems relating the future of the Korean people with a broader perspective. The historical experience of the Church in Korea at that time reflects the teachings of the Church on social participation. Along with the “memory of blood” of the persecution era, the “memory of social participation” of this particular time has become an important traditional value in the history of the Catholic Church in 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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