Opinion on Life Issues and the Four Major Rivers Project
2010 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK ··· The Church in Korea Welcomes New Bishops
Message for the Week for the Sanctification of the Family
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Our Opinion on Life Issues and the Four Major Rivers Project
All creation is groaning in labor pains even until now (Rm 8,22)
Since the 1960s the Korean government had actively implemented a family planning policy that promoted birth control for the sake of short-term economic growth. In 1973, it enacted the Mother and Child Health Law that allows the extensive practice of abortions or the indiscriminate surgical removal of fetal life. From that time almost every year the Catholic Church in Korea has protested the government policy against life and has urged the abolition of this law. However, government and political circles have not listened to the Church's voice at all.
Now what is happening in Korea? Our society holds the record for the lowest fertility rate in the world. A rapid decrease in elementary school enrollment has driven our country to a dead end, threatening not only national development but also its very existence. The perspective of life has been darkened by the shadow of death. No policy makers and executors have assumed responsibility for such a consequence.
In this situation some doctors in medical circles who had been agonizing under the darkness and nightmare of death came to confess their past errors and submitted themselves to much criticism and many disadvantages. Moreover, they took the initiative in bravely supporting pro-life activities and committed themselves to stop the further spread of the culture of death. This gives us great consolation and new hope.
Still, a culture against life casts a long shadow over our society. For the true development of this society, we have to choose life. No excuse can justify the attempt to destroy the life of a fetus, the most vulnerable and defenseless of human beings. The Korean Supreme Court in its decision confirmed: "Human life begins from the moment of conception and a fetus in the mother's womb deserves human dignity and must be valued as the origin of new existence and personality. Therefore, regardless of whether a fetus is aware of his or her dignity and value or whether he or she has the capability of self-defense, in agreement with the public's sound moral sense under the Constitution a fetus must be protected from infringement" (June 11, 1985, 84Do, Vol. 33, Part 2, Hyeub497<500>).
Attempts to consider life as a means of development and to destroy it have also been made on the natural environment. In fact all life on earth is communicated in a circle. If natural life is destroyed, it is inevitable that the life of human beings who breathe and are nourished by nature will share the same destiny.
We, all the bishops gathered at the 2010 Spring General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, are concerned that the 'Four Major Rivers Project' which is nowadays being carried out in many places across the country simultaneously will cause serious damage to our natural environment.
We have listened to an explanation for the project by a government working-level task force. Still we cannot understand why the government, mobilizing much heavy equipment and evading legal procedures without a national consensus, has to push forward in such a hasty manner this large-scale construction project which may cause irrevocable damage to our land. When such indiscreet development of nature for the unsatiable greed of human beings does harm to ourselves and to future generations, who among our contemporaries will assume responsibility?
In his recent encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI said: "The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. …… because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a 'grammar' which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation" (n.48). By seeking immediate short-term profits through indiscriminate development, we should not fall into the error of annihilating the precious works cultivated by the Creator over so many centuries.
In this difficult situation, we, the Catholic bishops, urge reflection and conversion of the whole society, including ourselves, and we pray with one accord that government authorities and all Koreans will choose a conscientious and responsible path for ourselves and for future generations. God has taught us from the very beginning: "Here, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. …… I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live" (Dt 30,15.19).
March 12, 2010
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
2010 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) held its 2010 Spring General Assembly at the Conference Hall of the Catholic Conference of Korea (CCK) from March 8 to 11, 2010 and decided as follows:
1. The bishops approved the publication of 'Mystery of Salvation in Signs', the fifth in a series of seven volumes of the Catechism for Youth, which was presented by the CBCK Committee for Catechesis.
2. The bishops approved the revised draft of The Statutes of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea. The revised Statutes will be submitted to the Apostolic See for its recognition.
3. The bishops approved the proposal of the CBCK Committee for Bioethics for a systematic promotion of the life movement of the Church.
4. For the joint promotion of the cause for the beatification of 'the witnesses to the faith of the Catholic Church in modern and contemporary Korea', the bishops reviewed and confirmed a written declaration. The witnesses to the faith of the Catholic Church in modern and contemporary Korea include among others those martyred during the persecution in Jeju Island in 1901 and those martyred under the communist regime during the Korean War.
5. The bishops elected the following new chairmen of Episcopal Commissions and new presidents of National Committees:
- Episcopal Commission for Clergy & Religious: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san
- Episcopal Commission for Doctrine: Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
- Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People: Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
- Committee for Education: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san
- Committee for Evangelization: Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho (also the president of the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Koreans Living Abroad)
- Committee for Doctrine of the Faith: Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man
- Committee for Liturgy: Most Rev. Augustinus Kim Jong-soo
- Committee for Justice & Peace: Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
- Committee for Youth Ministry: Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon (also the president of the CBCK Committee for Culture).
6. The bishops approved the new forms of agreement between dioceses and religious institutes prepared by the General Secretariate of the CBCK after a revision of the existing forms was made in consultation with men and women religious institutes.
7. The bishops decided to mobilize all dioceses to support the recovery from the damage of an earthquake in Chile.
8. The bishops listened to a report that the General Secretariat of the CBCK sent the relief fund collected from all dioceses in Korea for the recovery from natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region and from the damage of an earthquake in Haiti.
9. The bishops listened to a report on the preparation for the Asian Congress of the Laity to be held with the theme "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today" in Seoul from August 31 to September 5, 2010 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
10. The bishops were informed that the Central Committee of the FABC sent the Final Document of the 9th FABC Plenary Assembly entitled "Living the Eucharist in Asia" to all concerned bishops' conferences including the CBCK and recommended the following: to adapt the document to each particular pastoral situation; to use it at retreats and meetings for the ongoing formation of priests; to use it for the formation of religious and seminarians; to disseminate it to parishes for the catechetical formation of the faithful.
The Church in Korea Welcomes
New Bishop of Chunchon,
the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
The Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul and Titular Bishop of Vadesi, was nominated as Bishop of Chunchon and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung on January 28, 2010.
Born in 1944, he was ordained a priest in 1973. In 2002, he was appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul. Since October, 2002, he has served as the president of the CBCK Committee for Reconciliation of the Korean People.
The installation ceremony took place on March 25, 2010 at the Cathedral of Jungnim-dong of Chunchon.
New Archbishop of Kwangju,
the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
The Apostolic See announced on March 25, 2010 that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted the petition of resignation of Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou from the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Kwangju and that the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju, would succeed him automatically in accordance with can. 409 ***1.
Bishop Kim has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Kwangju since 2003 and as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju since 2009. He has committed himself to the unity of the Church and interreligious dialogue, as the president of the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue since 2005 and as a member of the Office of Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs of the FABC since 2006. He has also been a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 2007 and of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2008.
His installation ceremony as Archbishop of Kwangju will be held on April 30, 2010.
New Bishop of Uijeongbu,
the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon
The Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Military Ordinariate, was appointed Bishop of Uijeongbu on February 26, 2010.
His predecessor, the Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek resigned from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age of 75. The installation ceremony will take place on May 4, 2010.
Born in Pyongyang in 1947, the newly appointed Bishop was ordained a priest in 1975. He was appointed Bishop of the Military Ordinariate in 1999. He served as the president of the CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry from 2000 to 2005. He was in charge of the 8th Plenary Assembly of the FABC held in Korea in 2004. He has served as the president of the CBCK Committee for Culture since 2005 and as the chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Mission and Pastoral Care since 2009.
Message for the 9th Week for the Sanctification of the Family
Renew the Meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony
+ The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Dear brothers and sisters,
1. During this joyful Christmas Season when we celebrate together the nativity of the Child Jesus which manifested divine love to all people, I wish that God's abundant blessings may be poured out upon all your families. Today on this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we open up the Week for the Sanctification of the Family, recalling the meaning of family and love. On this occasion of the Week for the Sanctification of the Family, we need to reflect deeply on the true meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony and our role in family life. The Sacrament of Matrimony "becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1617) and it is also a conjugal promise that "the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice" (Ibid., n.1621).
2. Recently, the worsening economic situation and changing views on marriage have driven people to consider marriage as a matter of free choice, and consequently the rate of marriages has been on a steady decline. The phenomenon of married couples avoiding more than one child or avoiding childbirth altogether has been increasingly observed and this "turns married life away from its 'supreme gift', the child" (Ibid., n.1664).
Husbands and wives "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving" (Familiaris Consortio, n.19). However, the vocation of marriage seems to be weakened in real life. Attention must be paid to the reality that sacramental marriage has been threatened by the growing number of mixed marriages between Catholics and other baptized persons or marriages between Catholics and non-baptized persons. Furthermore, with the increasing number of multicultural families, we are faced with cultural conflict. Such situations urge us to remember the original meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony as 'the intimate community of life and love'.
3. It can be said that young people have less interest in marriage because of decreasing opportunities for employment, different points of view on marriage, and distorted values and attitudes stemming from a hedonistic culture. We must strive together to lay the foundation for a stable economic life in which young people can earn their bread by the sweat of their brows. Moreover, it is desirable that the Church should find ways for the youth to develop sound values and attitudes towards life and marriage. In particular, Christian families have to lead their children to the true nature of love by giving a good example of conjugal affection.
Regarding the national problem of the low birth rate, we should emphasize the necessity to promote childbirth as well as to provide a social system for the stable care of children. Local parishes should meet the needs of the times and emphasize anew the birth and education of children as the basic mission of the family. It is also our duty to welcome with warm hearts and justice multicultural families as members of our communities.
4. The Church invites Christian families to ponder the sacramental significance of marriage, giving her blessing and support particularly to families who with devoted love are faithful to their proper call. "The matrimonial covenant has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament" (Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1055 ?1). When Christian spouses understand the proper meaning of marriage and fulfill their duties as Christians, the culture against life, a menace to marriage and family, can be overcome. Hoping that Christian families will contribute to revealing the sacramental meaning of marriage through their exemplary faith life, I pray that God's blessings may abound in each family.
December 27, 2009
On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph
+ Paul Hwang Cheol-soo
Bishop of Pusan
CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010
"You are witnesses of these things" (Lk 24,48)
Dear brothers and sisters,
In January with the announcement of the beginning of a new year, the Church observes the whole week before the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Regardless of denominational differences, we have all received the mission of proclaiming the Good News as the Risen Jesus commanded His disciples (Cf. Mt 28,19).
The Church is the community of faith that practices the teaching of Christ and witnesses His resurrection with one accord. The Holy Spirit leads such a Church with vigor. Since throughout history all Christians have not been able to remain united, we consider this week as a great opportunity to atone for our divisive situation. At the Second Vatican Council the fathers affirmed that "men of both sides were to blame" (Unitatis Redintegratio, n.3) for the consequence that quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church. Therefore, prayer for Christian Unity should begin by overcoming mutual distrust and prejudice among Christians who have been separated from one another for a long time and by jointly discovering the root of true Christians as witnesses of the Good News of the Risen Christ.
In this regard, the theme with which the churches pray and mediate all together during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010 is the word of Jesus for the community of his disciples: "You are witnesses of these things" (Lk 24,48). The resurrection guaranteed a new hope for the disciples who were driven to despair because of the death of Jesus. As grieving Mary Magdalene encountered the Risen Jesus, so did the two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus and they recognized Him when He broke bread and gave it to them. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles stormed out of the attic to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ. The terrified women at the tomb, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the disciples overtaken by doubt and fear, all encountered the Risen Christ who sent them on mission: "You are witnesses of these things". This mission of the Church given by Christ could not be appropriated by anyone on his own. The Church is a community of all who can be reconciled with God and bear witness to the truth of the power of salvation in Jesus Christ.
It is noteworthy that neither Mary Magdalene nor Peter nor the two disciples on the road to Emmaus witnessed Jesus in the same manner. Their encounters with the Risen Jesus occurred in different ways and places and thus their missions were different from one another. Yet, the central theme of their diverse witnesses converged on one point: the victory of Jesus Christ over death. The personal encounter with the Risen One invited them in different ways to a radical change of their lives and to the mission: "You are witnesses of these things." As their encounters put emphasis on different aspects, they could differ from one another in their thinking about the qualifications needed to be faithful to Christ. However, they all showed no difference in one point: they proclaimed the Good News.
The Protestant brethren are also called together to proclaim the Good News witnessing the Resurrection of the Christ. The lingering misunderstanding and prejudice among the brethren separated for many reasons have yet to be overcome. They should not count for much. Our common mission to bear living witness to Christ is still most important. The precious heritage of faith remains alive among our separated brethren and we need to learn from one another. We can also discover the perduring love towards Jesus and trust in Him in our different confessions of faith. The faith means not just reciting a confession of faith, but also practicing what we have confessed. A true Christian should confess that his or her own faith is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who loves His Church.
I still remember the remarkable fruits of the ecumenical movement accomplished by the Churches in Korea in 2009. The Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches in Korea jointly prepared the prayer materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2009 which were dedicated to all churches observing the week of prayer together. We also held successfully a grand ecumenical prayer meeting for the first time in the history of the Korean churches. I am sure that these activities went down in history as a significant milestone for the Churches in Korea promoting the ecumenical movement. There were also pilgrimages in the spirit of unity along with the representatives of the Protestant Churches and the Orthodox Church. Brushing aside the initial unfamiliarity of such a meeting, we, as brothers united in Christ, together visited Rome to have an audience with the Holy Father and we also met H. E. Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to share concerns about the unity of the Churches. Then we went over to the United Kingdom to meet the representatives of the Anglican Church, the Salvation Army and the Methodist Church. We had the opportunity to understand the status quo and achievements of the ecumenical movement on their side. Above all, the meetings and pilgrimages were the most precious moments to discover that we are brothers united in our faith in Christ in our daily lives. In this regard we were set free from denominational prejudice. We also realized that experiencing a true unity means practicing the original mission of the Christians who bear common witness to the faith by living and praying together.
In this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I would like to invite all Catholics to pray for the unity of all Christians in the world. Especially I hope that all the faithful can share the fruits and achievements resulting from the ecumenical movements of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. We cannot bear witness to the Good News until we share with others the hope which we have found and communicate the desire for unity to all people. I also hope that, while confronting present difficulties of our society, we can share love and prayer with the separated brethren to bear witness to the Gospel. This is our mission given by the Risen Jesus. It is our mission to be the light of the world to drive away the darkness. We have to accomplish such a mission in close cooperation with the separated brethren. Let us take the initiative in efforts to read the signs of the times in a proper manner and to bear witness to the Good News in true communion and unity in our daily lives.
January 18, 2010
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju
CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2010
the Way to be a Good Friend to the Poor in the World
Dear brothers and sisters,
On the occasion of Overseas Aid Sunday 2010, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your support and encouragement. At the same time, I would like to invite all Christians to broaden their horizon and to become true friends of those neighbours who have to manage a life in dire need. Each Christian has his or her mission to 'love God and neighbours' in accordance with the teaching of Jesus.
Who Are Our Neighbours?
Jesus told us the greatest commandment is to 'love God and neighbours' (Cf. Mt 22,36-40; Mk 12,29-31; Lk 10,25-28). He also told us that we love God when we practice love for our neighbours. In other words, we have to 'give food to the hungry' (Cf. Mt 25,35.37.42) so that "there is no needy person" (Cf. Acts 4,34) among us. Love for our neighbours means an unconditional love for all people including foreigners (Cf. Lk 10,29-37). It sometimes means even 'giving some food' (Cf. Mt 14,16) to countless neighbours including 'the poor who cannot repay' (Cf. Lk 14,13-14) and "the least brothers" (Mt 25,40).
In September 2009, the World Food Programme announced that the number of the starving in the world was projected to exceed the mark of one billion within the year. With this figure we can calculate that 2.7 billion people, almost one third of the world population, live on less than two dollars a day. To make matters worse, natural disasters on large scales have recently frequented South Asia and Africa where the majority of the poor live. Several nations in Asia suffered from disastrous flooding caused by the typhoon Morakot in August and the typhoon Ketsana in September 2009. Moreover, almost one thousand people lost their lives and millions of people suffered from the massive earthquakes in Java and Sumatra, Islands of Indonesia in 2009.
When we look into the causes of such natural disasters, we can realize that it is not just a matter of the victimized countries and their people, but a task for which we all have to find solutions in the spirit of solidarity and concern. Especially, in regard to the problems stemming from personal greed and national egoism, we have to urge ourselves to greater efforts for examining ourselves as well as for rekindling the flame of love in our hearts. A true solidarity in the global village means not just almsgiving in sympathy, but a proper fulfillment of the needs of our neighbours in full awareness of their problems.
To Be a True Friend
Jesus told us exactly who the true neighbour is in the parable of the good Samaritan. A Samaritan 'saw' a man fall victim to robbers. The victim happened to belong to a hostile tribe. Even though the tribesmen of the victim passed by, the Samaritan "was moved with compassion at the sight" (Lk 10,33), and "approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him" (Lk 10,34-35). The next day he asked the innkeeper to take care of the victim, and he promised him that he would pay all expenses. The meaning of 'being a good neighbour', Jesus said, is to "go and do likewise" (Lk 10,37). When we help the needy with all our hearts, we can be their true friends at last.
Such a teaching of Jesus has been newly interpreted in the papal documents reflecting the demands of the times. In his social encyclical Caritas in Veritate, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI suggested a solution to problems related to poverty, food shortages, human rights, labor, justice and environment. These problems derive from globalization coupled with neoliberal capitalism. He pointed out "as society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers" (Caritas in Veritate, n.19). The Holy Father also emphasized that the very love of God leads people to strive towards the common good, to assume responsibility for weaker parties in a society, and to curb their desire for wealth. In conclusion, he urged every nation in the world to take the initiative in support and solidarity for the poor nations.
The Church has always proclaimed the Good News of love as a solution for various problems of humanity. Though times have changed, we still encounter those people with whom we are to share what we have. This very sharing is the fundamental way of practicing love for our neighbours in accordance with the commandment of Jesus. Our Lord knows nothing but love and becomes the example of dedicated love for 'you', sacrificing His own life. In this way, he became the 'friend' for us as he said: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friend" (Jn 15,13). We humbly pray that God may rekindle the flame of love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We give our word that we will take the initiative in spreading the flaming love of Jesus, with no intention of showiness. We will also commit ourselves to welcome our neighbours as our true friends from our generously open hearts.
"We also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 5,11). I also boast of Jesus Christ through all of you who always try to renew your love towards Him. In my prayer I wish you all every happiness with God's abundant blessing, which will be with you as you pave the way for love and dedicate yourselves to your neighbours.
January 31, 2010
On Overseas Aid Sunday
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
Bishop of Masan
CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana"
● News from the Church in Korea
● Representatives of CCRP Visit Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine
Twenty representatives from the China Committee on Religion and Peace (CCRP), which is composed of religious persons from Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam, made a visit to Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine in Seoul on November 26, 2009, having thus an occasion to deepen their understanding of the Catholic Church in Korea.
The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, President of the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue, welcomed the Chinese religious leaders and explained to them about the present state and the vision of the Catholic Church in Korea. He also asked them for cooperation and efforts in continuous exchanges between the religious leaders of two countries.
The delegates of the CCRP came to Korea on November 19, 2009 by invitation of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP) as a part of Korean-Chinese religious leaders' exchange meeting and also in return for the Korean religious leaders' visit to China in 2007. Before meeting Catholic leaders in Korea, they visited other cities in Korea and met the leaders of other religions.
● The Last Letter of Bishop St. Daveluy Released
The last letter of Bishop St. Antoine Daveluy written just before his martyrdom has been released to the public. Dr. Cha Ki-jin from the Yangeup Research Institute for Korean Church History made the letter public after the Mass commemorating the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Research Institute on December 3, 2009 in Baithi Martyrs' Shrine.
This letter is supposed to have been written just after March 11, 1866 when Bishop Daveluy was arrested and to have been transferred secretly to the Catholics of that time. Beginning with the words "Dearest brothers", this letter of three pages written in Korean is composed of Bishop Daveluy's teaching addressed to the faithful of that time, exhorting them to follow Christ and practice his words faithfully to be his true disciples.
Bishop Antoine Daveluy was born in Amiens, France in 1818, ordained a priest in 1841 and entered the Paris Foreign Missions Society in 1843 to be a missionary. He came to Korea in 1845 and devoted himself to the pastoral care of Korean Catholics for 21 years until he was martyred in 1866. He was the 5th Vicar Apostolic of Corea (Joseon) and was canonized in 1984 along with 102 other Korean martyrs.
● The Christmas Messages of Diocesan Bishops
All diocesan bishops issued Christmas messages celebrating the nativity of the Child Jesus on December 25, 2009, and urged the faithful to overcome the culture of death with the power of Jesus Christ and to renew themselves and their neighbors for the building of a culture of life.
In the Christmas messages, the bishops pointed out especially the evils of our society marked by materialism and social conflicts and stressed that love means to practice a life of sharing.
His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, said, "The most serious problem in our society is a materialistic life which impoverishes all other values." and he added, "As long as human beings regard money and property as the highest value, they cannot but live in isolation from one another, and the human community will become a ground of conflict and division. In this situation, a tendency toward the neglect of life will prevail throughout our society".
He also stressed, "The most important thing for the culture of life in our society is the restoration of good values", and he urged the leaders of society to take the initiative in this way.
In his message, the Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju, said, "In this situation where the culture of death dominates the world, in order to live as the children of light, we have to walk under the light of truth." He stressed especially, "We have to have an eye to see the darkness, that is to say, a conscience and a discernment before blaming the dark world, and meditate on the way walked by our Savior".
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-gil, Archdiocesan Administrator of Daegu, imparted the blessing of Christmas to the faithful, saying, "Sharing all goods with the poor and rejoicing over it is a true delight of God and Christmas".
● Guidelines for the Presentation and Maintenance of the Cultural Heritage
of the Catholic Church in Korea Published
The CBCK Committee for Culture (President: Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon) published Guidelines for the Presentation and Maintenance of Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Church in Korea on November 29, 2009.
The Committee has been preparing the Guidelines since 2005, in accordance with the advice of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church to facilitate important initiatives at the level of the Bishops' Conference for the conservation, protection and promotion of the Church's cultural heritage. The Guidelines were also required to meet an urgent and growing need to grasp exactly the current state of the Church's cultural heritage and to take care of it systematically. The Guidelines were approved by the CBCK Permanent Council on September 7, 2009.
It is required for each diocese to establish its own basic principles and criteria for preserving and caring for the Church's cultural heritage in accordance with the Guidelines. The Guidelines also regulate the designation of Cultural Assets Registered by the Catholic Church, as is the case with Government-designated Cultural Assets and National Registered Cultural Assets, in order to evaluate and judge the historical, artistic, scientific and rare value of the Church's cultural properties more than fifty years old and to help in the selection and registration of each diocese.
● The Result of the First Survey on Overseas Aid
The very first research conducted by the CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana" (President: The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myeong-ok) showed that Korean Catholics donated about KRW 2,000 (about USD 2) a person in 2008 for neighboring countries suffering from poverty and difficulties. The total amount of aid was a little more than KRW 10 billion (about USD 8.7 million), as of the end of 2008.
Since the mid 1980s, Korean Catholics have continuously supported other nations going through various hardships. As there were no specific data about the aid, this research conducted by the Committee between September 7 and November 11, 2009, therefore, has significant meaning. 16 dioceses, 1,542 parishes, 165 religious societies, 28 apostolate organizations and other institutes and organizations engaging in overseas aid participated in the collection of the data. With the data, the Committee had the opportunity to figure out and analyze the general state of foreign support and amount of the aid, and details of the works. Experts in this field will be able to use the data for the continual betterment of overseas aid. The result of the survey will be useful to build an efficient network for overseas aid by the Catholic Church in Korea.
● More than 150,000 Overseas Korean Catholics
The CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Koreans Living Abroad (President: the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho) released the Statistics of the Overseas Korean Catholics 2009 which showed that the number of the overseas Korean faithful was about 150,000 as of late 2009, indicating an increase of approximately 0.7% over 2008. According to the Statistics, the faithful reside in 66 nations on six continents; and the number of Korean Catholics in South America was greatest while the number in Africa remained the lowest. The number of the Korean faithful on four continents dwindled but this was not so for South America and Asia..
Overseas Korean Catholics exceeded the 150,000 mark for the first time in 2006, and then the number has been growing steadily except for the year 2007.
● The Church in Korea Was Deeply Disappointed by the Constitutional Court's Decision to uphold the Death Penalty
On February 25, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Korea stated, in a five to four ruling, that the death penalty did not violate 'human dignity and values' protected in the Constitution. This is a major setback for Korea that on December 30, 2007 was declared an abolitionist country in practice.
Right after the ruling was announced, the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san) issued a statement expressing its deep disappointment in the Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the death penalty. "The Constitutional Court made an anti-life decision, vindicating the death penalty. Although the State must protect the lives of the people, its decision against humanity to uphold the death penalty infringes on it."
The Most Rev. Paul Kim Ok-kyun, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Seoul, passed away at the age of 84 on March 1, 2010. A Funeral Mass was celebrated at Myeondong Cathedral of Seoul on March 3, 2010, presided over by H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul. After the Mass, the deceased Bishop Kim was laid to rest in Yongin Catholic Park Cemetery. For 17 years since 1984, as Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Seoul he contributed to organizing the archdiocesan administration and to consolidating a foundation for stable financial management. He successfully organized and held the National Congress of Faith for the Bicentennial Commemoration of the Catholic Church in Korea and the Canonization Ceremony of 103 Korean Martyrs in 1984, as well as the 44th International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul in 1989. The deceased Bishop Kim dedicated his entire life to developing the Church in Korea and to renewing the faith of Korean Catholics.
News in Brief
The episcopal Commission for Clergy and Religious (President: Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou) held the first workshop for formators with the theme, "I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently" (Jer 3,15) from January 25 to 30, 2010 at St. Jeong Hasang Education Center, Diocese of Daejeon. This workshop was for 30 formators who had less than three years of experience in seminaries.
The CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana" (President: Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myeong-ok) made a decision to help Haiti which was devastated by a fierce 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010 with 50,000 dollars as a part of emergency relief. 50,000 dollars from One-Body One-Spirit of the Archdiocese of Seoul, 10,000 dollars from the Catholic Health Association of Korea and 20,000 dollars from a businessman were donated. The total of 130,000 dollars in donations for the victims was transmitted to Haiti through Caritas Internationalis.
The CBCK Committee for Social Communications (President: Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil) held the 19th Catholic Mass Communications Awards ceremony on December 2, 2009 at Coste Hall of Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul with about 200 participants including the awardees and their families, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, and those working in Mass Communications. This year, four people had the honor of being awarded respectively in the sectors of Broadcasting, Newspaper, Press and Film. Special award were given to Msgr. Paul Jeong Ui-chae who leads the translation of Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas and to Mr. An Byeong-jin, producer of Kyungin Broadcasting, for his documentary about foreign workers in Korea.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Ch'oe Ch'ang-hŭb Peter (1786-1840)
Ch'oe Ch'ang-hŭb Peter was a younger brother of Ch'oe John, martyred in 1801, and the husband of Son Magdalene, beheaded in 1840.
Peter was born about 1786 to a family of a government official. His father died when Peter was 13 years old. Shortly after his father's death, Peter began to study the Catholic doctrine, but he did not get baptized. Since he was separated from other Catholics during the persecution, he did not practice his religion well. In 1815, he started to associate with Catholics and learned his religion again. He had a warm personality and was well liked by others. During the persecution of 1801, he lost all his family property. In that poor situation, he married Son Magdalene, and raised eleven children. Nine of them died when they were young. In 1821, when cholera raged throughout the country and caused many deaths, Peter was baptized. After that time he observed all his religious obligations faithfully. When the missionaries came to Korea, Peter was listed as one of the most faithful Catholics. He used to say: "When I think of the sins I committed in my younger days, I feel I have to die for God to do penance and to save my soul."
Peter was arrested in June of 1839, and was interrogated and tortured. His body was twisted seven times and he was whipped, but he would not deny God and refused to reveal the whereabouts of his fellow Catholics. He was severely tortured even in the higher court, but he endured with courage. Just before Peter was taken out to the site of his execution, he asked a servant in prison to tell his imprisoned wife and daughter not to shed tears but to praise and thank God and follow him in martyrdom.
Peter was beheaded on December 29, 1839, outside the Small West Gate with six other Catholics. He was 53 years old when he was martyred.
Cho Chŭng-i Barbara (1781-1839)
Cho Chŭng-i Barbara was the wife of Nam I-gwan Sebastian. She was born in 1781 to a renowned noble family. She was married to Nam Sebastian when she was 16 years old and gave birth to a son who died soon after birth.
During the persecution of 1801, many of her relatives were martyred, and her husband was sent into exile. Barbara lived with her younger brother, but he made her very unhappy. She could not practice her religion faithfully, because there were no priests in Korea at that time, and she lived far away from other Catholics. When she was about 30, she came up to Seoul and lived with a very devout Catholic family. Barbara then had a chance to practice her religion faithfully.
She was a cousin of Chŏng Ha-sang Paul, and helped him to prepare for his trip to Peking to introduce foreign missionaries into Korea. After Father Yu Pacificus came to Korea, Barbara's husband was released from exile in 1832, and she was able to help the Chinese priest. After Father Yu returned to China, Barbara bought a small house in which she had Fathers Maubant and Chastan and Bishop Imbert stay. The Catholics used to come to her home for prayers, confessions and Masses. She used to say: "If a persecution breaks out, we all must die. We must train ourselves by mortification in order to glorify God and save our souls."
Barbara was arrested in July of 1839. She continued to refuse the demands of the police chief to deny her faith and to reveal where her husband was hiding. She said: "Even if I have to die ten thousand times, I cannot commit a sin." Consequently, she was severely tortured. Her legs were twisted, and she was beaten with a cudgel 180 times. Even after she was sent to the higher court, she was beaten more severely. Her husband, after his arrest, was also severely tortured. Both of them showed courage and a desire to die for their faith.
Barbara was kind to the other inmates and consoled them. She said goodbye to them, and then fell asleep. She woke up just before she was taken out for execution.
Barbara was taken outside the Small West Gate and was beheaded on December 29, 1839 with six other Catholics. She was 58 years old when she was martyred.