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Message from the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea
The Church in Korea Welcomes New Bishop
Message for the Sunday for Life
Message for the 6th Week for Catholic Education
Message for 2011 Day for the Environment
Message for 2011 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor :
"We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now" (Rm 8,22)
Since 2010, four major rivers in Korea have been dug up on the pretence of environment-friendly development for the improvement of water quality. Over millions of livestock such as cows, pigs, goats, ducks and chickens were culled and buried for fear of a pandemic spread of foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza. The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March took a heavy death toll. Civil wars and national conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, including Libya, have resulted in innocent civilian casualties. The death march is still in progress. The longing for freedom from the grass-root movement has been under terrible fire. We are at a loss to know what to do as the whole world seems to be rushing into death. We can see this in recent global catastrophes that include cold waves, severe heat, heavy snow and rain, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, explosions of nuclear power plants and radioactive contamination.
Referring to such tribulations and catastrophes, the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea(CBCK), stressed that "if the Church wants to proclaim the Good News to the world today, she has to cultivate her sensibility to discern the yoke and trap causing pain and sorrow in the world, as well as to sympathize with the earth. …… We all need to share in the pain and groaning of the most vulnerable and suffering creatures."
Pope Benedict XVI said, "Creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God's works," therefore, "its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind" (Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2010, n.1). Most scientists at the International Science Technology Forum raised their voice in unison concerning the necessity for a basic understanding of environmental problems in order to live as a member of one human family, since a single action against life, nature and the environment in a certain corner of the earth can influence the whole of humanity.
All creatures including human beings are today groaning under environmental and ecological problems. Pope Benedict XVI warned, "Once man, instead of acting as God's co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, 'which is more tyrannized than governed by him'" (Ibid, n.6). Nature seems to have already launched a massive counterattack as a protest against the arrogance and abusive behavior of human beings over the world of creatures. We have to read the signs of the times including the aftermath of ecological destruction in the serious changes of climate and ecology, and in disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis occurring throughout the earth. The Church definitely has "the obvious mission to study the ecological problems and understand them in the light of Gospel" (Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea's Guideline for Environment, n.59). In this regard we should never forget for a moment that the essential mission of the Church is to revive the divine order of creation through education, solidarity and practice in order for the life of God to flow in the world.
"Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live. …… It will become fresh, and everything will live where the river flows" (Ez. 47,9). In the spirit of these words, the Church needs to be the river of life that flows in this world.
Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Message from the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea
on the occasion of the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (summary)
"As I have loved you, so you also should love one another"
Concerned with the growing phenomenon of migration, Pope Benedict XVI chose for the theme of the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees "one human family". To realize this, he urges us to put into practice the new commandment that Jesus Christ addresses to us: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13,34).
In recent years, many people have faced desperate situations that have forced them to flee their homes and go to other regions or countries. This has been due to natural disasters like the severe earthquakes that occurred in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan or due to the political situations in countries such as Egypt and Libya. All these people are our neighbors. For the active practice of love for the poor according to the teaching of Jesus, first of all we should accept their difficulties as ours. Without broadening our minds in such a way, we cannot welcome as "one human family" the migrants who are forced to leave their families and countries.
The Catholic Church in Korea is now developing various pastoral programs for living together with immigrants, men and women in multicultural families as our brothers and sisters, and hundreds of priests, religious and lay people in all dioceses are uniting their efforts. The practice of fraternity of Church communities for them, however, should not be entrusted only to experts. Let us all live mature Christian life in Church communities, sharing joy and sorrow with them as equal neighbors, without any discrimination. It is the mature attitude of Christians moving on to the future, but not forgetting the past, to welcome cordially and warmly the immigrants and multicultural families who have entered Korea with great hope. This hospitality is shown in the true life of believers concretely realizing the "one human family" urged by the Pope.
What is most needed for us is a spirit of hospitality to immigrants. A Christian does not merely look at his neighbors as immigrants, but he sees the face of Christ in them. Jesus was born in a stable and fled to Egypt where he lived as an immigrant. We should be true Christians who can practice charity towards all people, including foreigners. For us as Christians, all migrants from any country of the world, for any reason, are not foreigners but our brothers and sisters.
May 1, 2011
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
for the Pastoral Care of Migrants
and Foreign Residents
Living in Korea
The Church in Korea Welcomes
New Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Kwangju
On May 12, 2011, Fr. Simon Ok Hyun-jin, Professor of Gwangju Catholic University, was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Kwangju and Titular Bishop of Pederodiana. The new bishop was consecrated on July 5 in Imdong Cathedral Church of Kwangju.
Bishop Ok, born in Muan, Jeollanam-do, was ordained as a priest in 1994, and studied Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University from 1996 to 2004.
After obtaining his doctorate, he served as pastor at Unnam parish from 2004 to 2006 and as the director of the Gwangju Research Institute for Catholic Church History from 2005 to 2009. He has been professor at Gwangju Catholic University from 2006 and a member of the CBCK Committee for the Doctorine of the Faith from 2007.
Message for the Sunday for Life (summary)
"Abortion Is a Form of Murder"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May God, the Lord of life, fill your family with His Grace and Peace.
This year, at the CBCK Spring General Assembly, the Korean bishops decided to transfer the 'Day for Life' from the last Sunday of May to the first Sunday of May with the new name 'Sunday for Life'. The purpose of this day is to safeguard the dignity and inviolability of human life and to establish more actively a culture of life in this land.
Willful abortion is one of the gravest crimes to harm human life itself. The 2nd Vatican Council defined 'abortion and infanticide' as "unspeakable crimes" (Cf. Gaudium et Spes, n.51). Abortion, committed by parents and health care agents, is a horrendous crime violating a defenseless and innocent life.
It is estimated that over 1,000 abortions are executed everyday in Korea. Some allege that abortion is a surgery to remove a sort of tissue because a fetus is not a human being but just a mass of blood tissue. Some even insist that abortion is 'the right of self-determination' or 'the right to health' for women. There are also those who demand the complete liberalization of abortion, saying that abortion should be legalized for so-called 'socio-economic reasons'.
Every human life begins at the very moment of conception. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; therefore from that same moment his or her right as a person must be recognized (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, n.60).
On the occasion of this Sunday for Life, I hope that all of us, as defenders of life, take initiatives to build a culture of life in this land.
May 1, 2011
+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun
Bishop of Cheongju
CBCK Committee for Bioethics
Message for the 6th Week for Catholic Education (summary)
Revival of Spiritual Education
This year marks the sixth year since the CBCK designated the last week of May as the "Week for Catholic Education". In the preceding messages for this week, we have urged Catholic educators to reflect on the essence of education based on the Catholic faith and to practice it in the field of education. Especially, we have stressed care for the poor in education, education of the whole person, new understanding of the value of life, and practice in concrete situations.
On this occasion of the Week for Catholic Education, I would like to recommend that Catholic educators put emphasis on the spiritual education of youth and children, following the example of Jesus, the true teacher.
Practicing Daily Prayer
First of all, it is important for you as an educator to practice daily prayer and to act on the words of God. As Jesus told us, "everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand"(Mt 7,26). We have to share in the efforts to manifest the Lord's glory.
Respect for Human Dignity and Discernment of Vocations
Secondly, we have to respect the personal dignity of students as God's precious children, awake the vocations given to them by God, and give them a chance to realize their potential. It is necessary to pool our efforts, with the discernment of God's will, to help them become the cornerstones of the society, as "the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone"(Mk 12,10).
Spirit of Hospitality and Practice of Love
Finally, taking care of the least is the basic way to practice divine love. Educators must offer good examples of hospitality to their students in line with the words of Jesus, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."(Mt 25,40)
On this occasion of the Week for Catholic Education, I hope that all our Catholic educators may become God's blessed children and practice His teaching in their actions, asking Jesus, the true teacher, to show the way of education.
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Inchon
CBCK Committee on Education
Message for 2011 Day for the Environment
We have to live together with all creatures in a humble manner
Dear brothers and sisters,
The God-created world is a truly beautiful place to live. God "found it very good" (Gn 1,31) as He looked at everything He had made in order, including man. The Psalmist marveled at such a beautifully created world, singing "How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Ps 104,24). As human beings, we are to cultivate and care for this beautiful world. In other words, when we utilize nature in conformity with God's will, we have the responsibility to protect the created world and this includes all creatures which are the objects of the profound love of the Creator.
However, the God-created world is groaning in pain. According to the 2010 State of the Future report of the United Nations, the most pressing problem of the global village is "climate change." All environmental problems including water and food shortages are related to climate change. This report predicts that if we do not cope with the current climate change, the temperature of the earth will rise by 5 to 6 degrees Celsius in 2100, and more than 2 billion people will have to be evacuated because by 2130 the seawater level will rise by 75 meters due to melting ice sheets and glaciers. Making matters worse, if global warming accelerates because of the increasing volume of methane gas, the whole world will face great catastrophes from severe earthquakes, floods and landslides.
Actually, the 14-meter-plus tsunami caused by the massive 9 magnitude earthquake in the northeastern area of Japan on March 11, 2011 claimed more than 20,000 lives. On top of that, the earthquake and tsunami caused the disaster of the Fukushima I nuclear power plant that made the nearby area a barren land due to radioactive contamination, a situation similar to the area around Chernobyl in the former USSR. The nuclear disaster resulted in the contamination of earth, air, water, as well as foods like vegetables, meat, and fish. Such a nuclear disaster has terrified not just Japan itself but the whole world, including Korea, and the effects will continue to future generations.
The environmental situation in Korea is not very optimistic. With a 31% dependence on nuclear power, Korea ranks number 5 in the world, higher than Japan with a 30% dependence. Despite the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, the Korean government plans to build more nuclear power plants including the one near Samchuk and this will raise its dependence on nuclear power to 59% by 2030.
Moreover, millions of livestock have been culled and buried because of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease since late 2010. Lacking proper measures the government pushed for the indiscriminate killing of livestock and thereby caused great suffering for farmers. There are still more worries about environmental contamination through leachate from the sites where the livestock were buried alive. In such a chaotic situation the Four Rivers Project is still being pushed ahead night and day, claiming the lives of many workers on the site because of overwork and accidents as the government hurries to finish the project by November, 2011. To make matters worse, the government plans to push ahead with the so-called Tributary Stream Restoration Project and Riverside Development Project, paying no attention to public anxiety.
The main culprits of the environmental crisis in the world, including Korea, are we human beings. We are sinful agents of economism with contempt for life, lust for possessions and hedonism, and the indiscriminate exploitation of nature. These are the sinful phenomena resulting from our arrogant illusion that we can make anything and solve all problems at will. This is one of the many facets of the Tower of Babel. This is a problem stemming from the neglect of our responsibility to care for God's beloved creatures.
"The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction" (Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 2010, n. 12). Now we have to practice a culture of ecology. An ecological culture begins with our small and simple practices: saving energy and building up local systems for renewable energy in place of nuclear power; reducing meat consumption and taking care of livestock as we acknowledge that an environment good enough for animals is also good for human beings. We should help the four major rivers keep their vitality with a natural winding flow, not with artificially straightened waterways. This is the way of an ecological culture wherein we live together with all creatures in a humble manner.
Dear brothers and sisters, the author of the Book of Wisdom said, "But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls" (Wis 11,26). Following God who loves all things, we can have hope when we love them as ourselves, taking care of rivers, animals and plants, and all the resources of the earth which nature provides for us. In this way we can restore the ecology of the earth which now groans in pain.
June 5, 2011
+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
Bishop of Suwon President CBCK Committee
for Justice & Peace
Message for 2011 Prayer Day
for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (summary)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you" (Jn 14,27)
Dear brothers and sisters,
I sincerely wish that the peace of Christ may be with all of you and prevail in this beautiful land where we live.
Nowadays we are facing the greatest crisis since the division of North and South Korea: the dialogue and exchanges have been severed and mutual slander has gone too far. We cannot but feel pity for this serious situation of aggravated hostility where there is no hesitation for war against each other. While many countries of the world regard the current situation in North Korea as 'very dangerous' and are planning a food aid project on a humanitarian level, we are slandering each other and intensifying mutual animosity even though we are of the same blood. It is our duty in justice to think first of the basic right to life of the North Korean people starving to death. The most crucial element for building peace between the two Koreas is warm hearts lending helping hands to those suffering from difficulty.
What is needed for North and South Korea at the present time is not a passive peace policy of mutual security but a positive one of mutual understanding and acceptance. That is, we need to build peace and not just keep peace. To build peace we need great effort and much endurance. We should promote mutual exchanges and respect different ways of life. Frequent meetings will help us broaden and deepen our mutual understanding and will help us overcome misunderstandings and prejudices. Making peace together, we can live together and open up a bright future.
Dear brothers and sisters, the key to peace on the Korean Peninsula is sincere prayer offered by all members of the Church, a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, and a sharing of love. At this time when tensions have built up between the two Koreas, we need to live a practical faith. We should pray together and make efforts to implant true peace in our country with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, immaculately conceived, patroness of the Catholic Church in Korea.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the communion, love and peace of the Most Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - be with your families in abundance.
June 19, 2011
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Bishop of Chunchon
for the Reconciliation of the
● News from the Church in Korea
● A Shrine Booklet to Be Published in September 2011
At Daejeon Diocesan Office on February 23, 2011, the Subcommittee for Pilgrimages and Shrines under the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) held the second meeting of priests in charge of pilgrimages in Korea to draw up detailed plans for publishing a booklet introducing about 130 shrines in Korea.
The booklet is going to include a brief introduction to the shrines in each diocese, a map for pilgrimages on foot, a time schedule for Masses, confessions, and retreats.
Rev. Andrea Heo Yoon-jin, Secretary of the committee, said that the booklet will be very useful for the faithful who are interested in domestic pilgrimage.
Bishop You said that shrines are special assets and treasures for our Church, so the booklet will be a precious guide.
● Workshop for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea
The CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) held a working-level meeting from March 21 to 24, 2011 at St. J. Hasang Education Center, Diocese of Daejeon.
The workshop, a successor to the 'Exodus Step 1' program held in 2006, was held to find effective methods of pastoral care for the ever-increasing number of migrants. About 220 diocesan directors and working level agents for the pastoral care of migrants participated in the workshop which consisted of discussions and sharing by the participants as well as lectures by instructors from the Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines.
In his homily during the concluding Mass Bishop You emphasized, "It is our duty to help all neighbors around us to love each other, including migrants. This is possible only with deep humility and self sacrifice."
● The Election of the Director of the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea
The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the CBCK, was elected as the Director of the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea (CPIK) at the 2011 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK, held from March 28 to 31, 2011. The CBCK also approved the 'Rules of the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea.'
The CPIK conducts research in pastoral matters according to the request of the CBCK, gathers and analyzes pastoral information and materials to submit to the CBCK, and contributes to the promotion of ad hoc pastoral activities. The concrete activities of the CPIK encompass: the study of modern methods of pastoral care; the study of ongoing formation of priests; the organization of seminars or lectures related to pastoral care; the digitalization of information and materials related to pastoral care.
The CPIK was established according to the decision of the 2010 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK. Rev. Joseph Park Sun-yong was appointed as the assistant-director of the CPIK in February, 2011.
● The President of the CBCK Visited the Diocese of Sendai in Japan
The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the CBCK, visited the Diocese of Sendai, the area most severely affected by the huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan, together with the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, bishop in charge of the Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting, from April 27 to 28, 2011.
Accompanied by the Most Rev. Martin Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai, the two Korean bishops first visited the cathedral damaged by the disaster. They also visited the Sendai Diocese Support Center, established as an emergency measure to promote the relief activities of volunteers in devastated areas, and they offered words of encouragement to the staff members. Then they looked around the airport and the port of Sendai, situated about 10km from Sendai City. Finally they visited some of the worst-hit towns in northern coastal areas in Japan.
Bishop Kang delivered additional donations collected for emergency aid to the Dioceses of Sendai and Saitama. The bishops of Sendai and Saitama expressed their deep gratitude for the concern and consideration of the Korean faithful.
● Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2010 Published
The CBCK (President: Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il) published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2010 on May 19, 2011.
The Statistics, as of December 31, 2010, showed that the number of Catholics in Korea amounted to 5,202,589 or 10.1% of the total population. This rate, over 10% of the total population, has been maintained since 2009. The increase in number over the decade was 980,000 or 23%.
The increase in the rate of Catholics in Korea this year was 1.7%. Since 2001, the rate has never gone below 2% except in 2003, when it was 1.9%. A stagnant phenomenon can be found in the number of the newly baptized. The total number of the newly baptized in 2010 was 140,644, a decrease of 16,303 from the previous year.
Of the 16 dioceses in Korea, the Archdiocese of Seoul was the most populous with 1,417,695 faithful or 27.2% of the total Catholics in Korea, followed by the Diocese of Suwon (767,398 or 14.7%) and the Archdiocese of Daegu (458,128 or 8.8%). The combined number of the faithful in Seoul, Suwon, Incheon and Uijeongbu accounted for 55.4%. This indicates that most of the faithful reside in metropolitan areas.
By gender, the number of male faithful was 2,164,596 and the number of female faithful was 3,049,995, 41.5% and 58.5% respectively of the total Catholic population of Korea. These rates did not show that big a difference compared to the previous year.
By age group, those between 50 and 54, amounted to 529,183 or 10.2% of the faithful in Korea, the greatest number. Reflecting the aging society, the group over 60 numbered 999,461.
According to the Statistics the number of clergy in Korea in 2010 was 4,522 with 31 bishops and 1 cardinal.
● Visit of Cardinal Tauran to Korea
His Eminence Jean Louis Cardinal Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, President and Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue respectively, visited Korea from May 23 to 27, 2011, at the invitation of the CBCK Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue (President: Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Kwangju).
Cardinal Tauran met with the President of the Republic of Korea, the Minister of Culture, and the Director for Religious Affairs on May 24. On the same day, he met with representatives of Buddhism, Confucianism, Won Buddhism, Cheondoism, the Association of Native Korean Religions, and Protestant churches. Cardinal Tauran addressed them regarding the role of religions in establishing peaceful conviviality in the midst of diversity. On May 25, Cardinal Tauran gave a lecture at the Catholic University of Korea on "Interreligious Dialogue According to Pope Benedict XVI". On May 26 he visited the Jeoldu-san Korean Martyrs' Shrine and there concelebrated Mass. This visit of Cardinal Tauran gave encouragement to Korean Catholics to continue the path of dialogue.
● Mass for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
A 'Mass for Peace on the Korean Peninsula' was celebrated in Imjingak on June 17, 2011 with about 20,000 Catholics expressing their desires for reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Among the participants there were 14 bishops, including the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the CBCK, and the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, President of the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, and 200 priests from all over the country.
The CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People issued a letter of plea titled 'Urging true peace on the Korean Peninsula' and appealed as follows :
- the authorities of South and North Korea should actively hold a mutual dialogue to defuse tension and to foster a peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula;
- various humanitarian exchanges necessary for national reunification should be resumed and continued;
- the two Korean authorities should actively engage in bilateral and multilateral talks among the countries directly involved in the denuclearization and disarmament of the Korean Peninsula and a peace settlement in Northeast Asia;
- the leaders from various areas should play an active role to mobilize national energy and power and cease from using the unification issue and inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation as an excuse for political strife;
- neighboring nations also should understand the situation of a divided Korea and strengthen cooperation to make peace a universal human value.
News in Brief
The CBCK Committee for Catechesis (President: Most Rev. John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju) published the seventh and last volume of the Catechism for Youth entitled "Loving God, Loving Your Neighbor". The publication was approved by the bishops at the 2011 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK held from March 28 to 31, 2011.
The bishops of Korea celebrated a commemorative Mass for the 6th anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on March 30, 2011.
The Justice & Peace Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul held a seminar on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the promulgation of Rerum Novarum at the Catholic Center in Myeongdong on May 11, 2011
The Archdiocese of Daegu celebrated a thanksgiving Mass for the 100th Anniversary of its establishment on May 15, 2011. The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, presided over the Mass concelebrated with other bishops from Korea and abroad.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Taiku (Daegu) was erected on April 8, 1911. On March 10, 1962, the Apostolic Vicariate of Taiku was elevated to the present Archdiocese of Daegu.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Yi Mun-u John (1810-1840)
Yi Mun-u John was born in Ichon in Kyonggi Province to a Catholic noble family. When he was five years old, his parents died. A very devout Catholic woman adopted him and took him to Seoul. John didn't want to get married, but his foster mother insisted that he marry. After John's wife and two children died, he led a single life and dedicated himself to charitable activities and to helping the missionaries and the Catholics. John accompanied Father Maubant on his mission visits. During the persecution of 1839, John used to take up collections to help the imprisoned Catholics. He risked his life to keep the missionaries hidden in the mountains and informed them about what was going on. He also risked his life to bury the bodies of Bishop Imbert and Fathers Maubant and Chastan. Then he planned to escape to a remote area.
Before John could escape, he was arrested in the house of a friend on November 10, 1839. The interrogator asked John why he would give up his noble status and die as a Catholic. John insisted that he could never deny God, the Creator and the King of kings. The interrogator tried to persuade John to surrender his faith, treating him with good food and wine. Since the interrogator's effort failed, John was tortured and put in prison with robbers and apostates. He used to admonish the apostates, and bravely testified to his faith.
John wrote a letter in prison six days before he was martyred. The letter clearly described what was going on in the mind of a martyr before death. The abridged content of the letter is as follow:
"How happy I am to be with my friends of faith! I thank God for this happy reunion.... This world is just a moment, and bodies are vain. Look at a body ten days after its soul has left it. How miserable and gruesome it is with a stinking odor! But people pay more attention to their bodies and don't care about their souls. These people are like animals. Animals have no souls to be saved. How miserable it is for men, having souls to be saved, to live like animals!... Fight three enemies, the devil, the world and the body. The most dangerous one of the three is the body.... We can examine ourselves through meditation and prayer. Ask the Blessed Mother Mary for her intercession. She is so kind and wonderful to all of us.... This is the last moment of my life. If you pray together, there will be no danger. You must not be afraid of death. Don't make Our Lord, Who wants to save all souls, disappointed. After you go through all the sufferings and trials, you will be able to enter the eternal happiness and joy in Heaven.... This is the letter I write for the last time in my life."
On February 1, 1840, at the age of 31 John was taken out to Tangkogae near Seoul(in Seoul today), and was beheaded there with two other Catholics. The government record verified this fact.
Yi In-dok Mary (1818-1840)
Yi In-dok Mary was a sister of the martyr Yi Yong-dok Magdalene(cf. CBCK Newsletter, No. 71, summer 2010). Mary was so calm, honest and humble that people hardly noticed her presence. She was arrested with her elder sister, Magdalene, and both of them showed their deep faith and courage not only in prison but also in front of the interrogators.
Witnesses testify that Mary and her sister courageously endured many tortures and sufferings and refused to deny God and their faith.
According to the government report, Mary was deeply imbued with the Catholic religion, which she believed more fervently than others, respected the foreign missionaries more deeply than others and wanted to die for her faith.
Mary was finally taken into Tangkogae near the city of Seoul(in Seoul today), and was beheaded on January 31, 1840, at the age of 22 with five other Catholics.