From the Editor
Message from the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK
Message for the Week for Catholic Education
Message for the Day for Life
Message for the Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People
Message for the Day for the Environment
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
The Church in Korea Welcomes the Pauline Year
Desiring to quench the spiritual thirst of the modern Church and to take the initiative in proclaiming the Gospel and fostering ecumenism, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced a special Jubilee Year dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009, to mark the bimillennium of his birth. Throughout the whole history of the Church, jubilee years have been declared only in relation to Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary. This is the first time that a Jubilee Year is being dedicated to a specific person. St. Paul has had too great an influence on the history of the Church to be passed unnoticed. What does he mean for Christianity?
St. Paul continues to give an answer with full certainty to men and women in our age as well as to those who have been seeking the way of faith all through the 2000 year history of the Church. The marble statue in the middle of the garden in front of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome shows him holding a long sword in his right hand and the Bible in his left hand. Lowering his head a little, he looks upon the garden with a piercing vision which seems to suggest his resolute and heroic spirit. His passion and resolution, as much as his image, have become an asset of the Church. The epistles of St. Paul, read in the celebration of Mass, deliver even today his spiritual teaching and admonitions based on his experiences of the faith. Reading and meditating on the epistles of St. Paul, the Church has looked to him for a spiritual way to live a life of faith and has become accustomed to his spiritual guidance.
Together with St. Peter, St. Paul became one of the two great pillars of Christianity. St. Paul's conversion and his passion for mission, so in touch with the human situation, are special fruits human history has received from St. Paul.
St. Paul's missionary journeys to the lands of the gentiles, his braving of hardships and persecutions, have become examples to the missionary Church. It was the thought and activity of St. Paul that decisively opened the vision of Christianity to the wider world and provided a brilliant escape from tedious development in small remote regions. Early Christianity encountered an epochal change with St. Paul. The meaning and importance of St. Paul in world history are based on his life and work. As Apostle to the Gentiles, he initiated the first paradigm shift in Christianity, i.e., a paradigm shift from Judeo-Christianity to Hellenistic Christianity. The effects of his effort on the whole Western world can never be ignored. With St. Paul, the Christian mission to gentiles found a new language filled with a fresh passion, and the Christian message was able to inculturate itself in the world of Hellenistic culture. Furthermore, Christianity was able to establish a foothold and become a world religion even though it actually started just as a small Jewish sect.
I pray God that the Church in Korea may be rewarded with a bountiful harvest in the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, accomplishing her plans as she places her focus on studies of the meaning of Pauline texts, missionary movements, promotion of the awareness of foreign mission, and pilgrimages to sanctuaries. In addition, I hope we can receive a pleasant impression of St. Paul and find a glimpse of a smile on his face on the occasion of this Jubilee Year.
Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Message from the Committee for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK
on the occasion of the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees
"A New World, A New Mankind"
Dear brothers and sisters,
On this occasion of the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI invites all the faithful to reflect especially on young migrants and to treat them properly. Nowadays the number of foreigners and especially the number of multicultural families in Korea is increasing greatly every year. Accordingly, the number of children from such families is also multiplying. These children as they grow up are now studying at various level from kindergarten through high school. Thus, on this occasion of the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, we cannot but have great interest in these young migrants for whom Pope Benedict XVI has shown special concern.
The greatest difficulty for young migrants stems from the reality of what is called "dual belonging." They have to bear the burden of preserving the tradition and culture of their origin, as well as learning the tradition and culture of Korea. If their mother is a foreigner, it is quite difficult for them to learn Korean at home. Before they begin mandatory elementary education they can receive great help in nursery schools or kindergartens if they have that good fortune, but for most of them this is not an easy matter. Moreover, they have to face the problem of learning the traditional culture of their mother which always remains in their blood. This "dual belonging" is a great challenge for them.
The problem of "dual belonging" is not felt exclusively by the young children of multicultural families. Many students from other countries because of study and research are here far from home and Pope Benedict XVI speaks of them with concern. We recognize keenly "dual belonging" as our very own problem, especially because the number of Korean students studying abroad in advanced countries ranks highest in the world. Their story of joy and sorrow, success and failure has become our own story, as the Korean students in the U.S. exceed those of all other countries. We recognize very well the great sacrifice their parents make for the education of their children, to say nothing of the difficulties the students themselves face. We know the obstacles and dangers in learning a new language and in becoming familiar with a new culture with traditions very different from one's own.
In the area of studying abroad as well as in the area of immigration, Korea is no longer just a "sending country" but it has become a "receiving country" as more and more young people come from foreign countries to study and do research here in Korea.
We are confused and sometimes at a loss in the face of such change. We experience the tide of globalization with its great influence upon Korea which for many years had almost no or only exceptional experience of foreign trade. But if we see this in God's far-sighted view this may prove to be a change towards the world which God the Creator wills. All mankind are brothers and sisters before the Creator, and the whole world is a common place where mankind is mandated to live well together. This is one of the important elements of our faith which should not remain just in our minds but should be accepted and practiced in real life.
But with the trend toward globalization, such faith can no longer be a truth just turning around in our minds. It must be shown as a mission we accept and practice in daily life. The world of the future will be sustainable only when people share happiness and face misfortune together, leveling the gap between the rich and the poor. If we do not act together we cannot solve a single one of the problems facing humanity now: energy depletion, widespread environmental contamination, racial and religious disputes, conflicts of interests and opportunities among persons and groups. If we do not cooperate, everyone must take responsibility for the dire results. As this fact becomes more obvious and it becomes clearer that we have to sincerely care for others in order to save our own lives, the unequivocal command of the Lord to love one another other will be the only choice we can make and its meaning will extend beyond religious boundaries. Globalization is now an irreversible trend and the focus of our present mission is determining how to manage it so as to follow the way our Creator wills.
If we can educate all people well, we will contribute much to our society as it builds up a new world where the youth from foreign countries or members of multicultural families participate more actively with others and accept all people as brothers and sisters.
Our hope will be great, as we (children and young people, families, schools, volunteers, and the Church) accept our respective roles and face this difficult challenge. If we, the faithful who believe in God the Creator as the Father of all mankind, accept all people as our brothers and sisters regardless of cultural and racial differences and truly practice our faith, we can be the creators of a new world where this planet earth will be a small village in which a renewed mankind lives together as a family.
"But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2Pt 3,13).
April 27, 2008
+ Vincent Ri Pyung-ho
Bishop of Jeonju
Committee for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK
Message for the Third Week for Catholic Education
(May 19~25, 2008)
"Jesus Christ, Educator of the Whole Person"
This is the third year since the establishment in the last week of May of 'the Week for Catholic Education' to manifest the importance of Catholic education in the Catholic Church in Korea. Over these years the Church in Korea by composing the "Charter of Catholic Education in Korea" and by preparing directives has made various efforts to enhance the awareness of proper education and to prepare concrete plans for its improvement.
The documents of the Church teach that true education is to "strive for complete formation of the human person that looks to his or her final end as well as to the common good of societies, children and youth are to be nurtured in such a way that they are able to develop their physical, moral, and intellectual talents harmoniously" (Code of Canon Law, Can. 795). According to the Educational Basic Law of Korea education is to "cultivate personality and to foster ability for independent life and necessary competence for the citizen of democratic society" (Educational Basic Law of Korea, art. 2: educational principles).
Today, however, the educational environment of our society has drifted far from these principles or teachings. The competitive logic of the survival of the fittest dominates the field of education in Korea. Educational outcomes of schools are judged according to the ratio of students who go on to so-called prominent universities. Students are evaluated not by their personality but by their test scores. It is also a problem that in many fields of education the educational process has been carried out without recognizing individual peculiarities or differences.
True education is to improve students' personalties and potentials and to lead them to live their own life. Jesus Christ, our Master, showed us the example of this kind of education. When Jesus encountered various people, He treated and taught them in a manner proper to their circumstances, so that He led all of them to the way of salvation. He treated a person not by looking at just one of his/her aspects but by considering all of his/her aspects including his/her personal circumstances and abilities. Educators who teach today should follow the teaching method of Jesus and regard the whole person and thereby transform education in a right way through continuous self-improvement and reeducation.
Catholic parents who follow the teaching of Jesus Christ and live in the world with faith in Him should treat their children as human persons and raise them in their family to be mature people with integral personalities. To this end, we should keep in mind the following fact: "Parents have the most grave duty and the primary right to take care as best they can for the physical, social, cultural, moral and religious education of their offspring" (Can. 1136).
Proclaiming the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Good News of salvation, the Church tries to save human beings in their integral personalities. The Church should do her utmost, with solicitude and collaboration, to help students to cultivate their own abilities and personalities so that they can be true human persons configured like Jesus Christ. For this, it is recommended that the Church as well as students, parents, and teachers practice the following:
First, students should commit themselves to studying hard for their future happiness and self-advancement and to improve their personalities;
Second, parents should have a regular dialogue with their children and help them grow up with holistic personalities;
Third, educators should respect the potential of students, treat them as independent persons, and offer their ability and professionalism to help them grow up with holistic personalities;
Fourth, the Church should offer institutional, spiritual and material collaboration and support in conformity to the spirit of "Charter of Catholic Education in Korea."
As Jesus Christ worked for the salvation of holistic personalities in response to individual needs and requests, parents, educators, and the Church should do their best with utmost solicitude, care, and cooperation, to help students grow up with holistic personalities so that the true purpose of education can be achieved. The future of our society and of the Church rests on the shoulders of young students.
On the occasion of the Week for Catholic Education, we are grateful to all those involved in holistic education which fosters both ability and personality, for their efforts to cultivate people of ability who are indispensable to the nation, society and the Church and also to the building up of the Kingdom of God. May God grant His abundant blessings and graces to their families.
+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
Auxiliary Bishop of Suwon
Committee on Education of the CBCK
Message for the 14th Day for Life (summary)
To Retrieve the Dignity of Human Life
We mark with a rather heavy heart this 14th Day for Life, a day in the Church's year dedicated to celebrating and promoting the dignity of human life given to us by God. Unfortunately in our society today the culture of death is spreading, destroying and compromising the dignity of life rather than preserving and safeguarding it. Above all, we express special concern about some indiscreet experiments and manipulations in biotechnology. We have also heard news of an attempt to legalize such experiments and manipulations with legal and financial support from the government to which the people entrust the responsibility of safeguarding and protecting life.
Today, developments in scientific technology have touched all areas of human life. Particularly with the new prospects opened through biotechnological progress there arise new forms of attacks on the dignity of human life. At the same time new threats to the future of human beings are being made (Cf. John Paul II, encyclical Evangelium Vitae, n. 4). Human dignity is being challenged by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness, and technological intervention and the manipulation of the human life is being justified even to the point of destroying the dignity of human life.
Therefore, we consider this situation as a phenomenon in which our society is deprived of its soul by material values and so loses a sense of the God of life.
Because some parts of biotechnology which destroy or deny the dignity of human life are based on the negation of God, it is no exaggeration to say that they are new forms of atheism. We Christians affirm that we are entrusted with a mission to firmly denounce those forms of atheism which destroy human life and to safeguard the dignity of human life. We take special notice of the fact that 'morally dubious scientific experiments' and 'genetic manipulation harmful to the dignity of human beings' are included in the seven modern mortal sins mentioned by the Vatican recently.
Today in this world, Christians should not justify themselves with the excuse that it is difficult to live according to the words of the Gospel. Looking back upon history, we can find that a life of faith has been always hard and difficult. There has been no moment of peace. In this world dominated by disorder and chaos, living according to the Gospel of life given by God may draw ridicule and insults from other people. Nevertheless, we have to clearly convince ourselves that this life is most important, precious, and sacred. Besides, we believers should take the lead in expelling the darkness in this age by living a life of light. A compromising attitude may be a good art for negotiating, but is not proper in the life of a believer.
God invites the Church which proclaims the dignity and value of life to become a prophet who devotes himself to the service and the salvation of human beings. In response to this invitation from God, all of us Christians must play a leading role and devote ourselves to safeguarding the dignity and value of life.
May 25, 2008
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
Bishop of Masan
Committee for Bioethics of the CBCK
Message for 2008 Day for the Environment
"The Transition to an Ecologically Sustainable Society"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These days we think about the food we can eat safely. Not long ago, in Japan there was an uproar when pesticides were detected in dumplings from China. There have been reports that most wines produced by some countries, including France, contain traces of pesticides. In the USA, meat from cows so sick that they could hardly walk was used in school lunches through cheating on inspections. The situation of food safety in Korea may be even worse than that in other countries.
A more serious problem than the threat of unsafe food is the destruction of the global environment we live in. Imprudent development that destroys natural habitats is bringing animals and plants to a crisis of extermination. Global warming caused by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is already well known. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, if the human community does not come up with definite solutions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions without further delay, numerous people in the future will go through severe weather wars and face suffering and death. As time goes by, non-renewable resources such as petroleum are being exhausted and environmentally harmful materials are being accumulated throughout the world. Today, it is evident that we human beings are not in an ecologically sustainable situation.
Sustainable development involves two things: the satisfaction of the needs of the present generation and the limits of nature. That is, sustainable development is to help both the present and future generations to enjoy the benefits of nature so that they can meet the needs of basic living. Sustainable development, however, should be achieved within the limits of nature, the life support system. In this regard, we understand that an ecologically sustainable society depends on the maturity of ecological economics without denying the importance of the development of social economics. An ecologically sustainable society is a society in which social justice, distributive justice, and ecological justice are realized.
We are here talking about "sustainable development" because there is much cause to worry about one development project in Korea these days. It is the 'Pan Korea Grand Waterway' project. This project is to construct a canal to accommodate multi-ton vessels in an artificial concrete waterway linking rivers. Many worry that this project will damage mountains and rivers, the resources of life. The beautiful land of Korea is not an obstacle to development but God's blessing. How graceful are the mountains of Korea! Baekdudaegan is the backbone of Korea because it is the great ridge which stretches from the northern to the southern end of the Korean Peninsula and from it other mountain ranges branch out through the country. Mountain streams and waterways form rivers like blood vessels of the human body. In this way, the rivers of the Korean peninsula have been the habitats of numerous creatures and they have made it possible for the Korean people to develop their history and culture. From an eco-cultural perspective, there is the problem that the construction of the grand waterway will result in the extinction of many animals and plants living in or around these rivers and will submerge Korea's historical and cultural heritage. We cannot overlook all the sacrifices made in these matters and simply calculate from an economic perspective how much profit will be made for Korean people by promoting the grand Waterway projects.
In his Encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis issued in 1987, Pope John Paul II clearly invited the human community in the face of environmental problems to "impose limits on the use of the natural world as one of moral demands" (n. 34). In the Joint Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I issued in November 2006, the two affirmed, "As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God's creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live" (n. 6).
It is evident that we Christians have a task to preserve the order of divine creation. We have to live ecologically responsible lives even if this is inconvenient. We should save energy and food as best we can and share them with our neighbors in need. We must also pay special attention to eradicate harmful materials from our surroundings. Through changes in our way of life we should build up a new culture, a sustainable culture which considers temperance as a virtue. Therefore, we have to examine thoroughly from both eco-culture and eco-economic perspectives what is the wise way to deal with the Pan Korea Grand Waterway and work in favor of 'a sustainable culture'.
June 5, 2008
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Incheon
Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK
Message for 2008 Prayer Day
for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (summary)
"I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25,40)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Love is of God (1Jn 4,7). If we try to love our neighbors without knowing God's love, then desire, possession, and attachment begin to bud from that love. The Korean people who live separately in South and North Korea still cannot overcome the situation of national division because we tend to love each other on our own terms with self-centered concern.
Signs of change
This year, we can see signs of new change on the Korean peninsula because the United States and North Korea have been making efforts for common understanding concerning nuclear materials and a nuclear complex. North Korea has also expressed a willingness for economic reconstruction by solving the nuclear problem. Futhermore, we have expectations and concerns regarding a new policy for national reunification which the new government in South Korea is adopting. This is despite the worry that communication between South and North Korea may have gotten off to a bad start at the beginning of the new government in South Korea. However, the problem can be overcome smoothly. It is also necessary for the North Korean regime to make efforts for a sincere dialogue with the new government of South Korea, without unilateral demands or insistence on the old-fashioned way in South-North relations.
Concern about a chronic food shortage in North Korea and Saeteomin
While the international situation around the Korean Peninsula is improving, the difficulties inside North Korea are becoming more severe. It is said that the food situation in North Korea this year is similar to that of the late 1990s when many North Koreans starved to death. The responsibility of helping hungry North Koreans rests first on the North Korean regime. We Christians, however, are not free from responsibility for our brothers' and sisters' dying of starvation if we do not help them in their need. Therefore remembering our brothers' and sisters' suffering, we have to resume food aid to North Korea.
Greater concern for Saeteomin (new settlers from North Korea in South Korea) is needed. Saeteomin who come to South Korea continue to increase. The most difficult thing that those trying to settle down with new hope in the South Korean society suffer is the lack of neighbors who welcome them with affection. We Christians have to be their neighbors and the instruments of delivering God's love to them.
Time for preparing new hope
Continuing tension can make us tired, in spite of exchanges, aid and economic cooperation between South and North Korea. However we should be patient. We Christians should proclaim the love of the cross through our lives of prayer, forgiveness, and reconciliation, so that God's love can be completely revealed in the history of the Korean people. A definite change will come true through constantly loving hearts. Let us make every effort to live lives of faith and so overcome the evil of national division with love.
June 22, 2008
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
Committee for the Reconciliation
of the Korean People of the CBCK
● News from the Church in Korea
* Episcopal Messages for Easter 2008
Each diocesan bishop in Korea issued a message for Easter 2008, urging the faithful to live in this world with the conviction of our resurrection because of Jesus Christ who rose and defeated death.
The bishops also encouraged the faithful to sacrifice themselves and serve others with charity and so bear witness to the resurrection in the places where they live. In particular, as the bishops looked forward to the 'Pauline Year" (June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009), they stressed missionary activities based on a sound family culture, saying "The restoration and revitalization of Christian families is the starting point for evangelizing the world."
* Mass Commemorating Martyrs and Unveiling of Monument for Martyrs at the Hongju Martyrs' Historical Site
The Diocese of Daejon held a Mass to commemorate martyrs and unveiled a monument for the martyrs at the Hongju martyrs' historical site, on March 15, 2008. The Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, presided and some 1,000 Catholic attended.
The Hongju martyrs' historical site is a place where 212 martyrs who are known by name died. Included in this number are the Servants of God, Peter Won Si-jang, James Won Si-bo, Simon Hwang Il-gwang, Andrew Yi Jae-haeng, Job Yi Il-eon, and Peter Yi Tae-gwon. This is the second-largest number of martyrs in Korea, surpassed only by the 250 martyrs of Hwang Sae Bawee in Gongju. Until now, however, no one has paid attention to this site, because of indifference and lack of sources. Therefore the erection of a monument for the martyrs has more significance for the development of this site.
In the future, this site will be developed as the Hongju Martyrs Park and it will have the fourteen stations of the cross and a building for pilgrims.
* Publication of Guidelines for Exceptional Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist
The Korean bishops approved the publication of Guidelines for Exceptional Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist at the 2008 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK.
According to the Guidelines, if anyone wishes to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist in any place apart from churches or oratories designated by the Code of Canon Law or the liturgical norms, written permission from the diocesan bishop is needed. The Guidelines also stress that besides giving permission for the place of repose, the bishop should also supervise its continuous management.
Then, the Guidelines refers to principles for exceptional reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist in the following cases: elderly priests and retired clergy who want to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist in a tabernacle of a chapel or an oratory attached to their house; some religious institutes or societies of apostolic life who plan to prepare a tabernacle in local houses; parishes that have an extra tabernacle in a chapel for perpetual adoration besides that of the main church.
The Guidelines underlines three essential elements for exceptional reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist: the permission and continuous supervision of the diocesan bishop; a proper place for reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist; security of the place where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.
* Publication of Living the Real Faith, a Guidebook for the Faith Experience Program for Catechumens
Living the Real Faith, a guidebook for the Faith Experience Program for Catechumens, was published by the Korean Conferences of Major Superiors of Men and Women Religious Institutes with the support of the CBCK, on Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008.
This guidebook was prepared for faith formation which puts more stress on prayer and experience than on learning by rote. It presents faith experience programs for catechumens and useful information about diocesan martyrs' historical sites, retreat houses run by religious institutes, good religious books and audio-visual materials.
It provides guidance for catechumens to visit religious houses and to experience the prayer, liturgical and charitable life of religious. It helps them so that they can receive Baptism with a renewed attitude of love for God and their neighbors.
* A New Guideline for Catholic Medical Ethics
The Catholic Medical Center in Seoul recently published a new Guideline for Catholic Medical Ethics, which presents ethical guidelines and a practical code of conduct for medical staffs engaged in the treatment of patients and for medical researchers at Catholic medical institutions.
This new guideline proposes for all medical staff members of Catholic medical institutions that treat patients the basic spirit of respect for the dignity of human life and of love of Jesus Christ who is a healer and a role model of all medical doctors..
The guideline also puts emphasis on the respect for the rights of every patient as a human being and on humanistic and integral treatment. It also urges that the results of bio-technological and medical research should serve humanity and not be in opposition to divine providence or lead to the destruction of the human race.
The new Guideline for Catholic Medical Ethics is the result of cooperation between the Catholic Bioethics Institute and the Committee for Life of the Seoul Archdiocese. They revised and updated the old Guideline of Catholic Medical Ethics (1991).
* Message for the Day for Persons with Disabilities
On the occasion of the 28th 'National Day for Persons with Disabilities' on April 20, 2008, the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Episcopal Vicar for Social Ministry Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Seoul, issued a message entitled "Peace be with you" (Jn 20,19).
In his message Bishop Kim said, "Korea ratified 'the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol', which the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus, on December 13, 2006. Moreover Korea enacted 'the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination and Relief of Persons with Disabilities' on April 11, 2008, so that every discrimination against persons with disabilities is prohibited and the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is more consolidated. Now persons with disabilities should participate directly in the formulation of government policies and in the management and service of welfare institutes, so that they can demand their own rights."
Bishop Kim also said, "Persons with disabilities need, above all, the love for neighbors based on the love of God."
* Catholics Congratulate Buddhists on the Feast of Vesakh 2008
On the occasion of the Buddhist Feast of Vesakh on May 12, 2008, the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, President of the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue, made a visit to Seonamsa, a Buddhist temple in Seungju-eup, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do. On May 8, 2008 he delivered the Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh 2008 issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, also delivered a congratulatory message to Jogyesa, the headquarter of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism (Chongmuwon), on May 6, 2008.
In his message Cardinal Cheong said, "We extend our heartfelt greetings to our dear Buddhist friends on the occasion of the Feast of Vesakh 2008." Then he wished that "we, Catholics and Buddhists, continue to work together to build a happy and sound society, making efforts to respect, care, and thank one another from within our family."
* Statement opposing 'the Revised Bioethics and Safety Act'
As the bill amending 'the Bioethics and Safety Act' was passed by the National Assembly of Korea at an extra session on May 16, the CBCK Committee for Bioethics (President: Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, Bishop of Masan) issued a statement of regret entitled "With solicitude about the retrogressive revision of 'the Bioethics and Safety Act'."
The statement pointed out that the revised Bioethics and Safety Act contained new poisonous articles: to allow embryonic stem cell research which destroys human embryos; to allow ovum donors to be compensated for all expenses incurred in the process. Then it said that the revised Act tried to reduce human life to mere material for biological experiments and it legalized de facto ovum trafficking.
In this regard, the Permanent Council of the CBCK at its regular meeting on May 19, 2008 decided to print this statement as a leaflet and distribute it to all the dioceses in Korea to inform the faithful of the problems and the seriousness of this Act.
* Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2007 Published
The Catholic Conference of Korea published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2007 on May 15, 2008.
According to the Statistics, as of December 31, 2007, the number of the Catholics in Korea totaled 4,873,447 or 9.7% of the total population (50,034,357). Compared to the previous year, it increased 105,204 or 2.2%. About one fourth of Korean Catholics attended Sunday Mass regularly in 2007.
The number of the faithful was highest in the Archdiocese of Seoul with 1,355,950, followed by the Diocese of Suwon (697,160), Daegu (436,596), and Incheon (418,227). The Statistics categorized the faithful by sex, (male 41.7% and female 58.3%), and by age (19.1% of the faithful, the highest percentage, were in their 40s.).
The Statistics also indicated that the number of clergy, including bishops, was 4,148 (32 bishops and 4,116 diocesan and religious priests), an increase of 142 from the previous year. Thus the number of priests exceeded 4,000 for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in Korea. The number of parishes was 1,511, an increase of 35 from the previous year, and the number of mission stations was 1,084.
Those newly baptized were 149,358, an increase of 1,611 from the previous year. The number of Sunday Mass attendants was 27.2% of the whole faithful, a decrease comparing with 30% of ten years ago.
* The Catholic Church in Korea Joins in Providing Relief Aid to China & Myanmar
The Catholic Church in Korea arranged to help the victims affected by the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China.
'Caritas Corea', the CBCK Committee for Social Welfare (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik), announced through a press release that it would send emergency relief aid of USD 30,000 considering that such extensive damage from the Sichuan earthquake in China would require long-time support. The Committee also informed 15 diocesan commissions on social welfare of the devastating situation and asked their cooperation to collect donations and pray for the victims. In advance, 'Caritas Corea' had decided to send emergency relief aid of USD 50,000 to Myanmar damaged by a cyclone.
The One Body One Spirit Organization of the Archdiocese of Seoul (Catholic NGO of Korea for sharing and upholding life all over the world) decided to send emergency relief aid of USD 50,000 to Myanmar on May 9, 2008, and it is prepared to send a team for development and relief to Myanmar. It has also searched for a way to give aid to the district damaged by the earthquake in China.
Each diocese in the country also informed the faithful of the desperate situation in Myanmar and in China through a diocesan letter or through the diocesan weekly bulletin. All have been invited to participate in prayers and donations for the victims.
● News in Brief
A Mass marking the opening of the Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Graduate School for Life was celebrated at the Songui Center of the Songui Campus, the Catholic University of Korea, in downtown Seoul, on March 12, 2008. The Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Graduate School for Life of the Catholic University of Korea, is the first graduate school for bioethics in Asia. It offers master's programs in the department of bioethics and in the department of life culture.
The Committee for Women under the CBCK Committee for the Lay Apostolate held a seminar at the Franciscan Education Center in Jeongdong, Seoul on April 10, 2008. With the theme "How to utilize the capacity of women in the Church?" Dr. Lee Sang-hwa, Professor of the Korean Institute for Gender Equality Promotion and Education, and Dr. Park Eun-me, Professor of the Center for Anthropology Education at the Catholic University of Korea, presented their papers. Two discussion panels pointed out the lukewarm interest of the Church towards women and urged the Church to provide them with the institutional means and opportunities for the practice of their professional abilities in the Church.
The CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry held a seminar under the theme of 'Religious education within the family, what do we do?' in the auditorium of the seminary of the Catholic University of Daegu on May 23, 2008. The seminar, attended by some 300 people, was a place of heated discussion to search for a pastoral response to the phenomenon of gradual familial and social disintegration.
● In Memoriam
The Most Rev. John Choi Jae-seon, the first Bishop of Pusan, passed away at the age of 96 on June 3, 2008. He was the oldest bishop of Korea. Born in 1912, he was ordained a priest in 1938 and served many parishes as a good pastor in the southern area of Korea. He was installed as the first bishop of Pusan in 1957. Even after his retirement in 1973, he served the Church actively as the president of many Church institutions, including the Korean Missionary Society which he established. In an interview with the Peace Times Weekly last year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop, he especially stressed the life of simplicity and prayer, saying that priests and religious should not waste precious money which the lay faithful offered for the Church. He himself lived such a life, earning a high regard from the people around him. His Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Namcheon Cathedral of Pusan on June 5, 2008.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 56, 57
Saint Ko Sun-i Barbara (1798-1839)
Ko Sun-i Barbara was the wife of the martyr Pak Chong-won Augustine and a daughter of Ko Kwang-song, martyred in 1801. She was born in Seoul in 1794. She was a woman of integrity and intelligence.
At the age of 18, she married Pak Augustine and had three children. The whole family was very Catholic. The children were well educated in the Catholic doctrine. Barbara helped her husband in his charitable work, encouraged lukewarm Catholics to return to the Church, taught illiterate catechumens, and took care of sick people. When the missionaries came into the country, she was happy to receive the sacraments. She also tried to grow in virtue and prayer and in her desire to be a martyr.
When Barbara's husband, Pak Augustine, was arrested, she wanted to give herself up to share her husband's suffering, but her captors arrested her on October 27, 1839, before she took action. She thanked God for the special grace of being arrested. The couple met and encouraged each other in prison The police chief called the couple out together for interrogation. They were told to deny their faith. They refused the demand and were tortured. Barbara was tortured six times, and couldn't move her arms and legs. But she never lost courage.
About 20 days later, Barbara was beaten again with her husband. She was beaten so severely that her flesh was torn off. But she wanted to die for God. She said to her fellow prisoners: "I used to be afraid of tortures, but now the Holy Spirit has blessed a sinner like me, and I am no longer afraid of tortures. I am so happy. I did'nt know that it was so easy to die."
Barbara was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on December 29, 1839, at the age of 42 with six other Catholics.
Saint Pak Chong-won Augustine (1793-1840)
Pak Chong-won Augustine was the husband of the martyr, Ko Barbara. He was born in Seoul. He had a warm personality, was kind and an excellent scholar. He was also an able man.
Since he lost his father when he was still young, he had to live in poverty, but he didn't complain. He was loyal to his mother, and performed his duties faithfully. He married Ko Barbara. He was very charitable. He taught and encouraged Catholics as well as catechumens. He baptized many children in danger of death. He used to say: "As Jesus loved me, I have to love Him. As He suffered for me, I have to suffer." He had an ardent desire to be a martyr.
Augustine tried to advise others to correct their faults. He showed sorrow on his face when he saw someone in a sinful state. But his manner of doing these things was so kind that people were not offended. People used to say: "We have never seen Augustine getting angry." Augustine took the initiative in difficult situations. He made great efforts to introduce missionaries into Korea. His talent and virture were acknowledged by Bishop Imbert, who appointed him a catechist. Augustine performed his duties as a catechist admirably.
When the persecution broke out, Augustine left his home and continued to take care of his fellow Catholics, particularly those in prison, for eight months. He was finally arrested on October 26, 1839. He was interrogated and tortured many times and so severely that he couldn't move his arms and legs, but he showed no sign of his agony. His flesh was torn apart, but he was happy to suffer for God.
According to the government report, Augustine explained Heaven and Hell clearly and refused to offer sacrifices to his ancestors.
Augustine was taken out to Tang-kogae near Seoul, and was beheaded there with five other Catholics on January 31, 1840, at the age of 48.