From the Editor: "Homo est qui ..."
"Homo est qui est futurus"
- Calling for the Revision of the Bill Concerning Ethics and Security of Life -
After years of debate and controversy among scientists, religious and civic groups, the Bill concerning Ethics and Security of Life passed the Korean National Assembly on December 29, 2003 and will become effective from January 2005. Since various hearings and discussions were made ahead of its passage, one may consider it proper legislation made with the consensus of the people in a democratic procedure. However, what matters is whether the law can defend the "dignity of human life" or not. In this regard, the bill is not the answer at all, for it has many "poison pill" provisions.
Astonished by and disappointed with the passage of the bill, I would like to point out here some elements that concern us most.
First, the purpose of this bill is not clearly stated. Article 1 just loosely stipulates that this legislative bill aims at "improving health and quality of life of people" and at the same time "guaranteeing the ethics and security of life."
Second, the composition of members of the national deliberative committee on bioethics is not balanced. Article 7 stipulates that one third of the committee members shall be appointed from the ministers of government. However, in most countries having such committees, governmental officials or people engaged in biotechnology are excluded from membership.
Third, Article 11 and what follows, dealing with the production and study on human embryos, should be deleted because an embryo is none other than a human being and be respected as such. According to an artible by Helen Pierson, which the prestigious journal Science carried in its July 4, 2002 issue, our body is shaped in the first 24 hours after conception.
Fourth, the provisions regarding the genetic examination are also a cause of grave concern. According to Article 24, the establishment of institutes for genetic examination can be permitted simply by reporting to the Minister of Health and Welfare. In that case, the possibility of commercialization of human life and violation of human rights grows high. Genetic examination, stipulated in Article 30, also involves side effects, such as family conflict in relation to parentage testing.
Science and technology should exist for the good of human beings and serve human beings. This is the raison d'etre of science and technology. They never can rule human beings or judge the dignity of human life. If this happens, it means the end of humanity is coming near.
Tertullian, a lawyer and writer of the Church in the second century, said, "Homo est qui est futurus" (The being that will be a human is already to be regarded as a human).
+ Fr. Paul Lee Chang-young
Undersecretary Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
2004 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK Held
2004 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK Held
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held the 2004 Spring General Assembly from March 15 to 18, 2004 and decided as follows:
1. Given the role, contribution and status of the Legion of Mary within the Catholic Church in Korea, the Bishops decided to guide and activate this pious movement so that it can carry out its proper mission more effectively and adjust itself to the contemporary situation.
2. To improve the quality of lay missionaries in Korea, the Bishops decided to give and secure better treatment for them, in accordance with the situation of each diocese.
3. The Bishops acknowledged the preparatory plans and budget for the 8th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences.
4. For the 48th International Eucharistic Congress, scheduled from October 10 to 17, 2004 in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Bishops decided to form a national delegate by inviting some 250 Catholics (Director: Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun) and to appoint guiding priests, one for each diocese.
5. The Bishops examined the message "Elections and the Common Good," prepared by the Committee for Justice & Peace, and approved the publication of the message in the name of the President of the Committee.
6. The Bishops examined the material prepared by the Bioethics Subcommittee under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the cloning of human embryos, dealing with the situation and the stance of the Catholic Church on this issue, and decided to publish it for educational purpose inside and outside the Church.
7. The Bishops approved the publication of "For Building Closer Relationships between Korea and Japan," which was compiled by the Pastoral Institute of Korea as additional teaching material for the Korea-Japan history.
8. For the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled from October 2 to 29, 2005, the Bishops elected the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, as the representative, and the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Byong-ho, Bishop of Chonju, as the alternative representative.
9. The Bishops appointed the Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man (Archdiocese of Seoul, ordained in 1982) as the Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops'
The Family, Our Future
Message for the 2004 Week for Sanctification of the Family (Summary)
The Family, Our Future
1. The Family is the Future of the Church and the World
Celebrating the 3rd Week for Sanctification of the Family this year, we can say that the Church clearly recognizes her mission to take care of and build the family, one of the most urgent and important tasks of the times. It is very desirable that each diocese develops active pastoral care for the family and that the family is recognized as a central object of priority in pastoral ministry. The FABC 8th Plenary Assembly slated for August, 2004 in Korea will treat "the Family" as its main theme and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea will issue a joint pastoral letter on the theme of "the Family." It seems that concern and activities for the family are animated more than ever inside the Church. Such a big concern, on the other hand, reflects that the family, the fundamental ground on which the future of the Church and the world depends, is at stake now.
2. The Church is the Sentinel of the Family
Korean society is now standing at the crossroads of life and death. The culture of death prevails throughout this society and it is the family that is most affected by the dark culture of death. It can be said that the fundamental cause of present family crisis is the breakdown of its identity. If the family, the basic cell of society, loses its health, the whole society becomes ill at its core and its structure is shaken. It is because the crisis of the family gets more and more serious that the Church and the entire world express deep concern over family problems. It follows that we, all members of the Church, should be the sentinels of the family with all our heart, mind and strength to protect and build up the family. It is the mission the Church should fulfill first and foremost in our times to prepare for the future of the Church and the world.
3. Family Residing in the Love of God
Christian families should always stay in the love of God, following the example of Jesus Christ. For this, they should make constant efforts to love each other. The family is the seedbed of personal maturation and the wellspring of love and life. Therefore, making the family a community of love should be the first concern of the Church and the most important mission of each family. To make the family maintain its vitality and be a community of love, all family members should try to love each other constantly and practice love in real life.
4. The Family Living with Jesus Christ, The Family Serving God as Father
Christian families should live with Christ, centered on Him. Jesus Christ called God "Abba, Father" and advanced toward God the Father throughout His whole life. As the prodigal in the Gospel parable, who left his father with his share of the property looking for his fantasy and dream but squandered all he had in dissolute living and returned to his father because he missed his tender love, we should return to the Father. However far we departed from the Father, we can recover our inheritance if we call Him Father and move toward Him. It is family prayer that maintains and enlivens the presence of Christ in all events of the family. If each family says the prayers of Jesus and experiences through His Words the love of God, the family will stay firm in any difficulties and go through everything together. By virtue of prayer, the family can build solidarity and cast on the world the light of Christ who is present in the family.
5. The Family, Domestic Church for Evangelization
The family is in itself a Church. The unity among family members is a manifest revelation and realization of the Christian unity. Every event taking place in the family, ordinary or special, constitutes a part of God's work of salvation and should be the Christian experience of faith, hope and love. For this, we should serve Christ as master in the family and make the family the place of worship, discerning various forms of vocations by praying together. In addition, the family should be the sacred place to reflect the love and communion of the Trinity by sharing joys and sorrows together. By doing this, the family will witness the living Church and protect us as the light of the world.
Celebrating the feast of the Holy Family, I wish that the Holy Spirit grant courage and strength to all families who hope to lead beautiful family lives following the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. May God grant abundant grace to all families.
December 28, 2003
Feast of Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of Korea
President CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
Elections and the Common Good
Elections and the Common Good
- For the 2004 General Elections -
Since the impeachment motion against the president was passed by the South Korea parliament, the first time in the country's constitutional history, the Korean people are now very much worried about the division and unrest of the country. While expressing deep concern over the present political situation, we sincerely long for a reformed political culture, which should be characterized by dialogue and collaboration. We also look forward to seeing before us the way of harmonious living with reconciliation and unity, free from hatred and division. We are brothers and sisters and one people who constitute one national community. We should repent, forgive and embrace each other, and respect others and unite with them.
Political order should aim at the well-being and balanced development of people, and for this purpose we hold elections to choose the servants of the people. Therefore, the elections are an opportunity for voters to make an important choice for the future of the nation and its people. Given the current political situation, the upcoming General Elections assume more importance for the future. If we hold the April 15 General Elections well with fairness and transparency, it can be a turning point to make people aware of responsible citizenship and establish a mature democratic order in our society.
A country is a community of people who live together for realizing the greater common good. The common good means "the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 26). The political community exists for the sake of the common good, in which it finds its full justification and significance, and the source of its inherent legitimacy (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 74). The standard of the common good always belongs to God, but in reality it is usually reflected by the true good of people.
The Constitution of the Republic of Korea, in Article 8, guarantees democratic political activities which enable the people to participate in the formation of the political will and policy. Therefore, if political parties or politicians neglect the desire of the entire people and the common good and act on their own will, they disqualify themselves from their position.
It is most important that all voters should exercise their precious right to vote relying on their reason, rather than on emotion, for the future and the happiness of people. The parties and candidates first and foremost should observe the rules and the principle of fair competition and the media also should take a fair stance.
All Catholics should participate in political life in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church on social evangelization. This applies not only to the politicians but also to all Christians. Indeed all Christians are responsible in part for the current political crisis and for not being able to realize the common good; we did not carry out our mission as the salt and light of the world.
The Church should not express affirmation or denial of a particular party or candidate in public because it might cause division or impose wounds in the community of the faithful. We should establish a sound culture of elections so that we can choose the right persons.
In this General Elections we will vote for parties and candidates respectively. Thus, each one of us should make a comprehensive judgement whether their policies are conducive to the common good and in conformity with the teachings of the Church.
Each and every citizen should be alert so that common good -oriented democratic politics can take root in this land. All voters, especially Christians, should examine the qualifications and personality of candidates and make a just and correct choice, avoiding emotional judgement swayed by blood relationships or region. What is most important is not to give up the right to vote. For when we participate by voting, we can set up a new political order respecting the power of the people.
We sincerely hope that the 2004 General Elections will contribute to reestablishing the unity and harmony of the people and promoting the true meaning of democracy and the common good in this country.
March 19, 2004
+ John Choi Young-soo
Auxiliary Bishop of Taegu
President Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK
Special Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Special Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish you all the true peace of our Lord who desires the unity of all Christians.
This year, the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue decided to issue a Special Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, because now more than ever, we feel the urgency that all Christians should unite to pray and practice charity.
Christians should pray in unison, practice love, live with virtuous views of life and of value and try to correct the errors of society. And to this end Christians should first of all strive to become one.
With the initiative of the Rev. Paul Wattson in 1908, who suggested the observance of "Church Unity Octave" from the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle (then observed on January 18 and now on February 22 within the Catholic Church), through the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, the eight days from Jan. 18 to 25 every year have now been established as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The Catholic Church and the Protestant Church had long been in conflict and confrontation. However, the Catholic Church, concluding the Second Vatican Council, promulgated the Decree on Ecumenism and said in the first chapter of the Decree: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature."(n. 1) Based on this, the Catholic Church has made various efforts for Christian unity.
In 1993, His Holiness John Paul II approved the publication of the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, in the name of Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. As a synthesis to guide Christian unity, the Directory said that acknowledging we are made children of God by the sacrament of baptism always shows the hope of unity. It also emphasized that "In the diocese the Bishop should appoint a competent person as diocesan officer for ecumenical questions."
In 1995, His Holiness John Paul II issued his Encyclical Ut Unum Sint. The Encyclical suggested the direction of Christian unity in a more concrete way. For example, it read, "The Catholic Church embraces with hope the commitment to ecumenism as a duty of the Christian conscience enlightened by faith and guided by love. …… This is the hope of Christian unity, which has its divine source in the Trinitarian unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."(n. 1)
On Oct. 31, 1999, the Apostolic See and the Lutheran World Federation signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The Joint Declaration took a further step for Christian unity, saying, "…… this Joint Declaration is able to formulate a consensus on basic truths concerning the doctrine of justification. In light of this consensus, the corresponding doctrinal condemnations of the sixteenth century do not apply to today's partner."(n. 13)
From May 14 to 20, 2000, bishops of the Catholic Church and of the Anglican Church from 13 countries gathered to promote Christian unity. Similarly in Asia, the Christian Conference of Asia and the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences had a meeting in January 2001, in Thailand, for the same purpose.
Despite these remarkable developments, there still remain many problems in the field of ecumenism. Above all, the fact that the Protestant Church has so many denominations hinders the Catholic Church from reaching a consensus with the entire Protestant Church. For example, even though the Catholic and the Protestant Churches in Korea together translated the Scriptures into the Korean language, the reality is that only a few Protestant denominations use this translation.
The way to unity appears still far distant. However, Jesus says to us, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me." (Jn. 14,1) Let us continue to walk our way of unity, relying on our Lord.
We should make every effort and pray for Christian unity. Jesus prayed to God that "they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us …… The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one." (Jn. 17,21-22) Jesus desires all Christians to become one. We should pray and make efforts together for the prosperity and development of this country, and especially cooperate with each other to render charity to our neighbors, especially the marginalized. If Christians, while professing their faith in Jesus Christ, hate or harm each other, non-Christians will make light of Jesus.
Even though there are difficulties in carrying out ecumenism, we should not cease to awaken this dark society toward the will of God, to warn the authorities and their fellow-citizens against taking steps which will lead to the trampling of human rights and to strive to change the world by inculcating respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless(cf. Ut Unum Sint, n. 43).
Every year the Apostolic See sends each local Church various materials of prayer for Christian unity. At the national level, the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue arranges an annual prayer meeting in cooperation with the Protestant National Council of Churches in Korea during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year we also pray for Christian unity in accordance with Jesus' desire. I recommend that the faithful in each parish pray for Christian unity after Masses or meetings of parochial associations, using the materials distributed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. May our prayer for unity be praise to our Lord and blessing to us.
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Incheon President
Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK
Let Us Positively Join in the Globalization of Charity!
Message for the 2004 Overseas Aid Sunday
Let Us Positively Join in the Globalization of Charity!
On the occasion of the Overseas Aid Sunday, the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, President of the CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana," issued a message and appealed to the faithful to positively participate in the globalization of charity. Following is the full text of the message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today in our world millions of people are prostrated by hunger or chronic malnutrition caused by incessant wars and natural disasters. In addition, the waves of neoliberalism, which is characterized by keen competition and the pursuit of unlimited profit, drive people in underdeveloped countries with insufficient or no competitive power into a more destitute condition. Behind the greatest material prosperity ever in human history, millions of people are groaning in terrible starvation and malnutrition and precious lives are being lost. For this miserable situation taking place in many parts of the world, God reproves us just as He reproved Cain when he killed his brother Abel: "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground"(Gen 4,10).
2. Jesus gave us the commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"(Mk 12,31). He also taught us who the neighbor is for us to "love as ourselves" by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan did not have a special reason to take care of the man who was stripped by robbers and left on the road half dead. The man was not his brother, relative or friend. However, the Samaritan took warm care of him only because the man was a "human being." A lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"(Lk 10, 29) It seems that he placed himself at the center and tried to draw the boundary of neighbors around him, such as his family, colleagues, and fellow countrymen. So he asked Jesus to what extent we should expand the boundary of neighbors. However, Jesus asked in return, "Who do you think was a neighbor to the man?"(cf. Lk 10,36) Jesus taught us that we should practice love to whoever requests charity. It is an attitude absolutely centered on others. Jesus' concern was "How can I be a good neighbor to others?" All people deserve to be loved just by the fact that they are human beings.
The neighbors we should love are all the people who urgently call for our help, whatever their race or nationality. Therefore, the commandment Jesus gave us, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," calls for the preferential option for the poor, the suffering and the marginalized, especially those who are starving to death, regardless of their race and nationality.
3. The Church has always taught the commandment of the Lord to love our neighbor as ourselves. Furthermore, she has put this commandment into practice from the days of the early Church. By virtue of the many Christians who gave witness to love throughout centuries by reaching out neighbors in various ways, the Church has written the history of love and charity for the poorest of the poor.
In modern times, the Church, through the social teachings of Vatican Council II and of the Holy Fathers, has expanded the dimension of charity to the entire world. The Church urges sharing with and help for the poor, the suffering and the marginalized, beyond the boundaries of nations, races, colors, sexes, ideologies and religions; and the Churches in developed countries have constantly provided overseas aid for the poor in underdeveloped countries. Likewise the Church in Korea, since it started overseas aid in 1993, has sent contributions for relief work in 70 countries, some 10 billion won (USD 8.5 million), collected by at Masses on Caritas Coreana Sunday and donated by individuals or groups.
4. The Second Vatican Council also urged us to share the goods we have with others, recalling the words of the Church Fathers, "Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him"(cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 69).
Today in many parts of the world there are people who have been stricken by wars or conflicts and natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, quakes and typhoons. They are in severe hunger and rags and waiting for our help urgently. In particular, the Iraqi people who are suffering from hunger in their country ruined by the U.S.-led attack against terrorism last year are requesting our help. In addition, the Iranian people who lost families and property due to the recent quake and live in cold and hunger are also requesting our help.
5. Negligence and indifference to this cry is a serious sin against the commandment to love our neighbors. Christians should listen to the cry of the poor and respond to them. We should turn our eyes to the poor abroad and reach out our hands as far as possible, escaping from a self-centered, narrow-minded way of thinking.
If the contribution (10 billion won) we made for last ten years is divided by the total number of the Catholics in Korea (4 million people), it makes only 250 won per person a year. Considering the scale of our economy and consumption, this is no better than to abandon or leave Lazarus alone "who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table"(Lk 16,21). I hope you will positively join in the globalization of charity to help the poor in the world. "Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground"(Gen 4,10). "You give them something to eat"(Mk 6,37).
January 25, 2004
Overseas Aid Sunday
+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun
Bishop of Cheongju President
Committee for "Caritas Coreana" of the CBCK
News from the Church in Korea
News from the Church in Korea
○ Religious, Civic Groups Raise Their Voice against the Embryonic Cloning by Korean Scientists
As Korean researchers' success in cloning human embryos was reported recently, religious and civic groups in Korea criticized it for being unethical and irresponsible.
On Feb. 12, 2004, international media widely announced that Prof. Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University and his team succeeded in taking stem cells from a cloned human embryo for the first time in the world.
Commenting on this, the Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, Bishop of Masan and President of the CBCK Bioethics Subcommittee, said, "It is very regrettable that people simply regard it as a scientific 'achievement,' without thinking about the possible misuse of the experiment and the violation of human life. It is also disappointing that the government, which should take the lead in protecting human life, supports such research."
The Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young, Undersecretary of the CBCK, in a special contribution to the Pyeonghwa Shinmun, a Catholic Weekly, criticized the researchers for "having done what they must never do," and added, "Science and technology, which should serve the good of humanity, were reduced to a means of commercialization for the sake of profit."
He also criticized the favorable attitude of the media for being biased and urged all Catholic lawmakers, researchers engaged in biotechnology, and media professionals to follow the teachings of the Church and their conscience and to make responsible and ethical decisions regarding life-related issues.
Ms. Kim Myong-hee, Director of the "One Mind One Body Movement" of the Archdiocese of Seoul, said, "It is not only unethical and immoral but it also provokes commercialization of a woman's body as an egg provider."
Since the bill on bioethics that was passed last year and is to become effective in Korea from January 2005 cannot regulate this kind of research because of some conditional provisions, it seems urgent to revise the bill, as the Catholic Church in Korea has insistently requested.
○Archbishop of Seoul Urges Conversion of the Faithful and Political Leaders
The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul, issued a message for 2004 Lent and urged the faithful to make a sincere conversion.
In the message titled "Let Us Be the Salt and Light of the World through Conversion!" he pointed out various problems of this society, such as the "growing gap between the poor and the rich, group self-interest, materialism, excessive individualism, the epidemic of divorce," and asked the national leaders "to overcome the crisis of our times by understanding and pursuing the common interest of people."
With regard to the General Elections in April, in particular, he said, "Political stability and development are directly linked to the happiness of people," and stressed, "We should hold transparent and fair elections and exercise prudence to elect reliable and devoted servants of the people."
He also urged the faithful to "first reflect whether they truly act as the salt and light of the world" and called on them to take the lead in the conversion of society.
○ Prayer Meeting Held for Christian Unity
The CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue and the Korean National Council of Churches (KNCC) of the Protestant Church held a prayer meeting at Dapdong Cathedral of Incheon on January 29, 2004 on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18 to 25, 2004).
In the meeting with the theme, "My peace I give to you"(Jn 14,27), some 300 Christians participated, including the Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of Incheon and President of the CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue, the Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young, Undersecretary of the CBCK, and the Rev. Paek Do-woong, a Protestant minister and General Secretary of the KNCC.
The attendants sincerely prayed in one heart and made a renewed resolution to promote Christian unity. The prayer meeting was conducted according to the booklet prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Bishop Choi said in his welcome address, "Christ is peace and we can deliver this peace to our neighbors when we live with Christ," and asked all Christians to promote unity through the prayer meeting and to bring peace to this land.
The Rev. Kim Sang-geun, President of the KNCC Committee for Christian Unity, gave a homily, saying, "Just as in the Bible era, today's world is also polarized into the good versus the evil," and stressed, "For people of this age, peace is the hope and Jesus' peace is the power to transcend death."
○ Youth Volunteers Depart to Serve in East Timor
A team of youth volunteers composed of nineteen Korean high school and university students flew to East Timor on Feb. 18, 2004 to promote volunteer and cultural activities in East Timor. This project was sponsored by the Society of St. Francis De Sales and the "Korean Supporter for International Youth".
From Feb. 18 to Mar. 1, 2004, the young volunteers carried out various activities in East Timor, such as painting houses, installing electric equipment and planting trees. They also watched movies with the youth of East Timor.
Prof. Thomas Aquinas Lee Myong-cheon of Chungang University, Advisor of the Korean Suppoerts for International Youth, said, "I hope this project contributed to building friendship between Korean and East Timorese youth."
Salesian Brother Park Gyeong-seok who led the youth volunteers said, "The project provided a good opportunity for the youth to discover their identity in giving help to others of their age in other countries. Hopefully, the youth could learn the virtue of sharing through this activity."
○The 10th Korea-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting Held in Tokyo, Japan
Youth from Korea and Japan met in Tokyo, Japan from February 14 to 20, 2004 and had a time of sharing, friendship and communion.
Some 60 participants of the Tenth Korea-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting, under the theme "Listening to God," improved their friendship and understanding through various activities, such as watching a Korean movie regarding the love of family, writing imaginary letters from God, sports and a cooking contest."
This year's meeting was aimed at helping the participants discover themselves by listening to God and learning to love and understand each other," said Mr. John Hosino Masakuni, the leader of the Japanese youth. He also hoped for love, trust and friendship among Korean and Japanese youth.
The Episcopal Conferences of Korea and Japan have held youth exchange meetings every year by turn since 1997 with the aim of promoting reconciliation and improving awareness of the history of the two countries.
○ Cause of the Beatification of the Confessor Thomas Choe to Begin
The Holy See permitted the Catholic Church in Korea to begin the procedure of the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Confessor Thomas Choe Yang-eop, Priest. It is the first time the Holy See entrusted to the Church in Korea a cause of beatification of a confessor, not a martyr.
On March 5, 2004, the Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, Bishop of Masan who has the competence of the forum, received a letter issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saint regarding the approval of the Decree dated January 10, 2004 and the "nihil obstat" declaring there is no obstacle on the part of the Holy See to the cause of beatification of the Confessor Thomas Choe (dated January 31, 2004).
Thus, the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization will initiate the process for the cause of beatification of Confessor Thomas Choe Yang-eop, independent of the cause of Servants of God Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 Companions.
The Rev. Peter Ryu Han-young, Secretary of the Special Episcopal Commission, said, "We expect the abundant data prepared for the cause enable the process to go on smoothly; however, for the beatification of a confessor a 'miracle' must be proved. This condition will be of primary importance in the process."
The Servant of God Thomas Choe Yang-eop was the second Korean priest, following St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon. Ordained a priest in 1849, he devoted his entire life to pastoral ministry of the faithful of the early Church in Joseon Dynasty. After twelve years of zealous ministry with sweat and tears, he died of typhoid due to overwork in 1861. He also wrote a few books on doctrine for the faithful and nineteen beautiful letters in Latin.
○ Diocese of Cheongju Institutes the "Day of Prayer for Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers"
The Diocese of Cheongju decided to observe Feb. 16 every year as a Day of Prayer for Maryknoll Missionaries, in commemoration of the 50 years of their commitment and contribution to the Diocese.
The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, Bishop of Cheongju, announced this decision on Feb. 12, 2004 at the retirement Mass of the Rev. Robert M. Lilly, M.M., the last Maryknoll priest serving in the Diocese. The date was chosen because the late Most Rev. James Pardy, M.M., the first Bishop of Cheongju from 1958 to 1970, died on Feb. 16, 1983.
Bishop Chang said, "Though Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers cannot provide missionaries for Asia any more due to the lack of vocation, priests and the faithful in the Diocese of Cheongju, especially the Missionary Brothers of St. Luke Hwang Sok-du, will succeed to their mission in Asia."
○ Religious Determine to Commit Themselves to Social Evangelization through Inner Renewal
On the occasion of the World Day for Consecrated Life, observed on February 2, 2004, the Rev. Paul Oh Sang-seon, O.F.M., President of the Korean Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, issued a message.
In the message, Father Oh called for the commitment of consecrated persons to the evangelization of the Church and society in Korea by seeking inner renewal, individually or communally, saying, "All consecrated men and women in Korea should step up their efforts for the spiritual growth of the Catholic Church in Korea and for the building of a better world."
"On one hand, consecrated persons are asked by the world to make good friends with the marginalized and to be the instruments bringing peace and reconciliation to this world where wars, violence, conflicts, tension, hatred and distrust prevail. The Church, on the other hand, urges them to be reborn as spiritual servants as they are specialists in prayer and spirituality within the Church," he said.
He also expressed appreciation for the "constant and deep affection of Bishops, priests, lay brothers and sisters," thanks to whom they could fulfill the mission entrusted to them by God.
He concluded the message asking for "affectionate concern for the vocation to consecrated life" so that religious can carry out their mission successfully, responding to the demands of the world and the Church.
○ News in Brief
- The Norms on the Ministry and Life of Priests were promulgated and put into effect from January 2004, as the Permanent Council of the CBCK decided at its meeting held from December 28 to 29, 2003. The 107 Norms concerning the priestly life, including the identity and mission of priests, the holiness of priestly life, their pastoral ministry and other activities, are expected to bring about a proper image of priests fitting for modern times.
- On March 5, 2004, the CBCK Committee for Liturgy published the Compendious Instruction of Roman Missal which summarizes fundamental and essential elements of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. This Instruction is expected to be used as an easy and convenient guide for the proper celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of Mass until the publication of the Korean translation of the revised Roman Missal, which was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2002.
- The Taegu Regia of Mirror of Justice (President: Mr. John Pak Ki-tak, Spiritual Director: Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-gil) was raised to the status of Senatus, the third Senatus in Korea. According to the Dec. 24, 2003 letter sent by the Concilium, the world center of the Legion of Mary located in Ireland, the new Senatus of Taegu will govern the Legion of Mary in the Archdiocese of Taegu and its suffragan Diocese of Andong. As of October 2003, the Taegu Regia of Mirror of Justice had 47,646 legionaries in action in 25 comitia, 276 curiae and 4,040 praesidia.
- The Diocese of Taejon sent a missionary priest to Japan for the pastoral care of the Japanese faithful. The Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong Kap-ryong, Bishop of Taejon, announced on February 3 that the Rev. Anthony Youn Yeo-ok, pastor of Sapgyo parish, would be sent to the Diocese of Sentai, Japan for the pastoral ministry for the Japanese faithful there. Father Youn had worked for the Diocese of Fukuoka from 1993 to 1996 for the pastoral care of overseas Koreans.
- Ogeum-dong parish of the Archdiocese of Seoul launched a new program for the formation of the laity by opening the Catholic Institute, a theological institute for the laity. It is the first such institute at the parochial level. Applicants can complete the whole four-semester course by attending classes once a week. Experts and professors will be invited as instructors.
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
Saint Pak A-gi Anne (1783-1839)
Among the martyrs were not a few who had to turn their backs on their families and cut ties with them to follow the Lord. Pak A-gi Anne was one of them.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I will also deny before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10,32).
Mindful of these words, Pak A-gi Anne suffered the pain of severing her ties with her beloved family in order to win the glory of martyrdom.
Pak A-gi Anne was born into a Catholic family living in a small village on the banks of the Han River. She was not very intelligent and had difficulty learning the doctrine and prayers, but she had a heart full of love for God. She always said, "I cannot know God as much as I would like but I can try to love him with all my heart."
At the age of eighteen she married T'ae Mun-haeong Francis and bore him two sons and three daughters. She brought up the children well, teaching them the virtue of faith. The family was not wealthy but tried to live justly.
Pak A-gi Anne had a special devotion to the Passion of Our Lord and she meditated on His five wounds with tears in her eyes. When she heard of others being arrested and suffering torture she explained to the children about the martyrs and expressed her hope of martyrdom. In March or April of 1836 she was arrested along with her husband and her oldest son, ung-chon.
Her husband and son, unable to withstand the torture, apostatized but, despite the monstrous torture to which she was subjected, Pak A-gi Anne steadfastly gave witness to her faith. Greater than the physical pain of torture was the pain of seeing her husband and son, who had been released after their apostasy, return daily to the prison and plead with her to follow their example. They told of the plight of the family without her, the anxiety of her sick mother-in-law and the cries of the younger children for their mother. Listening to these stories gave Pak A-gi Anne immeasurable anguish.
With one word she could deny her faith and become again a warm mother to her distraught children, a devoted wife to her sorrowing husband and a dutiful daughter-in-law to her elderly mother-in-law, bringing peace and happiness again to her whole family.
But Pak A-gi Anne bravely overcame this temptation. In tears she rejected the pleas of her family to apostatize and pleaded with them to repent their own apostasy.
Some of her friends, aware of the sad situation at home, came to the prison and tried to persuade her. Pak A-gi Anne listened to them and then replied, "Is it worth the risk of eternal death in order to live a few more days? Instead of urging me to renounce my faith you should repent. You should envy me my good fortune."
The prison guards also urged her, "Your husband and son have been released and returned home. With just one word you can do the same. You must have a heart of stone to be unmoved by their pleas. Do you have many lives to live?" Pak A-gi Anne replied, "My husband and son's apostasy is their business. What has it to do with me? I have decided to keep my faith and die for it."
Even though she was beaten until her flesh hung loose and bones showed through, Pak A-gi Anne persisted in kneeling in prayer. Finally the commissioner realized he could not change her so he had her transferred to the court prison. There she underwent further torture. The judge put the same proposition to her as did the others, "Your husband and son have been released. With one word you, too, can enjoy the same happiness." Pak A-gi Anne replied, "To each his own. My desire is to die for the Lord."
After three years in prison, Pak A-gi Anne was sentenced to death on May 10, 1839, "for reading erroneous books and carrying evil pictures." Anne was finally taken outside the Small West Gate and beheaded there with eight other Catholics on Friday, May 24, 1839. She was 57 years old when she was gloriously martyred.
Pak A-gi Anne was canonized on May 6, 1984 at Yoido Plaza, Seoul, by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.