CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter



From the Editor

Jeju, the Island of Peace

Currently the Catholic Church in Korea stands in opposition to the government's plan for military development on Jeju (Cheju) Island. With regard to the plan to construct a state-of-the-art naval base in Jeju for national defense and economic profit, the Catholic Bishops of Korea, especially the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, have pointed out that despite the significance of the plan there has been no consensus on the part of the people concerning this matter. For this reason the Catholic Church has emphasized the need for deeper scrutiny and adequate formation of public opinion and has insisted on the withdrawal of the plan until this takes place.
Tension was generated from the start because of an insufficient examination and social consensus as to whether an "Island of Peace" is compatible with "a naval base and military facilities" and whether these two clashing values can be reconciled. The situation grew worse because the survey conducted by the government turned out to be very limited and the results were announced in a unilateral way. We now take this opportunity to discuss the even wider issue of growing international conflicts and environmental destruction as we discern whether Jeju should realize its dream of peace through strong military power or through reconciliation, coexistence and co-prosperity.
Why the insistence that Jeju become an "Island of Peace" free from military facilities?
Responding to the desire of peace-loving Jeju islanders, the government has already designated Jeju as the Island of World Peace. This is a creative way to heal the painful memory of the violence that the island and its residents had to suffer in modern history and to sublimate the memory into the power to advance peace. The vision of an "Island of Peace" is offered not only for Jeju residents but for all Korean people as they try to overcome the history of division and war and be reborn as bridges of mutual prosperity and stepping stones towards peace. The plan for a naval base decisively destroys the image of a peaceful island and is a serious obstacle to the vision and harmonious development of the island as an island of world peace and an international free city.
The Catholic Bishops of Korea, hoping to see Jeju truly become an Island of Peace, pray with the people of the Diocese of Cheju. The arms race is a serious plague on humanity. Peace, on the other hand, realizes itself through mutual trust, exchanges, love and cooperation of nations, not through military competition or a balance of power. The Island of Peace can be secured only by peaceful development.

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




Statement on the Naval Base Plan in Jeju

True Peace on Jeju, 
the Island of World Peace!

The CBCK Committee for Justice and Peace (President: the Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san) issued a statement on July 3, 2007 and expressed solidarity with the Diocese of Cheju (Jeju) which has opposed the government plan to construct a naval base in Jeju, the Island of Peace. Following is the entire text of the statement.

Seeing the situation of confusion caused by the controversy over the plan for a naval base in Jeju Island and the conflict among islanders, the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea has regret and hereby wishes to make clear its position on this matter in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

We support the position of the Diocese of Cheju which calls on the government to reconsider the plan for a naval base in Jeju.

First, even though national security in the Korean Peninsula is a precious value everyone should struggle to defend, we cannot but express deep concern over the plan to construct a large-scale naval base in the southern coast of Jeju Island. For "the arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2315). "Tension among nations can be settled by peaceful solutions through dialogue and mutual trust, not by military build-ups and wars. True peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation based on justice and truth, not through power" (Cf. Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 2002, n. 9).

Second, Jeju Island which has been designated as the Island of World Peace is now positioning itself as a symbolic place for the promotion of world peace, overcoming the historical memory of wounds inflicted by the sacrifice of innocent lives. It is an unacceptable contradiction to envision peace in the Korean Peninsula by constructing a large-scale military facility in Jeju which must be a buffer zone against a military buildup and military tension in northeastern Asia.

Third, the construction of a naval base will destroy the gifted beautiful nature and ecosystem in Jeju. Moreover, the site is adjacent to the UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve in Jeju and this place is also designated as a cultural asset by the Korean government. The last clean area in Korea will inevitably be seriously destroyed along with the right of fishermen to live no matter how environment-friendly the process of construction may be.

The CBCK Committee for Justice and Peace, in solidarity with the Diocese of Cheju, hopes that Jeju islanders who are at present in confusion and conflict can resolve this matter with wisdom. We also pray that they may seek reconciliation and unity among themselves and cultivate Jeju as the true "Island of World Peace".

July 3, 2007
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
CBCK Committee for Justice and Peace





Message from the CBCK Committee for Migrants and Itinerants

Message from the CBCK Committee
for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants
on the occasion of the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Migration is one of the areas which is experiencing rapid changes these days. The number of migrants worldwide has reached approximately two hundred million and every nation has to deal with this phenomenon. Korea is considered one of the noticeable areas affected by this phenomenon. There are about one million migrants in Korea and multi-cultural families number 160,000. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Education, as of 2006 about 8,000 school children grow up in such families. In the countryside, four out of ten men are married to foreign women and one third of the children are being born in multi-cultural families. The number of such children is expected to increase rapidly: it will reach 100,000 by 2010 and 170,000 by 2020.
This is the reality of migration and it is true that both the government and the people are not properly prepared to counter this new reality. Korea has come to have an unprecedented number of many migrant workers, but it has responded only in a temporary way without accumulated experience, systems or measures to provide for the massive waves of migrants.
Being aware of the gravity of this problem, the Catholic Church has paid constant and special concern to migrants and refugees. Since the mid-19th century, the Church has responded to this matter mainly through religious institutes working for migrants and refugees. It also has stressed the importance of this matter and suggested pastoral plans on various occasions, from the decree Ethnografica studia (1914) to the documents of the Vatican II and Erga migrantes caritas Christ, an instruction issued by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People on May 3, 2004.
The Catholic Church in Korea should become a role model for the Korean people in receiving this unprecedentedly large number of immigrants. As followers of "a man on the move 'who has nowhere to lay his head (Mt 8:20; Lk 9:58)'"(Cf. Erga migrantes caritas Christ, n. 15), we should be aware of the significance of this matter. It is hoped that the will of Our Lord, who "made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity" (Eph 2:14), can be realized more concretely through concern and efforts, especially at this time when borders gradually lose their meaning and the people of the world become one family with a common destiny.

April 29, 2007
+ Vincent Ri Pyung-ho
CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerants





Message for the Week for Catholic Education

Message for the Second Week 
for Catholic Education (summary)

Jesus Christ Is the True Teacher

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year for the second time we celebrate the Week for Catholic Education. The CBCK Committee on Education has the conviction that education is an essential instrument for passing on the Catholic faith and tradition and for learning from and following the example of Jesus Christ, the true teacher. Thus, it wishes to reiterate the significance of contemporary Catholic education and suggest the right direction for it.
A true Christian education does not merely strive for the maturing of a human person but aims at helping the baptized to become ever more aware of the mystery of salvation and the gift of Faith they have received (Cf. Gravissimum Educationis, n. 2). In a community of education permeated with the wisdom of faith, children of the Church can follow and imitate Jesus Christ who is the eternal truth and the life (Cf. Jn 14:6).
As Vatican II taught, every believer has the right to receive a Christian education and the Church must not spare any effort to respect this right. In particular, the Council emphasized "school" as an educational institution. The school is the place where the intellectual, cultural, personal and spiritual growth of students is promoted (Cf. Gravissimum Educationis, nn. 1,2,5). In light of this, as the Church sees it, schools at all levels are not simply educational enterprises; they are the essential bodies to serve as salt and light in the world, by guiding people through education to internalize their faith.
Looking at the reality of education today, however, we cannot but admit that schools have not become places of well-rounded education but places full of heavy tasks and suffering on the part of students. Because of extreme competition, formal schooling has been distrusted, the joy of learning has disappeared, and the authority of teachers has declined. Parents, who have the primary responsibility for education, are confused about what is true education and they cannot make judgments based on correct values and their faith.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the face of this distorted educational reality, we should define what is true education and clarify the right direction and role of education. For it is a sacred task imposed on us to embrace true education following Christ the Master.
Schools and various educational institutions in the Church should seek the holistic development of students, including physical, moral, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth, and they should also provide spiritual care. They should become places to incarnate Christian education. To this end, our education must turn from the competitive spirit which leads students simply to pursue a higher position in society.
During this Week for Catholic Education, all the members of the Church in Korea should pray that our education can lead students to life and salvation, following the example of Jesus Christ the True Teacher.

May 21, 2007
+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
CBCK Committee on Education





Message for the Day for Life

Message for the 13th Day for Life (summary)

The value of life is seriously challenged in our society today. It is because we evaluate everything from an economic point of view and do not hesitate to sacrifice the dignity of human life. To sacrifice life for economic profits or even to use it as a means of experiments is nothing short of denying our very nature and especially for us as Christians this is, "a grave act of disobedience to God himself" (Cf. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, n. 57).
To violate innocent life is always morally evil and can never be licit even as a means to a good end. As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal before God (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 57).
The fact that the rate of suicide and abortion in Korea is the highest in the world clearly indicates the lack of awareness of life in our culture. It is indeed a source of grave concern. The "Mother and Child Health Law" which has for decades legitimately provoked deliberate abortions under the pretense of birth control and economic development shows well how the civil authority violates the right to life. Certainly, it is a case which makes us feel shameful.
However, some people argue that experiments on embryos and the donation of eggs should be legalized for the development of biotechnology. Experiments on embryos inevitably entail the killing of embryos. To use human embryos as the objects of experiments is a crime, a violation of human dignity. Human embryos should be respected as the children to be born. Human beings should be respected as persons from the moment of conception and as such, their absolute right to life should be respected (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, nn. 72-73).
We should start the "renewal of a culture of life" within Christian communities through the ethical development of all members. The basis of such renewal is the "formation of conscience" which makes people aware of human dignity and the inviolability of human life of which God alone is the master. To this end, we should carry out necessary education and training at various levels. In particular, we should educate the young in the proper understanding of sexuality and love and also train married couples to play their role as participants in the mystery of life through procreation. In addition, the family, the "sanctuary of life," should serve as the starting point for this renewal. Equally important responsibility belongs to teachers and educators, researchers in life science, medical and health care workers and those involved in mass media (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, nn. 95-98).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christians should have a clear awareness that "whoever attacks human life, in some way attacks God himself" (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 9). According to the teaching of the magisterium we must "Respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!" (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 5)

May 27, 2007
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
CBCK Bioethics Committee




Message for the Day for the Environment

Message for the Day for the Environment (summary)

Prevention of Global Warming and Ecology of Peace

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The above-average temperatures we experience nowadays are all the sign of global warming. According to researchers, the cause of global warming is carbon dioxide from the burning of excessive fossil fuel, the power source of modern civilization. The excessive emission of carbon dioxide destroys the atmosphere and causes climate change through the greenhouse effect, which can fundamentally destroy the ecological environment of humanity.
The entire cosmos and ecosystem is the place where in the dispensation of God since the time of His creation, life is born, grows and disappears. Before modern times, humanity could build a civilization in harmony with all of creation in this ecosystem. However, after undergoing the Industrial Revolution and subsequent eras which valued everything in the light of capitalism, humanity came to see the ecosystem in a totally different view. In other words, under the name of development and growth, people started to disturb or destroy the self-controlling process of the ecosystem.
Large-scale land reclamation projects, indiscreet construction of golf links, and the research of cloning human embryos are clear manifestations of this way of living and thinking in our society. Government and industrial circles tend to be blind to the results of converting seas, shorelines, mountains, and even ourselves into objects of monetary value, as if this is natural and reasonable. Production systems based on large-scale exploitation of ecology presuppose the culture of unlimited consumption. People in our time seem to find their identity in consumption itself.
In his message for the World Day of Peace 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI suggested an "ecology of peace." This implies that there is an inseparable link between peace in creation and peace among men. The Holy Father pointed out the unbridled race for energy sources among nations as an example (Cf. nn. 8-9). In the case of the Iraqi war, we can see how the race for energy sources is accelerating more and more. Besides, in the current system, in which the Third World provides raw materials and energy and the First World produces goods, there is a widening of the inequality between the rich and poor countries.
Thus we hope that around the issue of global warming itself peace can be promoted on the international level as well as on the national level. We also urge governments and industry to recognize the ecosystem as the common heritage of all creation, not as in the logic of capitalism, an object of development and exploitation. We urge them to respect the organic circulation of the ecosystem and the right to life, thereby improving both the consciousness of people and the industrial environment. Every believer and every family can participate in this effort in concrete ways, such as using public transportation systems, walking or riding bicycles, and not using disposable products.
Global warming today is a byproduct of materialism. It is not a problem specific to a certain area or nation but a common problem of all humanity. Christ urges us to seek poverty in spirit (Cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20) which we can practice here and now.

June 5, 2007
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace



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

Message for the 2007 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity
of the Korean People (summary)

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God" (Mt 5:9)

God Extends His Hands in Reconciliation

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In Christ, God reconciled himself to sinful humankind, making peace by the mystery of his cross (Cf. Col 1:20). Believers must not forget that God first extends his hands in reconciliation to save humanity. The reconciliation between God and humankind is manifested in the reconciliation among people. And so in the case of the Korean people who are living in the pain of national division, the faithful are called to settle all sorts of conflicts and confrontations and seek the peace which God has entrusted to us. Those who have more love should be the first to extend their hands in reconciliation. Our North Korean brethren want us to be the first to extend our hands in reconciliation.

Unification Can Bring about a Hopeful Future of Prosperity for the National Community

Unification is not a burden but a hopeful future event for the national community. These days, however, there are people who have doubts about the necessity of national unification. In particular, the younger generation is inclined to take a negative view on unification since they think it might cause social, economic and political regression in the South. We believers should overcome such a negative view and lead everyone to hope for a beautiful national community rooted in the peace of Christ.
First, unification should open a closed place and advance us toward a wider world. Second, unification should bring economic prosperity to the national community. Third, unification should end distrust and confrontation and foster a single national community full of trust and love. Fourth, unification should enable the Church to grow quietly and promote religious freedom for our North Korean brethren.

The Effort of the Church for Hopeful Unification

Dialogue has continued even amid the danger of nuclear experiments and for the first time trains crossed the border between the North and the South. The process of unification to bring about reconciliation and unity has already started. The Church should lead all members of society in cooperative discussion about unification for the future of a national community of hope.
We believers understand the life-giving grace that is brought about by unity and harmony among the parts of the one body of Christ in the communion of the Triune God (Cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13). Let us prepare for unification with love in the communion of the Trinity.

June 24, 2007
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation
of the Korean People




News from the Church in Korea

* Bishops Emphasize Life 
n Their Easter Messages

Each diocesan bishop of Korea issued a message for Easter 2007. H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, expressed his great disappointment and sorrow that the National Bioethics Inquiry Commission decided on March 23, 2007 to allow limited embryonic research with the cloning of somatic cells. He urged the government and academic circles to show more concern and support for adult stem cells research instead of embryonic stem cell research.
The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju, said, "All crimes against the dignity of life and life itself must be regarded as an infringement on the rights of human beings and so must be opposed." He also urged the faithful "to have concern for migrant workers who suffer from unjust treatment by some employers and for foreigners married to Koreans and raising multi-cultural families.
The Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Archbishop of Daegu, wrote, "In our respect for life we should not forget that both an embryo and a fetus possess life." He asked the faithful to promote an appealing and dignified culture of life.
Reflecting on the up-coming presidential election, the Most Rev. Augustine Cheong Myeng-cho, Bishop of Pusan, said, "Believing in the resurrection, the faithful have a duty to choose a leader who can give us true hope."

* Verifiable Miracle Needed for the Beatification of 
the Servant of God Thomas Choe Yang-eop

The CBCK Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization issued a message on March 28, 2007 asking for the interest and cooperation of the faithful concerning the beatification of the Servant of God Thomas Choe Yang-eop.
The commission asked that anyone who had experienced a miraculous work of God through the intercession of Father Choe to report this to the office of the commission through their parish priest because "Father Choe needs at least one verifiable miracle to be beatified."
The commission also urged the faithful to visit the historical sites associated with Father Choe and to pray for him. It said that there remains only 'the verification of a miracle' and a 'field survey' for his beatification since the investigation about his life, holiness and the continuation of his reputation was completed in February, 2007.

* Archdiocese of Daegu Thanks the Retiring Archbishop and 
Welcomes a New Archbishop and an Auxiliary Bishop

On April 24, 2007, a Mass of thanksgiving Mass for the Most Rev. Paul Ri Moun-hi, Emeritus Archbishop of Daegu, was celebrated at St. Kim Tae-gon Memorial Hall in Namsandong, Daegu. Archbishop Ri served as the auxiliary bishop of Daegu for 14 years and then as the Archbishop of Daegu for 21 years. He was ordained a priest in 1966 and, at the age of 37, became the youngest Bishop of Korea in 1972.
During the Mass Archbishop Ri said, "I truly thank God for allowing me to have the joy of serving Him as the Archbishop of Daegu."
On April 30, 2007, the Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Coadjutor Archbishop of Daegu, took possession of the see of Daegu, succeeding Archbishop Ri. His installation ceremony was followed by the episcopal ordination of the Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, who was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Daegu and Titular Bishop of Abbir Maggiore by the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on March 23, 2007.
Archbishop Choi in his address promised to commit himself to renewal and evangelization of the Archdiocese in union with his priests and all the faithful, bearing in mind his pastoral motto, "With Christ." He also announced that he would hold a second diocesan synod ahead of the 100th anniversary of the archdiocese.
Bishop Cho said in his address, "I call on you all to pray for me so that I can devote myself to the development of our Archdiocese, assisting Archbishop Choi. Relying on your prayer and collaboration, I want to live properly in the eyes of God."
With the accession of the new Archbishop and the new Auxiliary bishop, everyone in the Archdiocese hopes there will be a leap forward towards the 100th anniversary in 2011 of the establishment of the Archdiocese. Under the guidance of the new Archbishop and Bishop all are resolved to make collaborative efforts for renewal and development.

* Bishop of Cheju Speaks out against the Plan 
for a Naval Base in Jeju Island

Regarding the controversial issue of constructing a naval base in Jeju island, the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, issued on May 5, 2007 a letter entitled "We Wish Jeju to Be an Island of Peace" and clearly expressed the position of the Catholic Church that "peace cannot be attained by power."
In the letter addressed to all the diocesan faithful he said, "Although the people of Jeju recently came to stand at a crossroads regarding the government plan to construct a naval base, many people are still hesitant to make a decision because they do not know the right path. Some argue for the plan on the grounds that it is economic development and national defense while others oppose the plan because of damage to the environment and to the peaceful image of the island. To help your discernment, I feel bound in duty to inform you of the principles and teaching of the Catholic Church."
Bishop Kang reviewed the teachings of the Church, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2265; n. 2309; n. 2315), the Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church (n. 497), Vatican II Gaudium Et Spes (n. 81), the message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the United Nations (Oct. 18, 1985), and a document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
In all these citations, he stressed the following: the Catholic Church has traditionally taught that the dignity of human life is of supreme value and that any action that violates this dignity is unacceptable; the Catholic Church points out that legitimate defense by military force requires strict conditions; the Catholic Church recommends a balanced and moderate reduction of armaments; the Catholic Church affirms that the arms race does not ensure peace.
Recalling the massacre of many civilians in Jeju on April 3, 1948, the Bishop stressed, "With its extraordinary history and geopolitical status, Jeju should become an island of true peace so that the sacrifice of many innocent lives may not be wasted."
He concluded, "Peace cannot be attained by power but must be given by the One alone who offered His life for us on the cross. We can enjoy true peace when we remain in Him who said 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you (Jn 14:27).'"

* South and North Korean Religious Leaders Celebrate
Ten Years of Exchange

Representatives from the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP) in South Korea made a four-day visit to Pyeongyang beginning May 5, 2007 to mark the ten years of exchange between the KCRP and the Korean Council of Religionists (KCR), its counterpart in North Korea.
During their stay the religious leaders from the South often met with their counterparts in the North and discussed various pending issues.
At the 10th anniversary ceremony held on the first day of the visit, Mr. Samuel Jang Jae-eon, Chairperson of the KCR and of the Association of North Korean Catholics, said, "For the last ten years we have closely collaborated on the basis of a deep trust in each other. Hopefully this occasion can give impetus to future projects for exchange and cooperation."
The Rev. Peter Pai Young-ho, Executive Secretary of the CBCK, for whom this visit to North Korea was a first, said, "If we continue our dialogue and cooperation, always bearing in mind the love of God, we can take a further step toward unity. A true meeting, willed by God, can be realized when we pray in hope and in care for each other."
The exchange between the KCRP and the KCR began in May 1997 when a meeting took place in Beijing between the South and North Korean religious leaders to discuss humanitarian aid and regular exchanges. The next year a KCRP delegation made its first visit to Pyeongyang.

* Catholics Congratulate Buddhists 
on the Feast of Vesakh 2007

On May 10, 2007 the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, President of the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue, made a visit to Jogyesa Temple, the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and delivered a Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh 2007 issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. This was the first time for a Korean Catholic representative to make an official visit to the Buddhist headquarters to deliver a congratulatory message.
During the meeting with the Ven. Jigwan, Executive Director for the Administration of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Bishop Kim explained the intent of the message, saying, "It recommends us to overcome misunderstanding and prejudice through continuous dialogue and thus to build up mutual understanding and cooperation." He also stressed, "It is desirable for us Korean Buddhists and Catholics to make a common contribution to the development of our culture and society."
He also delivered some gifts to the Ven. Jigwan, such as Seonggyeong, the new Korean translation of the Bible for Catholics and a relief carving of "The Last Supper." The Buddhist monk, in turn, presented Bishop Kim with a red lotus lantern and a miniature bronze bell.

* Statistics of the Catholic Church 
in Korea 2006 Published

The Catholic Conference of Korea published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2006 on May 25, 2007. According to the statistics, about one fourth of Korean Catholics regularly attended Sunday Mass in 2006.
As of December 31, 2006, Catholics numbered 4,768,242 or 9.6% of the total national population. This is an increase of 100,764 or 2.2% over the previous year.
Those newly baptized were 147,747, a decrease of 428 or 0.3% from the previous year. Among the newly baptized 76,734 were men and 71,013 were women. As in the previous year, men outnumbered women.
Mass attendance decreased to 1,240,974 or 26% of all the faithful, compared to 28.1% in 2004 and 26.9% in 2005. The percentage of lapsed Catholics reached a high of 36.7%, more than doubling within ten years. It seems necessary that fundamental measures be taken for the re-evangelization of the faithful. 

News in Brief

The Lay Apostolate Council of Korea held the second cultural event to commemorate the late Pope John Paul II at the Coste Hall of Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul on April 11, 2007. Cardinal Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, many representatives of other religions in Korea, diplomatic delegates and other distinguished guests participated in this event. The Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, said in his message, delivered by Msgr. Stefano de Paulis, Counselor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea, "Pope John Paul II was a man of freedom, full of joy. And he was also a man of strength, open mind, and pure heart."

Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking and a capital punishment abolitionist, visited Korea for the third time on May 23. During her stay, she had a press conference, delivered lectures, and met with religious leaders and activists. Viewing the life movement and campaigns to abolish capital punishment in Korea, she expressed joy to hear that this year Korea will become a country abolitionist in practice, retaining capital punishment but not having executed anyone during the past ten years.

The Order of St. Benedict, Waegwan Abbey (Abbot: The Rt. Rev. Abbot Simon Petro Ri Hyeong-u, Apostolic Administrator of the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon) announced that it has started proceedings for the beatification and canonization of 36 Servants of God, "Abbot Bishop Boniface Sauer (O.S.B.), Fr. Benedict Kim (O.S.B.) and companions," who died in prison or labor camps between 1949 and 1952 while conducting missionary work. This process is to mark the 100th anniversary in 2009 of the entrance of the St. Ottilien Congregation into Korea.

In Memoriam

The Most Rev. Augustine Cheong Myeong-cho, Bishop of Pusan, died on June 1, 2007 at the age of 72. A funeral Mass was celebrated on June 4, 2007 at Namcheon Cathedral of Pusan. Bishop Cheong was buried at Yangsan Catholic Cemetery in the Diocese of Pusan. The late Bishop was born in Geoje, Gyeongsangnam-do in 1935 and was ordained a priest in December 1962. He was appointed as the first Bishop of the Military Ordinariate in Korea on October 23, 1989 and was ordained a Bishop in February 1990. He was appointed as the Coadjutor Bishop of Pusan in November 1998 and took possession of the see of Pusan as the third Diocesan Bishop on August 28, 1999.




The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 49, 50

Saint Agatha Chon Kyong-hyob (1790-1839)

Agatha Chon Kyong-hyob was born in Seoul of pagan parents. After her father died when she was still young, she lived in extreme poverty. A court lady by the name of An Hyong-gwang helped Agatha and lived with her. A few years later Agatha's brother tried to get her married, but the court lady would not let her go. Agatha was also listed as a court lady. She became a Catholic under the influence of Pak Lucy, another one of the court ladies. After Lucy left the court to practice the life of faith more freely, Agatha also pretended to be sick and left the court because she thought the luxurious life of the court might hinder her spiritual life. Since then, Agatha had lived with Lucy, dedicating herself to prayer, devotional reading and virtue. People admired her, and she converted many of them to Catholicism. She did not complain even in extreme poverty and poor health. She was just waiting to be arrested.
When she was arrested, she was more severely tortured because she was a court lady. The police chief interrogated her.
"How can you, as a court lady, believe a heresy?"
"My religion is not a heresy, because I believe in God as the Creator of angels, men and all things."
Since the police chief could not make Agatha deny her religion, he sent her to the higher court where she was interrogated again.
"It is a greater crime for a court lady to believe a heresy. Deny your God and reveal where your Catholic people and the Catholic books are hidden."
"I can't do that even if I have to die ten thousand times."
She was beaten so severely that her flesh was torn apart, her bones were broken and her blood fell profusely to the ground, but she would not surrender. Even non-Catholics admired her courage.
Agatha's brother was a pagan and a high ranking government official. He was afraid to lose the king's favor and tried hard to make Agatha give up her religion. But she would not succumb even to her brother's wishes. Her brother then tried to kill her. He sent a poisoned egg cake to his sister in prison. Being suspicious, Agatha pierced the cake with a hairpin. The hairpin's color changed as soon as it touched the cake, so she did not eat it. Then her brother bribed the highest ranking executioner to beat Agatha to death. But the executioner did not kill her. Agatha's niece, her brother's daughter, said that it was really miraculous that her aunt's wounds were completely healed in a day. Agatha heard that her brother requested that she should stay in prison permanently. She prayed that she might be beheaded for her faith. Her wish was fulfilled.
Agatha was beheaded, as she wanted, outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839, with eight other Catholics. She was 53 years old at the time.

Saint Magdalene Pak Pong-son (1796-1839)

Magdalene Pak Pong-son was born to a pagan family, married a pagan man at the age of 15 and had two daughters. When her husband died, she returned to her home in Seoul. Her stepmother, Kim Cecilia, was waiting there for her and she persuaded Magdalene to become a Catholic in 1834. Magdalene lived at the home of her stepmother's brother, outside the South Gate of Seoul. A dozen poor people were living there together and Magdalene was very kind and charitable to them, to the point that she almost forgot herself. A witness said about her that all who saw her admired her dedication to the love of God and her neighbors. Magdalene was calmly waiting to be arrested at home.
After her arrest, every time she was tortured and asked to deny God and accuse her fellow Catholics, she repeatedly refused. Her legs were twisted and her shins were hit hard, but she just said that she wanted to die for God.
Magdalene was sentenced to death and was beheaded outside the Small West Gate on September 26, 1839, with eight other Catholics. She was 44 years old when she was gloriously martyred.

List of Articles
No. Subject Datesort

CBCK Newsletter No.65 (Winter 2008)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.64 (Fall 2008)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.63 (Summer 2008)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.62 (Spring 2008)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.61 (Winter 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.60 (Fall 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.59 (Summer 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.58 (Spring 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.57 (Winter 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.56 (Fall 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.55 (Summer 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.54 (Spring 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.53 (Winter 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.52 (Fall 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.51 (Summer 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter

XE Login