CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter






Message for the Week for Catholic Education

Message for the Day for the Environment Message for the Day for Life

Message from the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants

 and Foreign Residents Living in Korea

Message for the Prayer Day for the Reconciliation  and Unity of the Korean people

News from the Church in Korea

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea



From the Editor:


 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2008


    According to Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2008 published by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, the total number of Catholics in Korea has finally surpassed five million. As of December 31, 2008, Korean Catholics numbered 5,004,115 or 9.9% of the total national population of 50,394,374. This is an increase of 2.7% over the previous year. Since evangelization took root through lay people in this country in 1784, the faithful have gradually increased under the special care and blessing of God. Korean priests numbered 4,204, including 3,478 diocesan priests and 726 missionary and religious priests. This indicates that one priest is responsible for 1,190 Catholics.

    From 1960 to 2008 Korean priests have steadily increased at an average annual rate of 4.8%. Korean priests have increased from 243 in 1960 to 4,026 in 2008, fiftyfold over fifty years, while foreign priests have continually decreased from 351 in 1968 to 178 in 2008.

    After closely looking over Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2008, I would like to suggest the direction the Catholic Church in Korea should take for the future. According to the released Statistics, the number of Catholics between the age of 1 and 29 amounted to 1,527,206 or 30.5% of the total Catholic population in Korea. It highlights the importance of pastoral care of the youth. Fortunately, diocesan priests in their 30s and 40s who are going to take pastoral responsibility for these young faithful number more than 60% of the priests.

    The most interesting fact shown in Statistics is the number of the newly baptized in the Military Ordinariate. It is remarkable that the Military Ordinariate, one of the smallest dioceses in Korea, baptized 28,213 in 2008, ranking next to the Archdiocese of Seoul, which with 32,124 newly baptized was the largest. This has significant meaning in terms of the special circumstances where Korea is divided into South and North. Like St. Paul, with confident faith and passion, military chaplains have made efforts to proclaim the Gospel and to offer pastoral care of the young doing their military service, especially during the Year of St. Paul. As a result, the newly baptized in the Military Ordinariate were able to reach that remarkable number in 2008. Further efforts should be made for them so that they can continue their faith life after they are discharged from military service.

     According to Statistics, the rate of Sunday Mass attendance was 24% and the rate for receiving the Sacrament of Confession as part of Easter and Christmas duty was 29.5% and 30.6%, respectively in 2008. These rates prove that we need concrete pastoral plans to actively take care of non-practicing Catholics, especially by animating the Small Christian Community movement already spread throughout the nation. I think Statistics suggests the urgent need for re-evangelization of non-practicing faithful so that they may be renewed in the Church as beloved children of God and actively participate in ecclesiastical life.


 Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak

 Executive Secretary

Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea



Message for the Fourth Week for Catholic Education


Educational Care for Students from Poor Families


    Since 2006, the Catholic Church in Korea has celebrated 'the Week for Catholic Education' during the last week in May in line with World Youth Day (held in Korea on the last Sunday in May), to highlight the importance of the proper education of the younger generation and to indicate practical ways of doing this. In 2008, parents were encouraged to imitate Jesus Christ, Educator of the whole person, and to have regular dialogue with their children, discover and develop their potential talents, and pray with them in their family.

    Pope Benedict XVI, in his message for the World Day of Peace this year, drew attention to fight against poverty to build peace. Nowadays, we are witnessing an increasing number of families facing social and economic hardship as well as a worsening gap between the rich and the poor in our society. Moreover, it is quite difficult for students to fully develop their potential abilities and to have an education which serves personal happiness and the peace of the world because of the scholastic achievement-oriented education for entrance into college. As a result, not a few students are suffering from depression and emotional instability that often ends in juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, they have difficulties in establishing their identity, as they cannot find the purpose of life or adapt themselves to reality.

    In many cases students from poor families give up their studies as they have difficulties due to a lack of basic learning ability and motivation. In addition, high unemployment among youth caused by the world economic slump leads to a large pool of long-term unemployed persons and this causes another vicious cycle of poverty. In accord with the social teachings of the Church, which say that earthly goods are originally for all human beings (Cf. Paul VI, Enc. Populorum Progressio, 1967.3.26., n.22), care for students from poor families, especially their educational care, is very important for the desirable future of our society. In the hope that all Korean teenagers will be educated properly so that they can achieve their potential abilities and live a happy life, I present here some practical suggestion:

    1. Let us pray for all students, especially those from poor families, that they may be properly educated.

    2. Let the ecclesiastical community take concrete steps with suitable initiatives such as scholarships for students from poor families to support them and their family members.

    3. Let the Church give the youth, especially those from poor families, more opportunities for education, encouraging their hope, cultivating their potential, and developing and applying formation programs to train them to be agents of peace.


    Let us be Christians who can implant dreams and hopes in the hearts of the students from poor families in our society, practicing the words of Jesus: "Whatever you did for the poorest and most needy, you did for me" (Cf. Mt. 25,40). May God's grace be with all families, especially poor families.


May 2009

+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon

Bishop of Suwon


Committee on Education of the CBCK



Message for 2009 Day for the Environment


 Economic growth causing ecological destruction is meaningless


    Dear brothers and sisters,

    A financial crisis, starting from the USA, has spread to the whole world, and our country is not excepted because of its heavy economic dependence on the USA. In these days as we face the crisis of resources and environment, our government has proposed 'green growth' as a national perspective and is lining up with developed countries in a shift to green industry as their growth power.

    However, as we look into the 'Four Major Rivers Restoration Project' promoted by the government to realize the policy of 'green growth', we cannot but question whether this is not a disguise for the 'Korean Peninsula Grand Canal Project' which was revoked after many disputes. It will be a serious contradiction if ecological destruction is carried out under the name of 'green growth' which has developed from an awareness that there can be no economic growth without consideration of environmental problems. Human greed seeking only economic growth without considering ecology results in the draining of natural resources and global warming. The destruction of ecology will cause a considerable loss of natural resources and, consequently, catastrophic biological extinction on the earth.

    Pope Benedict XVI said in his address at the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that the present global financial crisis is a result of the lifestyle of modern people in their pursuit of money, success and careers. He pointed out that the financial crisis which seems to be derived from a lack of money or from a policy failure is, in fact, truly a result of human greed.

    Today's global economic crisis has its root in economism which promotes material greed and unfair and one-sided globalization. Economic activities that neglect environmental values have aggravated global environmental problems. We have to guard against policies driven by growth and development based on the excuse of economic difficulties because they bring about grave environmental destruction. Ultimately the causes of economic failure and environmental destruction are the same.

    As our environment is the gift of God for the common good of humanity and at the same time a common heritage of humanity, the responsibility to protect it is not just a demand of the present but also of the future (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.467). In this context, we should regard today's global economic crisis as a sign of the times and make efforts to listen to God telling us that what we truly need to do is to protect our precious environment given by God to humanity.


 June 5, 2009

+ Boniface Choi Ki-san

Bishop of Incheon


Committee for Justice & Peace



Message for the 15th Day for Life


We are the Protagonists Building a 'Culture of Life'


    Today, on the occasion of the 15th Day for Life, we would like to express our deep concern for the 'Culture of Death' so prevalent in our society and to renew our resolution to build a 'Culture of Life'. Indeed, the culture of death, which continually threatens the value of life in our society, has been a serious problem with the highest rate of suicides and abortions in the world. This points clearly to a shameful culture of contempt for life. Deplorable too is the current tendency to give legal justification to the violation of precious human life given by God under the guise of 'death with dignity.' What is most needed in our society where the culture of death prevails is 'the building of a culture of life', and this noble mission has been entrusted to us believers in the God of life. Above all, we need to have a keen critical sense capable of discerning true values and authentic needs, and to be aware of the urgency to recover an awareness of God (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, n.95).   

    Suicide, which refuses a precious life given by God and violates God's sovereignty, is a serious problem in our society. Furthermore, it implies the rejection of the God of life and a denial of oneself. Suicide is a social pathological phenomenon, deriving from the lack of love and care. It is above all a miserable tragedy which takes us away from true life and thus the God of Love, Giver of Life. We have, then, to equip ourselves with an awareness of God and draw closer to those in despair with the love of God.

    We have a deep concern about the numerous attempts in recent times to violate by economic logic the dignity of human life at its initial and final stages. Research on cloned embryos that uses human somatic cells and destroys an integral human life was approved by the government. The tendency to establish euthanasia as a legal system under the guise of 'death with dignity' reduces human life to a mere object and aggravates the culture of death. Christians believe that God alone is the Lord of life and death. The Catholic Church teaches that every human being should be respected as a person from the moment of conception. This applies to every human embryo, including cloned embryos, whose life from its existence has a right not to be violated (see Donum Vitae). In the light of the teaching of the Church, it is unacceptable to treat a human embryo as mere biological material.

    At the other end of the spectrum, authentic dignity in death means accepting death as the natural and unavoidable destiny of every human being. It is not God's will that we use all means to escape from death or that we extend life artificially by relying on mechanical devices. It is blasphemous, however, to propose putting an end to life which is dependent only on God. We have to believe in the God of life who manages our life and death, and to live our given life faithfully, hoping for eternal life. God says, "It is I who bring both death and life" (Deut. 32,39).

    The Catholic Church teaches that medical progress should not be linked to the destruction of a human being, nor should medical practice use means that violate human dignity or for a purpose which is against the good of a human being (Cf. Dignitas Personae, n.16). Scientific and technological progress has its true meaning only when it serves for a human being (Cf. Donum Vitae). We believe in the Lord of life who is risen from the dead and lives for us in glory. "Life will triumph: this is a sure hope for us. Yes, life will triumph because truth, goodness, joy and true progress are on the side of life. God, who loves life and gives it generously, is on the side of life" (Dignitas Personae, n.3).


    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    On the occasion of the Day for Life, the Church urges you to be guardians of life and to keep in mind that you are the protagonists for the building of a culture of life. I pray for an abundance of God's grace to all those who respect, protect and serve life.


May 31, 2009

+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun

Bishop of Cheongju


Committee for Bioethics of the CBCK




Message from the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants

and Foreign Residents Living in Korea


"I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt. 25,35)


    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    In his message for the 95th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2009, published on the occasion of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI urged the faithful to show a special love and care for migrants, as he recalled in a special way the life journey of St. Paul, "a great and humble Apostle and a migrant among peoples, who lived a life of a pilgrim and migrant" (Cf. Acts 15,36; Rm. 15,33; 1Cor. 16,5). During his journey, even though St. Paul could have been well treated by Christian communities as a leading Apostle of Jesus Christ, he accomplished his difficult mission by making a living for himself as a tent maker (Cf. Acts 18,1), not much different from most of the migrants of those days. He also made, sold and repaired sails whenever his boat arrived at port. According to a biblical scholar, St. Paul was equipped with simple tools to carry out his vocation of tent-making. He was among those in a vulnerable situation like migrants of the present day, living and working with little and humble people, preaching to them the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    With rapid change in the world, many people are leaving their own countries to live and work in another country as migrants. In the early 20th century, some of our compatriots left this country to escape from poverty and settled in Hawaii, working in sugarcane fields. In the 1960s and 1970s, many Koreans emigrated to Latin America as farmers or to Germany as miners or nurses. Recently, many students have gone abroad to learn advanced science and technology, while many businessmen are working in almost every part in the world. More and more for various reasons the number of Koreans who are emigrating abroad is increasing.

    On the other hand, the number of immigrants and foreign workers coming to Korea is also increasing year by year. They come to Korea with the 'Korean dream' and work in so-called 3D (Difficult, Dangerous and Dirty) jobs. Unfortunately, however, many of these people live in difficult and unstable conditions outside the value of the common good and they are not properly treated in our society. There are also many foreign women from undeveloped countries who have married Korean men and have settled in Korea where they form multicultural families.

    Pope Benedict XVI urges us in his message to give preferential attention to "the variegated universe of migrants - students far from home, immigrants, refugees, displaced people, evacuees - including, for example, the victims of modern forms of slavery and of human trafficking." Not only St. Paul but also all the apostles except St. John lived as immigrants in all parts of the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though they were in a situation which needed other people's support, we must not forget that our Church owes a lot to their sacrifices and pains. Thus, we always have to remind ourselves of the word and commandment of God, saying "You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you" (Lev. 19,34; cf. Deut. 10,19).


    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    On the occasion of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, let us look at migrants with loving eyes and welcome them with open minds, sharing life with them. In these economically difficult days, I urge you to welcome the migrants around you with warm hearts, not to limit yourselves to charitable activities. Our beloved Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan who passed away recently treated the foreign migrants in Korea as brothers and sisters with great sensibility and friendship. Let us remember the last words of Cardinal Kim, "Thank you and love each other," and practice them in our lives. Let us live together with strangers around us, recalling what they have done in our society and the contributions they have made to the economic growth of our country, as well as their sacrifices and labors, and let us treat them with greater attention and warmer love.

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt. 25,35).


April 26, 2009

+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik

 Bishop of Daejeon


 Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants

and Foreign Residents Living in Korea of the CBCK




Message for 2009 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People


 "Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good,

 to achieve his present end, the survival of many people" (Gn. 50,20)



    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    All human beings are sometimes wounded by others in their lives. Among those wounds, the deepest and longest lasting wound may be that inflicted by a struggle among brothers. According to Genesis, when Joseph reencountered his brothers who had sold him to Egypt, he was seized with an implacable hatred and had a mind to take his revenge on them. In consideration of God's justice, however, Joseph forgave them in tears. The forgiveness of Joseph saved the people of Israel who suffered from a severe famine and was thus the grounds for their development as a great people. Through such forgiveness, Joseph revealed the glory of God who returns good for evil. With the spirit of Joseph, we also have to try to see the conflict between South Korea and North Korea in the light of God's justice and glory.

    Recently, North Korea has been threatening its neighbouring states by conducting a second nuclear test and launching rockets. Such actions are harmful to the peace in Northeast Asia, more than just raising tension between two Koreas. The North Korean government has disappointed many of those who love peace by focusing its energies on the strengthening of military power and hereditary power succession, instead of making efforts to improve the difficulties of its people. If North Korea is fully aware of the painful time that both South and North Korea have endured for over sixty years since the fratricidal war, it should not aggravate the critical situation of the Korean peninsula by its reckless nuclear development. Rather than depending on military power, it is time for North Korea to concentrate its efforts upon economic development through political democracy and openness and upon social development through mature citizenship. For peace is not maintained by military power but achieved by dialogue in mutual understanding and trust.

    We, South Koreans are also responsible for the erroneous behavior of North Korea. Regrettably, a debate is underway in our society among political parties shifting the responsibility for the cooling relationship between South and North Korea back and forth. Some voices which assert the imposition of restriction on humanitarian aid to North Koreans if the North Korean government does not change its attitude are gaining momentum in our society. These voices imply some South Koreans' basic thinking toward North Korea. According them, the pain and sacrifice of North Koreans are inevitable in order to correct the bad behavior of the North Korean government by using a stick rather than carrots, even if it can increase the conflicts between South and North Korea. They also think that since South Korea is superior to North Korea in all aspects, North Korea must totally change, adapting itself to South Korea to live together. This consciousness of some Koreans seems to be derived from an awareness that North Korea is a dangerous rogue state, and that all it does is morally wrong and harmful, without thinking about the real differences between South Korea and North Korea. This narrow minded thinking hinders reconciliation and unity with North Korean society and its population. Now, it is time to reflect on what North Korea and its population mean for our society, our Church and each one of us. Are the people of the North to be ignored or abandoned?   

    On the other side, our government should make further efforts to improve relationship with North Korea. A determination made in emergency situations without any serious consideration and policy convergence may aggravate the relationship between South and North Korea. A crisis caused by a military conflict between two Koreas will bring more difficulties than the global economic crisis.

     Last Easter, Pope Benedict XVI called for reconciliation in regions of the world under conflict, saying "Reconciliation - difficult, but indispensable - is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence." Pope Benedict XVI's Easter message is applicable to the Korean peninsula where tension has been rising due to North Korea's second nuclear test and rocket launches.


    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    The reconciliation and unity of the Korean people should start from within our society and our Church. Relying on our self-examination, we have to exert ourselves to practice Christ's love and peace by taking care of Saeteomin (North Korean defectors settled in South Korea), by providing continuous humanitarian aid to North Koreans in difficulties due to the shortage of food, basic necessities and medical supplies. We should continue to pray for the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula without any military conflicts.

    We must always stay awake, as the Bible teaches us: "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Mt. 25,13). The moment of reunification of Korea may come suddenly and we must thus be prepared for it. Waiting for that moment, let us live a life of charity and prayer, which will lead to the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people.


June 21, 2009

+ 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 


Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2008 published

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (President: The Most. Rev. Peter Kang U-il) published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2008 on May 30, 2009. According to Statistics, as of December 31, 2008, the number of Catholics in Korea amounted to 5,004,115 or 9.9% of the total population (50,394,374), an increase of 130,000 (2.7%) from the previous year. The rate of evangelization calculated according to the population came to over 10 % in many dioceses and 13.6% in the Archdiocese of Seoul, which had also 32,124 newly baptized. The Military Ordinariate recorded 28,213 newly baptized, mostly young soldiers. The Statistics also categorized the faithful by sex (male 41.6% and female 58.4%). By age, the male faithful in their 20s had the highest number at 18.9%, followed by those in their 40s at 17%. The largest group of female faithful were those in their 40s and 50s. According to Statistics, the number of clergy in Korea amounted to 4,204, including foreign missionary priests. Among the priests, 3,477 were diocesan priests and 726 were religious and missionary priests. The total number of Korean priests was 4,026, an increase of 101 from the previous year. And the total number of bishops was 31. With regard to men and women religious, there were 1,445 men religious, including novices, as well as foreign religious, a decrease of 19 from the previous year. Women religious numbered 10,401 in 2008, an increase of 186 from the previous year. The number of Sunday School attendants (from age 7 to 19) amounted to 647,159, but only 11% were counted as regular attendants. The rate of participation at Sunday Mass reached 24% on an average, which means that one of four faithful attends Sunday Mass. The number of faithful who received the Sacrament of Confession at Easter and Christmas in 2008 was 29.5%, and 30.6% respectively.


Statistics of missionaries overseas

According to the statistics of the Korean Catholic Foreign Missionary Education Association, as of October, 2007, 647 Korean missionaries had been sent to 81 countries. Among them, 42 were secular priests and 477 were women religious. The number of the missionaries has increased 11-14% annually since 2005. They are mostly serving in local parishes or mission stations, areas of social service, education and medical care. 


2008 Annual Report on Religious Freedom in North Korea

The Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the CBCK (CRKP), together with the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB Center), published in March 2009 the 2008 Annual Report on Religious Freedom in North Korea - Actual State of Religious Freedom in North Korea. This is the second such report released following the one issued in February 2008. This report is significant because it presents the overall state of religious freedom in North Korea. It is composed of four chapters: religious policy, reality of religious freedom, reality of religious persecution in North Korea, and finally suggestions for the relief and prevention of religious persecution. This report is based on a survey of 2,047 North Korean defectors who entered South Korea between 2007 and 2008 and on the data from 252 persons related to 345 cases of religious persecutions in North Korea.


Guest Workshop for German Bishops on Korean SCCs

An exposure program for German bishops on the "Asian Integrated Pastoral Approach" (AsIPA), which was a guest workshop for German Bishops on Korean Basic Ecclesial Communities (SCCs), was held in the Dioceses of Suwon and Cheju from April 14 to 22, 2009. The program was under the joint auspices of the Committee for Small Christian Communities under the Committee for Evangelization of the CBCK (President: Most Rev. Paul Choi Deok-ki), the Diocese of Cheju, and the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). Five bishops from Germany, including the Most Rev. Ludwig Schick, Archbishop of Bamberg, participated in the workshop to learn about the Korean SCC movement. Eight Asian bishops from Thailand, India and the Philippines also joined the exposure program and shared their own experiences in SCCs. Representing the Church in Korea, the Most Rev. Paul Choi Deok-ki, Emeritus Bishop of Suwon, and the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, introduced the participants to the actual sites of the local SCCs. The workshop was divided into three major parts: seminars, sharing of the Gospel, and visits to the actual sites of the SCCs. In the seminars, the participants had time to illuminate the SCC movement through theme presentations: "History of Korean SCCs" by Rev. Bartholomew Jeon Won (Archdiocese of Seoul), "SCCs as an Integrated Pastoral Approach" by Most Rev. Oswald Thomas Colman Gomis, Archbishop of Colombo, "Grounds and Roots of SCCs" by the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, and "Growth of the SCCs in the Diocese of Cheju" by Rev. John Ko Byeong-su (Pastoral Administrator of the Diocese of Cheju). Moreover, every morning the participants experienced small group meetings of Gospel-sharing. To examine the reality of the SCC movement they also visited Small Christian communities in korea. 


Message Protesting the Resumption of Research

on Somatic Cloned Human Embryos

The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, President of the Committee for Bioethics of the CBCK, issued a message on April 29, 2009, protesting the decision of the National Bioethics Committee to give qualified consent to stem cell research on somatic cloned human embryos as requested by researchers of CHA General Hospital in Seoul. In his message Bishop Chang accused the newly approved stem cell research on somatic cloned human embryos because it is an act of ruthless violence that destroys human life in the name of science. He stressed, "The Catholic Church supports especially research on adult stem cells and stem cell research with dedifferentiation of skin cells. Such research can lead to good results without the destruction of human life. …… Bio-technology should strive for the true development of human beings, standing up for life and recognizing its precious vocation to serve integral life." Three years ago the government banned all stem cell research on somatic cloned embryos when the scandal of Dr. Hwang Woo-seok resulted in great social confusion. At that time, Dr. Hwang manipulated the results of embryonic stem cell research to procure a government subsidy. His misbehavior aroused so much public rage that the government had to ban all research related to stem cells. 


 International Conference on Bioethics

The Catholic Institute of Bioethics of the Catholic University of Korea held its 5th Conference with the theme "Ethical Problems of Oocyte Donation and Research" on May 6, 2009. Four experts gave the following presentations: "Bioethical Problems Concerning Research and Donation of Eggs - Scientifical and Clinical Aspects" (Dr. Moica Lopez Barahona, Director of VidaCord in Madrid, Spain); "Anthropological Aspects of Oocyte Donation and Research" (Fr. Jos?Noriega, Vice-Chancellor of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome); "Bioethical Aspects of Oocyte Donation and Research" (Prof. Maria Luisa Di Pietro, Member of the National Bioethics Committee of Italy); "Problems of Korean Bioethics Law on Oocyte Donation and Research" (Prof. In-Hoe Ku, Director of the Catholic Institute of Bioethics of the Catholic University of Korea).


Seminar on the Multi-cultural Family in Korea

The CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry (President: Most Rev. Paul Hwang Cheol-soo) held its annual seminar on May 19, 2009. At this seminar, two experts presented their papers: "The Reality of Multi-cultural Families in Korea and the Role of the Church" and "Multi-cultural Families in Korea." According to Ms. Suh Hye-jeong, Research Fellow of Gyeonggido Family & Women's Research Institute, "As of 2007, there were 38,491 incidences of intercultural matrimony, accounting for 11% of all the marriages registered in the year. …… As of 2008, there were 20,280 students from multi-cultural families studying in primary and secondary schools, a 40% increase over the previous year. Of those students, 18% were victims of school bullying, mostly because of racial differences of their mothers. Only 11.3% of the multicultural families were the recipients of the 'basic social welfare payment', even though 52.9% of them were living in absolute poverty with less than minimum incomes. Mr. Hong Ki-ryong, General Secretary of Jeju Migrant Peace Community, pointed out in his paper that "Quite often immigrant women married to Korean men are not treated as human persons but are regarded as a means for carrying on a family line."


Presentation of the Petition for the Beatification of 124 Korean martyrs

and Fr. Thomas Choe Yang-eop

The delegates of the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission to Promote the Beatification and Canonization visited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on June 3, 2009 and presented the official petition and related materials for the Beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and Father Thomas Choe Yang-eop, the second Korean priest. The delegation consisted of the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il (President of the CBCK), the Most Rev. Michael Pak Jeong-il (Chairman of the Commission), Rev. Peter Yoo Han-young (Secretary of the Commission), Rev. Donatus Park Dong-gyun (Promotor of Justice) and Ms. Claire Jang Hu-nam (Assistant Notary). They were accompanied by H.E. Francesco Kim Ji-Young (Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See) and Rev. John Kim Jong-su (Postulator in Rome). Before presenting the petition the delegates made a courtesy visit to the Most Rev. Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He kindly welcomed them and showed a deep interest in the origin and the history of the Catholic Church in Korea and explained, "Up to now, petitions for beatification presented to the Congregation from all over the world number 2,000. Those from Asia and Africa will be given priority." The investigation of the cause for the beatification by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will begin with the approval by the same Congregation of the postulator in Rome, appointed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea. The CBCK appointed Rev. John Kim Jong-su as the postulator in Rome for the beatification of the '124 Servants of God' of Korea.


2009 International ICCRS Event Held at Kkottongnae, Korea

The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) Event for 2009 was held from June 1 to 7 at Kkottongnae social welfare institute in Eumseong, Chungbuk, with the theme 'Love in Action.' The event was organized by the National Catholic Charismatic Service Association and was sponsored by the ICCRS (President: Michelle Moran). This was the first time that the ICCRS Event was held outside the European continent. 377 delegates from 44 countries participated, including H.E. Albert Card. Vanhoye S.J., retired rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, H.E. Telesphore Pladicus Card. Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India and 13 other bishops. There were also some 700 Korean participants. The delegates to the event began their official program on June 2 with a Mass for the reconciliation of the Korean people and the reunification of South and North Korea at Imjingak, a tragic location that symbolizes the reality of a divided Korea. They then visited Seoul Station to deliver necessities of life for homeless people. On June 3 they had an opportunity to rediscover the Holy Spirit through an Opening Mass, Praise Festival and a time of communion. In the 'Leadership Conference' held from June 4 to 6, the delegates sought the proper direction for the Charismatic Renewal movement through lectures and workshops centered on the theme 'Love in Action, Holy Spirit and Mission'. At the same time about 1,200 young people from dioceses in Korea and around the world participated in the 'Youth Festival in the Holy Spirit' and had a time to repent of their sins and vow to lead a new life in the Holy Spirit. The event concluded with a conference and a Mass on June 7, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, with some 60,000 attending.


News in Brief


The Subcommittee for Environment under the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: The Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san) is going to give an education program on Ecological Evangelization in each diocese on the theme 'Ecological Healing and a Christian Response to the Government's Four Major Rivers Restoration Project'. Education for Ecological Evangelization intends to reflect on the ecological reality of Korea and the future of the earth in the light of the order of God's creation and the salvation of Jesus Christ and to seek directions for solving the ecological problem. 


On the occasion of the 120th and 100th anniversary of the entry of institutes of religious women and institutes of religious men into Korea, the Religious Societies in Korea produced an audiovisual program (duration: 43 minutes) entitled "Beyond the World and into the World - Visiting the Men and Women Missionary and Religious Societies in Korea," a presentation of the life of Catholic religious and missionaries. The program consists of two parts: 'Beyond the world' presents religious life (poverty, chastity and obedience) and introduces the process of religious life, the daily life of religious (contemplative orders and apostolic institutes). 'Into the world' presents religious life as a sharing of God's love with neighbors and the life of evangelization. 4,000 DVDs will be produced and distributed to each religious institute, to parishes nationwide and to Catholic associations for use in the instruction of catechumens, for re-evangelization of the faithful, and for introducing Catholic religious life to non-Catholics.




The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 62 63


Hyon Song-mun Charles (1799-1846)

     Hyon Song-mun Charles was beheaded three days after Father Kim Andrew. Charles is the one who introduced Bishop Imbert into Korea and helped Father Chastan get around to different mission stations.

    He was born in Seoul in 1799. His father was martyred in 1801 and his wife and children died in prison in 1839. His sister, Hyon Benedicta, was also martyred later. Charles dedicated his whole life to helping the missionaries and the Catholics. The Holy See's document praised him, saying: "His contributions are many, and he had high virtues and a warm, gentle, simple personality."

    In 1838. when the persecution started, Charles wanted to give himself up to the government authorities to testify to his faith but the missionaries stopped him from doing so and told him to remain alive to take care of the Catholics. Bishop Imbert, before his martyrdom, entrusted the Korean Church to Charles. This fact shows how highly the bishops and the Catholic people regarded him. Charles encouraged the new Catholics and went around to different mission stations to take up collections for poor people and to take care of the spiritual life of the people.

    When the persecution was over, he edited short stories of the martyrs (Kihae Diary) for distribution among the Catholics. He sent messengers to Peking frequently to have contact with missionaries. He accompanied Father Kim Andrew on his stormy voyage to Shanghai in a small wooden boat. After he returned to Seoul, he risked the danger of having Father Kim's house registered in his name. When Charles heard of Father Kim's arrest, he moved all the church money and properties to a new house he had bought.

     A few days later the police easily captured Charles in his new house. The porter who transported Charles' cargo led the way for them. When the captors rushed into the house, they found Kim Theresa, Yi Agatha, Chong Catherine, U Susanna and a few other women. It was July 10, 1846. All of them were arrested together. In prison Charles encouraged his fellow prisoners.

    Some say that Charles was severely tortured, and others say that he was exempt from torture. In any case, he was sentenced to be beheaded. According to the government record (Hyonjong-shillok), Hyo Song-mun was sentenced to be beheaded on September 19, 1846 (July 20 according to the lunar calendar). Another government record (Sungjongwon Diary) shows the same thing.

    Charles was beheaded in Saenamt'o on September 19, 1846 and he died peacefully and courageously according to the testimony of Kim Catherine. He was 50 years old when he was martyred.


U Sur-im Susanna (?-1846)

    U Susanna was born the daughter of a pagan noble family in Yangju in Kyonggi Province. At the age of 15 she married a man of a Catholic family in Inch'on, and then she became a Catholic.

    In 1828, she was once arrested, put in prison for some weeks and severely tortured. But, as she was pregnant, she was released and sent home. The wounds from the torture caused her a lot of pain throughout her life.

    In 1841, her husband died and she came up to Seoul. She worked as a servant for various families. She became a close friend of Yi Catherine, who later became a martyr, too. Susanna was very devout in prayer and voluntarily wanted to do servile work for the love of God. She used to say that the only thing she regretted was that she missed the occasion of martyrdom, but God provided her another opportunity.

     On July 10, 1846, Susanna was arrested with Kim Theresa, Yi Agatha and Chong Catherine at the new home of Hyon Charles. They were in prison for over two months and suffered many severe tortures. On September 20, 1846, Susanna and six other Catholics were beaten to death, according to the document of the government (Sungjongwon Diary). However, they could have been strangled to death. Susanna was 44 years old when she was killed.

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» CBCK Newsletter No.67 (Summer 2009) Aug 27, 2009
66 CBCK Newsletter No.66 (Spring 2009) Aug 27, 2009

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