CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter


CBCK Newsletter No.64 (Fall 2008)

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From the Editor

Message for the 13th
Farmers' Sunday

Message for the Month of Mission

Message for the 41st
Military Mission Sunday

Korean Participants
in the 23rd World Youth Day

News from the Church in Korea

The Lives of the 103
Martyr Saints of Korea





From the Editor:



A Religious Bias Creates Affliction



At the beginning of 2008 the new government in South Korea was inaugurated. Pondering over some new policies which were established and executed following the change of regime, not a few people raised their concerns and dissenting voices. Followers of religions shared the same experiences. In particular, a series of words and deeds of pro-Christian bias by the new government made Buddhists disappointed and thus brought them into the streets in an indignant atmosphere for a massive protest campaign against the alleged pro-Christian bias of the new government. In the end, this situation led to official apologies from various members of the government and also the President himself. Hoping that no such incident would happen again in the future, the government revised the Civil Service Code prohibiting religious discrimination by civil servants. Now that the atmosphere has gradually become stable, I think all the more keenly about inter-religious communion and balance in South Korea.
In South Korea, uniquely in comparison with many other countries, various religions peacefully coexist respecting one another without major conflicts. Although there have been some cases when provocative words from a few careless followers of religions offended their neighbor's belief, fundamentally different religions live together in peace so that South Korea can rightly take pride among the nations of the world. It is difficult to see in other countries a scene like the one the Buddhists suffered this year but where the followers of other religions shared the suffering with them and tried together to correct the alleged religious bias of the authorities.
In particular, the Catholic Church in Korea has engaged in an exemplary way in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue with a persistent attitude and consistent doctrine. This is a merit of the Catholic Church which has led other religions to respect one another and willingly participate in dialogue. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) officially expresses its position and all the faithful take the lead for the inter-religious communion and dialogue in their parishes and their workplaces. A mutual friendly gathering has also been held among seminaries. This year, the CBCK invited Catholic seminarians and arranged a time for them to visit the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea, the Anglican Church of Korea, the National Council of Churches in Korea, Jogyesa (the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism), and Seonggyun-gwan (Confucian Academy). It was an opportunity for both seminarians and concerned persons of each religion to realize and learn many things and to strengthen mutual respect and relationship. They also made a resolution to hold an annual gathering for such an experience. Dialogue itself is a necessary virtue for contemporary people. Specifically in South Korea where communal spirituality has been stressed, inter-personal, inter-religious and inter-national dialogues are an indispensable way of existence and a rule for pilgrimage through the world (Cf. Ecclesiam suam). In other words, dialogue is in itself an activity of pilgrimage toward the perfect universality which Jesus Christ wants for His Church. The closer we come to Jesus Christ, the closer we come to one another. Dialogue is not a heavy burden but a door of grace which the Lord gives to His Church.
I hope that the government on the basis of this year's experience will clear away any biased opinions and realize a balanced religious policy. I also hope that as Buddhists had an opportunity to find themselves more deeply they will have new vitality and contribute to religious peace.

Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Executive Secretary
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea


Message for the 13th Farmers' Sunday

Cultivating Life Is Our Christian Vocation!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we observe the 13th Farmers' Sunday.

Korean society has promoted many discussions and movements to overcome crises facing agriculture and rural communities. Nevertheless, in looking over the past there has not been any particular improvement. Internal and external situations around Korean agriculture have further deteriorated so that the life of the whole nation, let alone farmers, is in danger.

As the global phenomenon of 'ag-flation', which means the rapidly rising costs of agricultural products, has intensified, global food prices have jumped 80 percent over the last three years, and the price of grain such as wheat, corn and soybeans has increased on an average of more than 40 percent a year. Moreover, at least 33 countries around the world, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, Egypt, and Uzbekistan, face serious social instability because of soaring grain prices.

Amid this global agricultural grain crisis, Korea with a 25.3 percent self-sufficiency rate for grain remains among the lowest-ranked nations: 26th out of the 29 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Furthermore, since the 2004 renegotiation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the matter of rice imports, Korea has increased imports of U.S. rice and by 2014 Korea's rice market will be opened. Therefore, rice farming and food self-sufficiency are going to deteriorate. In addition to this, the import of U.S beef which was a prerequisite for the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) approval by the U.S. Congress, arouses a deep concern about the damage to Korean cattle farmers and possible contamination from Mad Cow Disease. Because of the rise in global grain prices, Korean food manufacturers also import cheap genetically modified agricultural products and use them as ingredients, instead of safe domestic agricultural products. This is threatening the health of the whole nation.
The internal and external situation of Korean agriculture, such as the rapid decrease in the rural population, the aging of the rural population, the outflow of the population from rural communities and the policy of opening the market to imported agricultural products with soaring global grain prices, all of these things in the midst of other difficulties facing the whole nation place a heavy burden on the shoulders of farmers.

Agriculture, supported and sustained by human labor, is 'a noble work'. It is carried out in "the majestic temple of Creation" and "has to do with the life of plants and animals" (Cf. John XXIII, encyclical Mater et Magistra, 1961.5.15., n. 144). Therefore a matter of agriculture is a matter of life. In particular, malnutrition and starvation caused by the agricultural crisis threaten the life of the poor all over the world. The food problem is no longer a matter to be resolved according to neo-liberal market logic. Now, it is time for the revival of agriculture and the survival of the poor. The government should intervene by supporting farmers in terms of production, marketing and appropriate income.

We should view agriculture as a 'value of life' and not take the perspective of neo-liberalism which stands for globalization and appreciates only economic values and tends to consider nature and all things according to their materialistic values. The world talks about agriculture from the perspective of progress and competition, considers the rural community as an object of development and profit, and dreams of an immoral attempt such as the plan to build the 'Pan Korea Grand Waterway'. However we Christians should observe agriculture and the rural community in the light of life.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
agriculture and the rural community are 'a ground of life' which is made up of sky, land, water and people who cultivate the land with their own labor. Besides, agriculture, the rural community and farmers are subjects which preserve the environment, protect lives, and conserve culture and tradition. Farmers are precious people who cultivate this ground of life most appropriately according to the will of its Lord and Creator.

Therefore, we should make greater efforts to establish a relationship of life through sisterhood relationships between rural communities and urban parish communities. As many churches as possible should set up a 'shop or stand for environment-friendly agricultural products' so that the faithful and local residents can easily purchase these products. The 'Save Our Rural Community Movement' is an urban-rural community campaign in the Church in Korea and a movement to share foods through 'the relationship of life' between rural Catholic farmers and urban Catholics who want reliable agricultural products. Such a shop for environment-friendly agricultural products can support farmers engaged in environment-friendly agriculture and sustainable production. It can also be a significant symbol of the Church to the faithful and to local residents as a life community campaign to save urban and rural communities. Furthermore, schools, associations, and hospitals where many members of the Church are engaged should actively participate in the 'Save Our Rural Community Movement' to practice 'koinonia and diaconia', precious values of the Church.

According to the word of Our Lord, "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live" (Deut 30,19), farmers choose life and participate in God's work of creation in a most appropriate way. Today on the occasion of Farmers' Sunday, we all should recognize the value of agriculture, give encouragement to hardworking farmers, and sincerely pray for them. Finally, we cannot but consider the suffering of North Korean farmers. We should also pray for them.

May God always bless you and all farmers.

July 20, 2008

+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Incheon
Committee for Justice & Peace
of the CBCK


Message for the Month of Mission 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the Month of Mission 2008, we have to ponder upon our faith life, recalling the meaning of the proclamation of the Gospel which our Lord commanded us all to do. To examine our attitude toward evangelization, we annually choose and announce the theme for the Month of Mission, which, on the one hand, satisfies God's will and, on the other hand, meets the demands of the times. Especially in 2008, as the 'Pauline Year' is proclaimed to commemorate St. Paul the Apostle, a preeminent missionary of the primitive Church, it is important and significant to remember and inherit his missionary passion and to make up our minds to put it into practice. I would like to invite you to have concern for foreign mission work, especially in Asia, on the occasion of the Month of Mission.

1. Proclamation of the Gospel in the Pauline Year

We are observing the Pauline Year now. In the Pauline Year we have to devote ourselves to reinvigorating efforts for the unity and harmony of all Christians, following the example of the faith, missionary passion and love of St. Paul.
As we can see in our Lord's words, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16,15), He wants to expand the Kingdom of Heaven through us and to communicate His blessing to all people. Never forgetting the word of the Lord, St. Paul devoted his life to disseminating the Good News of the Lord to the ends of the world, because he wanted to show that he was proud of the Lord who loved him and was loved by him, and further he wanted to share His great blessing for him with all the people of the world. He said, "To me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose" (Phil 1,21-22).

Most of all, St. Paul knew very well why he had to proclaim the Gospel, because he felt deeply in himself the love of Christ, and he loved Him so much. Therefore, he could live a life of 'deviation from a normal life,' recognizing that the knowledge of Christ is most important, considering all other things as rubbish (Cf. Phil 3,8).

St. Paul dedicated his life to the proclamation of the Gospel. The proclamation of the Gospel was so much a categorical mission for him that St. Paul was eager to practice his mission. For him the word of the Lord was the only thing which was life-giving, truthful and real. Therefore, he could say, "Woe to me if I do not preach it [the Gospel]!" (1 Cor 9,16)

St. Paul knew that proclaiming the Gospel meant practicing the greatest love for his neighbor. The best, the most important and the most necessary thing for him was to communicate Christ Himself and His word to the people.

2. The status and role of the Church in Korea in relation to Asia

Nowadays, we live in a world of truly wonderful changes. Traditions and values which we thought were unchangeable are changing. We are living in a world where we can obviously witness our conscience, in an age where people are all changing before our eyes.

Korean society is generally acknowledged to have established itself in such a changing world in economy, science, culture and religion, as well as in its global influence. Not a place in the world is untrodden by Koreans, and the activity and influence of Korea have grown at an unprecedented rate. Especially, in Asia, more than elsewhere, the status and role of Korea has grown. The economic competence of the Church in Korea has constantly increased thanks to the economic and cultural development of Korean society. Compared with the past, the churches themselves have become bigger and more brilliant and the number of the faithful has dramatically increased. This is a mission as much as a great gift and a blessing that God has granted to the Church in Korea.
Remembering what the Lord told us, "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give" (Mt 10,8), the Catholic Church in Korea must send missionaries and share her material wealth with other countries and nations. The Catholic Church in Korea is now so situated that she has to look around with a wider vision, giving infinite thanks to God for the affluence which He has granted to her. In this world, especially in Asia, we have to ask ourselves: who are our poor neighbours?; who are our neighbours asking our helping hand?; what does the Lord want us to do today? The wealth and blessings which the Lord has granted us are not just for the salvation and happiness of Koreans. These are divine blessings for the Catholic Church in Korea to use for the common good of the world, especially for the promotion of the common good of Asia. Recognizing such a desire of the Lord, there are many Korean missionaries who are engaged in missionary activity in Mongolia, Africa, South America, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan. However, this is just the beginning of a response to the Lord's will. We can invigorate the mission spirit locally only when we strive for the foreign missions. Love means sharing what we have with others, and we can grow together in sharing. Let us try to be a Catholic Church in Korea which helps our neighbours to the best of our ability, opening our eyes to the heights and looking wide and far!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
on the occasion of the Pauline Year, the meaning of proclaiming the Gospel to the world renews itself and comes closer to us. We all have to instill in our minds a passion for mission, especially in Asia, and put it into practice more faithfully than ever as we celebrate the Pauline Year.

+ Paul Choi Deok-ki
Bishop of Suwon
Committee for Evangelization
of the CBCK


Message for the 41st Military Mission Sunday

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

May the peace of the Lord be with you all in this blessed year which marks the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul the Apostle.

Today we mark the 41st annual Military Mission Sunday. We have dedicated every first Sunday of October to remembering those who are engaged in military service for national peace and security in all parts of the country and military chaplains who care for them, and to generously giving prayer and support to them.

I, together with all the soldiers and military chaplains who accompany them, express my deep gratitude to all those who over the years have helped the military pastoral mission in prayer and positive support.

This year, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea celebrate the 60th anniversary, the so called 'hoegap' (sixtieth birthday), of their founding. The Korean military was founded with the foundation of the government in 1948 and has grown together with our government and has always been a support in the midst of danger of our national survival.

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) was an insignificant nation in the world at the time of its foundation. However it is now the tenth largest economy in the world. Besides, at the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, South Korea accomplished the outstanding feat of ranking seventh in the total medal tally with 13 gold medals. All of this proves how strong and superior the Korean people are.

So the Korean military as a strong fortress for this proud Korean history marks its 60th anniversary and begins a new era. The Korean military had to go through difficulties over the years, particularly in the midst of ideological conflicts in recent years. In fact, the status of the Korean military could have been shaken and weakened and consequently its military discipline relaxed.
Hoegap, the 60th anniversary, is a point of time to complete the traditional Korean sixty-year cycle of years and start a new one. This moment is a new starting point. The military strives for its own renewal and reform.

According to a recent public-opinion poll taken by a Korean broadcasting station on the occasion of the 60th government foundation day, the military was regarded as the most trustworthy organization (57.7%) among government institutions. The broadcasting station commented, "For the Korean people the military which had been a symbol of dictatorship and suppression for 18 years after the 'May 16 Coup d'럗at' and for 13 years after the 'December 12 Coup d'럗at' has now become the most reliable organization."

During the '6·25 War' (Korean War) as the tragic fratricidal war and the first ideological war in the world took place, the Korean military on the front line devoted itself to overcoming the national crisis and saving the country in an extremely dangerous situation. Then and now the Korean military has stood by the Korean people as a military of the people, devoting and sacrificing itself to overcome every national crisis and hardship, such as the 2nd Yeonpyeong Naval Battle, flood disasters, forest fires, and nationwide truckers' strike. Consequently the military has been able to win the deepest public confidence.

The military is preparing for a change as it marks its 60th anniversary. The new government in South Korea has highlighted 'the military with the people and of the people', representing the vision of national defense that is "to foster advanced elite forces." Indeed, within the military, the winds for strong reform are blowing.

Therefore the soldiers in ever more intensive training and education need spiritual repose and comfort. For this, the military chaplains play an important role by giving true repose, warm comfort and strength to the soldiers. The military chapels are a true spiritual shelter for them.

In the time when renewal and reform are carried out within the military, we Catholic soldiers should give a good example to others and take the lead. All brothers and sisters throughout the nation who are concerned about the military should not spare prayers and encouragement for all the soldiers.

As all of you know, Pope Benedict XVI announced a special jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of his birth. The Pauline Year is an opportunity for the faithful to find in imitation of St. Paul a way to renew and reform their faith life.

Paul did not belong to Jesus Christ at first. He was one who was persecuting those who had faith in Jesus (Gal 1,13-14). However an encounter with the risen Christ profoundly changed Paul's life. St. Paul who once persecuted Christians became an apostle of the Lord by the amazing providence of God and was an indomitable soldier who never gave up even in adverse situations and proclaimed the Gospel boldly. Christianity started with a small faith community in Judea, but thanks to St. Paul's efforts it spread to the whole Roman Empire. Thus, St. Paul's conversion and response to his calling became an example of true transformation and renewal to those who have faith in Christ. St. Paul with confidence said, "Join with others in being imitators of me" (Phil 3,17). Catholic soldiers who always live with enthusiasm and sacrifice should be fervent imitators of St. Paul the Apostle.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Our military keeps on crying out 'Fight Tonight' in order to be 'strong soldiers' and 'strong forces'. This means that even if a battle breaks out tonight our military must be able to achieve victory. If 'renewal and reform' are needed for this strength, the pursuit of the strength cannot but become the pursuit of military identity. For this, the military is ceaselessly trained and armed. However fostering a globally strong military can never come about without the continuous support and trust of the people.

The same goes for our faith life. If our faith does not become strong and solid based on the Word of the Lord, nobody can boldly proclaim the name of Christ. Continuous conversion toward the Lord and an attitude of responding to the given calling can be achieved only in Christ. Therefore, I urge the faithful to find their identity only in Christ.

Military Mission Sunday is a day of unity between soldiers and believers, between Catholic soldiers and the Church, between the military chaplains and the whole Church, and a day of communion in prayer and encouragement. All the faithful encourage soldiers in prayer. Catholic soldiers make up their mind to live as Catholics. By prayer and material support the ecclesiastical communities encourage priests who serve military evangelization.

I appreciate all of you, the Korean Catholics, for your consistent encouragement and prayer. I am particularly grateful this year to all of you throughout the nation who provided for the construction of Yeonmudae church located within the Nonsan Military Training Camp.

Asking for your prayer and encouragement once again, I pray that the abundant grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with you and your family.

October 5, 2008

+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
Bishop of Military Ordinariate


Korean Participants in the 23rd World Youth Day

Some 1,000 Korean youths under the guidance of the Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man (President of the Committee for Youth Ministry of the CBCK and Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul), the Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, Bishop of Uijeongbu, and the Most Rev. John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju, Bishop of Andong, participated in the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, from July 15 to 20, 2008.

Before the official program, the Korean participants had time to share friendship with Australian youths in the Archdioceses of Melbourne and of Brisbane from July 10 to 14.

From July 16 to 18, the Korean youths attended cathechesis sessions led by Bishop Cho, Bishop Lee, and Bishop Kwon in the Sydney Korean Church, St. Teresa's Church and St Mel's Church in the Archdiocese of Sydney respectively.

On July 16, more than 10,000 World Youth Day pilgrims from Asia gathered for a concert at Sydney Olympic Park for the Asian Youth Gathering. In this event, the Korean participants from the Diocese of Cheongju performed the traditional Korean fan dance and received a thunderous round of applause.

Bishop Cho said, "The World Youth Day is a place of festival where thousands of young people from all over the world gather together and share their own faith and culture in the bosom of God. It is a great opportunity for Korean youths to look into what the Catholic Church in Korea lacks and to realize the necessity of renewal to make up for it." He also said, "I am sure that through this World Youth Day all Korean young participants were able to receive the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit. I hope that they will share the inexhaustible love that God gave to them during this event with their family and friends when they return home."


● News from the Church in Korea

* Masses Mark the Inauguration of the Pauline Year in the Church in Korea

Each diocese and religious institute in Korea celebrated a Mass marking the inauguration of the Pauline Year on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul the Apostle. The year is due to run from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009.

The Archdiocese of Seoul offered the opening Mass of the Pauline Year presided over by His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, at Myeongdong Cathedral on June 28, 2008 and prayer was offered that our lives may witness to the Gospel following the spirit and mind of the great Apostle of the Gentiles.

In his homily, Cardinal Cheong said, "I hope that the Church in Korea will be renewed through the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle in this world which lacks spirituality and that the Pauline Year will be not a feast only within the Church but a feast of life, truth, and hope in all areas of our society."

The Archdiocese of Daegu celebrated the opening Mass presided over by the Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Archbishop of Daegu, at Gyesan Cathedral of Daegu on June 29. Particularly in preparation for the forthcoming 100th anniversary of its establishment in 2011, the Archdiocese of Daegu determined to celebrate the Pauline Year as an opportunity for archdiocesan development.

The Society of St. Paul and the Daughters of St. Paul in Korea celebrated the opening Mass of the Pauline Year at Mia 3-dong Parish of the Archdiocese of Seoul, praying that all the religious may follow St Paul's spirituality, passion and life.

Each diocese throughout the country will prepare various pastoral programs in memory of St. Paul and invite the faithful to actively participate in them during the Pauline Year.

* Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue Program for Seminarians

The Media Team of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) invited Rev. Augustine Lee Jeong-ju and 20 seminarians of Kwangju Seminary to the CBCK and arranged a time for them to visit protestants and other religions from June 26 to 27, 2008.

'The ecumenical and interreligious dialogue with the CBCK' was held for the first time this year to introduce seminarians as future pastors to the organization and activities of the CBCK and to broaden their understanding of the teachings and spirit of other religions.

On June 26, under the theme of 'ecumenism', seminarians visited the National Council of Churches in Korea, the Anglican Church of Korea, and the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea. On June 27, under the theme of 'interreligious dialogue' they visited the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea, Jogyesa (the headquarter of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism), and Seonggyun-gwan (Confucian Academy). 

The CBCK plans to prepare this program for seminarians in Korea in the fourth week of June every year.

* The Present Legal System concerning Catholic Schools in Korea and Proposals for Future Development

The Federation of Catholic Educational Foundations in Korea (President: Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Auxiliary Bishop of Suwon) has recently published a research report on the identity of Catholic schools, the present situation and related laws. The report is entitled The Present Legal System concerning Catholic Schools in Korea and Proposals for Future Development.

This research report with seven parts deals with the identity of Catholic schools through a historical overview of the relationship between the Church and schools and through a consideration of laws related to religions and private schools.

Then it assesses the present situation of private schools established by religious foundations, especially by the Catholic Church, and the related laws and judicial precedents in Korea through analyses of related laws and policies of Germany, the USA, and Japan. It also analyzes issues relevant to the subject in private schools of religious foundations, such as religious education in schools. An institutional and legal proposal is presented. 

This report is based on the Charter of Catholic School Education in Korea published by the Committee on Education of the CBCK in 2006, and on the research carried out in October 2007, in order to solidify the legal and institutional basis in society for proper Catholic education.

In a message upon publication, Bishop Ri said, "The state and the Church should continue to discuss and look for a harmonious solution to educational issues. Thus we will be able to find and open a way to develop education in Korea both in private schools and public schools."

* Messages for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15, 2008, five Diocesan Ordinaries in Korea issued messages.

In a message entitled 'The Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of True Peace,' His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, said, "The greatest threat to peace is to refuse to solve conflicts and problems through love, justice, dialogue and compromise. There will be disorder and disunity, unless we recognize the differences among us." Then he said, "Leaders in society must take true peace as the criterion of their political activity and evaluation. Then they must listen to the voice of the people more attentively and accept their opinion more humbly." He asserted that the Church must be a sign and an instrument for the peace of the world.

The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju, said, "As one nation, we have to stop mutual defamation on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Liberation and the 60th anniversary of the Foundation of the Government. Let us render great service to the prosperity and development of our nation, supplementing for each other's deficiencies and complementing each other's wrongdoings." Then he asked the people to do all they can to respect human persons and to repect life.

In his message, the Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, invited the faithful to actively participate in the diocesan campaign 'save a dime per meal' for needy neighbours. He urged self-examination following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who abided in God's will. He also urged them to take the initiative in healing all the wounds of our age which are stained with mistrust, sin and disunity.

The Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, Bishop of Uijeongbu, said, "It means much that our nation was liberated on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Furthermore, Korea has eventually achieved democratization and has become one of the ten great economic powers, standing out among the many nations that newly emerged after World War II." He also invited the faithful to habitually recite the Magnificat of the Gospel of Luke (1,46-55) and to read the Constitution of the Republic of Korea.

The Most Rev. John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju, Bishop of Andong, also issued a message entitled "The Pascha and the Blessed Virgin Mary." In his message Bishop Kwon said, "The Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven and became the hope and sign of our salvation, because she lived as a woman who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled in all situations (Cf. Lk 1,45)." Then he asked the faithful to pray with the Blessed Virgin Mary for the people who are poor and suffering now.

* Week for the Protection of Life

The presbyterial council of the Archdiocese of Seoul decided at its meeting on August 20, 2008, to annually observe the first week of December as the Week for the Protection of Life.

All parishes of the Archdiocese of Seoul will celebrate a 'Mass for Life' together during the week to manifest the deep determination of the Church to protect life. Until now the Mass for Life has been celebrated only at Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul. The Archdiocese of Seoul will prepare and distribute materials for the Mass, homily and public information. A special 'Prayer for Life' will be recited before and after the Mass. There is also an extra intention for life added to the collect, the prayer of the faithful, the prayer over the offering, and the prayer after Communion.

The Archdiocese of Seoul will promote the movement in society for the diffusion of a culture of life by initiating many events, including the '2008 Concert for Life' and the 'Award Ceremony for the Best UCC (User Created Contents) for life.'

Speaking of its 'Project for the Observation of the Week for Protection of Life,' the secretariat of the Committee for Life of the Archdiocese of Seoul said, "The Archdiocese of Seoul decided to observe the Week for the Protection of Life in the first week of December since Human Rights Sunday is observed in the same week and the observance fits well with the spirit of Advent, waiting for the birth of the infant Jesus." The secretariat expressed the hope that the week will be an occasion for all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Seoul to appreciate the meaning of protecting life.


● News in Brief

The CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People held a symposium with the theme 'Human Rights in North Korea in the midst of the Changing Situation around the Korean Peninsula' at the conference hall of Seoul Catholic Seminary on June 20, 2008. Three experts presented their papers: on the situation in North Korea, a modus vivendi for North Koreans, and the condition of North Korean escapees. Also, Ms. Won Seong-ae, a Saeteomin (a North Korean escapee settled in South Korea), gave personal witness about her first-hand experiences of the severe situation in North Korea, especially the acute food shortage.

The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine held the 6th Catholic International Stem Cell Symposium with the theme 'Integrating Asia-Pacific Stem Cell Research' at Maria Hall of the university on June 20, 2008. Along with Dr. Martin Murphy, Chief Editor of Stem Cells, a world renowned magazine in the field of stem cell research, many national and international experts presented their papers on the treatment of incurable disease by applying adult stem cell therapy and on the recent trends in stem cell research.

The Subcommittee for Environment of the CBCK Committee for Justice (president: The Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of Incheon) held a symposium concerning an ecological spirituality under the theme of "The Spirituality of Water and Ecological Matters on the Korean Peninsular in the Light of Church Teachings" at Myeongdong Catholic Center in Seoul, on July 12, 2008.


The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 58, 59

Saint Yi Kyong-i Agatha (1814-1840)

Yi Kyong-i Agatha was born in a Catholic family, but she was married to a eunuch. When she told this fact to Bishop Imbert, he told her to separate from her husband. After separation from her husband, Yi Agatha went to live with Kwon Chin-i Agatha, because her mother was too poor to support her.
Yi Agatha was arrested with Kwo? Agatha on July 17, 1839. They were set free once by some policemen who had pity on them, but they were arrested again in a poor Catholic home in Seoul and were put in prison. They were severely tortured and beaten but they would not give up their faith.
According to the government report, Yi Agatha converted her family, visited many places to help the Catholics, and wanted to die for her faith.
Agatha was finally taken out to a place called Tangkogae near Seoul, and she was beheaded there on January 31, 1840, with five other Catholics. Agatha was 27 years old when she was martyred.

Saint Kwon Chin-i Agatha (1820-1840)

Kwon Chin-i Agatha was a daughter of a government official, Kwon and his wife, Han Magdalene, who was martyred on December 29, 1839. She was married when she was 12 or 13 years old. But Agatha lived with one of her relatives, because her husband was too poor to have a home. They had merely performed the marriage ceremony.
When the Chinese priest, Yu Pang-che Pacificus came to Korea, Agatha worked for him as a housekeeper. Agatha told the priest that she wanted to keep the virtue of virginity, and the priest had her marriage annulled so that she could be a virgin. Soon afterwards rumors began to spread about their relationship which were to do great harm to the Church. Because of this, when the French priest, Father Maubant arrived he had Father Yu sent bank to China. He also called Kwon Chin-i Agatha aside and awakened her to the situation she had helped create. As a result, the rumors which had disturbed the minds of the believers for many months began to subside. Agatha also realized how her actions had unwittingly caused a serious problem. She was repentant and determined to make up for it by offering herself as a martyr to God.
Kwon Agatha was arrested with Yi Agatha and a servant girl on July 17, 1839. They were brought to a private house under surveillance of a guard. However they escaped with the help of the policemen and hid themselves in a Catholic home in Seoul. But the servant girl, who was captured first, told the captors where the two Agathas were staying, and they were arrested again. Many severe tortures could not make them deny their faith.
Kwon Agatha met her mother, Han Magdalene, in prison and they had their last conversation, looking forward to their eternal happiness in Heaven.
Agatha sent a letter to one of her friends. The letter was full of fervent affection and obedience to God's Will. This young Korean woman offered God more tears and more fragrant perfume than Mary Magdalene of Jesus' time.
According to the government document (Sungjongwon Diary) the 21-year old Agatha was taken out to a place called Tangkogae near Seoul and beheaded there on January 31, 1840, with five other Catholics.

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