CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

CBCK Newsletter No.7 (Summer 1994)

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From the Editor:


Pray to the Holy Spirit for the Formation of Clergy···


  Dear Friends,


  We are happy to share news from the Church in Korea as we publish the second issue of the CBCK Newsletter of 1994.

  As you may know, the theme of the 1994 Synod of Bishops, which will be holding in this coming Fall, is, "Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World" . In the same vein, the 1994 Spring General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Korea choose its theme, ''The Consecrated Life," and the Most Rev. Peter Kang from Archdiocese of Seoul, delegate to the Bishops' Synode, and the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea (AMSRWK), made presentations and in depth reflections on the theme. We thought that sharing them with you would be meaningful (see page 4.5.6.7). However, due to the limited space of our Newsletter, we will publish only the presentation made by AMSRWK, which places emphasis on the renewal of consecrated life and its identity.
  From July 3 to 8, a week-long seminar for the formators of seminarians will be held near Seoul in which over 100 Bishops and priests will participate. All the Bishops of Korea will be there along with the faculty professors of all the seminaries, nation-wide vocation promoters as well as priests in charge of vocation development and the on-going formation of clergy. This will mark an epoch-making event in the Korean Church. There are 15 dioceses in Korea and seven major seminaries including one which is under construction. There are 1,600 of registered seminarians and several thousands of youngsters considering priestly life.
  In this respect, the seminar, the first event in its kind, will be an important opportunity to bring together all Korean Bishops, faculty professors and those who are committed to developing priestly vocations, to reflect on, to discuss and pray for questions related to priestly vocation.
  Themes of the 6-day seminar are: • the present situation of priestly formation in Korean Church, • development of priestly vocations and the selection of seminarians, • human maturity and educational procedure, • human integrity and education for life, • the future mission of the Korean Church and priestly formation.
  Each day, one of these themes will be presented and discussed in a workshop, and a final declaration of the seminar will be issued on the final day.
  We count on your prayers for this seminar bearing fruitful results for the sake of the future of the Catholic Church-in Korea.

Rev. Dionysius Namik Paik.
Secretary General
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea

 

 

 

Catholic Church Fights against Abortion Law


The following are excerpts from the presentation made by Fr. Song Yul-sup, Executive Secretary of the Family
Pastoral Committee ofthe Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, at a public hearing on a pending biJJ related to
Criminal Law Arl. 135 on aborlion. At the April 21 hearing in Seou~ Fr. Song reaffirmed the Catholic po$ition on the
inviolable right to life ofhuman beings from the very moment ofconception. In 1992, the Korean Bishops, after having
published a joint statement entitled, 'Don't Kill Unborn Children, " conducted a nation-wide anti-aborlion signature
campaign and submiJUJd a petition to the National Assembly Session calling on the government to remove the pending Criminal Law bill because it contains elements that could lead to a generali1lJtion of aborlion in society. About I,800,()()() people signed the petition during the 1992 anti-aborlion campaign.

 

 

Catholic Position on Abortion Law


  1. Legalization of Abortion is a Violation by the State of an Unborn Child's Right to Life

  The right to life of human beings is an inviolable fundamental pronciple that is founded on natural law and divine law.
  The dignity and right to life of human beings start from the very moment of conception and are fundamental rights that must be protected. Therefore, legislation that allows abortion is opposed to the basic demands of justice of human life. It is a violation against fundamental human rights, on which no state has the right to intervene. The government, in efforts to legalize abortion, allows its citizens the right to violate the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn child. Human rights do not reside with the State. Even if something is agreed upon by the majority of society, the government cannot claim it as a right.
  Among the basic human rights, the right to life is given by God. It is a physiological right and, therefore, neither State nor parents have a right to interfere with it. Hence, to legalize abortion is not only illegitimate, but also an act of violence.

  2. The Right to Life is a Constitutional and Basic Right of the Members of Society

  There is no doubt that human beings are the subject of social rights even before they are born. We can find such examples in the Criminal Law Art. 269, Art. 279 and in the civil laws as well. Abortion is against the Constitution, Art. 10, which stipulates the value and dignity of human beings. The realization of human dignity is defmed as the most valued item, which requires proper protection. This is to say that we can talk about one's human dignity and human rights only when the said person exists. Hence, the absolute value of human rights starts from the very moment of conception and, naturally, has to be protecte from that moment.
  According to Art. 10 of the Constitutia the State is not allowed to conduct acts which violate the life of a fetus (duty
of respect) and it has a duty to protect the fetus (duty of protection).


  3. Reflection on the Limits to Pennitting Abortion

  The pending Criminal Law Art. 135, stipulates limits on abortion based on the Mother and Child Health Law Art. 14 : in case of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, if genetic defects are detected in the fetus, if there is little chance of a healthy delivery or if the pregnancy endangers the health of the mother, this legislation allows an abortion and surgical procedures within a specified period in the pregnancy.
  The problem here lies in the broad concept of "health of the mother" . Despite the allegation that the related statute applies only in cases when a pregnancy seriously affects the mother's health or when there is little chance for a healthy delivery, there is much lee-way in the law that allows for deliberate abortions. Thus the application has to be limited only to cases which cause death of the mother. Cases where the life of the mother is not directly affected, however, are against divine and natural law and the right to life that is prescribed in the Constitution Art. 10.
  Just as we cannot dispute the value of a human being, the same principle should be applied to the fetus.
  A rational reflection is necessary to allow' abortion in case of "pregnancy by rape" because, once life is conceived, this fetus has also its personal right to life. In this case, abortion becomes a solution which destroys life. This is an issue which has to be solved by the whole of society through the development of preventive sex education, education to prevent sexual violence, respect for single mothers and the promotion of adoption.
  The same applies for abortion in cases when "pregnancy results from incest" because of the legitimacy of pregnancy and the right to life of the fetus. Life is not something imparted by law.
  Therefore, neither moral justification nor legal justification can be made for the reasons mentioned above to legitimate abortion as stipulated in the Criminal Law.
  Another problem contained in the Criminal Law Art. 135, is that it allows the decision to have an abortion to be made by physician and the mother. Here we have to point out that this actually weakens the legal force of the law and can lead easily to 'Justification for abortion."


  Conclusion

  The right to life of a fetus is an inviolable pronciple demanded by natural and divine law and a fundamental law required by the Constitution.
  Even if Criminal Law Art. 133 & 134 seeks to enhance control of abortion, Art. 135 opposes natural and divine law, as well as the spirit of the constitution. Thus, Criminal Law Art. 135 has to be removed because the decision making process is entrusted solely to the mother and one physician; and this, in tum, can lead to a more generalized use of abortion procedures in society.

 

 

Mother and Child Health Law Art. 14


(Limits to permitting abortion)


(1) A surgical doctor can do lawful abortion with consent between the woman and her spouse in the following specific cases.


 

1. If either the person herself or her spouse has eugenic or genetic mental defects or physical diseases that are determined by the president of the State.
2. If either the person herself or her spouse has an infectious disease that is determined by the president of the State.
3. If the pregnancy resulted from rape or quasi-rape.
4. If the pregnancy resulted from sexual contact with blood relatives or relatives by marriage which are prohibited by law.
5. If the pregnancy endangers the health of the mother or is a possible danger to the health of the mother.

(2) In the case of No.1, consent of the person herself would be sufficient to allow lawful abortion for reasons of death, disappearance, missing or other unavoidable circumstances.


(3) In the case of No.3, consent of the person herself and her spouse can be substituted by the consent of person in parental authority or guardian. In case there are neither parental authority nor guardian, it can be substituted by consent of person who has obligation to support. .

 


Enforcement Regulations of the Mother and Child Health Law Art.lS

(Limits to permitting abortion)

 


(1) Lawful abortion stipulates inder the Mother and Child Health Law. Art. 14 can be allowed only within 28 weeks from the day of pregnancy.

(2) Eugenic, genetic or mental defects and physical disease that allow lawful abortion in accordance with Mother and Child Health Law. Art. 14, Clause 1 are as follows:


1. Genetic schizophrenia.
2. Genetic manic-depressive insanity.
3. Genetic epilepsy.
4. Genetic feeblemindedness.
5. Genetic brain cell disease
6. Hemophilia.
7. Criminal oriented genetic mental defect.
8. Other genetic defects that are detected in the fetus.


(3) Infectious diseases that permit a lawful abortion as it is stipulated in the Mother and Child Health Law Art. 14, No.1 and No.2 are rubella, chicken fox, hepatitis, AIDS and infectious diseases indicated in the Infectious Diseases Prevention Act, Art. 2, Clause 2.

 

 

Pending Criminal Law Art. 13S

 

(1) In the following cases, when the surgical doctor performs an abortion with the consent or permission of the pregnant woman there will be no punishment for the surgeon.

 

1. If continuing the pregnancy endangers, for medical reason, the health of the mother,
2. If genetic defects are detected in the fetus or there are clear symptoms of such defects,
3. If pregnancy resulted from reasons indicated in Arts. 166, 170, 172, 175,
4. If the pregnancy resulted from rape or sexual contact with blood relatives or relatives in marriage.

 

(2) The above mentioned No.2 applies to within 24 weeks from the day of pregnancy and No.3 and No.4 applies to within 20 weeks from the day of pregnancy.

 

 

 

The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Korean Church


At the threslwld ofthird millennium, the Church wants to make an in-depth reflection on the true picture ofconsecrated life in the light ofthe Second Vatican Council by calling the 9th Synod ofBislwps in Autumn 1994. The following is the complete text ofthe presentation made by the Association ofMajor Superiors ofReligious Women in Korea, reporled by Sr. Angela CIw~ OSB, to a seminar held in conjunction with the 1994 Spring General Assembly ofthe Catholic Bislwps' Conference ofKorea that was held on March 6, 1994 at the CBCK in SeouL This presentation reflects the sincere concerns of Korean women Religious to respond to mission by redefining their identity, nature and role in the Korean Church. This paper brings to light their reflection, questions andproblems.

 


Religious Life in the Korean Church


 

1. Post-Vatican Council n and Religious Life in the Korean Church


  The Second Vatican Council called for a thorough renewal of the consecrated life, both as regards spiritual life and the apostolate. There have been many positive results since the Council but Religious also have experienced great confusion, due to the conflicting demands of past Religious lifestyles and a newly emerging culture of Religious life. Moreover, the post-Vatican II theology of Religious life, since it has not been adapted to suit the Korean situation, has served to contribute considerably to the confusion of Religious about their identity.
  Among the fruits of renewal in the Korean Church
are : a growing awareness on the part of the Religious who are in the world about their role in responding to the signs of the times and the demands of modem society, together with a relatively vigorous return to the spirit of the founder/foundress and to each congregation' sown particular..charism. Positive aspects of renewal after the Council include: Koreans, like other peoples (as the Lineament of the Bishops' Synod points out), have come to be interested in Biblical theology and the theology of Religious life and they have broken free of the closed atmosphere of their Religious Congregations and are coming to develop an ecclesiastical consciousness regarding openness and the consecrated life. But the future direction Religious must take, as well as the harmonization of prayer and apostolic activity in the Korean Church, are subjects which require further study.
  On the other hand, negative aspects of post-Vatican II renewal include : the fact that Religious have come to neglect
traditional forms of discipline, and the fact that the phenomena of fragmentism, individualism, and the pursuit of easy living have made considerable inroads in the Korean Church. To these, one could add also, the phenomena of the Religious' crisis of identity, their tense relations with pastors and an imbalance between prayer and apostolic activity. The phenomenon of a vocations crisis, which one fmds elsewhere, has not yet hit Korea but there is a decrease in the number of candidates. The cause of this is first and foremost the fact that the lives of Religious do not give sufficient witness to the Gospel.
  The phenomena of insufficiently living out their own particular charism on the part of the various congregations : of apostolates that are irresponsible to the needs of the times: secularization: individualism: spreading liberalism : confusion about values and materialism are contributory factors. So also is the tendency to shun self-denial and sacrifice in a society where hedonism is widespread and there is insufficient education about values in the family. One does not yet see in Korea the phenomenon (referred to in the Lineament) of abandoning projects because of communities having insufficient members. However as the average age of Religious is getting higher, the problem of coping with old age is emerging gradually and on January 28 of last year we raised the topic of retirement pensions for Religious with the Standing Committee Meeting.


2. Efforts at Renewal

  The Synod of Bishops' Lineament points out that "Religious consecration is a continuous journey and the consecrated life must constantly aspire to holiness . We, the Korean women Religious, feel deeply the Religious' 'identity crisis' . The various Religious congregations, both individually and collectively, through the Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Korea (AMSWRK), are striving to overcome this crisis. As groundwork, we ftrst of all paid attention to the views of the Sisters themselves as expressed in the 1,537 responses (i.e. 57%) we got to a questionnaire, which we sent out to Sisters in 1992. In November of the same year at a 4-day assembly held at Aaron Retreat House, we discussed this issue at length. In 1993 we conducted another survey, with the title "Awareness of the Clergy regarding the Apostolic Life of Sisters" . From the 423 responses (i.e. 29.1%) we received to this, we were able to gauge the priests' points of view and in our 1993 Assembly we dealt again with the issue of Religious identity, this time from a more objective standpoint.
  Keeping in mind the results of the survey, the AMSWRK, at its 1992 Annual General Assembly discussed at length the following issues. Firstly, 'Is our Religious life OK as it is. If not, how should we understand what is wrong and what kind of combined effort is needed to deal with this?' . Secondly, 'Since the Church is becoming more and more middle class, is this true also of our Religious communities?'
  In the 1993 General Assembly of AMSWRK, keeping in mind the result of our questionnaire directed to priests, we met with the superiors of the various congregations, chairpersons of sub-committees and the representatives of Sisters in diocesan parishes. Together with them we discussed once more where the problems lay, what were its causes and what we need to do to deal with them. As a result, in 1993 we provided a special training to local superiors, and going round the various dioceses, we discussed both our problems and our views about future trends, while at the same time we strove to raise the Sisters awareness of these issues.
  The issues considered most important were : the defming of Religious identity, poverty, the living out of its respective charism by each congregation and issues related to the apostolate.


1) The Religious' Awareness of Her Identity and True Character

  The most serious issue we are facing today is a lack of proper understanding of and conviction about  Religious identity and its true character. Because of this, senous problems emerge for the individual Religious and her commuruty. Moreover it renders her incapable of playing her part as a Religious for the Church and for socIety. Who is a Religious? And why has she been called by God? For us Religious, the most urgent task is proper definition of, and a ceaseless dedication to studying, our own ReligIous IdentIty.
  Religious themselves understand their way of life to be a most choice way of life, in which they dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to loving God and their neighbor, one in which they pursue the perfection of charity. For seculars, the Religious life is seen as a sign of belief in the end-time, while Religious themselves are recognized to be women of God, who live according to the Evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedien~e. Howeyer, ause of materialistic influences which are mcompatIble WIth Gospel values, the Korean Religious life of poverty is deemed to be a wealthy one. Her life of chastity has a strong tendency to lapse into purely human love because an experience of God is lacking and her life of obedience tends to be more or less a life lived according to her own volition, since self-renunciation is difficult.
  The main reason for this is that at the time of spectacular, if superficial, growth in the Korean Church during the
1970s and 1980s, the Sisters, because they lived a hectIc life, adapted themselves more to providing assistance in external activities, than to a role of being a moral, spiritual force. Inadequately formed, we went out to parishes and
busied ourselves with external activities and did not have a chance to take care of our own spiritual lives. In this way we have become Sisters who were capable at caiTying out functions but handicapped by our inability to be evangelized ourselves. Without being aware of it, we are more and more becoming capable working Religious, whose priority is. external activities. We have turned into authonty conscious Religious, because we have become authority figures and leaders. In responses to the second questionnaire, regarding Religious and the clergy, the main problem of Religiouswas felt to be their uncertainty about their true nature and msufficient awareness of their identity. The Sisters themselves thought likewise. Therefore the most urgent problem we have to solve today is overcommg this IdentIty cnsis of Religious. In order to do this, we need, above all, to reflect on the nature of consecrated life and to wholeheartedly become, in truth, 'women of God' . We consider that if we are to follow Christ properly, we must even more faithfully lead a life of prayer, which deepens our personal relatIonshIp with him. We have to promote experiential training about the nature or consecrated life, especially during the period of initial formation. Furthermore, through on-going formation we must help the Sisters to mature and advance in the consecrated life. Because the Sisters' personal circumstances are unequal to the number required in the apostolic field, and also because of lack of qualified formators, we are unable to effect these solutions properly.

2) Poverty

  Of the three vows, poverty is the most problematic. In the 1992 Sisters' survey, to the question, ''when we say that
Korean Religious are becoming secularized, in what aspects do you think this is so?", 441 (34%) responded with the answers: poverty, a life of luxury, the trends of becoming upper class, and the pursuit of an easy life. A further question was, "As we approach the year 2000, what more do we Religious have to do in parish ministry or other apostolates to which we have been commissioned?" The most prominent answer that appeared was a life of poverty for the Church in general, and a life of poverty for congregations and individual Religious. The indications coming from the laity, too, are no less formidable. To prepare for the Synod, we held a two-day seminar on the theme of, .:'Consecrated I:ife and its Role in the Church and the World , at the FranCIscan Conference Center, Chongdong, from June 29th-30th, 1993. We invited a number of priests and fifteen lay people, and together with 400 sisters, they spent time sharing their views with us, through listening to input and participating in group discussions.
  In the 1993 survey of the clergy too, this is pointed out and indeed 88.9% of the respondents considered the Sisters' living standard to be relatively higher than that of the local people in the area they live. The reasons for this, it was pointed out, include: contact with the richer classes, lack of concern for the poor, a liking for presents, a class-climbing lifestyle and a life with convenience as its guiding principle. Besides the above, there is also the fact that due to the cultural environment, the Korean Church treats priests and Sisters overly kindly, and fmally the fact that the 'Faith roots of Religious are shallow' . Furthermore it is felt that lack of awareness of this is our biggest problem.
  The enlargement of the Church and its having become middle class are problems for the whole Korean Church and also the problem of Religious congregations. We must confess that in actual fact every week we spend outrageously large sums of money on flower arrangements in parishes and convents and that there is a great waste of money for fares and time connected with sending people from country parishes to Seoul every week to buy flowers. According!y the Church and Religious are being influenced by trends in society and the value of poverty is lost. Even as the Korean Church has grown richer, there emerges the painful phenomenon of marginalized people leaving the Church, a Church in which there is no space for them. Poverty has become today' s sign of the times. Last year when the Buddhist Patriarch, Rev. Song Ch' 01 died, his spirit of complete detachment and his poor lifestyle, reminiscent of the St. Francis, put us to shame. We saw the whole nations' respect for this holy monk and recognized in a surprising way, the face of a religious man or women that people expect to see.
  At the General Assembly of AMSWRK held at the end of October 1993, we considered deeply the issue of poverty.
The proposals we came up with were: firstly our standard of poverty must be one in which we experience want in our lives and living a lifestyle which, compared with that of the faithful, would be akin to that of lower middle class or lower class people. We have to live poverty not just on a spiritual level but also on a material level. To recover proper Religious poverty we see a need for the practice of material poverty. In 92' , 93' we proposed reconsidering our life of sharing, acceptance of gifts, offerings, presents of money for name-days, gifts of money for transfers, our attItudes vis-avis vacations, frugality in preparations for functions, flower arrangements, accepting lifts in private cars, active concern and practical sharing in times of disaster whether at home or abroad. We decided that each congregation will concretely implement the above change in thinking, as they see fit. Furthennore it was proposed that Religious do not get involved in asking for or collecting money. It was also decided that, a one of the meetings of Sisters on a diocesan level, that will take place in 1994, the participating Religious should experience, in truth, the reality of poverty.
  The faithful who visit the parish convent and look at the eonvent building and our living facilities, judge our lives to be middle-class. We are grateful that through the kindness of parish priests and the faithful, we have come to have perfect living facilities, in nice convent buildings. But since we live in this environment and since we are influenced by our environmental surroundings, even unbeknownst to ourselves, this gives rise to a tendency which dulls our Religious life.

   So we want to take this opportunity to suggest that parish building committees, from now on, before they build new parish convents, should first consult with the respective congregation's major superior and we request that they be kind enough to consider building convents suited to our religious identity. This suggestion was presented to the Standing Committee of the Bishop's Conference last January 28th.

3)Charism

  In Korea, Religious congregations are studying and coming to a deeper understanding of the charism of their founders/foundress and they are indeed returning to the particular charism of their respective congregation. At the same time they are trying to adapt this charism, this spirit, to suit the times. However we recognize the difficulty involved in the shift to apostolates suitable to each congregation from an apostolic life which has, up until now, been exercised mainly in parish ministries. Accordingly there remains a need for gradual but continuous effort to effect this shift.

4) Apostolate


i) Sisters' Role in the Local Church


  Religious congregations are playing their part in the local Church in many and varied ways. They are involved in or exercising various apostolic activities, such as parish ministry, diocesan chanceries, prison ministry, military chaplaincy, retreat centers, kindergartens, schools, medicine, ministry of workers, mass media, publishing, social welfare, welfare hospitals, city reading rooms for youth, soup kitchens, recreation rooms, study rooms, ministry to poor families, and to children of needy families, home care, nursing homes, caring for unmarried mothers, day-care, education and rehabilitation of handicapped children. Through these ministries we sow seeds of faith in people who desire and seek God, and, thus proclaim God's love. We hope to be of some small assistance to the Church, while hoping at the same time to become as it were a 'bridge' between the, Church authorities and the laity.
  The Korean Church has grown greatly in numbers but its evangelization has not been effective. Though it has some three million Catholics (or 9% of the entire population), the Korean Church has been ineffective from an evangelizing standpoint. This compares unfavorably with a neighboring country which has a much lower percentage of Catholics. We see responsibility for this as being mainly that of the Sisters. Since the Sisters are the ones who provide guidance for catechumens and get them ready for baptism, such disappointing results provide evidence that they are not themselves evangelized. While the presence of Sisters in the Korean Church exerts a not inconsiderable influence on the faithful, it is felt that Religious themselves, because of uncertainty as to their true character and insufficient consciousness of their identity, are unable to do properly what they are supposed to do. We feel too that the fact the Korean society is losing its moral values is due in no small part to the fact that Religious in the Church are failing to show forth the features of a believer, faithful to the evangelical counsels, and to the fact that we are unable to fulfil our prophetic role of proclaiming God' s love and his kingdom. When we reflect on the Korean Church' s tardiness regarding evangelization, we feel that responsibility for this rests with our inability to properly fulfll our role as Religious.


ii) The Parish Apostolate (The Religious and the Church' s Evangelization)


  At the ' 93 General Assembly of the AMSWRK, we reaffmned the importance of the parish apostolate. It is true, unlike in other countries, that the actual circumstances of the Korean parishes, where Sisters are engaged apostolically, has led to the Sisters playing a significant part in the life of the parish. We have had numerous difficulties with parochial clergy but on the other hand, the influence Religious exert on the priests is no small one. Therefore while continuing to minster in parishes, Religious are of the opinion that they need to study how they can renew and enhance this apostolate. When we looked at the results of the questionnaire to the clergy we could understand that the Religious of the parish have forgotten who they are and have taken on the attitudes of those who give orders and commands and behaved as owners of the parish (which belong to faithful in fact). In this way the Religious have not fulfilled their duty properly. Our reflection tells us that too much zeal of Religious for apostolic activity may have made priests neglect their pastoral duty. We agreed on the necessity of a balanced life between prayer and apostolic activity. .It is in parish ministry that Sisters experience the most serious crisis of identity. This is very serious as 1,971 (33.7%) out of 5,848 Sisters are engaged in parish ministry. The Religious have busied themselves with external activities working for the Church and promoting her speedy growth. But being is more important than doing. Likewise, the spiritual life of a consecrated person precedes her active life and thus makes it meaningful. In becoming Sisters who are capable of running activities they missed out being "the light and salt of the world". While we are aware of this problem we have as yet no concrete and immediate solution for it. Sisters have a strong desire to be evangelized and they are determined to do it. Our task as superiors is to respond to their desire but there are many sectors where we cannot bring about a solution.
  Another obstacle for the evangelization of the Korean Church lies in the mutual relationship between Religious and the Church. Sisters are assigned to parish ministry after having accomplished a certain period of training. And it is during their parish ministry that their identity as Religious takes roots. However, in the present condition of parish ministry Sisters cannot expect this. The parish has to assist in the onm.oing formation of Sisters and provide them necessary conditions to be faithful to their charism. Priests' understanding of Religious life and readjustment of assignments are necessary to improve this situation. What makes it more difficult for Sisters to be faithful to their charisma is the insufficient understanding on the part of bishops and clergy about Religious life. Their emphasis on apostolate activity is causing a conflict, an unbalance between spiritual life and activity. To alleviate the situation, a course on Religious life should be included in seminary programs or training seminars for the clergy. In the survey, 74.5% of the priests pointed out the necessity of studying on consecrated life in the seminary.
  The Korean Church now feels that the emergency period of missionary work is a thing of the past. Even without using the methods of the pioneer days, the Church is growing as fast as it is able and it has many workers (even a surplus). We feel, for these reasons, that the time has come for us too to leave behind our standard roles, and seek out new roles and new features. In other words, today' s Religious are doing work which, even according to the methodology of the pioneer days, could be done by lay people. According to the survey of the clergy, 71.7% felt the laity could do the bulk of the Sisters work. Every year, increasing numbers of curates and of catechists trained at catechetical institutions are being sent out and so there are many workers in the Church.
  Accordingly' we must now to get rid of ourselves of the notion that "we must do it all" and delegate lay people to do the work they are capable of. It would be desirable if the apostolates of Religious were concentrated on work where our appropriate Religious features may be seen : like helping lay people in their spiritual lives, counselling, visiting the poor, the marginalized and the sick, and the role of mother etc'" We also feel that to better facilitate our meeting parishioners for spiritual counselling in an office rather than the parish convent, a special room should be provided for this purpose. There was also the opinion that it would be desirable for Sisters in parish ministry to commute to work form homes in the local communities.


iii) Social Concern for the Salvation of the World

  As pointed out in the Synod Lineament, consecrated life while not being of the world cannot separate itself from work. We are directing our gaze further, beyond the parish boundaries. We cannot but accept that up until now we have lived concentrating too much on the internal affairs of the parish and so were unable to respond to needs outside the parish, that is, the needs of the society we live in. We will have to direct more attention to those works which are needed in society at large and we must step forward to seek other pastoral activities which address society's needs : the environment, human life, farming villages problem and services which others fail to provide. While we are ashamed that, as yet, we have been unable to focus on local disasters and even international problems, we resolved at our ' 93 General Assembly of AMSWRK to take more interest in such problems. Hence, the six executive members of AMSWRK visited and offered consolation to the people of Wido who were hardest it by the recent sinking of a ferry boat there. We regret that up until now we have lived with too passive an attitude, engrossed only in our own issues as Religious and in parochial internal affairs.
  Accordingly, we now wish to show conce,m about major social problems and to read the signs of the times. We want also to see how we can best respond to the changes and needs of our times, so as to evangelize them. Hence we would focus on problems which are institutional in modem society and on specialized ministries. We must be concerned about the poor, the marginalized and the elderly.
  There are also the deviant youth which family break-up can give rise to, the urban poor, the phenomenon of mental exhaustion, the growing numbers of mental patients, AIDS, drugs and violence, illegal residents as well as other social issues. There is a need too for education to promote improvement in the position of women and for the rehabilitation of women with the Church.
  There is a crying need for intervening in situations of family violence, broken homes and other increasingly common social problems, as well as to do research and education about women' s issues. We must also understand and use appropriately the mass media and prepare for the evangelization of North Korea and other foreign missionary work.
  We have such visions but implementing them is too big a problem for us to face alone. It calls for specialization and coordination, since implementing them by our own efforts alone would be well higb impossible, Add to this the work demanded by present apostolates, the fact that we cannot systematically concentrate on such work and the fact that the Sisters are neither conscious of these issues nor easily able to address them, and you can see why we hope that the dioceses and the congregations may study together these enormously serious social problems and may co-operated in guiding us, so that we may be able to solve them.

 

3) Consecrated Life and the Hierarchy


  As for our relations with the Bishops, we do not seem to have had the negative experiences of Religious in other countries, vis-a-vis the relationship between consecrated life and the hierarchy. We like to think that, in a relationship which is one of obedience and communion, we are completely obedient to the hierarchy. But sometimes Religious, as members of the Church, feel that they are ignored.

  We do not know how the bishops see it, but we ourselves feel that we have maintained the traditional relationship between the hierarchy and Korean Religious congregations. At the same time, when we see Religious congregations in the traditional European Church going to ruin, we are fearful. This is because traditionalistic Korea, on the other hand, is lagging behind in looking towards a new vision. We must draw out and improve whatever is problematic while at the same time seek out new directions. However we do not feel that this is being done.
  We take this opportunity to appeal to you, "Please provide us with opportunities to meet with you, Bishops, occasionally" . Once a year we would come to the Bishops' Meeting and, as we are doing now, make known to you our hopes and efforts to implement these, while at the same time we would be able to benefit from your advice and suggestions about future directions. In doing this we could come to know the Church' s thinking, the pending issues, future directions and what sort of assistance we could provide.

Concluding Remarks
 

  We hope that such efforts at renewal may breathe life into the Church as a whole and become a help to her in her task of evangelization. Please, consider kindly on our efforts to respond to the actual needs of the Church and of the world. We look to you Bishops for interest in our life, for guidance and for help, since our strength alone is not enough.
Thank you.


March 6, 1994
Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea

 

 

 

News from the Church in Korea


Church Urges South and North Korean Leaders towards a Peaceful Solution


While the eyes ofwhole world are turned to the Korean peninsula whose tense stmuJoffsince the signing ofthe
Armistke Agreement, the North Korean nuclear progress and mounting war preparedness, the North Korean Evange/iztltion Committee (NKEC) ofthe CBCKissued a message on the occasion ofNational Reconciliotion Day,
June 26, Rev. Rt. Placid R~ the President ofthe NKEC. He emphasized, in his message, that war cannot be justified under any excuse and called on both governments to renew their commitment to peaceful reunificatin and mutual cooperation for the cause ofnational co-existence. Following text is an excerptfrom the Message.

 

    

 

War Cannot be Justified Under any Excuse

 

  We celebrate today the National Reconciliation and Reunification Day. We should pray hard during our June, 18-26 novena for national reconciliation and reunification for our sincere efforts for the national cause bears fruit no matter what the circumstances of confrontations are.
  The North-South Agreement for Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Mutual exchange and cooperation signed on Dec. 13, 1991 declared, with solemnity' principals for national coexistence and coprosperity. In cross-recognition they agreed not only to end calumnies, no use of armed forces and no acts to attempt to overturn or destroy the counterpart and to stop competition on the international stage but also mutual collaboration on behalf of national sovereignty and interest of Korean people.
  Nonetheless, less than two years after this declaration was made, in Korean peninsula, there is neither dialogue not cooperation but, tense confrontation, creating a war crisis : One side keeps to its inflexible position saying they should put a definitive end to division even provoking the possibility of war and the other side saying that this position will be regarded as a immediate declaration of war. Because of tense confrontation, the Korean peninsula is strained to the breaking point to close provoking war. This reality is a crime against the principles of the nation and against the justice of God, whose seriousness for beyond the mere breaking of an agreement between the authorities of North and South.

  Before blaming others, in a sincere examination of conscience, we have to fully realize our own faults first and confess to God. We haven't prayed enough until now and we have been to optimistic about international political changes. We thought that an era of reconciliation and cooperation between North and South will come naturally. We have to repent for not understanding the reconciliation of North and South as a grace of God.
  Now it is time to pray with sincerity, in truth, for national reconciliation and unity as the novena intends. Our prayer will be judged in the name of 70 million Koreans in the near future. At the same time we sincerely urge both government leaders to return to the principals for the ''North and South Agreement" and open a new era of dialogue and cooperation. Indeed, now is time to pray. We have to pray and fast as the people of Nineveh did and avoid disasters and the outrage of God after hearing God' s voice through Jonah's preaching.

 

The Prayer Intentions of the Novena

 

     1st day: Let's reflect upon who is responsible for national division
     2nd day : Let' s clean the pain of national division through sincere forgiveness
     3rd day : For genuine reconciliation of North and South
     4th day : Four unity of the divided nation
     5th day : For the people of North Korea
     6th day : For the Church of North Korea
     7th day : For North Korean mission
     8th day : For peaceful reunification
     9th day : For the perfection of love

 

 

 

 

• Rei igious Ci rcle to Urge Peaceful Solution by Negotiation


  The Inter-religious Conference for National Reconciliation and Unification issued a statement, "Our position on the recent build up of tensions in the Korean peninSUla," on June 13 at the Christian Building in downtown Seoul. They urged the United States to put an end to aggravating the situation by the threats of sanctions against the North and solve problem through negotiations by resuming immediately the 3rd round of NorthSouth-US talks. The statement made a strong call to both the Kim Yong-sam and Kim ll-sung governments as well as nations surrounding the Korean peninsula to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue. It urged the US government to stop immediately all deployment of U.S. anti-missile defense systems to the Korean peninsula based on the ground of an anns building up against North Korea. "A war which would hold sway over the destinies of 70 million Korean people is not just under any circumstances," it stated. The Interreligious Conference for National Reconciliation and Reunification represents religious groups including Christians, Buddhists and Won Buddhist.

 


• Most Rev. Thomas Stewart Reti res for Health Reason


  As of May 21th, Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation from the pastoral government of the diocese of Ch'unch' on presented by Mgr Thomas Stewart, S.S.c., lC.D., D.D., in conformity with Canon 401. 1 of the Code of Canon Law. Bishop Stewart has suffered from severe heart disease for some time. Ordained a priest in 1950 in the Columban Fathers' Foreign Mission Society in Ireland, he first came to Korea after he obtained a doctorate in Canon Law at the Gregorian University in Rome, 1955. He started his missionary life in Kangwon Province and was ordained bishop there in 1966, becoming the third Ordinary of the diocese of Ch' unch' on. For thirty-nine years he remained committed to family pastoral work by leading the Marriage Encounter Movement and Happy Family Movement. He was appointed President of the Family Pastoral Committee of the Catholic Bishops' s Conference of Korea when the Committee was established. Rev. John Tchon, Vicar General and Procurator was appointed as Acting Ordinary until the new ordinary is appointed.

 


• 883 Priests Increased in 10 Years


  According to the "1993 Status of the Catholic Church in Korea," issued by the CBCK, 883 men were ordained in the past ten years. From 1984 to the end of 1993, the number of Korean Catholic priests rose from 1,080 to 1,963, an increase of 883. During the same time, the number of Korean women in Religious congregations grew from 3,705 to 6,673, an increase of 2,968 members. The report says the Catholic Church ordained III priests in 1990, 135 in 1991, 140 in 1992, and 130 in 1993. Korea has 15 dioceses and 3,209,494 Catholics, 7.35% of the 43.8 million Korean population, as of the end of 1993. The priest-to-parishioner ratio is 1,635.

 


• Beatification and Canonization Work for Church


  Founders in Korea to Initiate According to the Church sources, the Committee to Venerate Korean Martyrs decided to initiate preparation work for the beatification and canonization of about 300 Korean martyrs. These martyrs will be among those who died as martyrs during the persecutions in 1801 (Shinnyu) and 1795. They were martyred prior to arrival of missionaries in 1831. The candidates include Lee Byok, Chong Yakjong, Lee Seung-hoon who are venerated as the Founding Fathers of the Catholic Church in Korea, as well as 300 other martyrs. The 103 Korean saints who were canonized in 1984 are those who died as martyrs, during persecutions after the arrival of missionaries from the Paris Foreign Missions Society during persecutions in 1839, 1846 and 1866. Rev. Choi Yong-rok, the chair of the Committee, said his hopes to realize their goal by 200 I which is the 200 anniversary of Shinyu persecution.

 


• Church's Concern on Differently Abled People and Communications


  'The reason that the Church holds a Differently Abled Day is to remind us that, as disciples of Christ, we must follow in the footsteps of Our Lord who showed particular tenderness, concern and love for the poor and sick," said the Cardinal Kim in his message on the 14th Differently Abled Day, May 15, in which he invited the local Church, government and all society to reflect sincerely on what can be done to improve conditions of differently abled people in Korean society. "Differently Abled people' s right to welfare is a Constitutional right. Yet our prejudices hinder their social integration," he said. At present the Catholic Church runs 10 schools for about 1,200 differently abled people across the country.
  Meanwhile Jesuit-run Sogang University plans to start an FM radio station for the differently abled people, beginning with 230,000 sight-impaired people from Jan. 1995. Rev. Park Hong, University President, said, "We will gradually introduce a specialized channel of programs for all physically disabled people, including those who are hearing-impaired." The FM radio broadcasts for the blind will include readings from daily newspapers, literature and other writings, and information for and about differently abled people in the country and internationally.
  Also, the Korean Church joined the universal Church in marking World Communication Day, by holding a symposium, May 7, at Myongdong Cultural Center, on ''TV and the Family." Most Rev. Peter Kang presented a summary of Pope John Paul II' s message for World Communications Day 1994 and ten prominent Korean media experts presented papers on various aspects of the theme. Mgr. Gabriel Lee, the Pres. of Mass Communication Committee of the CBCK, issued a message on the importance of the Catholic Church' s having a CATV channel and its missionary role to transmit the Gospel to all people. He underlined the power, for good or for bad, of the media, and TV in particular, stressing the need for formation in discernment for viewers, both adults and the young. 'The negative effects of TV on the family and on youth in particular, have reached the point of great world concern. We must therefore endeavor to remove the negative effects of TV." He invited all Catholic media workers including clergy, religious and lay people, language scientists and researchers to dedicate themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel, the protection of the integrity of creation and genuine humanization.

 

• Overseas Korean Cathol ics Reach 100,000


  According to a report issued by the Migration Pastoral Committee of the CBCK, the status reports on overseas Korean Catholics at the end of 1993 show: 100,800 Korean Catholics in 49 countries with 99 parishes, 131 mission posts, 117 (94 Koreans) priests and 93 nuns. The report shows an annual growth of 12,680 or 12.6%.70,320 Catholics (70%) are living in the United States. In Canada there are 7,836, Germany 3,983 and Australia 3,595. Of the priests: 75 are in the US, seven in Canada and six in Germany.

 


• Church Stands with Urban Poor and VVorkers

  The Church reaffirmed its commitment to an option for the poor, standing with the urban poor in their housing issues. The Catholic Urban Poor Apostolate Committee and related organizations, endorsed by the Cardinal Kim, launched a push for amendments to current housing redevelopment regulations: March 10, to ensure the poor are not left homeless or in substandard housing when threatened with displacement because of new housing construction. "Any law that obstracts stabilization of housing of the urban poor must be revised. Law has to serve the needs of ordinary citizens. If not, the vicious circle of social instability in our nation will never end," the Cardinal pointed out. "Feed the person dying of hunger, because if you have not fed the person you have killed that person." (Gaudium et Spes, 69). Currently, if housing is demolished to make way for new construction, former tenants must be given the option to buy or rent-in the new development. However only 20% of tenants can afford to move into the new building and others are obliged to look for another poor area where they create a new shanty town. "To demolish poor housing for luxurious construction, and for one person to own several houses while others have no place to go, are terrible crimes that deprive the poor of their right to survival," the Cardinal pointed out. As the campaign went on, 120,000 people signed the petition by the end ofMay
  Most Rev. Andrew Choi, Changmu, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese, celebrated a May Day Mass with Young Christian Workers and Catholic Workers Movement chapters in Seoul to promote justice and solidarity on behalf of workers. He pointed out that the Church is becoming more and more middle class with no room for workers. He urged an end to investigations into trade unions' activities and to businessgovernment collaboration to repress trade unions. He called for fair treatment of foreign workers. "If Jesus identified himself with the poor and shared their destiny, it was to show the Church how to behave with the little ones," he said.

 


• Cathol ics from Open Church in Beij ing Visit Seoul


  Six Catholics of the Patriot Catholic Church of China visited Seoul, May 15 to 19, for the flrst time, invited by the Martyrs Sanctuary Committee of Korea (MSCK). The delegation, headed by Rev. Lawrence Shi Yukun from Beijing Cathedral parish, was comprised of two priests, a nun and three lay people. In a press interview, Rev. L. Shi Yukun expressed his desire to develop a gradual relationship with the Korean Catholic Church for the sake of evangelization and peace in the world. At a Mass with Korean faithful in Jamshil parish, they expressed the joy of communion in faith in the same God and suggested the possibility of playing a bridge-like role between Northern and Southern Catholics. They have relations with the Catholic Association of North Korea.
  The Catholic Church in China has 115 dioceses, over 4,000 churches, 72 bishops, 2 major seminaries and 49 seminarians. A sharp increase of younger people who want to be priests and nuns make the future of the Chinese Church bright and promising, they said.
  They visited Chol-tu-san Martyrs' Shrine, Myongdong Cathedral, the Korean Bishops' Conference, Catholic University and other significant religious sites. In the Beijing Cathedral MSCK wants to erec statues of Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest as well as Peter Lee Seung-hoon, the first Korean who was baptized in Beijing in 1784 and was one of the founders of the Korean Catholic Church.

 


• Church to Assist North Korean Loggers in Siberia


  The North Korea Evangelization Committee (NKEC) decided, April 23, to assist North Korean lumbeIjacks defecting from Siberian logging camps to South Korea as the government decided to allow escapees from Pyongyang-run logging camps to settle in South Korea on humanitarian grounds in accordance with international and domestic law
  An estimated 25,000 North Koreans are working at 16 logging camps run by the Pyongyang government under contracts with Moscow but the camps have drawn international criticism for alleged human rights violations. An estimated 200 loggers have escaped from the camps so far and are looking for a place to settle. The NKEC will hold, on June 26, a Prayer Day for North Korea and conduct a fund raising collectin for the defectors. The government will closely cooperate with Russia and the U.N: High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to minimize friction with North Korea. Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo, on a three-day visit to Moscow, agreed with his Russian counterpart Andrei Kozyreve to seek resettlement of the North Korean escapees for humanitarian reasons.


• Catholic Students Stand for Justice


  A strong sense of justice amongst students was shown in a survey, conducted by the Catholic University Students Association, of 385 young people at 13 universities. Five out of ten students answering the questionnaire said that ignoring the misery of the world is the most serious sin and the authoritative image of the Church is the greatest obstacle to the acceptance of the Catholic faith. They answered the question : What constitutes a mortal sin?, as follows. • ignoring the misery of the world: 49.5%, • not believing in God: 26.5%, • taking bribes and moral corruption : 11.2%.

   To the question, "When are you skeptical of the Christian faith?" , they replied: • when I see the authoritative image of the Church: 43.6%, • when I experience the difficulty of admitting God's existence: 16%. (40.9%).

 

• Cathol ic Women Review Identity and Roles in Church


  Korean Catholic women are active in reviewing women's roles in the Church and society. The Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea held a seminar April 19 on ''The Role and Mission of Women for Evangelization in the Year 2000." About 200 nuns and laywomen attended.
  "The women's liberation movement doesn' t mean women against men. Its meaning lies in refining and redefining
the original human nature of male and female, created by God as equal beings and made in God' s image" , said Ha Myong-sook, president of Korean Women' s Association.

  A three-month lecture on women' s theology organized,by Seoul Catholic Women's Association is underway while the Korean Catholic Women's Community for a New World organized a lecture series on women' s issues open to the public. At a Consultation on Women, co-sponsored by FABC Office of Laity and Human Development, ·Nov.4-9, at Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, the participants recognized the need for a new formation and education for all in the Church, and a re-evaluation of existing structures in the Church.

 


• Bishop Thomas Stewart Issues Message on FamiIy


  On May 21, Bishop Thomas Stewart, the President of the Family Pastoral Committee of the CBCK issued a message on family life, entitled ''The Holy Family Movement," and called for the Catholic Church of Korea to promote protection of the rights of the fetus and the family as its pastoral priority. ''The Church feels keenly its task to announce God' s plan of marriage and family to all people because she understands that the peace and order of the Church and society are closely related. In Korea, abortion has become a social and family problem not only for adults but also for teenagers. The future of evangelization, society and Church all depend on a healthy family."
  He urged the Church to commit itself sincerely to protecting the rights of the family and )unbom children and to make family p~storale a priority of the Korean Church.

 

News in Brief

 • Kwangju diocese marked the 14th anniversary of bloody military suppression of the May 18 Kwangju citizens' pro-democracy uprising: Archbishop Victorinus Youn and Justice & Peace Committee of the diocese issued statements and called for a clear unveiling of the people responsible, their repentance and conversion on behalf of the 2,000 estimated victims.

 • Clergy of the Seoul Archdiocese started to pay earned income tax in June in accordance with the principal of Tax payment of the Catholic clergy as it was confIrmed at 1994 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK. The question of medical care insurance and national pensions for clergy will be worked out soon.

 • On June 3, the One Heart-One Body Movement of Seoul Archdiocese announced its aid package of $198,000.00 USD as an overseas assistance fund for 1994. Target countries are Vietnam, India, Kenya.
• Ms. Edwina Gateley who is runs House of Creation for prostitutes in Chicago, invited, May 30, by the Catholic Social Service as key note speaker at a seminar on 'The Role of the Church in Restoring the Humanity of Alienated Women." She talked to various groups in different places, focusing on need for the Church to understand prostitutes and to help them to recover their human dignity.

 • 104 dismissed workers from the National Committee to Reinstate Dismissed Workers donated their organs through Rev. Oh Tae-sun, the president of One Heart-One Body Movement of Seoul Archdiocese on May Day.

 • Catholic Farmers Association urged the government, in a statement, to accept humbly criticism of people in order to promote a thorough agricultural strategy and said that the fInal draft presented by the government was far insufficient to meet expectation of farmers.

 • Four delegates from the Choson Catholic Association in North Korea, invited by Rev. Augustin Park, Executive Vicar of Overseas Korean Mission in North America, will visit Korean Catholic Communities in North America for 10 days from June 30.
 • The Cardinal Kim met, Apr. 30, the family of Yo Man-ch' 01 (wife, one daughter and two sons), defectors from North Korea. They had a one-hcilr long dialogue on the circumstances of their defection, social and religious reality of North Korea. Cardinal Kim is the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of p' yong-ynag, North Korea's capital.

 • Two Korean Missionaries from the Korean Foreign Mission Society were sent to mission countries : Revs. Park Soh-pil to Taiwan and Yang Kum-ju to Papua New Guinea. Thier missioning ceremony was followed by a concelebration of the Eucharist of Msgr Angelo Kim and priests of his diocese.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
17 CBCK Newsletter No.17 (Winter 1996) Aug 27, 2009
16 CBCK Newsletter No.16 (Fall 1996) Aug 27, 2009
15 CBCK Newsletter No.15 (Summer 1996) Aug 27, 2009
14 CBCK Newsletter No.14 (Spring 1996) Aug 27, 2009
13 CBCK Newsletter No.13 (Winter 1995) Aug 27, 2009
12 CBCK Newsletter No.12 (Fall 1995) Aug 27, 2009
11 CBCK Newsletter No.11 (Summer 1995) Aug 27, 2009
10 CBCK Newsletter No.10 (Spring 1995) Aug 27, 2009
9 CBCK Newsletter No.9 (Winter 1994) Aug 27, 2009
8 CBCK Newsletter No.8 (Fall 1994) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.7 (Summer 1994) Aug 27, 2009
6 CBCK Newsletter No.6 (Spring 1994) Aug 27, 2009
5 CBCK Newsletter No.5 (Winter 1993) Aug 27, 2009
4 CBCK Newsletter No.4 (Fall 1993) Aug 27, 2009
3 CBCK Newsletter No.3 (Summer 1993) Aug 27, 2009

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