From the Editor
Message for the 27th Human Rights Sunday
Message for 2008 Biblical Week
Message for the 25th Caritas Sunday
2008 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK
Interview with new president of the CBCK
The 14th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
Propositions of the Bishops' Conferences in 2008
The themes and results of the 2008 Spring and Autumn General Assemblies of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) may give us an important clue to discern the present agenda and orientation of the Catholic Church in Korea. Such themes and results are precious data which can be very useful, even though not fully comprehensive. Here we may come up with a brief and quantitative summary before making a substantial analysis.
There were 18 leading themes that resulted from the deliberations and reviews of the bishops at the Spring and Autumn General Assemblies of the CBCK in 2008. Of the 18 themes, four were related to Christian doctrine and faith, six to the liturgy, and eight to administrative affairs. In the area of Christian doctrine and faith, the publication of books related to the catechesis of youth and the proper understanding of the Holy Spirit was approved. In the area of the liturgy, the bishops approved the publication of the Guidelines for Exceptional Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist, the Directives for Sacred Music of the Catholic Church in Korea. Then the bishops reviewed the revised Korean Ordo Missae, the Misagyeongbon (new Korean Roman Missal), and the Psalm for Liturgical Use. In the area of general affairs, the bishops deliberated on four inner-ecclesial issues and four social issues. It is worth close attention that the bishops agreed upon the establishment of an episcopal organ to answer the challenge of present social issues. The task of such an organ is to effectively communicate the Church's standpoint on such issues to society. Besides, there were 29 reports on the Catholic Church in Korea and 13 reports in relation to the Universal Church.
In the year 2008, on the whole, the CBCK made a deep consideration about paving ways for ecclesial life to be 'more proper, more attractive, and more sacred.' I pray that the Catholic Church in Korea will go on her way in accordance with the hope and consideration of the bishops. This, of course, is the task for both the Catholic Church in Korea as a whole, as well as for the CBCK.
We may feel like asking ourselves a profound question: "What are the preferential options and service of the Catholic Church in Korea, which she can assume for our society in the midst of the widening gap between the rich and the poor?" In fact many are now deeply worrying about the current political and economic crisis. As the Church is moving toward the second half of the Pauline Year, we may ask ourselves one more question: "What would St. Paul the Apostle tell us if he were to personally send a pastoral letter to the Catholic Church in Korea?"
Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Message for the 27th Human Rights Sunday
Protection of Human Dignity is
the Aim of 'Resuscitation of the Economy' and 'Legalism'
Dear brothers and sisters,
Every man, created in the likeness and image of God, is bestowed with inalienable and invincible natural rights, including freedom of life, the right to basic social security, and the right not to be discriminated against. Recently, however, the rapid politico-economic changes of our society have brought about an increasing number of desperate people who are living in despair and agony with no guarantee of such basic rights. Moreover, government and political leaders, who are the first to be responsible for the realization of the bonum commune, seem to be inattentive to economic policies and law-abidingness for the protection of the human rights of the socially weak and marginalized, while they stress the so-called 'resuscitation of the economy' and 'legalism'. We can find almost no economic policy for the socially weak and marginalized. On the contrary, we cannot but feel uneasy about the reality of human rights in our society when we witness the abuse and moral corruption of public authorities. For example, there are the illegal reception of the 'direct rice subside' by absentee landlords when this subsidy was originally designated only for those farmers who personally cultivate rice, the political meddling of the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea and the National Intelligence Service, and the violent suppression of civic demonstrations by the police.
On the occasion of the 27th Human Rights Sunday in 2008, the Committee of Justice & Peace of the CBCK invites all of you to ponder upon some problems, hoping for a change in our society for the restoration of human dignity, with a look into the reality of our society.
First, in our society human life and the value of human beings are neglected due to materialism, consumerism, hedonism and even scientism. Not just the government or business, but our own ways of thought are dominated especially by the ideologies and economic logic of neo-liberalism, the so-called 'market-cures-all' and 'only-efficiency-matters,' as well as by unbridled competition. Such a phenomenon of 'subversion of value', when the value of a human being is measured only by his or her market value, increases the disregard and rejection of the socially weak, as well as the minorities.
To overcome such a phenomenon, we must first of all exert our effort "to adopt a new life-style," which prefers the human being to material things. We have to regain "a correct scale of values," in pursuit of "the primacy of being over having, of the person over things" (Evangelium vitae, n.98).
Secondly, we must pay attention to the situation of the socially weak, anguished in many shadows of society, like the increasing number of non-regular workers, the increase of the unemployed, 'rationalization' [of a company] with almost no social safety net for the employees, the jump of private loans caused by difficulties related to reemployment, starting a small business, and credit loans. We urge the government especially to carry out more active policies for people in such desperate situation. The objects of the so-called 'resuscitation of the economy' should be the protection of the rights of the socially weak and low income citizens, so that they may have a job needed to lead a decent life and also the protection of their social rights, including all the social security rights with the social safety net.
Thirdly, nowadays we witness the uncertainty of family communities because of the increasing number of so-called 'wild geese fathers' who have to live alone in Korea while financially supporting their wife and children living abroad. This is a de facto phenomenon resulting from excessive competition for college/university entrance examinations and the fever of English learning in Korea. Family life is also weakened because of undiminishing domestic violence and the increasing number of children without parents due to divorce. There is also the problem of couples with no children and of the elderly with no family to support them. There are also other kinds of social problems such as the increasing suicide rate, juvenile delinquency and drug addiction, mainly resulting from the breaking up of family communities. The family must be well established as the basis of society and the foundation of the human community. Especially the Christian family must play its proper role as the 'loving community of life', achieving conjugal unity in love, transmitting life, educating children, practicing Christian values, and nurturing the power needed for proper participation in society. Moreover, there is a desperate need for concern and government policies for the marginalized who suffer from the disintegration of the family and are even haunted by the impulse to commit suicide.
Fourthly, government and the political leaders should practice a true 'legalism' to make citizens happier and to protect their life and human rights, which are the raison d'릘re of the state. There should be active communication with citizens and no haughty shunning of citizens and no arbitrary initiatives. The social opinion leaders must first set an example for other members of society to overcome the prevailing trend of 'contempt for laws'. Public officials should not satisfy their selfish desires by abusing their position and information in violation of laws. Besides, the government, as the agent of public authorities, should never forget that the aim of legalism is to guarantee the basic rights of the citizens. If, on the contrary, government authorities violate human rights, they are acting against the protection of human dignity, a true object of the legalism, and they are using 'legal violence'.
Dear brothers and sisters,
We should never neglect efforts for the protection of human dignity, even though we all are now in the middle of an economic crisis. Facing up to the reality of society with the eyes of God, acting and talking as true Christians, we have to redress the evils of society against its injustice, where human beings are considered just a means, instead of an end, and where the weaker are poorly received. Especially, we have to focus on the fact that it is the mission of Christians to have more concern for the socially weak, who are vulnerable to the abuse of human rights, and also to exert efforts for the promotion of their human rights. Not only politicians and businessmen but common citizens as well should exert united efforts for the rehabilitation of morality, respect for law, and true legalism.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks and respect to all those who have silently walked along the way as 'guardians of human rights,' and I pray that the grace of our Lord may be with them in their sacrifice and efforts.
December 7, 2008
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Incheon
Committee for Justice & Peace
of the CBCK
Message for 2008 Biblical Week
Ministers of the Word are Agents of God
"Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth" (1Cor 3,7)
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this autumn harvest season, we come to celebrate the meaningful Biblical Week. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Pauline Year to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul the Apostle, from June 28, 2008 to the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles in 2009. Pope Benedict XVI has urged all Christians to exert efforts for the unity and harmony of the Church, following the example of the faith and spirituality of St. Paul the Apostle. I find a special meaning of Biblical Week in this year, because I am sure that we may have a time to deeply reflect and meditate upon St. Paul's journey of the Word on this important occasion of the Pauline Year.
St. Paul the Apostle has held a vital post for proclaiming the Word of the Lord since his conversion on the road to Damascus (Cf. Acts 9,1-19).
St. Paul the Apostle loved the ecclesial community, where the Word of the Lord is proclaimed and practiced. He confessed that there was the daily pressure upon him of his anxiety for all the churches (Cf. 2Cor 11,28). He dedicated himself and bore witness to the truth in the Sitz im Leben, where the primitive ecclesial community was established and formed. In this way, he clearly identified the role of the ecclesial community.
The most noticeable point is that St. Paul the Apostle didn't choose his own way for the proclamation of the Word of the Lord in this ecclesial community. He always kept a close relationship with the ecclesial community. Furthermore, he formed a cooperative relationship with many ministers of the community. He interpreted anew the Word of the Lord, and presented the basis and vision of the ecclesial community, pondering upon its concrete problems with those ministers.
This is the reason that I made a choice of 'Ministers of the Word are Agents of God' as the theme of the 2008 Biblical Week. The ministers of the Word play a role for the proclamation of the uniquely precious Word of the Lord. However, their role is not for themselves, but for the humble following of the Lord's will as a servant of the Lord. In this regard, the ministers of the Word are the agents of the Lord, who should be faithful to their role as an instrument following the Lord's will. St. Paul the Apostle himself stressed this fact.
Indeed, the ministers of the Word are the agents of the Lord, they are nothing by themselves. The agents just plant and water, only God causes the growth (Cf. 1Cor 3,7).
This must urge us not to forget the fact that we have to keep an intimate relationship with the Lord, since the mission of agents, proclaiming the Word, stems from the Lord Himself. This might be the reason that St. Paul the Apostle thought himself as an agent of the Lord and regarded all ministers who helped him as agents.
The ministers of the Word as agents and servants of the Lord are to realize that they are chosen for the good news and glory of the Lord, not for their own boasting. Agents mean 'co-workers' and this implies that they should cooperate in communion with each other for the mission of proclaiming the good news which is mandated by the Lord.
"The Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel" (1Cor 9,14). We should never forget these words of St. Paul the Apostle anytime and anywhere.
Dear brothers and sisters,
May the abundant blessing and fruits of the Word be always with you and your families. I sincerely pray that the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ who is always mindful of "your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope" (1Thes 1,3) may be with you at all times.
November 23, 2008
On the Solemnity of Christ the King
+ Rt. Rev. Abbot Simon Peter Ri Hyeong-u, O.S.B.
Apostolic Administrator of Territirial Abbacy of Tokwon
Biblical Committee of the CBCK
Message for the 25th Caritas Sunday
"The love of Christ impels us" (2Cor 5,14)
Dear brothers and sisters in the love of God,
With an intention to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ, sharing the unconditional love of God for us with our neighbours, the Catholic Church in Korea in 1984 designated the third Sunday of Advent as Caritas Sunday. Sharing love with our neighbours means the rehabilitation of the social character of love. However, there is still the unabated necessity to ask ourselves, 'Who are our neighbours?', and to find them and share the love with them.
The Poor Neighbours of Our Times
The global financial crisis and the economic crisis in its aftermath deeply weigh down our society. This winter we feel the chill much harder when the prognose is for difficulties more severe than those of the financial crisis 10 years ago, the so-called 'IMF crisis'. In such economic difficulties the life of the poorer class in society is getting much worse and the poor have to face a much colder winter. Recently the increasing rate of so-called 'crime for the cause of a bare livelihood', the higher rate of non-regular workers as well as the high unemployment rate, and the continuing bankruptcy of companies are driving poorer people who have a less stable basis for their livlihood into dead ends. Moreover, the continually increasing number of migrant workers, the children of multicultural families, and Saeteomin (North Korean escapees settled in South Korea) are asking a helping hand from our society. Facing the image of such poor people among our contemporaries, we have to bring up the question again: "Who are our neighbours in need of our help?"
Duty as a Christian
We should not turn our face away from the neighbours around us, pleading our own difficulties as an excuse. The worse the economy gets, the greater the pain of the poor becomes. Therefore, the community spirit of sharing and lending helping hands is asked all the more at this time. We as Christians have to share what we have with our neighbours. In this manner, we have to witness the fact that there is a mysterious power in us, leading us to share ourselves with others. "Who are our neighbours in these barren days?" All who need our help and all whom we can help are our neighbours.
Referred as the Sacrament of Love, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist manifests the social dimension of love. We become one with the Lord along with other people who receive Holy Communion. "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1Cor 10,17). Our unity with Christ is the same unity we have with all people for whom Christ gives Himself. In this way, the love for God and the love for neighbours become as one. The love for neighbours is a way leading to an encounter with God. If we avert our eyes from our neighbours, we fail to see God as well. Essentially, love means to share what we have with others, and love is nurtured by love. Since love stems from God and makes us united with God, God is love, as well as love is God.
The Duty of the Church
All activities of the Church are the expression of love. The aim of all her pastoral activities is also the practice and diffusion of love. Therefore, love means service and sacrifice of the Church with constant response to the need and pain of people, including their material needs. In this regard, the love for neighbours, based on the love of God, is the duty of the Church. The Church has duly recognized her duty since her establishment. The Acts of the Apostles says, "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need" (Acts 2,44-45).
In his first Encyclical Deus Caritas est, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI urged us to practice our love with the word of St. Paul the Apostle, who said, "The love of Christ impels us" (Cf. 2Cor 5,14). The basis of practicing love of the Catholic Church is presented in the words of the Pope, saying "For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas est, n. 25). Now, as all feel the pressure of the economic crisis, we are all more strongly called to the love of Christ.
The ecclesial practice of love should search for the true neighbours of our times, recognizing all their needs and providing them with what they really want. Material support is absolutely needed for people suffering from economic poverty. However, the Church must not stop practicing love here, since man does not live "by bread alone"(Mt 4,4). We as Christians should approach the isolation and the anxiety of the economically poor, recognizing their agony not as a mere material deficiency. We have to see that they are the object of the love of Christ and precious persons with life as much as we are. We also have to help them to find love for human beings and hope for life. In the end, our sharing of love is possible through the love of Christ, encouraged by the love of Christ, and completed by the love of Christ.
In the season of Advent, when we all are waiting for the Child Jesus who comes down to us to dwell among us and appears as a humble child. We are to commit ourselves to take part in the pain of our neighbours in need of our help, to pave the way of love. I pray that the grace of God may be with you all. May all give thanks to God who is love!
December 14, 2008
On the 24th Caritas Sunday
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myeong-ok
Committee for "Caritas Coreana"
of the CBCK
2008 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) held its 2008 Autumn General Assembly at the Conference Hall of Catholic Conference of Korea (CCK) from October 13 to 16 and decided as follows:
1. The bishops unanimously approved the draft Psalms for Liturgical Use, confirming that it should be applied to all liturgical books of the Catholic Church in Korea.
2. The bishops approved the draft Directives for Sacred Music of the Catholic Church in Korea, which is to be used ad experimentum for a period of five years during which time it will be continuously examined.
3. The bishops approved the publication of the draft Proper Understanding of the Holy Spirit for the appropriate and sound guidance of the 'Charismatic Renewal Movement.'
4. The bishops approved the publication of 'My Life, My Salvation', the second in a series of seven volumes of the Catechism for Youth.
5. The bishops approved the suggestion of the Permanent Council that the works of the Committee for "Caritas Coreana" should be divided in two parts: overseas aid and aid to North Korea; affairs for local social welfare.
6. The bishops approved the plan of the CBCK Committee for Youth Ministry (President: Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man) to hold the Second Korean Youth Day in the Diocese of Uijeongbu in 2010.
7. The bishops approved the Korean Roman Missal (Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, 2002) and decided to use 'Misagyeongbon' as its Korean title.
8. The Bishops elected officers of the CBCK and the CCK. The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, is the new president of the CBCK.
9. The bishops elected the Most Rev. John Chang Yik, Bishop of Chunchon, and the Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, S.J., Bishop of Uijeongbu, as the Korean Bishop delegates to the 9th Plenary Assembly of the FABC, which will be held at St. Paul Seminary, Bangalore, India from January 11 to 20, 2009.
10. The bishops approved the name change of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK to the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Overseas Koreans of the CBCK. Furthermore, the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants & Foreign Workers of the CBCK was newly established.
Interview with new president of the CBCK
As the new president of the CBCK, the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, recognized his role "to support the mission of all Dioceses in Korea on the national level through the CBCK." He set the theme "life" as the top priority of the Catholic Church in Korea, asserting that "life" and "environment" should be a matter of common interest to all bishops of Korea including himself. He said, "In a society where the trend of contempt for life is getting more intense, the Catholic Church in Korea has made efforts for the promotion of the dignity of life, and she will keep her pace in the future. The Church also is going to have more concern about the environment, which has direct connection with life."
Mentioning the newly established Committee for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants & Foreign Workers of the CBCK, Bishop Kang said, "As the number of immigrants and foreign workers in Korea has been drastically increasing especially since 1990, a committee providing special pastoral care for them, not lumping them together with overseas Koreans, is necessary." He also said that inter-diocesan cooperation would be intensified for such a pastoral ministry.
Bishop Kang was born in Seoul in 1945, and studied at Sophia University in Japan and Pontificia Universita Urbaniana in Rome. Since his priestly ordination in 1974, he has served the Church in Korea as a priest in many parishes and offices. In 1985 he was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul. Since 2002 he has been the Bishop of Cheju.
The 14th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting
The 14th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting took place under the theme "Migrants in the Bible" at Masan Catholic Center of Masan Diocese, from November 11 to 13, 2008.
Fifteen Korean bishops, including the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the CBCK and Bishop of Cheju, and 14 Japanese bishops, including the Most Rev. Leo Ikenaga Jun, Archbishop of Osaka and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ), participated in the meeting.
During the meeting, the bishops agreed upon the necessity of more active pastoral care responding to the challenges of worldwide migration and determined to strengthen their cooperation in this area. Fr. Maurizio Petten? C.S., national planning assistant of the Australian Catholic Migrants and Refugees Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, gave a lecture on the theme 'Theology of Migration'. Fr. Andrea Heo Yun-jin, Secretary of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants and Foreign Residents of the CBCK, and Mr. Peter Arikawa Kenji, who coordinates the services for refugees at Catholic Tokyo International Center, presented their respective local situations of pastoral care for migrants.
In his homily at the closing Mass, Bishop Kang said, "The antipathetic relationship of master and servant in the age of St. Paul the Apostle is reflected in that of employers and migrant workers in these days although in a different form." Then he stressed that the tasks of both local Churches are to change the relationship of master and servant into one of fraternity.
The next meeting is scheduled for November 17 to 19, 2009, in Japan.
● News from the Church in Korea
* 2009 Pastoral Letters of Diocesan Bishops
Marking the first Sunday of Advent on November 30, 2008, each Diocesan Bishop issued his 2009 pastoral letter and urged the faithful to sanctify their families as the root of the Church and to embody the image of the Church as a servant.
Particularly on the occasion of the Pauline Year (from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009) the bishops invited the faithful to transform themselves and be reborn as agents of world evangelization, following the faith, life and mission of St. Paul the Apostle.
In his pastoral letter entitled "Family Is a Basis of the Faith," His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, said, "As martyrdom of our age means 'to love your neighbor as yourself', loving our family as our closest neighbor is precisely the way of participation in authentic martyrdom. Let's realize the spirit of martyrdom in our families, the basis of our life."
The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju, designated the year 2009, the second year of the triennial development plan of his Archdiocese, as 'the Year for the Animation of the Apostolate.' He invited priests to become models of the apostolate, the religious to be an example of various apostolic activities, and the faithful to bear their own fruits of the Holy Spirit and to illuminate the world with the light of Christ."
The Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Archbishop of Daegu, proclaimed the year 2009 as 'the Year of Vision' and asked his faithful to take the initiative for the preparation for the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese in 2011, for the reform of the archdiocesan structure, for the renewal of the pastoral spirit, and for the active concern about missionary works.
Other diocesan bishops also exhorted the faithful to animate the Basic Ecclesial Communities which revive the spirit of the early Church in these days and to strive for a culture of respect for life to be planted in this world. The Bishops also underlined that Christians have to be faithful to their sacramental life and the formation for re-evangelization so that they can strengthen their own faith.
* New Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon
The Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Auxiliary Bishop of Suwon, was nominated as the Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon on October 10, 2008. This is the first time in the Diocese of Suwon that an incumbent Auxiliary Bishop has been nominated as the coadjutor bishop.
Since his nomination as the Auxiliary Bishop of Suwon in 2003, Bishop Ri has been the General Vicar. He also has held various posts such as President of the Committee on Education of the CBCK and President of the Federation of Catholic Educational Foundations in Korea.
In an interview after his nomination Bishop Ri said, "Becoming the Coadjutor Bishop means a call to even greater service. With this nomination my responsibility and mission have also become much heavier. All I can do is pray. I will strive to live a life as a faithful servant of the Lord." He continued, "I feel certain that the faithful of the Diocese of Suwon have no equal in vitality and faithfulness to diocesan instructions. They always try their utmost to achieve in unity the goals set by the diocese. I am very proud of them and always thank them for their efforts in evangelization, Small Christian Communities, and the promotion of the faith life of youth. With such Catholics, there is nothing that I cannot do. On the other hand, I feel great responsibility on my shoulders. I will always be with them."
* H.E. Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino's Address on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church given during his visit to Korea
His Eminence Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, visited Korea at the invitation of Prime Minister Daniel Han Seung-soo from October 30 to November 2, 2008.
During his visit, Cardinal Martino delivered an address on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church to the Commission for Justice and Peace of the CBCK on October 31, 2008. The title of the address was "The Church's Mission for an Integral Humanism in Solidarity."
In his address Cardinal Martino said that the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004 "is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events that mark our times." He pointed out that the responsibility to practice the social doctrine of the Church is on all the members of the Church: bishops, priests, men and women religious, and lay people. He especially stressed the role of the laity for the implementation of the Church's social teachings, referring to them as the "privileged partners" of the Compendium.
During a question-and-answer session, Cardinal Martino added, "The Compendium is not the solution for social justice. It is advice, suggestions, directions, and general indications for different situations in any society. Each Church needs to interpret the teachings in accordance with its own situation."
* 2008 Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the WUCWO
2008 Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO) was held under the theme "Women, Peace Makers: United in Faith and Action," at the International Seoul Youth Hostel in downtown Seoul from October 26 to 31. The conference was jointly organized by the WUCWO Asia/Pacific Region (Vice-President: Theresa Oh Duck-choo), the Catholic Women's Federation of Korea, and the Catholic Women's Organization of Seoul Archdiocese.
About 150 Catholic women leaders from 13 Asia/Pacific Region member countries attended the conference and tried to find some useful ways for today's Catholic women in the areas of promoting world peace and protecting human rights.
The opening ceremony was held at Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul, following a Mass presided over by His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul. The Most Rev. Osvaldo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, delivered a congratulatory message from Pope Benedict XVI to the participants. Welcome addresses were also delivered by the Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, the Most Rev. Lee Sun-jong, head of Won-Buddhism in Seoul, and Dr. Helen Kwon Kyeong-soo, President of the Catholic Women's Federation of Korea. The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Jeju, delivered a keynote speech entitled "New Challenge for Dignity of Women and Peace."
In this conference consisting of plenary sessions, panel talks, and workshops, the participants made the following resolutions: to be involved in the legislative processes that promote the "culture of life", urge the goverment to work for bilateral agreements with countries for the protection of the rights of migrant workers; to promote awareness on the rights and dignity of women, work for a positive change of attitudes of men towards women, and empower women through various poverty alleviation programs with the end in view of improving their quality of life; to help sustain women's efforts in peace negotiations and post-conflict processes by endorsing women to be a member of the peace talk panel; to embrace an eclolgical conversion on a personal and community level; to make a conscious effort to expand our circles of compassion, from our family to our neighbor and society, including migrants and dysfunctional families.
At the closing ceremony on October 30 there was a presentation of seed money for 'Project Women 2009'. The project aims at helping women to fight off poverty in the Asia/Pacific region through the fund raised by the Catholic Women's Organization of the Seoul Archdiocese. The conference officially concluded with a Mass presided over by the Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul.
* Seminar for the Promotion of Basic Ecclesial Communities
A seminar for the Promotion of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) with the guest lectures delivered by Fr. Jose Marins and Fr. Gerry Proctor was held at Aaron Retreat House in Uiwang-si, Gyeonggi-do, from November 27 to 30, 2008. In this seminar, organized by the Committee for Basic Ecclesial Communities under the Committee for Evangelization of the CBCK, about 130 priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful from many dioceses participated to ponder more deeply upon the aim and method of the BEC.
In his opening address, the Most Rev. Paul Choi Deok-ki, President of the Committee for Evangelization of the CBCK, said, "The BEC are the futuristic vision in solving all together the local social problems, as well as the way to communicate our faith to our neighbours, local communities and even our posterity."
Fr. Jose Marins said, "The BEC are working toward a small Church centering around the Word, instead of the Church of clericalism. A small Church represents the first Church of the faith community of Jesus and His disciples." He added, "The members of the Church in Korea, established by the sweat and blood of the martyrs who were mostly lay faithful, should strive for renewal and development through the revitalization of the BEC, when they want to imitate the faith life of the first Church."
● News in Brief
The launching ceremony for the National Integrated Yangeop System, a national digitalization project for the administrative affairs of the Catholic Church in Korea, was held at the conference room of the Archdiocesan Office of Seoul on September 24, 2008. With the Integrated Yangeop System, pastoral administrative affairs, such as digitalized original documents, will be standardized and all accounts will be transparent in compliance with the accounting principles required by civil law.
The Subcommittee for Environment of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of Incheon) sponsored a guest lecture by Fr. Sean McDonagh, SSC, an ecological theologian, under the theme "Ecological Crisis and the Role of the Church in Our Times" at the Shrine of Baeron in Jaecheon, Chungbuk, on November 7, 2008.
On the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Sub-Committee for the Abolition of Capital Punishment under the Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK held a campaign for the abolition of the death penalty at the entrance area of the Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul on November 30, 2008. In this campaign, held in alliance with like-minded people from about 40 countries around the world, the participants gave various public performances and appealed to the faithful and to all citizens to take part in the establishment of a culture of life.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 60, 61
Yi Catharine (1782-1839) and Cho Magdalene (1806-1839)
Yi Catharine and Cho Magdalene were mother and daughter. They were arrested together, put in the same prison and died for Jesus Christ almost at the same time. Although they lived very poorly in this world for many years, God gave them an eternity of heavenly riches.
Catharine, the mother, was born to a Catholic family, which, however, hadn't been too well instructed in Catholic doctrine. She was married to a pagan man, but she converted her husband. She raised and educated many children to love God.
Of the children, Cho Magdalene was the most fervent. Magdalene woke up early every morning to pray. She helped her mother by sewing and weaving. When Magdalene was 18 years old, her mother wanted her to marry a Catholic, but Magdalene told her mother that she wanted to live as a virgin. The mother was devout enough to understand her daughter's desire; but she worried because pagan people might suspect her daughter and, in case the mother would be martyred, her daughter might be left alone helplessly. The mother tried to persuade her daughter to get married, but in vain. Magdalene insisted on being a virgin for Christ.
Magdalene went to Seoul, in order to avoid her annoying family and other people's suspicions, and became a servant in a Catholic family. She fell ill, however, due to hard work and malnutrition. After she recovered, she moved to another easier place. She made some money and sent it to her mother.
When Magdalene was over 30 years old, she returned to her mother, thinking that nobody would bother her to get married. She taught illiterate catechumens, took care of sick people and baptized pagan children in danger of death. She was genial and humble. She was unselfish and always took the more difficult work upon herself, leaving the less difficult work to others.
In order to avoid local persecutions, Catharine decided to move to Seoul with her daughter Magdalene. Bishop Imbert heard that they had come to Seoul and helped them find a place to stay in a Catholic home. However, they lived peacefully for only a short time. Seoul proved to be a more dangerous place for Catholics than the countryside. They decided to face the persecution in Seoul courageously.
One day some of their friends gathered in their home and talked about the fact Bishop Imbert was being hunted by captors. Magdalene suggested, and others agreed, that they would give themselves up if Bishop Imbert was arrested. The pious women didn't have to wait long for an occasion to give themselves up. Five of them were arrested a month later in late June or early July of 1839. Catharine was 57 and Magdalene was 33 years old at that time.
Of course, they didn't succumb to the demand of the police chief to deny their religion, and they were severely tortured. After severe beatings and tortures, they were sick in prison for some weeks. Although they wanted to be martyred, they died of sickness in prison at the end of September or the beginning of October, 1839. One after the other, at an interval of a few days, they died happily, glorifying God.