From the Editor:
Economic Crisis - A Chance for a More Human Existence
Korea which was once proud of being the 11th economic power in the world with a GNP of $10,000, and almost bragged about it by rushing to join the OECD, is now suffering in an abyss of economic disaster and complete lack of confidence. The people feel that the politicians and policies responsible for this situation have let down the whole nation. Up to a few days ago most of the Korean people were enjoying a comfortable lifestyle with apparent security but suddenly they find themselves in a state of shock with no hope for the future. There is now a deep sense of being betrayed by the government as well as feeling of shame of Korean people for having had such high notions of themselves.
In regard to the IMF bailout the presidential candidates seem only to be concerned with shifting the responsibility to each other and are using the situation as an opportunity to gain more votes. How sad can things get!
On the other hand there are some people who look on the crisis as an opportunity for a conversion to an honest and truthful way of life, which indirectly is an admission of wrongdoing in the past. This will demand a radical change of mind and attitudes based on a sincere self-reflection by everyone. No exceptions can be allowed in regard to this. Many Koreans like to buy things only when they are priced high even though they are produced cheaply. They only want expensive things. What future can there be for a society where only expensive articles are bought and sold and where most of the people feel good only when wearing high priced clothes? There is a general feeling that the economic collapse was inevitable seeing what was happening.
On Dec.15th Religious leaders including Cardinal Kim and the leaders of the Protestants and Buddhist communities met and issued a joint appeal. They urged business people to put an end to all forms of lax management and politicians to put an end to all political warfare and to work for the revival of the national economy and international trust. We hope this appeal from the religious leaders will bear some fruit in our society where people no longer trust each other.
The superiors of the women religious congregations in Korea have decided to “live simply” and they are already practicing this in their communities. We possess too many things that are not necessary in our lives. If we wisely reduce our consumption and share our possessions with those in need we will be able to overcome the present economic crisis and make the crisis an opportunity to build a more human society. If this happens, then the crisis will be turned into an occasion of rebirth and renewal.
Rev. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
1997 Autumn General Assembly of the Bishop’s Conference
The Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK was held at the CBCK Conference Hall in Seoul from October 13th to 16th and with the exception of Most Rev.Alexander Sye all of the Ordinary members attended.
The Bishops in accordance with the relevant rules elected four members and one alternative member as participants in the Special Assembly of the Asian Synod of Bishops. The four members elected are Most Rev. Paul Ri of Taegu, Most Rev. John Chang of Ch’unch’on, Most Rev. Vincent Ri of Chonju, Most Rev. Peter Kang of Seoul and Most Rev. William McNaughthon of Inch’on as alternative member. His Eminence Cardinal Stephen Kim and Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the President of the CBCK, will be members by reason of their office.
The Bishops focused on the evangelization of the Korean peninsula and unanimously agreed on the necessity to take some concrete steps to deal with the question of the evangelization of North Korea. They decided to establish a Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People. As a result, after consultation with each other, the bishops appointed the Diocesan Bishops of Seoul, Pyongyang, Hamhung and Ch’unch’on as the members of the new commission because these dioceses have some territory in North Korea. They also elected two metropolitan Archbishops of South Korea, Most Rev. Paul Ri of Taegu and Most Rev. Victorinus Youn of Kwangju, and Most Rev. Andrew Choi of Seoul, Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, OSB, as members of the commission.
Considering the importance of the conservation and protection of the documents of the Church in Korea, and the important role of the diocesan archive in this regard the Bishops approved Norms for Diocesan Archives in Korea which were prepared and presented by Most Rev. John Chang, the President of the Committee for Culture. These norms are based on the general norms in the Pastoral Function of Church Archives issued by the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
Most Rev. John Chang pointed out the urgency of deciphering and photocopying of all documents related to Korean Church history and now in the possession of the Congregation for Evengelization of Peoples and the Paris Foreign Mission Society. There followed a discussion by the Bishops about the local safekeeping and management of the documents of the Church in Korea and asked the Committee for Culture to present to the next General Assembly of the CBCK a concrete plan dealing with this matter.
They also agreed on the need to bring together the promotion of the beatification and canonization of the Korean martyrs with greater commitment on national level.
In regard to the request of the Commission for “New Martyrs” of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee Year 2000 the Bishops agreed to undertake an investigation of the historical documents referring to Korean martyrs in the 20th century. This will include Catholics and Protestants.
The Bishops listened to the suggestions which were presented by the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, namely to revitalize the function of the Pastoral Councils in parishes, to be allowed to observe the meeting of the Permanent Council of the CBCK and their request to appoint the Vicar General as the diocesan director of the Lay Apostolate Council. The Bishops gave a positive evaluation of these suggestions and regarding question of dealing with specific cases it was agreed that they would continue to consider them and dialogue with the diocesan Bishops and the Committee for the Lay Apostolate of the CBCK.
After a report by Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong, the president of the Special Episcopal Commission for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, on the activities of the Commission the Bishops exchanged opinions about concrete plans for the celebrations and events of the Great Jubilee Year.
On the last day of the Assembly, Oct. 16th, the Bishops made a one day visit to Panmumjom where they marked the establishment of the Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People.
Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the new Apostolic Nuncio was welcomed by Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the president of the CBCK, on behalf of the Bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Korea. In his message Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong said “I believe that Your coming to Korea at the threshold of the Great Jubilee Year 2000 implies God’s profound providence and the warm consideration of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II.” He added “Participating as one college of the Episcopate cum et sub Petro, we the Korean bishops look forward to a ‘new springtime’ of christianity in the Church in Korea.”
The Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. G.B. Morandini, responded to the welcoming address with a 7-page message and expressed his deep sentiments of gratitude on being appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Korea, and promised his commitment to be a vehicle of unity between the Apostolic See and the local Churches.
Preparation for Jubilee Year Starts with Our Self-Conversion
The Episcopal Special Commission for the Jubilee Year of 2000 mapped out its orientation for the preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000.
On Nov. 6th and 7th, the Commission held its 2nd meeting of the representatives for the preparation for the Jubilee Year at the CBCK building in downtown Seoul and reconfirmed the key points of the spirit of the Jubilee Year which are the returning to Christ and conversion, the renewal of the Church and inner transformation. The meeting had 40 in attendance including vicar generals, representatives of men and women religious, laity and youth. A characteristic of this meting was the fact that the majority of the participants were lay people. The participants agreed on the necessity of the self conversion of each Catholic and emphasized the necessity of the mutual cooperation of the faithful on the journey towards the Jubilee Year and inner conversion.
They pointed out the important role of the media in the education of the faithful about the Jubilee Year and the new evangelization through the self conversion of the Korean Church as a whole starting with the bishops and clergy.
An examination of the state of the Korean Church in general showed that there is not enough understanding or instruction about the Jubilee Year and its meaning. It was pointed out that the parish has often played a separating role in the family by the separate celebration of Masses for adults, youth and children, thus, this should be changed so that all family members could attend the Sunday Mass together; the necessity of greater conviction and zeal of the Church leaders about the Jubilee Year and formation of lay leadership; an open policy of the Church ministry in order to carry out the Jubilee Year’s preparation and hear the clergy’s individual opinions. With regard to the consecrated people, they agreed on the necessity to be faithful to the charisma of their founders and foundresses and the keeping of their individual identities.
Korean Bishops Issue Pastoral Letters for 1998
His Eminence Cardinal Stephen Kim of Seoul and all the Korean bishops issued pastoral letters for 1998, the year of the Holy Spirit, on the first Sunday of Advent and invited all Catholics to continue their efforts in preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000 in every aspect of Church life. In this year of the Holy Spirit the Bishops have focused their pastoral letters on the renewal of the Church, family and youth, the pastoral concern for North Koreans, the preparation for the Jubilee Year, the revitalization of faith and the evangelization of people through participation in social issues.
The pastoral letters made a unanimous call for emergency assistance for North Koreans who are in great economic difficulty and stressed some concrete ways to help them continually; by donating rice, contributing to fund raising for reunification and praying for reconciliation and peaceful reunification. They called particular attention to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and every Christian’s life and work in the human history. Here are some excerpts from the pastoral letters.
Cardinal Stephen Kim of Seoul stressed three points: the evangelization of the family, concern for North Korean brothers and sisters, and a Church of evangelical poverty. By living in this way we have to make a true journey towards eternal life and make our Church truly messianic and obedient to the Holy Spirit, he said. “The North Koreans are the ones who need to hear the joyful message of the Good News and so they are the first target of our evangelization,” he stressed.
Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong of Cheongju declared the year of 1998 a year of the new evangelization of the diocesan community in the Holy Spirit. He stressed on the commitment to evangelization which is the mission and core of the Church and the conversion from within for the new and young Church, a Church that marches together towards a common end.
Most Rev. William McNaughton of Inchon placed his pastoral focus on preparation for the Jubilee Year, youth, revitalization of small communities and reunification.
He announced 1998 to 2000 as years for the Evangelization of the diocesan community and asked the active participation of all the faithful. For this purpose a survey of opinions will be conducted and an examination of the actual situation of the pastoral state of each parish. The development of a pastoral plan for unification and assistance for North Koreans will be given top priority, he said.
Bishop Joseph Kyeong of Taejon, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the diocese of Taejon, issued a pastoral letter titled “The Holy Spirit and Mission”. It is centered on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the diocese and each believer.
The Holy Spirit is the animator and the giver of life to the diocese, he said and asked the faithful to pray “Come, Holy Spirit...” often and encouraged Bible reading. A temporary committee for the revival of the diocese will be formed for the year 2000.
Most Rev. James Kim of Wonju set his pastoral focus on the culture of love and announced 1998 as a year for the deepening of sacramental life, development and cultivation of youth ministries and the revitalization of small communities.
For this purpose the diocese will carry out movements to restore social and moral order, to advance national reconciliation, to observe Sunday observance, to double the number of believers, to foster frequent holy communion and confession and to develop a culture of sharing and youth volunteering.
Most Rev. Paul Ri of Taegu said that the primary goal of the diocesan synod consists of nourishing an awareness of the Christian community, of living lives of deep faith and maturing as true Christians and asked the faithful to march together towards true life by renewing the Church and themselves.
Most Rev. Gabriel Lee of Pusan invited his faithful to renew the face of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer and authentic lives of faith, to renew the messianic pastoral life of the parish and the community founded on Christ, to open ourselves to others and to make the Church a Church of hope.
Message on the 16th Human Rights Sunday:
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
On the occasion of the 16th Human Rights Sunday, Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, the president of the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCK, issued a message titled “Blessed are the peacemakers” and called on the Korean faithful who are preparing for the presidential election on December 18th to choose the right leader who will devote himself sincerely to the common good and work for peace. He pointed out that the political practice of connecting politics and businesses is one of the primary reasons behind today’s economic depression.
1. The 16th Sunday for Human Rights that we celebrate in the second year of the preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000 is very significant.
Time for New Heaven and New Earth
We are to welcome the new millennium, not simply a new century. For us Christians, it is an important time to create a “new heaven and a new earth”(Rev 21,1) where the Gospel of life is lived out in the whole country by a genuine conversion of heart and renewal in Christ. God who “for us men and for our salvation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.”(Symbolum Nicaeno-Constantinopolitaum) is God with us who lifted up our human dignity to heaven. To respond to this immense love of God we must respect human rights and love one another. It is time that we endeavor to achieve peace so that the 70 million of South and North Korean people can be reconciled to God.
Our Political Reality - Constant Changing of Alignment of Political Parties
2. A human being made in God’s image is the “perfect reflection of God who is among us”(The Common Good and Catholic Church’s Social Teaching by the CBCEW, 12). Therefore each person has the right to a decent life from the very moment of conception. However many are far from enjoying human rights and suffer from the total corruption of society. They have to struggle daily to keep even their basic human rights.
“The evil structures”(cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 36-39) which are composed of people’s endless greed for power and self?interest are deeply rooted in all sectors of our society. Our reality is that law and justice have collapsed, morals and discipline are in disarray, the poor and alienated are rejected by society and the rich and powerful are spiritually impoverished. The political leaders speak for the people with their lips only. They are in fact blinded by self-interest, selfish desires and party interests engaging only in changing political factions instead of working for the common good of the country. That is our political reality.
The Cry of the Common People Reaches to Heaven
3. The connection between politics and business is one of the most serious “evil structures” of our society. The damage caused by these evil structure has weighed heavily on people’s lives as a whole. Some people have come to the point of considering this connection between politics and business as something normal because it has been such a way for long. These politicians amass fortunes in dubious ways and seek power at any cost even through the selling and buying of party nominations for parliamentary candidates. Such acts have resulted in the impoverishment of policy development and have provoked personal attacks against opposition party members and ignited regional antagonism. All this has only augmented people’s distrust in government and has made the future of our democracy very bleak.
It is Time to Break the Connection Between Politics and Business
The connection between politics and business has finally caused economic panic in the country and a shameful “national bankruptcy”. This barbarian practice has also made people say with anguish, “if we don’t give money then nothing moves.” Eradicating of this old order is now more imperative than ever so that we can introduce a new political culture. By breaking the chains that connect politics and business we have to overcome individual and collective selfishness. By living in this spirit we will work for the “common good” and build a society of economic justice in which people can live in harmony and peace.
Need to Exercise our God Given Freedom with a Sense of Moral Responsibility and Dignity
4. The 15th presidential election which is being held in a time of such confusion will decide the future of our country. Genuine democracy will flourish only when each member of society can exercise correctly the freedom given by God with a sense of moral responsibility and dignity. “A genuine democratic society is a society built and nourished by its constituents. Therefore a democracy is not almighty and free to make immoral political decisions. If a democracy is not founded on justice and morality demanded by the society but rather on the electoral or financial power of some groups (Centesimus Annus, 47),” then it is not a genuine democracy.
In exercising our political right during the presidential election by casting our votes we should not deviate from truth, justice and morality which are the foundations of democracy. The voters, while not invading privacy, should inform themselves of the candidates’ personality and moral lives, and take this into consideration when choosing their leader. Catholics should pay attention to what lies behind the policies of political parties and watch out for those parties and candidates that neglect the sacredness of human life.
Need of Humility to Accept One’s Mistakes
In relation to the election we should note that “an authenticdemocracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person.”(Centesimus Annus, 46). Therefore for political discussions to gain people’s trust a spirit of humility is necessary. The Gospel tells us that we have to recognize our own sins first before we judge others(cf. Mt 7,1-5).
5. How should we face the 15th presidential election on the 8th December?
The leader that our society requires is one who promotes the common good and works for peace(cf. Mt 5,9) by breaking the connection between politics and business.
The President that this Generation Needs
The president we need is one who will establish a nation of justice and law, especially one who will realize a policy of justice and love which will ease the pain of the suffering and alienated. We need a leader who respects the dignity and rights of the human person, who loves people created in the likeness to God, who serves people and society with sincerity, who eradicates regionalism and election practices based on money, who recognizes the sacredness of human life, who serves the people and society and finally the one who is capable to facing the third millennium by working for reunification of Korea in a spirit of reconciliation and unity.
6. When compared to God who is perfect there is no one of complete integrity. The greater our expectations for the president the greater will be our disappointment and the harder it will be to find the right person.
Do Not Give Up the Sacred Right of Voting
However we should not be discouraged or give up our right to vote which is our sacred right. We are all imperfect beings. That is why we should do our best. It is wonderful that often a society of vulnerable people can be more peaceful. Humility is truth. If “the power on this earth comes from above”(cf. Jn 19) the election of the national leader from the point of view of faith will be discerning and choosing the one that God has chosen. The election will then be a work “to distinguish good from evil, and this takes place above all thanks to the light of natural reason.” (Veritatis Splendor, 42). Therefore the election is a festival in which we turn our heart and eyes to God. It is not a festival of drinking and enjoyment but a celebration time where justice, peace and love will overflow. Let us make this election a people’s festival by driving away for good “the election side effects”.
Call for Fair Information by Public Media
7. Let us make together this presidential election a fair election carried out in accordance with the election laws. Voters should get rid of all kinds of personal consideration such as regionalism, blood relationship, school relationship and religious backgroundand They should exercise their right to vote with a humble and sincere attitude.
The public media should not provoke personal attacks on presidential candidates but, by providing correct information, should make an unbiased contribution so that people can make a fair choice. The government should establish, through a fair management of election, a climate of election in which laws are observed.
In the Election Fever, Don’t Forget the Poor
8. Blessed are the peacemakers for they endeavor to create right relations between people. The peacemakers reduce tension and conflicts in various situations and bring harmony.
At this very moment of the election fever we have to pay attention to the fact that there are people who suffer from poverty and starvation in obscurity and who desire a decent life as human person. We have to remember those who suffer from human rights abuse, especially our North Korean brothers and sisters dying physically and spiritually in that frozen soil of human rights. We must practice our fraternal love.
We will be able to welcome properly the Great Jubilee Year 2000 when we work for peace and allow a new political culture of love to flourish. December 8th, 1997
Human Rights Sunday
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak
President Justice and Peace Committee
Bishops of Korea and Japan Agree on a Five Point Resolution
The Bishops of Korea and Japan held the 3rd Korea-Japan meeting at the Catholic Center in Tokyo, from Nov. 11th to the 13th to discuss historical problems and agreed on a five point resolution focusing on the promotion of exchanges and collaboration in matters of faith and pastoral life between the two Churches.
As well as the work regarding historical concerns they agreed to initiate at the Episcopal level and to support youth exchanges between the two countries. To implement this Most Rev. Paul Ri of Taegu and five Bishops from Korea and Most Rev. Fumio Hamao, the president of the CBCJ, agreed to continue the youth exchange program which started with the youth pilgrim to Lourdes in France last August.
The Bishops reaffirmed the importance of their unity and friendly relations in order to live in peaceful coexistence and overcome the painful events of past history.
Most Rev. Jinushi of Sapporo said that a major role of the Bishops of Japan is the truthful transmission of history to the youth. This is the work of the older generation but many are keeping silent about the past and so the younger generation do not know the historical truth, he remarked.
Most Rev. Paul Ri of Taegu said that the goal of the encounter is unity and collaboration to solve conflicts between the two countries and for the future evangelization of China.
Most Rev. F. Hamao stressed the importance of youth meetings and mutual understanding and said he will support them positively.
The Bishops of Korea invited the CBCJ to come to Korea in November 1998.
The Bishops of Korea and Japan met in Tokyo for the first time on Feb. 1996 to discuss major problems and concerns between the two counties as Catholic Church leaders and agreed to jointly compile a history textbook based on a common historical understanding.
However the textbook has yet to be compiled.
● News from the Church in Korea
● Synod of the Archdiocese of Taegu Opened
To welcome the new millennium and be reborn in the Holy Spirit by responding to the signs of the times the Archdiocese of Taegu inaugurated the diocesan synod on Nov.30th at the Kyaesandong cathedral by a concelebration of the Eucharist presided over by Most Rev. Paul Ri and Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio, many other bishops and clergy. The Silver Jubilee of Most Rev. Paul Ri’s consecration as bishop was celebrated at the same time and some 700 catholics attended the ceremony.
Most Rev. Paul Ri said in his homily that “the Synod is a sign of the privileged protection of God for our diocese and thus I believe that we will be blessed abundantly through it.”
“The synod is God’s work and it can’t be successful without prayer so all the faithful should be united in God through love and prayer as we march together towards eternal life.” he said.
The Apostolic nuncio, archbishop Giovanni B. Morandini read a message from the Holy Father for this particular occasion wishing that the synod be a historical milestone in Taegu archdiocese and a guiding light on the journey towards the new millennium.”
Most Rev. Victorinus Youn of Kwangju hoped that “the synod would help to realize a deeper communion and renewal of the people of God and a new evangelization of the Church in Korea.”
● Bishops to Issue Guidelines for Orthodox christian Life
The Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the CBCK issued on Sept. 24th a document titled “Movements and Currents That Are Harmful to Orthodox Christian Life”. The 24-page document aims to help Korean Catholics to maintain a healthy faith life amid the hundreds of religious and pseudo?religious sects and movements that are attracting many people recently.
“Nowadays, some religious movements in Korean society give much consideration and importance to visual hallucinations, miracles and predictions rather than a healthy faith life,” Bishops Andres Choi Chang-mu, the committee chairman and Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, said in the preface. The guidelines include a detailed discussion of “private revelation,” on which they say many questionable phenomena are reportedly based. Modern development has left people insecure about their future destiny and established religions have not adequately addressed this while new religious sects try to fill the void by promising earthly happiness, it said.
The document says the Church “has to develop pastoral programs for the youth and spiritual programs that answer the needs of the young generation,” and it cites old and new religious movements and sects, including “doomsday” cults, New Age Movement, disciplines related to health and healing, fortune telling and geomancy, belief in former existence and reincarnation etc.
“While new sects generally target marginalized and vulnerable people, such as the poor, people suffering from incurable disease and the uneducated, they specifically target Catholics”, thebishops observed. To counter false private revelations, they explain that any true revelation must correspond to the doctrines of the Church, and that joy, peace, love and holiness are the fruits of authentic revelation. The guidelines reject the pursuit of personal religious experiences that consider visions, miracles and prophecy more important than faith. “Some of these movements have been organized and developed into a devotional movement by using Marian devotion or the charismatic movement, or by attaching themselves onto them” they point out.
● Research on Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century Initiated
The CBCK has initiated research on Christian martyrs of the 20th century in Korea in answer to a request from the Pontifical Special Commission for New Martyrs. The new martyrs will include all Christians who witnessed to their faith in Christ by giving their lives and they include Catholics and Protestants. Regarding this undertaking Rev. John Kim Jong?su, Secretary General of the CBCK, sent a memorandum asking for cooperation to all dioceses, the Research Institute of Korean Church History, the National Council of Churches of Korea and to the officials of the Orthodox and Anglican Churches.
This work of fraternal cooperation among Christians will provide a good opportunity to witness to one faith in God and Jesus Christ and promote a spirit of ecumenism and common respect for martyrs irrespective of denomination.
The new martyrs will include those who witnessed to their faith in God from the period after Independence to the Korean War in 1950. When the primary work is completed, a Committee will be set up to verify all historical documents.
Examinations so far of the Catholic new martyrs lists are the following: 57 who died in North Korea after Independence including Bishop Choi Yong-ho, 14 who died after the Korean War including Father Kim Yong?gul, 13 at the beginning of the Korean War including Fr. Kim Man-soo, 13 foreign missionaries who died at the beginning of the Korean War including Msgr. Patrick Brennan from the Society of St. Columban, 10 who died during the Death March including the Apostolic Delegate Bishop Patrick Byrne, M.M., 8 Koreans who died in Oct. 1950 and 24 including Father Ott and Soy Ki-chang and others from the dioceses of Hamgung and Dokwon.
● Catholic Church to Recognize Its Historical Wrongdoing
On the occasion of the 131th year of the end of the Pyongin persecution in 1866 the Catholic University of Inch’on issued a statement on Nov. 19th recognizing for the first time the historical wrongdoings of the Catholic Church vis-a-vis the Korean people.
In the statement they made an official apology to the Korean people for the fact that the French missionaries and Korean Catholics provided help to the French fleet during the Pyongin persecution and in view of this made an official demand to the French government to return ancient documents and treasures that were plundered by the French invaders.
“Catholic French missionaries and the catholic’s help to the French invaders caused a great deal of tribulation and misery to the Korean people, and for this as Catholics we ask pardon from the Kangwhado people” the statement said.
During the Pyongin Yangyo he French fleet invaded from Sept. 18th, to Nov. 21st 1866, and the Catholics ignorant of the international political situation and intending only to obtain freedom of religion, helped the French invaders by providing them with geographic information and guides with the French priest Fr. Ridel acting as interpreter. Father Ridel informed the French Commander Admiral Roze about the Pyongin persecution during which nine of twelve French missionaries were martyred and asked his help. As a result Admiral Roze appeared on the Kanghwado seashore with a fleet of seven ships and invaded the Island. They assaulted the citizens, raped women and burned cultural works and buildings. When withdrawing, they took many national treasures including 350 volumes of books from the Waekyuchang-gak, the royal library.
● Relief Campaign for North Korea to Continue
The 32 civilian organizations and the Korean Sharing Movement, a supra religious campaign to help North Korea and which is composed of the six major religions groups namely, Catholics, Buddhists, Protestants, Confucianists, Won Buddhist and Chondokyo, launched a Campaign to send clothing to North Korea at a meeting in Heungsadan Hall in downtown Seoul on Oct. 2nd.
Their first target is to collect 2 million items of clothing; 1 million pairs of shoes; 3 million pairs of gloves, blankets and 500 tons of vinyl. The materials collected will be sent to NK through the Korean Red Cross, they said.
The Priests’ Association for Justice(PAJ), in response to a request from North Korean Catholics, organized a campaign to send bicycles to NK. “The NK Catholics asked us to send bicycles to use for mission work because they have no other means of getting around,” a PAJ official said.
● Seniour Leaders of Religious Call for Burden Sharing.
Cardinal Stephen Kim and Ven. Song Wolju of the Chogye Order along with seniour leaders of the eight major religions in Korea published a joint appeal to the Korean people at a press conference held on Dec. 15th at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in downtown Seoul. They urged the government, businesses and labourers to collaborate in order to overcome the economic crisis. The appeal asked that “in the name of overcoming the current economic crisis we should not just stress layoffs but also on the need for all in all areas of the economy to shoulder burdens”
● Lay Apostolate Council Take Resolution to Tighten Belts
As Korea is undergoing its worst economic crisis in several decades and facing national bankruptcy which has been caused by the government’s failure to discharge its regulatory functions properlyand with the excessive investment by chaebols leading to snowballing debts, the Lay Apostolic Council of Korea(LACK) proposed seven points of action on Nov. 25th.
“If the 3.6 million Korean Catholics are determined to revive the Korean economy by a simple and frugal life through thrift and saving our economy will recover soon,” they said.
The seven points of the resolution include the eradication of extravagant and prodigal life styles; the reduction of overhead expenditure; greater efforts for saving and thrift; less use of imported articles and goods; the reduction of overseas tourism and the saving of foreign currency; the eating of Korean farm products; a reduction in the use of private cars and the use of public transportation; the reduction of food waste and more recycling.
The trend to accumulate wealth at any cost and spending sprees, the blind pursuit of luxuries and conspicuous consumption are by no means healthy facets of a sound civilization. This crude concept of vulgar capitalism with its greedy accumulation of capital must be superseded by an ‘ethical’ viewpoint which emphasizes the common good, they said.
● New President of the AMSRWK Elected
The Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea elected Sr. Hong Sun?heung from the Daughters of St. Paul as the new president at its 30th general meeting held from Nov. 10th to 14th at Aaron House in Uiwang Shi, Kyongkido.
The assembly which had as its theme “Women and Life” renewed its commitment to work for the environment and the restoration of the life and dignity of women. “As we prepare for the Jubilee Year 2000, we will approach from the perspective of life issues relating to life and the environment as well as various women’s issues in the Church and in society,” the new president said.
“During the Year of Holy Spirit of 1998, we will focus on women’s education and studies on how to nourish the gifts of women,” she said.
With regard to the question of exchanges with religious in Japan Sr. Hong said she will continue the ongoing work aimed at correcting historical issues such as the truth about the Comfort Women and to promote friendly relationships between the two countries as women who have consecrated their lives for the kingdom of God which is a kingdom of love, peace and justice.
She insisted on the important role of the 8000 Korean Sisters in improving human relations with those who have defected from North Korea.
News in Brief
● The Catholic Human Rights Committee and a number of citizens’ organizations objected strongly to the passing of the law on the computerized ID cards at the last National Assembly Session and formed a Joint Committee Against the Integrated Computerized Citizen ID Card to Protect Privacy on Nov. 21st. “If the government issues the cards then a citizens’ disobedience movement will be inevitable,” they said.
● Invited by the Catholic Human Rights Committee of Seoul a group of 19 Japanese people including 17 priests from the diocese of Osaka made a 3?day visit to Korea from Nov. 10th to the 13th. Cardinal Kim received them at his office and exchanged views on how to improve relations between the two countries. They visited various historic sites which show traces of the Japanese colonization.
● On Sept. 30th, hundreds of hired gangsters came to a redevelopment area in Haengdang dong in Seoul and destroyed houses and used violence to evacuate tenants. Many were injured and 10 were hospitalized. Bishop Andrew Choi, Episcopal Vicar for the Social Apostolate of Seoul, said that the Church will not remain silent in the face of such barbarism.
● In a statement the Priests Association for Justice and the Catholic Human Rights Committee of Seoul demanded that the Kim Young-sam administration stop immediately all suppression on the 2nd human rights film festival and release all those in jail under charge of violating the National Security Law. At the festival a number of good quality films covering international human rights’ situations were shown: eg, Shoah, Noce en Galilee, The Daughter of Puma and Chronicle of Genocide Foretold.
● Rev. An Sang-in along with a group from New York visited Pyongyang on Nov.1st, in response to an invitation from the North Korean authorities to supervise the distribution of 480 tons of food and flour, the first consignment of food donated by the Korean Catholics in North America. The NK authorities provided all travel expenses and made it clear that it is the first official invitation by NK to Catholic priests to come to the country.
A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea (21)
by Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Prof. of Korea University
Department of Korean History
Growth of the Church and Development of Culture
3. Growth of the Church in Korea
The Church in Korea had 183,666 members in 1945 which was about only one percent of the population. Since the liberation of the country from Japanese colonial rule the number of Catholics increased rapidly and it reached its peak by the end of the Korean War. The increase rate was 6.2% in the 1960s and 5.2% in the 1970s. In the early 1970s Catholics numbered 788,082 but by the end of the 1970s the number reached 1,246,268 or 3.5 % of population.
The increase rate of the 1970s is lower than that of the previous years but we have to note that many of those who became Catholics in the 1970s were intellectuals who were attracted by the Church’s concerns for social justice and her commitment to its realization. The justice movement of the Church has played an important role in raising the people’s interest in the Catholic Church. Impressed by the Catholic movement for the realization of justice people joined it in huge numbers. The conversion to the Catholic Church of a Protestant youth group which had anti?government tendencies can be seen as a good example of this. Later on leaders of other religions and socioreligious scientists said that the Church’s involvement in social justice was the primary reason for the growth of the Catholic Church in 1970s.
The rapidly growing numbers of new converts from a particular social milieu and the middle class created a new atmosphere in the Church. The new intellectuals rejuvenated the Church and those form the middle class made the Church’s financial foundation more secure and before long it became self-supporting. However, at the same time the problem of the gradual increase of non-practicing Catholics emerged. The primary reason for this was the industrial development and urbanization which were in full swing at the time. As well as this the slowness of the Church to embrace some areas of injustice and their lack of effort in fighting against it can be considered as part of the reason. Some youth left the Church because they were discouraged by the Church’s negligence in issues of justice in some areas.
Despite this the expansion of the Church continued steadily. The diocese of Cheju was established in 1977 and with this the basic frame of the structure of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea was complete. In 1974 the Korean Foreign Mission Society was founded and with it the Church in Korea initiated mission to foreign countries. The Cursillo Movement was introduced at that time and made a considerable contribution to the revitalization of parish life. In 1971, Bible study made its debut with the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The Charismatic Movement became widespread in response to the hunger of the multitudes and the MBW took root. As well as that the traditional devotion to the Korean martyrs was strengthened and in 1976 the movement to canonize 103 Korean martyrs was launched under the initiative of the Lay Apostolic Council of Korea.
4. Development of the Korean Catholic Culture
The ecumenical movement developed successfully in the 1970s in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Besides the ecumenical effort for the common translation of the Bible various cooperative systems between Churches were initiated to realize social justice together. However the efforts for unity with other Protestant Churches were not organized systematically but just remained on an individual level depending on the individual pastors, and the faithful. Consequently the movement for interreligious dialogue and the ecumenical movement lost much of its drive.
The social function of the Church was developed along with the expansion of the Church. In 1976, large scale social welfare facilities were set up including Kottongnae. Also central and local government entrusted to the Church the direction of many social welfare facilitates and this can be interpreted as an expression of the trust of the government and society in the Catholic Church. At this time also the Church developed its own social welfare programs focusing on emergency relief for needy people. To do this work the Church in Korea still needed the assistance of foreign Churches.
The 1970s was also the period when various ecclesiastical studies were initiated with the return of many highly educated Korean theologians from overseas. Thanks to their courses at the seminaries the Church in Korea was able to enter a stage of theological study as compared to one that was a stage of catechism level. The study of Catholic philosophy was intensified and gradually became known to Korean intellectuals. At this time also the Church in Korea initiated studies on her own tradition of faith and history. In such a climate the Church’s interest in inculturation matured. So the 1970s was an epoch-making decade for the development of ecclesiastical studies. While making a contribution to the heightening of the culture of Korean society the Church in Korea developed its own art and culture.
In the 1970s the Church in Korea experienced many challenges. The Church was changing more rapidly than society. Compared to the previous decades the Church’s growth in numbers was lower, but with many converts from the middle class and the intellectual milieu the Church developed many other distinctive qualities. The Church in Korea in the 1970s proclaimed to the Korean society the principle of justice and peace as the foundation of its progress. To do this the Church did not avoid sufferings but embraced them. In this process the Church came to be aware of her identity as a member of Korean society as well as her existence as a national community. Efforts of the Church for social development and welfare were developed side by side and this image of the serving Church left a deep impression on the minds of the Korean people. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council were implemented and the Catholic culture began to take root in the Korean culture.
The 1970s was for the Church a time of deepening of faith, external expansion and social participation. Through the “experience of participation” with the experience of martyrdom the Church had taken firm hold in Korean society. From this perspective the 1970s can be seen as a very significant time in the history of the Catholic Church in Korea. However, all Catholics did not participate in the democratization struggle and some clergy and faithful did not agree with it. Yet the Catholic movement for justice has played very important role in the process of the democratization of Korea and its realization of justice in the 1970s. The Church’s active involvement in social justice made a great contribution to the evangelization of the Korean people. For this reason the justice movement of the Church in 1970s is evaluated as the 2nd Pentecost of the Church in Korea.