Fourth Exchange Meeting of Bishops of
Korea and Japan
The exchange meeting of Bishops of Korea and Japan which was initiated by the visiting of Most Rev. Paul Ri(Archbishop of Taegu) to Tokyo with two other Korean Bishops in February 1996 had its fourth meeting in Seoul from November 10th to the 13th. Since its inception two meetings were held in 1996 and one meeting in 1997 alternating the site of the meetings between Tokyo and Seoul. As the years have passed the number of participants has increased and the meeting which was started by few Bishops getting together has grown into an official exchange meeting of the Bishops of the two countries. Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul archdiocese, was appointed as the coordinator from Korea and Most Rev. Okata, Bishop of Urawa and the secretary general of the CBCJ, as the coordinator from Japan.
In the last meeting the bishops heard lectures on history. From Korea Prof. Lee Won-soon spoke on " the history of Korea that we want to teach to the Japanese youth," while Sister Miyoshi who became a Catholic Sister one year ago spoke on " the Japanese history that we want to teach to the Korean youth." Her lecture made a deep impression on all the participants. Sr. Miyoshi's talk started from the context of her study of Korean history: "When I was a high school student the teacher gave us an assignment to write about five great men from countries such as France, Germany or China. Many students wrote a list of the great men of these countries without problem but none of them was able to write about the great men of Korea although Korea is the nearest country to Japan geographically. That motivated me to study Korean history. Before my study Korea was to me no more than a passageway for Chinese culture to enter Japan. I never imagined that the Korean people had their own culture. While studying the history of Korea, especially the modern history of Korea, which was a period of Japanese colonial rule, I came to learn about the many wrongdoing done by the Japanese to the Korean people..." Even though these events happened in her grandfather's time, Sr. Miyoshi felt these historical wrongdoing committed by Japan as her own history. Her belief is that without a correct understanding of past historical wrongdoing, an honest reflection on the past and genuine repentance and an sincere apology, Japan has no future. She said that just as Israel repented of its many sins during its life of exile in Babylon and was given a chance of new life, so Japan should do the same. She stressed that Japan should be asked to repent and convert itself by admitting its history and recognize its errors if it wants to have a bright future. Agreeing with her the Bishops of Japan proposed to issue a joint statement along with the Korean Bishops about their mutual history in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Sinners have a feeling of shame and are uneasy all the time. With this uneasiness and dishonor one can't have a happy life. A confession of one's faults and reconciliation are the only way to liberation and the promise of a bright future. We don't know how the question of the joint statement will be finalized but our wish is that a true reconciliation of the two countries be achieved on this occasion.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference
1998 Autumn General Assembly of Bishops Held
The 1998 Autumn General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference was held at the CBCK Conference Hall in Seoul from Oct.12th to the 15th.
As part of the follow-up to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, the Bishops examined questions relating to 'the revision of the directives for the formation of Korean priests', 'the establishment of an institute for the ongoing formation of priests', 'promotion of diocesan synods', and 'a new awareness of foreign mission and positive steps for it's realization'.
The Bishops agreed to send the Holy Father an official invitation to Korea when he will visit Asia next year to present the post - synodal Apostolic Exhortation to Asia for the third millennium. The Bishops agreed to publish commentary notes concerning the collaboration of non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of priests in the Documenta Catholica as complementary materials. They entrusted to the Secretariate the work of smoothing out terms and expressions, so that the superiority of the ordained ministers may not be over emphasized and the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful not be downgraded.
With regard to the question of the collection of historical documents and materials dealing with the history of the Church in Korea the Bishops agreed to continue to offer financial support for the collection of more materials and the making of an inventory.
The Bishops agreed that the Caritas Sunday collection should be used only to help foreign missions in accordance with the original purpose of the Caritas Coreana.
Among the many issues dealt with at the assembly the Bishops focused on the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. They launched a "New Day - New Life" movement by issuing a message and appealed to all Korean Catholics to sincerely take part in the movement.
"New Day-New Life" Movement
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, the turning point in history, His Holiness Pope John Paul II proclaimed the year 2000 as a special 'Great Jubilee Year of Grace'. "The two thousand years which have passed since the birth of Christ represent an extraordinarily Great Jubilee, not only for Christians but indirectly for the whole of humanity"(TMA, n.15). The Great Jubilee is to proclaim 'here and now', this 'year of the Lord's favour' which began with the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 invites us to conversion, penitence, repentance and commitment to justice, peace and unity. Through such a life we want to grow as mature Christians and prepare ourselves to respond to the needs of the world.
This particular period of preparation for the Great Jubilee is an opportunity for us to deepen our faith and proclaim the message of the Gospel to the world with attraction and credibility and to make every effort to transform our communities, families, neighbors, fellow workers and the whole civil society in which we live. In doing so, the Gospel of Christ who is the sole and definitive completion of the yearnings of all mankind (cf. TMA, n.6) will become the 'Good News' for everyone today(cf.TMA, n.38).
Taking into consideration the proposals of many people, the Bishops of Korea decided to launch the New Day - New Life movement which is aimed at realizing the spirit of the Great Jubilee in a concrete way. On this occasion as we welcome new days of the new millennium, the 'New Day - New Life movement will give us hope and commitment to a new life to remember and imitate Christ, our Savior who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. This means that we should learn to share a life of joy together with our brothers and sisters and to rediscover the true value of humanity by realizing today the event of the incarnation of Christ. Such a life will help us overcome many economic difficulties, such as unemployment which is a pressing problem at this moment.
The 'New Day - New Life' movement will be developed in four areas: 'Renewing myself first', 'Building a true family', 'Being a good neighbor', and 'Marching together'. On the basis of these four areas, the CBCK presents the following practical steps:
'Renewing myself first':
1) begin all things with prayer,
2) study the Word of God and the teaching of the Church,
3) return to one's own place,
4) think in the place of others,
'Building a true family':
1) pray and dialogue with family members,
2) recognize the sacredness of life and respect it,
3) serve the community together with family members,
'Being a good neighbor':
1) ask for forgiveness and forgive,
2) help and share with one another,
3) devote ourselves to build peace,
1) think together and work together,
2) pray and work for Christian unity,
3) respect other religions,
4) devote to the reconciliation of our nation,
5) love nature and revive the environment.
However, each person and family, parish and diocese, and religious community may develop more specific and practical steps depending on their own particular situations and capacities.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This time of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is a time to pray and reflect ourselves in the light of the Gospel of Christ; a time of hope as we follow the guidance of Holy Spirit who works in us; a time of joy as we forgive each other and recover ourselves according to the rich biblical tradition of the Jubilee. At this time, we hope and pray that the 'New Day - New Life' movement will be a great help for all of us to be reborn as true Christians.
Most Rev.A.Cheong Appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of Pusan
On Nov. 14th, the Holy See announced that His Holiness Pope John Paul II had nominated Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, military ordinary in Korea, as Coadjutor Bishop of the diocese of Pusan (area 3,267 square kilometers with a population of 5,445,682 of whom 335,560 are Catholic. It has 83 parishes, 212 priests, 718 religious, 158 seminarians and 24 catechists).
Most Rev. Augustine Cheong will immediately become the third Bishop of Pusan in accordance with n.3 of Canon 403 and n.1 of Canon 409 when the Most Rev. Gabriel Lee, the incumbent Bishop of Pusan retires.
Most Rev. Cheong was born and grew up on the Island of Koje, in the south-east of Korea. He was ordained priest in 1962, and served as assistant priest of Chinhae parish and Songdo parish in Pusan, and pastor of the Koch'ang parish in Kyongnam before beginning his training to serve as a military chaplain in September 1965.
Commissioned as a chaplain with the rank of First lieutenant in Nov. 1965, he served in various army installations, being promoted to the rank of Captain in 1968. In Sept. 1971 he attended the Advanced Chaplain Officer's Course at the Chaplains' School of the U.S. Army at Ft. Hamilton, N.Y., USA, which lasted until July 1972. When he returned to Korea he spent two years as the Catholic chaplain at the ROK Military Academy where he was promoted to the rank of Major in Dec. 1972.
From 1974 until 1978, he was again assigned to a number of military installations, advancing to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in Dec. 1976. Beginning in Dec. 1987 for three years he was Chaplaincy Officer at the Ministry of Defence and in Jan. 1981 he became Planning Officer at H.Q. of the Korean Army and was promoted to the rank of Colonel in Feb. of that year. He completed his military career with a period of service as Staff Chaplain of the First Army from Nov. 1983, and retired from active service at the end of June 1985. For the next four years he was pastor of Namch'on-dong parish in Pusan. On Nov. 11, 1989, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II to be the first Bishop of the newly-established Korean Military Ordinariate, and was consecrated bishop in Myongdong Cathedral Church, Seoul, on Feb. 13th, 1990.
From Oct. 1990 to Oct. 1996 he served as President of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK. From Oct. 1996 to the present he has served as the President of the Committee for "Caritas Coreana". On Nov. 14th the Holy See announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed him as Coadjutor Bishop of Pusan.
Korea Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter for 1999
Let Us Proclaim Jesus to All!
All the Korean bishops issued pastoral letters for 1999, the year of the Father, on the 1st Sunday of Advent and presented their pastoral plans. The year 1999 is expected to be fully dedicated to the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 since the pastoral guidelines are oriented towards this goal. The Bishops called for a renewal of the faith life of the Church in general and that of each individual Christian in particular and have placed their emphasis on inner conversion for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 rather than on celebrations or big gatherings. Conversion, the practice of love through sharing and the evangelization are their three main points.
Conversion: Most of the Bishops presented as their major pastoral guideline a life of conversion which means returning to God the Father and being reconciled with God and our neighbors. Thy based their guidelines on the parable of the Prodigal Son.(Lk 15, 11-32). The pastoral letters of the diocese of Suwon, Pusan, Masan, Chonju and the Military ordinariate dealt at length with the love of God. "An authentic understanding of the love of God is possible only when we see creation with the eyes of God by means of an inner conversion", they said. In line with this, the Bishops have set up pastoral programs for 1999 with the aim of bringing back to the Church, the house of the Father, those brothers and sisters who have left the Church.
Practice of Love: In line with the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul 2, Tertio Millennio Adveniente which emphasizes the "option for the poor" the Korean Bishops presented their pastoral guidelines which are centered on love for the poor and marginalized and which is to be expressed through concrete sharing. "The increasing number of street people, those who lost their jobs because of the IMF controlled restructuring programs, the starving North Koreans, elderly people who have no family support and young boys and girls who have to take care of their families are some of those we must help", they said. "The option for the poor starts with a heart that wants to see the world through the eyes of the poor," the bishop of Andong said. "Serving my neighbors and the poor doesn't bring any profit to me but it means I have to spend much time at it. So not only are the poor helped materially but the spiritual poverty of the community is also alleviated," stressed the Bishop of Pusan.
Evangelization: The evangelization involves the entire Church and no Church community is excluded from it. Each diocese has placed its pastoral focus on the proclamation of the Gospel directly or indirectly but the archdiocese of Seoul, the dioceses of Taejon and Ch'ongju adopted it as their primary pastoral guideline for 1999. Archbishop Nicholas Cheong of Seoul said that "The proclamation of the Gospel is the first and most important service we can offer to our neighbors," and he asked the faithful to concentrate all their efforts on it. He has set as a goal the doubling of the number of Catholics from 9% to 18% while the diocese of Taejon has as a goal an increase from 5.5% to 7.9% and the diocese of Ch'ongju has decided to carry out evangelization as an ongoing program aimed at the evangelization of all the Korean people. The renewal of the Church as a faith community and of the individual through the implementation of the New Life - New Day movement that the CBCK proposed to all Korean Catholics is at the center of the pastoral letters for 1999. The diocesan synods are part of this effort and one is already in operation in Taegu archdiocese and the dioceses of Inch'on and Suwon are preparing theirs.
"Culture of Respect for Human Rights Starts with Ordinary Things"
"Culture of Respect for Human Rights Starts with Ordinary Things"
On the occasion of the 17th Human Rights Sunday and the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, president of the Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK, issued a message and appealed to all Korean Catholics to build a culture of respect for human rights. "Culture of respect for human rights starts with ordinary things such as family, school, church, the work place and our daily lives." he stressed. The full text of the message follows.
"In everything do to others as you would have them do to you for this is the law and the prophets"(Mt. 7,12).
1. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we are invited to reflect, as His Holiness Pope John Paul II has stressed in his first encyclical letter 'Redemptor Hominis', on "whether the acceptance of the text of the Declaration of Human Rights means that the spirit of the declaration is applied everywhere" (Redemptor Hominis, 17). We need to examine whether the spirit of the Declaration is applied in political, economic and civilian life in our country and renew our resolution to make it a reality.
Since the liberation from Japanese colonial rule (Aug.15, 1945) our people have been at various times threatened and have been forced to live in abject poverty because of war, and have been deprived of even minimum freedom at times by dictators. However we can say that recently the extreme abuses of human rights, freedom and the right to live have been largely overcome since we have achieved considerable economic growth and democratization as a result of the people's tireless efforts and struggles. Nonetheless we need to make further efforts as we can see that human rights are not always fully respected even in countries where democracy exists. In actual fact, democracy doesn't exist by itself but flourishes only when human rights are firmly established on the basis of human dignity.
2. The Catholic Church teaches us that human rights and dignity are founded on the truth that "God created humankind in his own image,"(cf. Gn 1,20-27). Therefore all acts of negligence and violation of human rights are a blasphemy against God. Furthermore Jesus gave us a commandment not only to love God with all our heart but also to love our neighbor as ourselves. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"(Mt 19,19).
Human dignity starts when we see in our neighbor the image of God and another image of ourselves. Encountering God's image in our neighbor is the foundation of human dignity and all Christians are called to respect human rights and the dignity of their neighbors as a duty of faith. The reason for referring to it here again even though all of us recognize the ground and basis of human rights is to stress the fact that this is a spiritual movement that we have to carry out throughout our history and so we need to understand its depth.
3. Up to now we have put the blame on public authorities when questions of human rights arose. Of course, it is the state which is mainly responsible for guaranteeing human rights but this power can be greatly abused, and we have to admit that in the political domain there are still many instances of the abuse of human rights. Because of this it is our duty to keep challenging the government to guarantee human rights but we have to recognize that this can be fully achieved only when we establish a culture for human rights that respects and cares for our neighbors' human rights in our daily lives.
The guaranteeing of human rights is the responsibility of each of us and has to be practiced in our families, churches, work places and towards every person that we encounter every day. If in our hard competitive life for material success, we consider people around us, consciously or not, as rivals or as instruments to be used for our personal profit and if we treat people who are not of the same common interest coldly or indifferently then can we not see that we are trampling on their human rights?
4. A culture respecting human rights should start in the home and be taught there. When parents respect each other and accept their children as precious gifts from God and treat them as independent persons, then the children will learn from them how to truly respect their neighbors and nourish their virtues. In this regard particular respect for elderly people and the unborn child's life must be stressed as vital to uphold the dignity of human beings.
The words and actions of teachers who respect their students will cultivate a character that respects human beings and human rights. If we consider our colleagues in the work place as companions and not as rivals or competitors, then the work place will become a place of mutual personality growth through labor. The church which embraces all humanity as brothers and sisters will play a central role in a culture for human respect by its words and deeds.
5. If we pay attention to and are kind to people in the work place, on the street or market place and respect their human dignity, our social life will become richer and more meaningful. Society is not just made up of rigid regulations or contracts but it also emerges from human nature. We need to develop our personalities through our interaction with other people in our social lives.
Society is not a mass of material richness that can be possessed by a few powerful people but is the sum of the spiritual richness of diverse categories of people and communities that we build together. Because of this, as well as the freedom to live, the social quality of human living is very important as a sign of human dignity. The beginning, the middle and the goal of all social institutions is and must be the human person(cf. Gaudium et Spes, 25). Hence we have to approach the problems of those in difficulty due to the current economic crisis such as workers, the unemployed, the homeless and families without parents, not only from the perspective of their right to live but also from the point of view of their value as social beings who should be respected as human beings and so given some social recognition.
6. As regards true human dignity we have to recognize and accept the uniqueness of people because each individual is a being that has intrinsic value in itself as a person with human dignity. Because of this we can easily see why human rights abuses must disappear from the face of the earth. The distinctions between the rich and poor, the regional distinctions between urban and rural communities, the mentality that prefers males rather females, the discrimination against foreign workers etc... all these distinctions and discriminations must be eradicated so that everyone can participate in the building of a true community of human beings.
7. The golden rule which states that "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you"(Mt 7,12) is found not only in Christianity but also in other religions. "Do not do to others what you don't want them to do to yourself"(cf. Discourses of Confucius). "Do not do to others what would upset yourself" (Socrates). "Do not do to others what hurts you"(Mahabharata). Such golden rules are guides that teach us how to respect others. We have to work to improve the legal system and all sections of society which are the basis of human dignity.
The promotion of the human rights and the realization of true human dignity are not solely the responsibility of state authorities but also of all of us who participate in the building of a genuine social community. At this point of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us resolve again to build up a culture of respect for human rights that starts in our families, churches, schools and work places.
December 6th, 1998
Human Rights Sunday
+ Ignatius Pak
Bishop of Andong
Committee for J&P of CBCK
News from the Church in Korea
* 20th Anniversary of Pontificate of Pope John Paul II Celebrated
The Bishops of Korea and the Apostolic Nuncio, archbishop G.B. Morandini concelebrated Mass at Myongdong cathedral in Seoul celebrating the 20th anniversary of the pontificate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. They were joined by many clergy, religious and lay people to pray for blessings and his good health. On the following day, Oct. 16th, the Apostolic Nuncio held a reception at the Nunciature in Seoul which was attended by President Kim Dae-jung(Thomas) along with 300 dignitaries, diplomats and lay people. It was the first time that the President of Korea was present at such a celebration.
* List of 215 New Martyrs Made
A list of the "New Martyrs" who gave their lives for the Gospel during the turbulent times of our modern history which includes the Korean War has been drawn up.
* Priests' Association for Mission to North Korea Formed
The Seoul archdiocese Priests' Association for Mission to North Korea was formed on Oct. 29th. Bishop Andrew Choi Chang-mou, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, attended the meeting along with the 66 volunteer priests for the evangelization of North Korea and Rev. Choi Ch'ang-hwa was elected president of the association.
* Concern for Evangelization in the Military Urged
On the occasion of the 31st Military Sunday, Oct. 1st, Bishop Augustine Cheong, the military ordinary in Korea, called on Catholics to show more concern in order to help further the evangelization of the military by reflecting on the life of the young recruits from a Gospel perspective. "The military is a place of education where selfish young men learn about the significance of the community. There they learn patience and endurance and learn how to die for the sake of the community; they learn ways to overcome some physical sufferings and humiliations they may have to endure during their training. In this way their personality matures." his message read. "Many of those in military camps don't know who priests are, and think that the Catholic Church is a religion about Mary," he added.
* First Catholic-run Counselling Center for Sex Abuse Victims Opened
The "Fountain of Peace", the first Catholic-run counselling center for women sex abuse victims was opened on Oct. 29th, at Samgakji parish in downtown Seoul. "For a long time we have felt the need of a counselling center because there are quite a few Catholic women who suffer from sexual abuse. Those Catholic women victims generally suffer more than non-believers because they are taught in the Church that they have to accept suffering as coming from God, have to forgive their enemies, endure pain for Jesus' sake, sacrifice themselves, overcome pain by prayer and accept humiliation etc. They have been led to believe that their problems are human problems... These Catholic women have been ignored because of a distorted idea of sexual ethics and a deformed mentality concerning purity," Ms. Susanna Youn, president of the Catholic Women's Community for a New World and founder of the Center, explained.
* Society of Korea Hospice Founded
On July 4th, the "Korea Hospice: appeasement medical society" was founded at the Catholic Medical Research Center in Seoul and Prof. Ko Chang-soon, the president of the school of medicine of the Catholic University, was elected president. Members of the society include volunteer medical doctors, nurses, clergy, religious and lay people.
* Caritas Coreana Calls for Sharing with Poor
"Those who suffer most from the economic recession, the greatest one since the Korean War, are the poor and marginalized people in society," said Bishop Augustine Cheong, president of Caritas Coreana, in his message for the 16th Caritas Sunday, and he urged all Korean Catholics to have concern for those who are most affected by the national economic crisis. "Their problem is a challenge to the Church which requires a response of generosity and love. We Christians have to see the image of Christ in the poor and embrace their joys and hopes, their sorrows and anxieties as our own, and share their burden," he said
* Documents on Church in North Korea Found
15,000 pages of important documents related to the Church in North Korea, covering a period from 1923 to the Korean War in 1950, were found at the Maryknoll general house by Rev. Theophilus Choi Sung-ryong. These documents include diaries of Maryknoll missionaries who worked in the areas of Uiju, Shinuiju, Jinnampo and Chungkangjin until 1950 and describe the situation at the time when the communist government was established in North Korea. Also found were a number of bishop's letters, plans for church buildings, thousands of photographs, 3 rolls of film and diaries of Maryknoll missionaries who worked in Taegu, Inch'on, Pusan, Ch'ongju from 1950 to 1968 etc.
* Campaign to Send 10,000 items of Clothing to North Korea Launched
The Committee for the Evangelization of North Korea has launched a campaign to send 10,000 items of winter clothes to North Korea for Christmas. The campaign is in response to a request of Chang Jae-ch'ol(Samuel), president of the Association of North Korean Catholics, to Rt. Rev. Placid Ri to send winter clothes to the people of Hamkyongdo. The committee asked all Catholics to contribute 10,000-20,000 won each. "We all are living in difficult times because of the IMF bailout, but there is no doubt that our North Korean brothers and sisters suffer more than we do. They suffer from starvation, cold and a lack of every necessity. We who love Christ have to help them so that they can survive the hard winter," Rt. Rev. Placid Ri said. He confirmed that this campaign will not end this year but will be necessary in the future as well.
* Life Sentenced Pakistanis Converted to Catholicism
Two Pakistani workers in Korea, Amir Jamil(30) and Mian Mohamad Ajaz(27), who were on death row and for whom Cardinal Kim and the Human Rights Committee of Seoul have petitioned since 1997, stated in a letter of Nov. 10th which was sent to the Pyonghwa Shinmun that they had decided to convert from Islam to Catholicism. Human rights activists expected their release on Aug. 15th, but they were excluded from the special amnesty. However they had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment from the death sentence.
A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea
by Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Commitment of the Church in Korea for the Third Millennium
Since the introduction of the Catholic Church into Korea two hundred years ago the Catholicism has taken root in and has become part of Korean culture and society. The past two centuries were a period during which Korean society developed from a feudal society into a modern one. As they entered the 20th century the Korean people had to cope with the invasion of Japanese imperialism and under the Cold War climate of the late 20th century Korea became a battle ground of ideological confrontation between the East and the West. In a word, Korean peninsula in the 20th century has been a conflict area of the problems of the East and the West which explain the confrontation of the North and the South related to the poverty and underdevelopment. Finding themselves in this situation the Korean people fought in order to find their own way out of the difficulties.
2. Commitment of the Church in Korea for the Third Millennium
The Church in Korea has many assignments to fulfill in the third millennium. Working towards a fruitful evangelization of the Korean people and giving devoted service to the Korean society is probably her primary mission. Her commitment to the evangelization of the Korean people and of all humanity should be based on her own historical experience and that of the world Church.