We Demand Full Amendment of SOFA
Demonstrations in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul demanding full amendment of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) have become an everyday event. Participants are not only ordinary citizens and civic groups, but also people from religious circles of different religions and Christian denominations. This demonstrations are not new but an old story. The Korean people have brought up the issue of the unfair SOFA constantly and urged the U.S. government to make a full and fair revision. As a result, the two governments of the ROK and the U.S.A. had undertaken the 2nd SOFA revision negotiation in 2000 and concluded it on December 28th of the same year. The first revision took place in 1991.
In this second revision the two governments concluded a treaty on the Understanding to the SOFA and Related Agreed Minutes and based on the Art. 3 paragraph 2 of the Agreed Minutes, they signed a special memoranda of the agreement on environmental protection; the items of agreement of the Joint Committee; the minutes of the non-appropriated fund organizations and the priority of Korean employment.
Some positive improvements were made. However, there are still too many unfair provisions, especially when we compare it to the SOFA with other countries, we find serious injustice and discriminations against Korean people. Why should the Korean people be treated in such an unfair way by the United States?
On December 7th, while the negotiation of the SOFA revisions were going on, the CBCK asked for help from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference which responded positively. Meanwhile, the revisions were concluded on December 28th, 2000 and provoked furious disappointment of the Korean people. Limited space doesn't allow me to go into detail about the unfair revision, how much the U.S. government tried to avoid its responsibility and demanded excessive concessions from the Korean side. Let us look at just one example: environmental protection. The revised SOFA stipulates that the U.S. Armed Forces have neither an obligation to restore damages from pollution, areas and facilities to the former condition nor a duty to compensate for it to the Government of the ROK, but, Korea has to take appropriate measures. The principle that the polluter has to pay due expenses was completely ignored too. This means that the ROK has no right of claim to the U.S. Armed Forces to restore damaged areas and facilities by them. Who in the world can accept such senseless principles? The objective of the SOFA revision is to develop a solid foundation and cooperation for security and a mature and future-oriented relationship of the two allies. Thus, the CBCK took initiative to make another strong appeal of solidarity to the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference to intervene to related authorities, government bodies and organizations so that a fair treaty can be made between the two countries on an equal level.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Church in SK Honored to Welcome Two New Bishops
His Holiness Pope John Paul II nominated two new bishops for the Church in South Korea,
The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok as the Coadjutor Bishop
of the Diocese of Masan on October 23rd, 2000 and the Most Rev.
John Choi Yong-soo as the Auxiliary Bishop
of the Archdiocee of Taegu on December 22nd, 2000.
Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok,
the Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Masan
The episcopal consecration of the Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok and his installation as the Coadjutor Bishop of Masan took place on January 8th, 2001 at the Changwon Indoor Gymnasium located near Masan in the presence of 4,500 participants. His Eminence Stephan Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, the first Bishop of Masan presided over the Mass with Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Michael Park, Ordinary Bishop of Masan and other 15 Bishops of the CBCK and a number of diocesan priests.
His Eminence Stephan Cardinal Kim said to the new Bishop that "A bishop is not some one who reigns over the people, but a faithful servant of God who dedicates himself only for the good of all," and encouraged him to be a man of prayer and the distributor of divine graces to the people of God.
"God entrusted me with a new assignment, an undeserved servant. With His grace, I will devote myself to the service of His people," the new Bishop promised.
The Coadjutor Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn was born in Masan in 1945, graduated from the Kwangju Major Seminary, and ordained a priest in 1975. He studied at the Leopold-Franzens-University of Innsbruck, Austria and obtained a master's degree in moral theology Until he was appointed as the Coadjutor Bishop of Masan, he was the rector and professor at the Pusan Catholic University.
The Diocese of Masan has an area of 8,994 square kilometers and a population of 2,514,177 of whom 136,337 are Catholics. It has 2 bishops, 122 priests, 62 parishes, 73 secondary stations, 36 men religious from 5 religious institutes of men, 324 women religious from 23 religious institutes of women, 52 seminarians, 12 salaried lay missionaries and 9 catechists.
- Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, 1999 by the CCK -
Most Rev. John Choi Yong-soo, the Auxiliary Bishop
of the Archdiocese of Taegu
His Holiness Pope John Paul II nominated Most Rev. John Choi Yong-soo as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Taegu on 10th, 2001. His episcopal consecration and installation were took place during Mass on February 27th, 2001 at the St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon's Memorial Hall of the Major Seminary of Taegu. The concelebration of Mass was presided over by His Eminence Stephan Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, and Most Rev. Paul Ri, Archbishop of Taegu, Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio and other 23 Bishops of Korea.
The Most Rev. John Choi Yong-soo who dedicated most of his life time to the special pastoral cares shared his feelings and plans very simply:
"As a director of seminarians, I learned about a farmer's heart by watering and fertilizing the shoots and buds of the priestly vocation and discern "weeds". As a director of the Hope House for Elderly and the Mental Clinic I learned about important role of the Church for the poor. As a president of the Catholic Shinmun (Catholic Weekly) and the Pyonghwa Radio, I profoundly realized the great power of the media for evangelization. These three areas through which God led me and taught me are important for the Church. Now, God called me to be an Auxiliary Bishop. So, my first duty is to assist my Bishop. With divine grace, I will do my best to fulfill my duty of an assistant. Especially, I want to concentrate my efforts for the unity of clergy, because our Diocese will be fully alive only when the clergy are united around our Archbishop. All other tasks come after."
The Auxiliary Bishop John Choi Yong-soo was born in Manchuria in 1942, graduated from the Seoul Catholic University and ordained a priest in 1970. He served as an assistant pastor of Sinam parish and Taebong parish and as pastor in diverse parishes including Yongchon parish(1972-1976), Sankyok parish (1982-1986) and Sungdong parish (1991-1995). He studied in Rome in 1976. When he returned to Korea, he worked for Taegu Hope Village and Nongong Catholic Hospital as director (1990-1991). He was the president of the Catholic Shinmun (1995-1997) and the president of Taegu Pyonghwa Broadcasting Corporation until he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Taegu.
The Archdiocese of Taegu has an area of 9,129 square kilometers and a population of 4,439,003 of whom 359,946 are Catholics. It has 3 Bishops, 316 priests, 114 parishes, 94 secondary stations, 105 men religious from 7 religious institutes of men, 1018 women religious from 26 religious institutes of women, 162 seminarians and 332 catechists. - Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, 1999 by the CCK -
Let's Give Love and Hope to the Hungry in the World
"Let's Give Love and Hope to the Hungry in the World"
On the occasion of the first Caritas Sunday of the new millennium, January 28th, 2001,
the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, Bishop of Cheongju and President of Caritas Coreana, in his message, called on Korean Catholics for solidarity and relief for the hungry across the world.
"Although the world economy has rapidly grown during the past century, over 1 billion people still remain hungry and 2 billion people areliving an inhuman life in dire destitution. Faithful to the Lord's Command, the Church has taught and practiced fraternal love from the early Christian times. Today, Jesus asks us once again for our generous fraternal sharing with the hungry in the world." he said.
The Caritas Coreana allotted 1 billion won(US$783,177) for foreign aid for 2001. To the urgent appeal of the Caritas Coreana for the recent earthquake victims in Gujarat, India, and El Salvador,
Korean Catholics responded by contributing US$100,000 and continue to collect more.
The following is the full text of his message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. On this first Caritas Coreana Sunday of the new millennium, I want to invite you all to reflect together about the hungry across the world. Although the world economy has rapidly grown during the past century, over 1 billion people still remain hungry and 2 billion people are living an inhuman life in dire destitution.
The gap between developed countries and underdeveloped countries as well as the economi dependence of poor countries on rich countries is growing day by day. People hounded by hunger call upon those better off (cf: Gaudium et Spes, 9). How can we ignore people in starvation and homeless, elderly and people with no medical benefits and no vision for a better life? If we ignore them, we are like the
rich man who ignored Lazarus laying at his gate (cf: Lk 16,19-31). We can't ignore the reality of an innumerable multitude of people in suffering under the intolerable burden of poverty; children, adults, lonely elderly - in other words - real human beings with their uniqueness and human dignity. There are millions of people who are deprived of hope due to the fact that, in many parts of the world, their situation has noticeably worsened. Before these tragedies of total indigence and need, in which so many of our brothers and sisters are living, it is the Lord Jesus Himself who comes to question us (cf: Sollicitudo rei socialis, 13).
2. Our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. So that by his poverty we might become rich (cf: 1Cor 8.9), he identified himself with the poor (cf: Mt 25,40). St. James harshly warned about the duty of the rich to the poor (cf: Jas 5,1-4) while St. John emphasized fraternal love by saying that those who possess goods and close their heart to those in need means
he/she doesn't love God. "How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?" (1Jn 3.17) Because fraternal love is the very expression of love for God. Based on this spirit St. Paul, in his letter to Corinthians and Romans, solicited Christians for the Church in Jerusalem that was suffering from famine (cf: 1Cor 16,1-4, Rm 15,25).
3. Faithful to the Lord's Command, the Church has taught fraternal love and practiced it throughout generations from the early Christian time to the present. In modern times, the Church extended fraternal love to the entire world, especially with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and social teachings of the Popes. In this context, the Church promoted universal charity and tried to extend it to the poor, the rejected, the alienated and people suffering everywhere in the world beyond race, color of skin, gender, religion and ideology. Churches in the advanced countries tried constantly to assist people in underdeveloped countries.
4. When we remember our past, the Catholic Church in Korea was assisted by overseas Churches. Especially, during and after the Korean War the Church in the Unites States and many other countries helped us materially and spiritually in healing wartime hurts. Thanks to their donations our Church was able to operate various welfare facilities and help local development. With the economic progress
of Korea the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea agreed in 1992 to assist foreign countries in need and to make a second collection on the last Sunday of January every year for this purpose. With this official decision of the Bishops the Church in Korea took a new step; she became a donor Church.
5. Today, Churches in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern European countries appeal to the Church in Korea for aid. Also, our brothers and sisters in North Korea need our assistance. Especially, Our Lord Jesus who is present in those who suffer from poverty and destitution asks us fraternal love and sharing with them. So, let us not forget that what we do to the little ones is an expression of our love for Him. Also, let us remember the fact that charity to the poor is announcing the love of God and offering them hope. Therefore, we invite all of you to take part in the collection for people suffering from famine in the world.
We pray God to grant abundant grace to all those who participate in the charity project.
January 28th, 2001
+ Gabriel Chang Pong-hun
Bishop of Cheongju President
What Can the Church in SK Do for Mission to NK in the Era of Reunited...
A Proposal for Mission to North Korea in the Era of a Reunited Korea by Rev. Raphael Park Shin-eun,
the former President of the Pyonghwa Broadcasting Corporation and Pyonghwa Shinmun.
A Proposal for Mission to North Korea in the Coming Era
As the long-cherished dream of all Korean people is the reunification of their divided country the deep desire of the Church in South Korea is the evangelization of all Korean people in a reunited Korea. Our question in the 21st century for the One Korea era must be "How and with what attitude" can we prepare for mission to North Korea and fulfill it? In this respect, I want to invite all of you to reflect on the preparation for the mission to North Korea we have to undertake from now on. The development and rapid changes of the situation of the Korean peninsula since the South and North Summit on June 15th, 2000, and its results may have a definitive impact on the Catholic Church in South Korea in establishing a mission policy to North Korea after reunification. Since national Independence in 1945 the relationship between the two Korea suffered continual ideological conflicts.
However, the opportunity to anticipate the future of the two Korea and to have a hopeful and optimistic vision became possible with the South-North Summit and the Joint Declaration of June 15th, 2000.
In the context of rapid changes in the relationship of the South and North, the Church in South Korea needs to prepare for the mission to North Korea. In this historical turning point, the Church in South Korea is called to understand that the northern mission is a part of her mission. It is time to concentrate all her efforts with sincerity on the preparation for the northern mission and its implementation.
Evangelization of North Korea Has to Be Done by NK Catholics
With regard to economic assistance, the Church in South Korea needs to reestablish a clear and fundamental attitude in approaching mission to North Korea. To consider the Church in North Korea and North Koreans as the receiver and the Church in South Korea as the donor is an improper attitude or even a dangerous approach.
The evangelization of North Korea has to be done by North Korean Catholics themselves. In the light of this principle, the role that the Church in South Korea has to play in evangelization of North Korea is to help her North Korean counterparts in re-sowing the seeds of the Gospel in their land and to make germinate them. Mission to North Korea should not be based on a strategy of material aid but on deep respect and understanding of their situation. Economic assistance is only one of the secondary means that can help evangelization.
Therefore, imposing anything unilaterally on the North Korean people under the pretext of evangelization should be absolutely avoided. The first step toward evangelization of North Korea must be made by a firm determination to reject the idea of wanting to convert North Koreans to the Catholic Church.
The Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea guarantees freedom of religion. However, the Church in North Korea is not free to celebrate Mass. The majority of North Korean citizens ignore religion and have negative ideas about it. In addition, we can say that, for North Koreans, the Juche(self-reliance) Ideology has become a kind of religion and a culture. When we consider such a reality, it is absolutely necessary for the Church in South Korea to reject any kind of mission attitude of "religious conquest" or "religious triumphalism." We have to witness Christian love by giving our life for others.
A Long-term Vision Needed
What is needed for mission to North Korea, together with this attitude, is thorough preparation. For this preparation the Church in South Korea may take concrete steps from now on.
For example, to establish a professional and efficient research institute dedicated to mission to North Korea. In this institute all efforts must be concentrated on undertaking concrete preparation for mission to North Korea after reunification by leaving behind the old way of thinking concerning the northern mission that focused on "obligation" of the mission that is sort of "we have to do it."
Formation of missionaries to North Korea among priests, Religious, catechists, lay missionaries with a clear sense of mission and ability for theological understanding are very important. For this, I would propose to train lay missionaries and professionals for northern mission and study on North Korea at
theological colleges or mission societies, and ; to educate Korean Chinese as missionaries at theological colleges in South Korea by introducing mission courses and so on.
A special mission funds on a national level that is designed specifically for mission to North Korea after reunification must be built up also. For example, the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK can introduce a special department under its wing that will be in full charge of planning, fund raising, promotion of northern mission with a long-term perspective. The mission funds will be used for construction of churches, mission media, schools, hospitals and social welfare facilities.
Along with the above mentioned vision and preparation, the first thing I would propose is to establish some kind of North Korea Mission Center' in South Korea with its branch offices in Pyongyang and other important cities in North Korea politically, economically and culturally. This project can be developed within diocesan structure in mutual cooperation. The Center may plan new construction
of churches throughout North Korea.
As of the end of August, 1999, the North Korea had estimated total population of 22,082,000 people, nine administrative zones, one special municipality (city), two cities under direct control of the government, 25 cities and 147 kuns. Based on this reality, one archdiocese and four dioceses may be a good arrangement for effective mission activity in the beginning of the reunified Korea, and this may
require about 183 parishes, five high rank prelates, 32 pastors for 32 parishes with five assistant priests. This will requires about 200 priests.
Indirect Mission May be Important
An indirect mission policy approach may be a good means for North Koreans who don't believe in God. For example, to establish educational institutions such as kindergartens, middle and high schools, and hospitals, social welfare centers, orphanages, and nursing homes etc.
The most serious obstacles for mission to North Korea that we have to face are the stiffness and closed hearts and spirit of North Koreans to the religion. North Koreans have lived in seclusion from the outside world for 50 years and formed a closed society. Therefore, we need to prepare catechisms, prayer books and other religious publications with expressions and language they can accept and
understand. The Church in South Korea has to take into consideration this situation and find a common denominator in revising Church terms and expressions, and use them in the catechesis, prayer books and religious books so that the people in the North Korea don't find them strange.
Redaction of the catechism for North Koreans is important task. It has to be simple. Because the Christian doctrine that is presented in a difficult and complicated way can cause negative reactions in North Koreans who are indoctrinated in the Juche (self-relience) ideology and materialistic outlook to the world. I want to propose to the Church in South Korea to set up a special committee composed by experts on North Korea for the compilation of a catechism textbook for North Koreans after reunification. This compilation of the catechism should be elaborated by taking into consideration their outlook on the world, value systems, cultural awareness, life styles, linguistic characteristics and
expressions and so on.
The disparateness that has been created between the Korea over 50 years of division is very big and profound. Therefore, it will be almost impossible to restore the situation that existed prior to the division of the Korean people. Even if the stability of peace in the Korean peninsula, and political, territorial and economic unification take place, this disparateness that has been formed and reinforced
during half century of separation will be a serious obstacle to achieve true and genuine unification. It is here that the Church has to play a role of bridge and unity. This role may be a mission that God entrusts to the Church in South Korea in a particular way. This mission has to be implemented from "here and now." We don't have much time to waste but an immediate action is needed.
News from the Church in Korea
● Church in Korea to Promote Martyrs' Spirit and Their Canonization
The Archdiocese of Seoul announced a year long celebration to mark the bicentenary of Shinyu Persecution on February 2nd during Mass at Myongdong Cathedral with 1300 participants who came from different dioceses of the country. The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, in his homily, stressed the unique place that Korean martyrs have in the Church in Korea and reminded all that in the tradition of Church history of Korea, the religious persecution and martyrdom
of Christians are very important elements. He announced the launching of a prayer movement and investigation for the cause of beatification and canonization of the martyrs of Shinyu Persecution, the most violent one against Christianity that lasted for one full year from December, 1801 and caused the death of more than 300 Christians including Father Ju Mun-mo, the first Chinese missionary, and over 400 faithful were exiled. Among those 300 martyrs were a considerable number of outstanding scholars and lay leaders who introduced the doctrine of Christianity to Korea. Also most important books and writings of Christian doctrine and catechesis were confiscated and burned by government agents during Shynyu persecution. The one-year-plan to mark the 200th year of Shinyu persecution is
made both on diocesan and national levels.
● Seoul Archdiocese to Launch Lenten Campaign of Organ Donations
The One Heart-One Body Movement of the Seoul Archdiocese and the Pyonghwa Shinmun (Weekly) launched a joint campaign for organ donations as a 2001 Lenten campaign. According to the report (end of 2000) of the national administration center of organ transplantation 3,120 people need a kidney, 620 people need a liver, and 119 people need a heart. Over 7000 people are waiting for
organ transplantation. The Korean government legalized brain death in order to promote organ transplantation. However, the organ donation rate on a national level has decreased.
The Seoul Archdiocese launched an organ donation campaign in 1989 as follow-up implementation of the World Eucharistic Congress in Seoul. As a result, 13,000 people registered to donate organs after their death. Thanks to them 130 people found new life by transplantation of kidney, heart, liver and pancreas, and over 1,400 people received new eyesight by corneal transplantation. With participation of the clergy of Seoul Archdiocese and the Diocese of Suwon, the average number of Catholic organ donors increased by 1000 a year, and last year alone over 2,800 Catholics registered for organ donation.
● Catholic Bioethic Committee Established
The Catholic bioethic committee was officially established on January 16th under the umbrella of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith with the objective to do research on human cloning and other issues emerging from the rapid development of bioethic science and provide to the faithful related guidelines. The committee decided to hold regular bimonthly meeting, but to have special meetings any time when necessary. The committee will treat delicate moral problems such as bioengineering, abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty that require a high level of scientific professional expertise, and will speak for the Church on these issues. To provide to the faithful necessary education in the light of Church teachings will be part of the responsibility of the new committee.
● Korean Catholics Regret Demolition of Jinjahyang Church in China
Jinjahyang Church in Shanghai where Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest and martyr saint, was ordained a priest in 1845, is reported to be demolished by March of this year, according Rev. Kim Kwang-woon who is serving the Korean Catholic community there. "The Shanghai authority was in a dilemma as to whether they have to keep the old church or not," Rev. Kim said, "but, finally, they decided to take it down for their city planning because that area is designated as a special district for city redevelopment."
"We knew of the city planning some years ago and we tried what we could in order to keep the original church, but, we had not enough power. The best way to conserve it may be to remodel it in a harmonious way with the surrounding environment," Rev. Kim said regretfully.
Jinjahyang church is the first Catholic church built in the northeastern region of China 360 years ago. On the church ground, there is a small church building and memorial room of Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon and two other buildings. Of them the memorial room of the Saint has kept its original form as built in 1841. Korean Catholics think that the demolition of Jinjahyang church is a big loss, and hope
that the Shanghai city provides a new place to rebuild the church and Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon's memorial building.
● Cardinal Kim Honored With German Order of Merit
His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan was awarded, on January 29th, the highest civilian order of merit of Germany, Grosses Verdienstkreuz mit Stern, for his work to promote the relationship between Korea and Germany, and the right of German missionaries and religious who have been working in Korea.
Dr. Hubertus von Morr, the German Ambassador to Korea, presented Cardinal Kim with the medal on behalf of German President Johannes Rau in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio to Seoul, the Most Rev. Giovanni B. Morandini, and the Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese, and many others. "It is our honor to offer Grosses Verdienstkreuz mit Stern to His Eminence Stephen
Cardinal Kim who is considered one of the greatest persons in contemporary Korean history," the German Ambassador Dr. Hubertus von Morr said and went on: "From 1956 to 1963, Cardinal Kim made considerable contributions for Korean mine workers and nurses working in Germany and also he has helped German missionaries in Korea when they were in difficulty."
The Grosses Verdienstkreuz mit Stern award is the highest honor the German government can bestow on its own citizens or foreigners for outstanding service to the state.
● Ancient Church Documents to be Housed in a Digital Library
Ancient documents of the Church in Korea transferred from the Vatican Archives, Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters and other mission societies, and the documents kept in the country will be housed in a Digital Library within this year. Rev. Andrew Choi, Director of the Research Institute for Korean Church History (RICKH) announced on January 18th, 2001. "The planned Digital Library will contain over 200,000 items of archives related to Korean Church History including important documents from the early history of the Church in Korea, documents issued by the Bishops of Korea, important letters and reports, archival material in the possession of foreign missionaries and mission societies," Rev. Choi said. The Digital Library will be open to the public and is expected to contribute greatly to conservation of ancient documents and to the research of the Church's history. From this January, the RICKH started scanning works of ancient documents and books it had collected since 1964 when it was established.
● Myongdong Cathedral Decided to Ban Protests and Sit-ins
Rev. Paul Paek Nam-yong, the chief pastor of the Myongdong Cathedral, issued a statement regarding the rally of the Korea Telecom Workers and made clear that any political dissidents, pro-democracy activists and striking workers will no longer be able to seek refuge at Myongdong Cathedral, for it decided to ban all unauthorized protests and sit-ins inside its compound. "So far, the Myongdong Cathedral has long suffered from the rallies of various interest groups, and the
recent protests by Korea Telecom workers have caused considerable inconveniences to church life," he said.
On Dec. 17th, some 6000 Korea Telecom workers had a sit-in protest in the compound to protest the privatization program of the state-run telecommunications firm because, they said, it would lead to massive layoffs. Many labor and civil organizations expressed strong disappointment over the
decision to limit protests there and urged the Church to maintain its role as protector of those alienated from society.
Since the 1970s, the Cathedral has served as a "sanctuary" for the politically oppressed, victims of human rights abuses, workers and voiceless people in society. During 2000, 214 demonstrations were held.
● Church Warns - 'Ki', Time to Act with Discernment
As the Ki culture and training is attracting many Catholics including quite a number of priests and religious, the Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese and Episcopal Vicar for Religious and Social Apostolates, sent an official letter on January l2th addressed to all clergy and religious of the Seoul Archdiocese asking for a clear discernment about the 'Ki' culture. Most Rev. Kang expressed concern about those who go to 'Ki' centers for their lack of correct understanding of 'Ki' and its real nature. "When 'Ki' training touches the religious realm by going beyond its basic dimension which is health promotion, there is a serious danger. If they insist that the people can reach salvation by 'Ki' exercises and human spiritual efforts they make a serious mistake. Because salvation can't be achieved by any human efforts or technique but by God only. Priests and religious who have relations with 'Ki' culture by believing that it helps them for meditation or health should act with discernment and remember that their attitude can cause confusion in the Christian life," the letter reads.
● Religious Leaders Join Voices for New Legislation
Some 150 religious leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Won Buddhist and civic movements held a joint prayer meeting at Myongdong Cathedral compound on January 8th. The participants demanded the government to abolish the National Security Law (NSL), to promote the legislation of human rights and anti-corruption bills. The participants urged Kim Dae-jung to keep his election
pledge to abolish the National Security Law and to make an authentic political reform.
"The Korean people's anger and disappointment against the current governmnt reached the limit because during the three years of so-called improvement for the people there was no real political reform but only lip service," Rev. Paul Moon Kyu-hyon said. Among the participants were 60 Sisters from the Korean Catholic Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious, members of the Priests' Association for Justice, 26 Protestant ministers and 24 Buddhist monks. A group of human rights activists staged 13 days of fasting for abolition of the NSL in freezing weather from December 28th at the Myongdong Cathedral compound.
News in Brief
On January 31st, the Diocese of Inchon issued a 432-page long Synodal Decree signed by the Most Rev. William McNaughton, Bishop of Inchon. The Decree contains documents produced by the 16 synodal committees including the pastoral directory for 20 years to come. The Synod was opened in June 1999 after four years of preparation. Eight hundred representatives of clergy, Religious and
laity participated in the synod that was proceeded by eight plenary meetings. The Synod passed 290 practical points and proposals for improvement. The Synodal Decree will be presented to the Holy See soon.
On February 17th, the Most Rev. Paul Choi, Bishop of Suwon celebrated a mission sending Mass for Rev. Andrea Bae Myong-seup and Rev. Joseph Park Kyong-hun assigned for the mission to China. "Missionary life is not easy but you have to think of the Belgium missionary priest, St. Vincent Lebbe who loved China more than Chinese people loved their country. Like him you have to live your missionary life with the spirit of a martyr," the Most Rev. Choi encouraged them.
Most Venerable Jung De, President of the Korean Buddhist Chogye Order, issued a messag addressed to all Christians in Korea and the world to congratulate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. "The Message of truth and love that Jesus taught to humankind is essentially the same message of the great compassion and mercy of Buddha. Christians and Buddhists must work together
to build a world of harmony and justice." the message read. On the occasion of the 2544th Buddha's birth day in May, 2000, Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, President of the Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK sent a congratulatory message to all Korean Buddhists.
The number of military men who were baptized in the Catholic Church during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 totaled 18,688 with a 22.8 percent increase compared to 8,200 baptized in 1999. The military ordinariate decided to focus on evanglization and education of military men by increasing 50 percent of the annual budget for it.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Kim Song-im Martha (1787-1839)
In the "Diary of the Persecution of 1839", Saint Kim Song-im Martha is referred to as Pup'yong House, a title referring to the fact that she was married to someone from Pup'yong.
Kim Song-im was a 50-year old pagan widow. Her husband was of a very uncompromising temperament and they did not thave a peaceful relationship. This was before Kim Song-im became a Catholic. The situation became so bad taht she had no choice but to separate from her husband. She left quietly and went to live in Hanyang. There she met and lived with a blind man who made a living by
telling fortunes. At this stage she was over fifty but she still had not learned about the Catholic faith.
One day she heard about the God and His Only Son, Jesus, from a Catholic who was living in the same house. With this encounter she began to believe in God and her faith grown eventually.
Life with her blind husband had been difficult but when he suddenly died Kim Song-im Martha's future looked bleak. Some Catholic came to her aid. Martha began working in the houses of the Catholic firneds to repay their help. It was during this period that her faith grew deeper and she repented of her past sins, her inability to put up with her first husband and her subsenquent living by superstition.
At times Martha felt deep sorrow but in her total dependence on the Lord she came through her depression The concern and Christian example of the other Catholics made her realize and confirm how great is the love of God.
One day Martha was with Yi Magdalena, Yi Theresa and Kim Lucy talking about the persecution, the courageous martyrs and the happiness of Heaven. They were so deeply moved by the love of God that all decided to give themselves up to the government authorities to profess their faith.
They wanted to do mortification and sacrifice following the cross of Jesus Christ. The Hisotry of the Catholic Church in Korea says: "Voluntary surrrender is not in accordance with the ordinary rules. However, it might have been evoked by divine grace, or God might have given His tacit approval to them, because the women were steadfast in their faith and wanting to be witness of God by being martyrs. There are other laudable examples in church history, such as St. Plollina, St.
Aurelia and others."
By the end of March or in the beginning of April of 1839 these courageous women went to the police station and told the police to put them in prison because they were Catholics. To the unbelieving policemen they showed their rosaries. The police tied them up and put them in prison. Therefore, it can be easily understood that these pious women courageously endured all tortures and pains for the love of God.
The police chief interrogated the women.
"Do you believe that the Catholic religious in the true religion?"
"Of course, we do. Otherwise we woudln't be here."
"We can never deny God. Even if we have to dies."
" Are you not afraid of turtures?"
"You are wasting time in persuading us to deny God. We surendered ourselves for the sake of God. How can we deny Him" We will die if required by the law of the country, but we can never deny God."
They were repeatedly and severly tortured. The courageous women were sent to the higher court, where they were interrogated atain.
"Do you still believe that the Catholic religion is the tru religons?"
"Yes, we do. We worship God, and we are determined to die for Him."
The police chief tortured the women more severly than others to punish them for surrendering themselves. But they didn't succumb to him. They were finally sentenced to death.
According to the government Sungjongwon Diary, these four pious women and four otehr Catholics were beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20th, 1839. Martha was 53 years old, when she was killed for her faith.
She was beatified on July 25th, 1925 and canonized on May 6th, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.
Won Kwi-im Maria (1819-1839)
Won Kwi-im Maria was boarn in 1819 in Yongmori, Kyuanggun. She lost her mother when she was a child, and followed her father, who wandered around begging for food. When she was nine years old, one of her relatives, Won Lucy, who was a very devout Catholic, took her and taught her prayers and the catechism. She also taught Maria embroidery for her lifelihood. Maria was very intelligent, genial and pious. Her aunt was proud of Maria's devotion and faithfulness. Maria was baptized at the age of 15. Soon after that she received an offer of marriage. But she refused to be married because she wanted to offer herself to God. The next year she put her hair up in a style which indicated that she was a married woman.
Maria was accused of being a Catholic by a neighbor and was arrested. She looked a little discouraged when she first was put in prison. But she thought that everything was according to God's Will, and regained her usual peacefulness. Mary was interrogated by the police chief.
"Are you a Catholic?"
"Yes, I am, as you say."
"Deny God, and you will be saved."
"I want to worship God and save my soul. If I have to die, I would rather die for God to save my soul."
Maria's legs were twisted and she was beaten with a cudgel. Many of her bones were dislocated, but her faith was not shaken.
According to the government document Sungjongwon Diary, Maria and seven other Catholics were beheaded outside the Small West Gate on July 20th, 1839. Maria was 22 years old, when she was crowned with martyrdom.
She was beatified on July 25th, 1925 and canonized on May 6th, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.