From the Editor: For a New Spring
For a New Spring
On February 25, the new President Roh Moo-hyun, in his inauguration address, paid tribute first to the victims of the recent subway fire disaster in Daegu and offered condolences to the bereaved families. He pledged that his government will strive to ensure enhanced public safety.
How painful must be the grief of the bereaved families of the victims which included kindergarten pupils and old people! Needless to mention is the request for public safety as a fundamental respect and the deep consciousness of life that is called for. This reminds us the loss of thousands of unborn babies.
Thousands of unborn lives, the most vulnerable constituents of humanity, are killed everyday by the indifference of their parents and obstetricians. Nevertheless, nobody pays attention to them. None of presidents paid tribute to them or pledged to improve such a reality. People turn away their faces from abortion considering it a necessary evil for people who are already born.
Since February 8, 1973 when the Mother and Child Health Care Law was established, our society has taken the option for economic growth and comfortable life by neglecting the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life which is the foundation of the moral law. As a result, millions of unborn babies have been aborted. Korea is also the third highest country of divorce rate in the world. Besides this, the birth rate has dropped to 1.3 as of 2001 and Korea is heading toward the Winter of an old age society, largely unaware of this. When will Spring come? When will a Spring of society where even an unborn baby is respected and protected as a precious life come?
On February 7, in the vigil of the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Mother and Child Health Care Law, the Church in Korea launched the Life 31 Movement with Mass and a candlelight procession at the Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul with over 7,000 participants including His Excellency Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and the Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea. It was a meaningful time for us as people who love God and are concerned about the future of our society were united to pray and act together for the protection of life. Human life is a precious and irreplaceable value, a gift from God. Thus, the Life 31 Movement will be carried out in collaboration with other religions and people of good will in every walk of life as well as by communication and education using online and offline means. May God bless and lead the Life 31 Movement through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary so that a new spring of the culture of life may come true in our society.
Fr. Casimir Song Yul-sup
We Want Peace, Not War!
We Want Peace, Not War!
As the global protest against the U.S. plan to attack Iraq is taking place, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea issued a statement on February 14 and declared their clear position against the war in solidarity with Pope John Paul II and all Bishops of the United States and the Middle East. The Bishops invited international communities "to march together towards 'peace' the common good of all humanity, and to pursue peaceful coexistence and mutual prosperity." They pointed out the moral illegitimacy of the U.S.-led war and asked the U.S. not to sacrifice innocent lives in the name of a 'war against terrorism'. The CBCK sent the statement to U.S. President George W. Bush and to U.S. Ambassador of Korea Thomas C. Hubbard. Following is the full text of the statement
True peace building is always the most serious task that all humankind must pursue. However, now the entire world is overwhelmed by the threat of war. At this time when the threat of an attack by the United States on Iraq increases by the minute, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, concerned about the dark shadow of war, has urged every country of the world to work for peace and has appealed to all humankind to pray for the realization of peace. Peace can never be achieved only by a balance of armaments nor by an international agreement. If one country increases its military strength, others are immediately roused by a competitive spirit to augment their own supply of armaments(cf. Pacem in Terris, no. 110). It is possible to solve the problem of poverty and famine in our world with a mere one-hundredth of the amount of money the major powers of the world spend on the arms industry. Thus, armaments must be reduced. This also makes possible to realize justice and peace in our world. We must not sacrifice innocent lives in the name of a 'war against terrorism'. We do not find moral legitimacy in the declaration of an attack on Iraq by the United States. Such an attack will only lead to a vicious cycle of more violence.
We, the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, together with Pope John Paul II and all our brother bishops of the United States and the Middle East are firmly opposed to the war. We strongly condemn all powers that threaten peace. The powerful nations that possess nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction should be the first to disarm and demonstrate tolerance. All countries concerned with the danger of war should solve their conflicts through peaceful means. We hope that dialogue in the international communities including the United Nations will result in decisive action that will prevent war. We also deplore and oppose the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea because this threatens the future of the Korean people. North Korea's attempt to push towards a war which endangers the lives of seventy million people on the Korean peninsula and aggravates international tension should be stopped immediately. We condemn the logic of power, but support a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation. We have to open our hearts and be reconciled with each other. All nations must build close fraternal relationships. All people must march together towards 'peace', the common good of all humanity, and pursue peaceful coexistence and mutual prosperity. We must all strive together to root out the culture of death and build the culture of peace and the culture of life. Those who work for the sake of peace will be blessed.
Let us pray unceasingly that the peace which Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace taught us, will be firmly planted in Korean peninsula and international communities. We beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph to intercede for us. The Holy Father asked us especially to pray the Rosary for world peace. We pray with all people of good will for peace in our country and throughout the world.
February 14, 2003
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
First Korean Apostolic Nuncio Born
First Korean Apostolic Nuncio Born
On the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Pope John Paul II conferred episcopal ordination to Monsignor Paul Tschang In-nam and to eleven other presbyters from various nations during the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In his homily, the Holy Father said to the new Bishops, "Faith in Christ, the light of the world, guided your steps from childhood to the offering of yourselves to presbyteral consecration. Now Christ asks you to renew this oblation and to take on the episcopal ministry in the Church. You received the fullness of this gift, at the same time, you are also asked for the fullness of commitment."
The Most Rev. Paul Tschang In-nam was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh and titular Archbishop of Amanzia as of October 19, 2002. He has worked as a diplomat for 18 years.
Archbishop Paul Tschang In-nam, the first Korean Apostolic Nuncio, made a 2-week visit to Korea before heading to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where he will take the office of Apostolic Nuncio. At his arrival in Seoul, he expressed his gratitude to the Korean Catholics saying, "For 18 years I have stayed out of Korea but I have not forgotten that I'm a son of the Church in Korea and now I feel it stronger as God calls me to be a representative of the Holy See," and added "This is truly a special grace of God to the Church in Korea and a response to our martyr ancestors."
He was born in Cheongju in 1949 and ordained a priest on December 17, 1976, after graduating from the Catholic University of Gwangju. Having served as parochial vicar in a parish in Cheongju and as undersecretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, he left to Rome in 1979 and obtained a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in 1985. In the same year he started his diplomatic career as second secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in El Salvador.
After holding various posts such as first secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Ethiopia and in Syria, second councilor of the Apostolic Nunciature in France, first councilor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Greece, he became first councilor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Belgium and has served in that position since August 2000.
Regarding his new assignment to Bangladesh he said he will focus on interreligious dialogue, especially with Muslims. "Catholics in Bangladesh count only 2-3 hundred thousand or 0.2 percent of the total population of 130 million Bangladesh people. 70 percent of the people are Muslims. So, I think my first mission as Apostolic Nuncio in Bangladesh is to promote interreligious dialogue between Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists.
Message on the 2003 Week fo Sanctification of the Family:
Message on the 2003 Week for Sanctification of the Family
'Let Us Follow the Example of the Holy Family in Nazareth'
On the occasion of the second Week for Sanctification of the Family, the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, President of the Committee for the Family Pastoral Ministry of the CBCK, issued a message and invited the faithful to imitate the exemplary life of the Holy Family in Nazareth for sanctification of the family. He emphasized, in particular, the fundamental role of the family as the means of the transmission of life and as the first school of social virtues. Following is the full text of the message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today, the last Sunday of 2002 and a day of reflection on the year we have lived, is the feast day of the Holy Family and the first day of the Week for the Sanctification of the Family. On this blessed occasion you are invited to look at the exemplary life of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Nazareth and draw closer to them. Especially, we invite you to meditate on their life and how much they loved each other in union with God and served their neighbors in trials and difficulties.
2. There is no community in the world that is more precious and fundamental than the family. It is God who instituted the family, and during his 30 years in family life, Jesus prepared his mission as Redeemer. The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is the foundation of society and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: it is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that animate the principle of existence and development of society itself (cf. Familiaris consortio, nos, 21 & 43). The future of humanity depends on the family.
3. Nowadays, numbers of families are facing the threat of dissolution. First of all, the precious lives that are gifts of God are either refused or ignored. Recently Korea has become the country with the lowest birth rate record in the world. Rapid decrease of birth rate, increase of divorce rate and numerous abortions lead to the destruction of the family that is the sacred precinct of life. This prevailing state of society brings about a rapid decrease of the labor population, increase of a senior citizen society and a national economic crisis. If the family refuses life, it is destined to destruction. If the family is shaken there will be no hope for the progress of the nation and society.
4. We have to rightly redress the family. We have to build up the happy family by overcoming the wild waves of materialism and decadent hedonism of modern society. If we want to build a happy family we have to worship God as the Holy Family did in Nazareth. When the family attends Mass and prays together Jesus is present in that family(cf. Mt. 18,20). Family prayer is the first step in the sanctification of the family. The Holy Father John Paul II, proclaiming the 'Year of the Rosary', exhorted the family to recite the Rosary with all family members together in order to overcome the family crisis (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no.6).
As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been a prayer of and for the family. At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. The family that prays together stays together. Though it is difficult to get all family members together, the family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth (cf. ibid, no.41).
5. The Church and society must help the family. The family crisis must be treated with the concern that is equal to that of the Church and society. Life and love are the two pillars of the family, and the life and love are like two sides of the same token. When there is no love we take life lightly, and the family will collapse if we neglect this life. If the family is dissolved, the Church will become weak and society will become desolated. Thus the Church has to pay more attention to family pastoral ministry. Also the new government should establish with sincerity a human-centered family policy for the sake of the common good and the future of Korean society. The Korean government in the past had developed an economy-centered family policy by using people as a means. It established on February 8, 1973 the Mother and Child Health Care Law, that permits abortion under certain conditions, as a means of economic development. From that time on, millions of unborn children were killed under this law during 30 years. The Church has urged the government to abolish this Law with persistence, and urges it again the new government. To all obstetricians we appeal to respect the human life. We appeal also to the government to make fundamental improvements in the medical system so that medical professionals are not pushed to perform abortions.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
6. Let us strive for the sanctification of the family. As the Holy Family in Nazareth prayed and were faithful to each one's role: all family members must pray together; the spouses must love each other and be confident and trustful of each other; parents and children must love and respect each other. Compared to the passion for education held by the Korean people our society suffers from the absence of family education. In this reality, parents have to show proper example to their children and teach them the truths of life being their first teachers. The example and living witness of parents will become to the children an everlasting lesson.
The family is the school where we learn love and how to live it out. Therefore, from the family, we have to cultivate generous hearts and qualities, learning how to translate them into action for the good of all. How wonderful would it be if all family members could share in a common concern for the poor and act together as such; visiting social welfare facilities; volunteering to help them; being interested in low-income families and families that are divorced, separated or have only parent, aged people who live alone and all those in need? For all families we wish that the coming year of 2003 be a year of hope and service in peace and harmony under the protection of the Holy Family in Nazareth.
December 29, 2002
Feast of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Korea President
Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry of the CBCK
Rev. Joseph Im Seung-pil, Executive Secretary of the Biblical Committee of the CBCK, died of a chronic disease, at the age of 52, on March 24 at St Mary Hospital in Seoul. Born in Hallim, Jeju-do in 1950, he graduated from the Catholic University of Gwangju in 1975 and was ordained a priest in 1979. He studied theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, from 1975 to 1979. He pursued Biblical studies at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico in Rome from 1979 to 1989, and obtained his doctorate in Bible. From 1989 to the present, he has served as the Executive Secretary of the Biblical Committee of the CBCK and dedicated the past 14 years to translating the Holy Scriptures.
Statement on Human Cloning:
We Oppose the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings
The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, President of the Bioethics Committee of the CBCK, issued a statement against human cloning and expressed deep concern about the claimed birth of the cloned baby by Clonaid. He "Humanization of science is necessary in order to restore the morality of science," he said. Following is the full text of the message.
1. Cloned Baby's Birth: Two Sides to the Progress of Science and Technology.
We are deeply concerned about the news of the cloned baby's birth. The progress of science and technology has made people's life richer and more convenient. The medical treatment of incurable diseases and extension of life span, unthinkable in former days, are soon to be realized in the near future. We all enjoy the benefits of the development and progress of science and technology. As a result, people, sometimes, are tempted to believe blindly that science and technology can solve all our human problems. But, we often forget the dreadful fact that scientific and technological development can be made at the expense of other essential values. There is so much excitement about the pure function of the progress of science and technology that we tend not to reflect on the side effects and counter-consequences of it. As the case may be some scientists who are self-satisfied about their achievements do not ask the questions concerning their identity or true role for the good of society. As a result science has lost morality and is running into ethical insensibility. Lately, we have witnessed a fact that clearly demonstrates it.
2. Cloned Human Being
On December 26, Clonaid, a cultic international organization under the Raelian Movement, announced the birth of a cloned baby through human cloning experiments. This raised an ethical question on human cloning. Human cloning means that human life can be born without the fertilization (union of sperm and ovum). So far, we have understood that the origin of a human being is from the union of a man and a woman, and this was firmly believed as a universal value and a criteria to defend the dignity of a human person. However, with the possibility of human cloning that seems to be a reality, we are faced with collapse of our existing concepts on the origin of a human life and the possibility of the appearance of a human being through human intervention or human manipulation. At this point of time when the possibility of technology and manipulation which enables human intervention in human life is prevailing, the announcement of the claimed success of human cloning was serious enough to drive us into confusion and a state of shock.
In February 1997, when the Roselin Institute succeeded in producing the cloned sheep Dolly, we were amazed with the fact that an identical living thing can be produced with as many as we desire. We never imagined that people would attempt human cloning experiments in the name of science. However, with the news of the cloned baby's birth our expectation from the scientists has fallen asunder and we feel a sense of shame in our naive belief with the reality.
3. Reactions to Human Cloning
People have shown various reactions to the announcement of the birth of the cloned baby saying; 'immoral conduct', 'trampling on living things', 'a dangerous act injuring the dignity of the person', 'destructive sin of the sublimity of marriage', 'an act causing the destruction of the fundamental order of the family', 'an evil act which will bring about calamity upon all humanity', 'criminal conduct of certain groups to attain their goal', 'disclosure of a cruel mind missing moral principles', 'cultural and religious shock beyond our imagination', 'an act causing unbalance of the human integrity that God created', etc.
These reactions created a momentum for people to launch a campaign to establish laws and systematic devices to ban or prevent experiments of human cloning, to make proposals to step up necessary structures and committees etc. However, these efforts are not sufficient because these proposals are already on the premise of possibility by
experiments related to human embryonic cloning though it is restrictive.
4. Our Appeal
With regard to human embryonic cloning we want to appeal first to the sound conscience and healthy reason of scientists. Though establishing a system and law is urgent and important, we urge scientists now to stop immediately and unconditionally all human embryonic cloning experiments no matter what their pursuits or aims may be. The reason for this is that such experiments contain an immoral act that infringes on the dignity of the human person by using a human life as a means for the benefit of another human being. One should not use a human being as a means for the purpose of reducing people's suffering.
Our appeal has no intention to trespass on the freedom and autonomy of science. Likewise, science should not overlook the fact that its freedom and autonomy can be guaranteed insofar as it respects the dignity of the human person. Science, in order to ensure its freedom and autonomy, should assume its responsibility, sound judgement and common sens, We cannot expect from science such hope unless it renounces ambition and commerciality.
The morality of science and technology can be restored when its final goal is set on the dignity of the human person. We should never support scientific techniques that undermine the dignity of the human person. Futhermore, we cannot trust any more the scientific technique which makes a human being a means for the benefit of another human being.
We are not allowed to do anything just because we can do it, because any human act requires moral criteria and responsibility. Science can restore its trust and moral authority when it has the courage to say 'No' to 'what it can do' when this is necessary. We also must be concerned about the "humanization of science" in order to restore the morality of science. We wish the 21st century to be a century of dignity of the human person which is a universal and permanent value.
January 3, 2003
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
Bishop of Masan President
Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith Bioethics Committee of the CBCK
Message on the 2003 Caritas Coreana Sunday:
'Let Us Make a Globalization of Love'
On the occasion of the 10th Caritas Coreana Sunday on January 26 the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, President of the Caritas Coreana of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea issued a message and appealed to the Korean Catholics for concrete charity. "We the Christians, who live in this era of globalization, are called to make a Christian globalization through love and fraternity. To the poor, today's globalization is rather an obscurity, but the globalization of love which we advocate will give them light and hope." he said. Following is the full text of the message.
1. This year, we celebrate the 10th year that the Catholic Church in Korea has began to support foreign countries. The 1992 Autumn General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Korea made an epoch-making decision to switch-over the Church in Korea, which had been a 'Receiving Church' for several decades, to a 'Donor Church'. As a consequence, the Bishops entrusted to Cariats Coreana to take charge of the official service and activity of donating aid to foreign countries in need with the national collection taken each year on the celebration of Caritas Coreana Sunday which is the last Sunday of January. During the last ten years, Caritas Coreana sent ten billion won(US$8,333,333.00) to support over 330 emergency situations and development projects in 70 different countries.
2. Nowadays, in this world, millions of people suffer from starvation or chronic malnutrition due to continuing natural disasters and wars. The impact of globalization sweeping over the world has dragged poor people and underdeveloped countries into greater poverty due to their inability to compete with the more advanced nations. This globalization of poverty is a sign of the times that obscures the future of humanity already well into the new millennium. The reality that millions of precious people have to die and suffer from starvation and malnutrition at this time in which humanity has reached such a culmination of material civilization is a shameful sin against God's will for all his creation. God the Creator has given us enough resources and capability so that all people can be able to live in dignity by the equal distribution of wealth. Human greed, selfishness and passion which seek to monopolize the right of possession are indeed the root causes of this sinful reality of the great gap between the rich and the poor, and the poor are caught by this evil structure. The injustice of current situations cries out for God's attention (cf. Populorum Progressio, no. 30), and people hounded by hunger call upon those better off (cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 9) for assistance.
3. God, in his fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all people must constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of family (cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 24). When one of our family members is starving who would dare to look away and not to share what they have? All people are the children of one Father and they are brothers and sisters who are redeemed by the holy blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God gave us the Commandment of love, to love each other as brothers and sisters of one family and to help all those who are in difficulties, and all who are suffering. This Commandment of love asks us to love even enemies. Love is beyond race, sex, religion and ideology.
4. Part of the teaching and most ancient practice of the Church is her conviction that she is obliged by her vocation - she herself, her ministers and each of her members - to relieve the misery of those suffering, both far and near, not only out of her "abundance" but also out of her "necessities. "(cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis, no. 31). Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimensions which the social questions have assumed, the option for the poor and the decisions which it inspires in us cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and, above all, those without hope of a better future. It is impossible not to take into account the existence of these realities. To ignore them would mean becoming like the "rich man" who pretended not to know the beggar Lazarus lying at his gate (cf. Lk 16,19-31; Sollicitudo rei socialis, no. 42).
5. We the Christians, who live in this era of globalization, are called to make a Christian globalization through love and fraternity. To the poor, today's globalization is rather an obscurity, but the globalization of love which we advocate will give them light and hope. This globalization starts not by huge sums of money or magnificent slogans, but by a small act of Christian love from each of us. We must pursue a simple life style that the Gospel proposes to us by liberating us from all kinds of selfishness and desires to possess material goods that are available. We are called to share with the poor what we have, instead of possessing more. Furthermore, we have to refuse to side with unjust and sinful structures and systems that make the poor poorer, but develop movements aimed at transforming society and participate in them.
We thank all of you who have shared your possessions with the starving people of the world, and we pray that God will grant you His abundant grace and blessing.
January 26, 2003
+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun
Bishop of Cheongju President
Caritas Coreana of the CBCK News from the Church in Korea
News from the Church in Korea
News form the Church Korea
○ President of the CBCK Sent Congratulatory Message to Roh Moo-hyun, New President of South Korea
The Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mou, President of the CBCK and Archbishop of Kwangju, sent a congratulatory message to Roh Moo-hyun who took office as the 16th President of Republic of Korea on February 25 and wished him special blessings from God for his 5-year term of the presidency. "We pray God to grant you His wisdom and special blessings so that you fulfill your important duty with the people, and you may become a great President who is remembered in the history of the nation for long," the Archbishop said. He also sent a message to the former President Kim Dae-jung, who finished his 5-year presidential term, and thanked him for his many great achievements, in particular, the Sunshine Police toward the North Korea.
Korean Catholics welcomed the new President and made wishes such as: to realize the will of God through politics; to achieve the reconciliation of the country; to make harmony and unity between classes, generations and regions; to build up a clean and peaceful society where people, especially the weak and the poor are equally respected etc. The ceremony was scaled down as the nation remains in mourning for the death of over 198 commuters in an arson attack in Daegu the previous week. "I will seek active international cooperation on the premise that South and North Korea are the two main actors in inter-Korea relations," the 56-year old former human rights lawyer said in his 25-minute inaugural speech, entitled: "A New Takeoff Toward an Age of Peace and Prosperity." Roh and his wife were baptized in 1986 in Busan by Rev. Song Ki-in with the Christian names of Justus and Adela respectively.
○ Rebuilding the Culture of Life is Another Way to Proclaim the Gospel
The Catholic Church in Korea made a decisive step to put an end to the culture of death and to build the culture of life in Korean society. On February 7, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea launched the 'Life 31 Movement' with a Mass and candlelight procession at the Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul and some 7000 participants declared to take the lead in building a world of life where no abortion, death penalty, manipulation of human life and war would exist. H.E. Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan said in his homily that "It is truly deplorable that 1,5 million lives are aborted every year in Korea but nobody feels the pang of guilt for such a critical reality." and added that "the restoration of the culture of life is vital for the survival and future of our people."
Rev. Casimir Song Yul-sup, Secretary General of the CBCK, a leading figure of the Movement said, "Rebuilding the culture of life is another way to proclaim the Gospel" by reminding of Mother Teresa's words: "Abortion is no other act than to kill Jesus." "A life-full society can be realized only by building a new culture of life. The Holy Spirit symbolized by the wind helps us now to feel this new wind of hope blowing from within the Church. Every project has a time limit, but the pro-life movement has no time limit. The protection of life is a permanent commitment of the Catholic Church in Korea." he emphasized.
○ Archbishop Choi Sent a Telegram to the Victims of the Tragic Subway Fire in Daegu
On February 20, the Most Rev. Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-mou, President of the CBCK, sent a telegram to the Daegu Mayor Cho Hae-nyong and expressed condolences to the victims of the tragic subway fire in Daegu on February 18 during which 198 people were killed and many were injured or missing. "On behalf of the Korean Catholic Bishops and all the faithful, I want to extend my deep condolences to all the victims of the tragedy, especially to those who lost their beloved ones. In union with the Holy Father Pope John Paul II who is saddened by the tragic loss of lives in this accident we pray to God for the eternal repose of the victims," the telegram read. Also, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, sent a telegram to Archbishop Paul Ri Moun-hi of Taegu in Holy Father's name heartfelt condolences to the victims and the afflicted families of the tragedy.
○ 'Migrant Workers are Our Partners and an Important Basis of the Korean Economy'
On the occasion of the 89th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 19, the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK, said the time has come for the Church in Korea to be more concerned for the migrant workers and provide them with pastoral care in a more systematic and effective way. "They are our partners and an important basis of the Korean economy. How much do we realize the anger and grudge of migrant workers against Korean people for the discrimination and inhuman treatment they have to endure in our society? They came to our country with the 'Korean dream' and return to their country with rancor and frustration in their hearts." he said.
With the government's plan to enact the labor permit system for migrant workers the Committee is preparing for pastoral ministry in matters of labor relations, human rights, family life and the education of children of migrant workers including education in Korean culture Also on January 19, the Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea celebrated Mass for 500 foreign workers in the Suwon area from various countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Mongolia and Ghana and encouraged them to be faithful to their Christian life even in difficult situations. He appealed to Korean Catholics to give fraternal attention to the migrant workers. He pointed out that "A number of foreign workers in Korea suffer from discrimination, unjust ill-treatment and personal humiliation," and "what they need is fraternal concern and friendly conversation?? he added.
○ South and North Korean Catholics Join Hands for Reconciliation
For the first time since the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1948, South and North Korean Catholics attended Mass together, on March 2. at the Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul. North Korean Catholics were among a 105-member North Korean delegation of different religions who were invited by their South Korean counterparts for the first-ever joint celebration to mark the 84th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement of 1919 against Japanese colonial rule.
The 17 North Korean Catholics included Mr. Samuel Jang Jae-eon, Chairperson of the Association of North Korean Catholics and the North Korean Religious Council, and Mr. Paul Kang Ji-yeong, the Vice Chairperson of the Association. During Mass Mr. Simon Jang Nam-cheol from the North prayed at the universal prayer of the faithful for the intention of unification and reconciliation of the Korean people, and the women's choir from Jangchung parish in Pyeongyang, capital of North Korea, presented a special hymn of peace of St. Francis of Assisi which received a big applause from the congregation. The Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, President of the Committee for Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK, said in his homily, "Today we are offering a glorious Mass of great historical significance," and hoped that this encounter would serve as a meaningful opportunity for the reconciliation of the Korean people and the mission to North Korea.
The delegation prayed at the cript of the Cathedral where relics of the Korean martyrs including St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon are enshrined. Mr. Samuel Jang Jae-eon said, "We are happy for this opportunity to meet many priests, brothers and sisters here at Myongdong Cathedral and I want to greet you and thank you for all North Korean Catholics for your prayer and fraternal help. We are deeply moved to stand here with you all as brothers in one faith." Some 700 South Koreans, including 400 religious figures, participated in the celebration that was co-organized by the South Korean Council of Religion and Peace, a coalition of seven religion orders including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Confucians, Won Buddhists, Cheondogyo and Association of ethnic religions.
○ Official Korean Translation of Latin Typical Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church Published
On the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, the Committee for Catechesis of the CBCK published the official Korean translation of Latin Typical Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published with the approval of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith. Right after the promulgation of the Latin Typical Edition by Pope John Paul II in 1997, the Committee for Catechesis of the CBCK set to the revision of translation drafts and obtained the approval at the 2002 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK, with the final recognition of the Apostolic See on February 4, 2003. Rev. Joseph Jung Seung-hyeon, Executive Secretary of the Committee for Catechesis, said, "As all competence and energy from the Catholic theological field in Korea had been used as input into this translation project, I dare to say that this Catechism will be more understandable to Korean Catholics than to any other ones."
○ The 9th Korea-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting Held
The 9th Korea-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting was held from February 18 to 24 at Mariapolis in Uiwangsi, Gyeongi-do, Korea with the theme of 'Light and Salt' under co-auspices of Archbishop Paul Ri Mun-hi, President of the Committee on Education, and the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Military Ordinariate. 30 delegates from Korea a??d 15 delegates from Japan participated in the meeting aimed at promoting friendship and understanding between the youth of the two countries. The participants experienced that they are brothers and sisters in the faith and reaffirmed their mission as Christian youths to the evangelization of Korea and Japan.
The visit to tunnel no.3 where the North Korean infiltrators had secretly dug under the Demilitarized Zone was a special opportunity for the Japanese youth to understand better the confrontation situation of a divided Korea. "So-o Junichi, an economics student at Sangji University, Tokyo, said, "Thanks to this meeting I got a clear feeling of Korean culture and learned a lot from my Korean friends how to approach people and to make friends. When I was alone, Korean friends came to me to talk. Now, my horizon of thoughts are broadened and I became to be interested in other countries. I can say that this is a radical change in myself. I have extended my major to include Korean economy."
News in Brief
News in Brief
Rev. Thomas Tcha Won-sok, pastor of Hwagok Parish in Seoul Archdiocese, was appointed the new National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies on January 17, 2003. Rev. Tcha holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontificia Universita Urbaniana and studied in West Germany. He was a professor and vice-president of the Catholic University of Seoul.
At the inauguration of the synod of the Archdiocese of Seoul on January 26, Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk focused on the renewal of the Archdiocese through communion, unity and active participation of all members in finding a desirable image of the Church as the light of society.
Song-seo parishioners in the Diocese of Suwon launched a "Campaign to buy one pyeong space (3.954 sq. yds.) of farmland" to protect the environment and rights of its people in the region, against expansion of the U.S. military base in Pyeong-taek. A new U.S. air force base of 700,000 pyongs is planned to be built by 2011.
Leaders of the seven religions in Korea including Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists issued a joint statement on February 5 to root out the culture of death from Korean society and presented it to the National Assembly urging it to abolish Article 14 of the Mother and Child Health Care Law, which permits limited abortion.
As part of a project of Mission to Asia, the Diocese of Incheon sent Rev. Kim Bok-gi James to Taiwan for the pastoral care of Taiwanese Catholics, and Rev. Paul Bae Hyo-sik and Rev. Immanuel Seo Gang-hwi to China for study in view of mission. It is the first time that the Diocese sent a priest overseas for pastoral care of native Catholics.
On February 15, fifteen obstetricians, who have refused to perform illegal operations, joined the Life 31 Movement, a national pro-life campaign, launched by the CBCK and pledged to work in solidarity with the Movement to promote a culture of life, to abolish the anti-life law and to educate people on the dignity of human life. Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, President of the Committee of Family Ministry said, "Difficulties that one has to face for the cause of human life is 'martyrdom' in modern meaning."
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints - 25
Saint Kim Hyo-im Columba (1814-1839)
Saint Kim Hyo-ju Agnes (1816-1839)
Kim Hyo-im Columba was born in 1814 and her sister Hyo-ju Agnes two years later to a pagan family in Bamseom, which means chestnut island, on the banks of the Han River. Originally their family had not been Catholic but their mother had early on taken an interest in the faith and gradually came closer to it but their father was a non-believer. In fact, their father did not even want to hear the Church mentioned in his house and strictly forbade it.
After their father died, their mother became a devout Catholic with her six children: Anthony, Benedicta, Hyo-im Columba, Hyo-ju Agnes, Francis and Clara. Shortly after their baptism Hyo-im Columba and Hyo-ju Agnes, along with their younger sister Clara, promised to offer their lives to God as virgins. Their mother thought they should get married but they did not change their mind and braided their hair up in chignons to give the impression that they were married women. They went to live with their older brother, Anthony, who was living in Yongmori, near Seoul. They devoted themselves to their spiritual life by praying, fasting twice a week, reading religious books, saying the Rosary and giving alms to people in need. Their family was well-off but they showed no interest in earthly wealth. By temperament they were gentle and affectionate and this was reflected in their lives.
All the Catholics around praised their charity and good example, and showed them great respect. Their mother died in Yongmori. Because she had been such a faithful Catholic Father Chastan had come specially to confer to her the Last Rites. From then on they never left Yongmori.
In 1839 the persecution began to spread and Catholics were arrested everywhere. Yet the three sisters were not afraid and prayed daily for those who were suffering in prison. On May 3, a man named Kim Sa-mun who lived in the same village reported Anthony to the magistrate as a rich man who was a believer, and described how his house could be found. The police who had been frantically searching for Catholics in the area headed to Yongmori without delay. Anthony happened to be away at the time doing business as well as practicing his archery. Upon hearing the news of the police's arrival Anthony's wife Kim Lucia escaped with Banedicta and Clara, and Columba climbed over the wall into the neighboring house and hid in a pile of wood. Agnes alone was not able to flee. She was sitting in her room when the police invaded the house. The excited invaders took Agnes prisoner and after searching the house next door found Columba too and brought her back to her home. Then, Columba who saw the rude invaders mishandling her younger sister Agnes got angry at them and protested in a dignified manner: "If you want to arrest us we will follow you quietly. But why do you molest one considered a criminal of the country?"
The police put the two sisters in a room and spent the night in the house having a feast on the dogs and chickens of the household. In the morning they bound the sisters with a red rope and after presenting them to the village leader took them off to Seoul.
As soon as they arrived at the Justice Ministry the interrogation began. The judge asked Columba.
"It is said you believe in the Catholic Church. Is this a fact?"
"Yes, it is. I worship and respect God."
"Why do you believe a teaching that is forbidden in our country? Why do you the Catholics refuse to offer the ancestral rites?"
"The ancestral rites have no meaning. In this world it may be right for children to prepare food for parents who are in jail and ask them to come out and eat it but if the parents cannot come out and eat the food prepared for them of what use is it?" The judge continued, "That is what you say. However, not offering the rites to ancestors is an act which destroys human relationships. Tell us that you give up your faith and reveal to us where you have hidden your books and where the other Catholics are. Reveal us the whereabouts of your brother?" They answered. "Even though we were to die ten thousand times we cannot renounce our faith in God. We do not know where our brother is either."
The two sisters also explained why they could not betray the other Catholics and give up their religious books. Preparations were then made to torture them. It was the normal practice to torture Catholics who had been arrested and were being interrogated. The police first beat them all over their bodies, then used a cudgel with spikes on it on their shoulders, arms and the joints of their knees. Yet the expression on their faces did not change. The commander got angry and shouted, "Use more strength. Hit them harder!"
So, they underwent the pain of the 'jurae' five times. Between each session the police enticed them with promises and hopes if they would change their minds. However, the two sisters did not waver. They shook their heads and remained silent. The bones in their legs bent under the torture of the 'jurae'. During it all the sisters seemed to be already enjoying the heavenly peace. They never uttered a sound. Often those who were to be martyrs called on "Jesus, Mary" while being tortured, but these two sisters said nothing.
They prayed in silence as though exchanging words directly with Jesus and Mary. The prison guards could not hide their amazement at their silent persistence. This caused them to be more angry and malicious. They thought the two women must be possessed by some devilish power. They tore off the sisters' clothes and wrote the characters for 'jumun' (an incantation or charm) on their backs. Then they burned the lines of the characters into their backs up to thirteen times with a red hot skewer. But it was as if the two women did not know what was happening. Even as the flesh on their backs burned their calm expression did not change. (To be continued on CBCK Newsletter No. 43)