- Message for 2014 Biblical Week
- The Joint Statement of the Bishops of Korea and Japan on the Occasion
of the 20th Anniversary of the Korean-Japanese Bishops' Colloquium
- Message for the 33rd Human Rights Sunday and the 4th Social Doctrine Week
- Message for the 31st Caritas Sunday
- Message for the 14th Week for the Sanctification of the Family
- News from the Church in Korea
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
The Beauty of a Life Sequela Christi
Lee Cheol-su, a Korean print-maker, said, "If you empty out yourself, others will find you beautiful as you can keep your composure." That may be the exact reason for us to feel respectful envy at the religious who practice evangelical poverty, especially when we think of our excessive property and possessions.
The Year of Consecrated Life started on November 30, 2014. Accepting the invitation of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) will observe the Year to "live the present with passion", "looking to the past with gratitude" and "embracing the future with hope" at this time of "difficulties and uncertainties", so that the CBCK can bear witness to the beauty of a life sequela Christi. Especially, the CBCK will exert its efforts to "wake up the world", going forth to the existential peripheries to be on the side of the poor.
In his answer to a question of a monk on the way of consecrated life, one of the early Desert Fathers said, "A monk is a man who goes forward on his journey to the Kingdom of Heaven, rising up again whenever he falls." When he falls, he draws the power to rise up again from the yearning for eternity. Those who yearn for the Eternal Dwelling once they are immersed in the Eternal One, cannot be easily disturbed by the futile turmoil of the world. Even today many consecrated people who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ live a faithful life practicing the evangelical counsels, as the members of contemplative orders, the societies of apostolic life, and the lay apostolate, with a firm conviction that "God alone is enough." as St. Teresa of Avila affirmed.
However, the consecrated life is not seasonal farming. Consecrated people just do their best with silent prayers everyday even though they do not know exactly when the harvest time will come. In the end, they will be blessed with eternal happiness in Heaven where all our desires will attain fulfillment when they live a faithful life of love with an ardent yearning and expectation in every single moment of their life, as a grain of wheat ready to sprout. I hope the Year of Consecrated Life may be a year for us to pray for the consecrated people who have dedicated their most flawless and precious treasure. This year must be observed just like the day when the Most Blessed Virgin Mary presented her Child Jesus to the Lord in the temple.
Furthermore, I hope that we, "the aroma of Christ for God" (2Cor 2,15), may on our part observe the Year of Consecrated Life faithfully, living the present with passion, looking to the past with gratitude and embracing the future with hope, as we take the consecrated people as our navigators, who try their best to be the true leaven of the world.
Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Take Courage, I Have Conquered the World (Jn 16,33)
Dear brothers and sisters in the love of our Lord,
Looking back on the year of 2014, we are yearning all the more for the light of salvation amid our deep grief over the precious lives sacrificed because of human selfishness and indifference in relation to a series of accidents. In such a situation, we found sincere consolation in the message of Pope Francis during his apostolic visit to Korea on the occasion of the 6th Asian Youth Day and the beatification of the 'Servant of God' Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 companions. His message still echoes throughout the whole nation as the "joy of the Gospel."
At the beatification ceremony for the 124 Korean martyrs, Pope Francis praised the Korean martyrs and asked us to become the present-day witnesses of the Gospel as successors to the legacy of our ancestors in faith. They sprouted the first seeds of the Word in this land through their martyrdom bearing the fruit of the Catholic Church in Korea today.
In his homily at the Mass for the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 martyr companions in Gwangwhamun on August 16, 2014, Pope Francis said, "So often today we can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age. Yet, the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal Kingdom. They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for."
Indeed, today God-given life is threatened by the avarice for wealth and fame, which are mingled with egoism, greed, materialism, and contempt for life. All this aggravates human sins and wounds. However, the world is redeemed through the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. That is why we still have hope. Our identity is the faith deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, and we are called to cooperate with Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world.
Jesus Christ told his disciples, "Take courage, I have conquered the world." (Jn 16,33), so that they could find peace in Him. The power to conquer the world stems from the Gospel. In the Gospel, there are joy and happiness, love and peace, and light and life for all humanity. Nothing but the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save life from death. The Gospel is the bread of life itself.
For the Christians who search for invisible values to realize them, the precious nourishment for their faith is the Bible. We must eat this bread everyday, so that our spiritual life can be nourished in a healthy way. We must do our best to become witnesses of the Gospel, so that we can preserve our holiness, bear witness to the truth against the secular trends, and dedicate ourselves to the redemption of the world. This is done through the power and light of the Bible, following in the footsteps of the martyrs who dedicated their lives to faith.
In his Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis said, "True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness" (n. 88).
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, as heirs of the glorious legacy of faith, we must go forth to the world and proclaim the Gospel, putting faith in divine love and blessings. As Christians, it is our mission to bear witness to the Gospel. Let us face all the challenges of secularization in solidarity with the faith of the martyrs. They dedicated their lives with confidence in the victory of Jesus Christ who conquered the world through his death on the Cross.
When we put our hope in Jesus Christ, our Savior, through the Bible, we can look around and give comfort to our neighbours. When we learn the commandment of love through the Bible, we can be overwhelmed by a missionary passion to share that love with our neighbours. When we all believe in the salvific power of the Lord's Cross and live, working together with Jesus Christ, the mystery of faith as a grain of wheat, our Church will be the true light and hope of the world.
November 23, 2014
of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
+ Joseph Son Sam-seok
CBCK Biblical Committee
The Joint Statement of the Bishops of Korea and Japan
on the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary
of the Korean - Japanese Bishops' Colloquium
The Korean - Japanese Bishops' Colloquium started 20 years ago from the meeting of the Most Rev. Paul Ri Moun-hi, Archbishop Emeritus of Daegu, and the late H.E. Stephen Cardinal Fumio Hamao.
At its early stage, just a few bishops of both countries voluntarily participated in the Colloquium. However, year after year, the Colloquium has gained momentum as the number of participating bishops has increased. Through a mutual visit, we, the bishops of both countries, have striven for deepening human and spiritual exchanges as well as for strengthening our fraternal communion in Christ.
First of all, we have made common efforts in prayer to promote good relationship between Korea and Japan in light of a Christian vision, trying to overcome past conflicts and wounds through joint research on historical issues. We have also shared our thoughts on the effective ways of evangelization in the present world, discussing diverse social and pastoral issues with which Christians both in Korea and Japan are confronted. We have asked ourselves what the Church must do not only to promote world peace, but also to protect the dignity of human life that has been marginalized and trampled down amid the waves of globalization triggered off by neo-liberalism. Furthermore, trying to promote solidarity and work out a countermeasure, we have asked what the Church must do to contain the menace of nuclear power plants which can lead to a fatal calamity for the environment of future humanity.
Sharing common opinion and experiences through such diverse exchanges, we have born meaningful fruits for the Churches in both countries to consolidate our sense of unity as the disciples of Jesus Christ. Some of the fruits are: 'Korean-Japanese Youth Exchange', 'Dialogue between religious in both countries', and mutual visits of priests and lay persons via sisterhood relationships between dioceses in both countries.
However, we are witnessing a drastic change in the political situation in Northeast Asia as well as between Korea and Japan. Nationalism is gaining momentum as territorial dispute and differences in historical issues lead to conflict and confrontation. Even military tensions are gradually escalating now. Showing grave concern for such an aggravating international situation, as bishops of Korea and Japan, we reaffirm our common responsibility to exert more effort for bilateral peace between Korea and Japan as well as peace in Asia and the whole world.
In this regard, we will answer the call of the Gospel as the same disciples of Jesus Christ, by promoting this Colloquium to face our own history and the issues as they are.
May the Lord bless the Catholic Church in both Korea and Japan in our meeting and friendship, promoting good relationship and communion between both countries as well as true peace in Asia.
November 13, 2014
In the name
of all Bishops of Korea and Japan
participating in the Colloquium
The Advocacy of Human Rights Is the Duty of the Church in Faith
Dear brothers and sisters,
I pray that the peace and blessings of God may be with you all. In the season of Advent we "stay awake" and prepare ourselves internally and externally for welcoming the Child Jesus who comes to save humanity. Reflecting upon our life in the light of faith in order to prepare ourselves for the new year, let us ponder on our social reality of human rights in the light of our faith and the Church's teaching.
1. Church, Human Rights, and Our Reality
The source of human rights is both Creation and the mystery of the Incarnation. When we want to talk about human rights, we must begin with the Love who created man in his image and became incarnate as a man to save human beings from their sins. In this regard, the Church has proclaimed the God-given human rights in a concrete way. She teaches "the right of the child to develop in the mother's womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child's personality; the right to develop one's intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth; the right to share in the work which makes wise use of the earth's material resources, and to derive from that work the means to support oneself and one's dependents" (Centesimus Annus, n. 47).
However, in Korea, about 960 unborn children die of feticide everyday, even before they have a glimpse of daylight. We remember many children driven to death in agony because of parental violence and indifference. On top of that, we are facing now the horrible and shameful realities marked with violence in its diversity on domestic, verbal, emotional, physical, and economic level.
We must reflect upon ourselves whether we have considered a certain person as a means for our own benefit and success.
2. Preparation for Advent
In our society where material success is considered a top priority, we have continued a life going against principle, even swearing black is white. As we were blinded by our miraculous economic success, we did not pay due attention to the possible damage of moral decadence in our society. As a result, we had to end up facing a horrible tragedy, the Sewol ferry disaster. We knew that the government and the ferry company were not the only culprits responsible for this disaster. Therefore, we all have said, "I am sorry!", striking our breast in the year of 2014, because we hesitated to live in accordance with principles as well as religious and ethical teachings.
We are invited to repentance for our sins that show us God's love intended for us in a paradoxical way. Each one of us, as an individual belonging to the people of God, is called to convert ourselves to Christ, so that we can bring about changes in our life and history. This divine calling is meant to be an opportunity for us, as the followers of Christ, to examine our contribution to building a truly just and humane society. Let us answer the calling of God who asks us to have courage to choose the teachings of the Gospel, giving a flat refusal to the ideas of doubt, conflict, and competition in our respective Sitz im Leben. With a firm belief in the Love who created us and became incarnate in the person of Jesus, let us repent of our sins and ask Him to give us the courage to bear our cross. Pope Francis said in his homily for the Holy Mass for Peace and Reconciliation during his apostolic visit to Korea, "This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea. Trust in the power of Christ's cross! Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others!"
3. The Church Participating in the Advocacy of Human Rights
The courage to bear our cross, which we ask of God after our conversion, shows the reason why the Church and all the Christians must participate in the movement towards social change. An evil crystallized and embedded in the unjust structures of society cannot be the basis of hope for a better future (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n.59). In their practice of love and justice, the Church and Christians can be the signs of God's presence as they raise their prophetic voice in the face of threat to the values of the dignity of the human person and the common good (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 218). The proclamation of faith is inseparably related to the demand and practice of justice.
Now, the Church will participate in the social movement to promote the protection of human rights of the socially vulnerable and social minorities, rooting out all forms of unjust discrimination. Especially, the Church will continue to celebrate Mass for the victims and the bereaved of the Sewol ferry disaster, urging the government to investigate the disaster in a clearer way. When the government favors the vested interests and rights of the privileged class, neglecting its responsibility to take care of the socially vulnerable, the Church will raise her critical voice. She is determined to stand against all corruption and irregularities.
During the season of Advent, I invite you all to repent of our sins before the mysteries of creation and the incarnation. We must stay awake and take the initiative in: preventing the repetition of the tragedy which claimed the lives of innocent students who trusted their older generation; protecting our next generation from the trend of the times when human beings are treated as a means and economic growth is regarded as the non plus ultra; dreaming of a new world where justice surges like water with the courage to change our life as witness of the Church and Christians.
December 7, 2014
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Give Them Some Food Yourselves (Mt 14,16)
Brothers and Sisters in God's love,
While continuing their journey of life, human beings expect many things, small or big. Taking priority over other things, true waiting is the mystery of hope ever present in every individual existence, surpassing a vague expectation of mediocrity. Preparing ourselves and waiting for Jesus Christ who has already come and will come again as the light and hope of our faith, we light up the third candle of the Advent wreath on the occasion of this Gaudete Sunday.
The Catholic Church in Korea designated the third Sunday of Advent as Caritas Sunday to invite all the faithful to prepare themselves for truly waiting for Jesus Christ, our Saviour, as they share unconditional love of God with their neighbours. As it is an invitation of God's love for humanity, all the faithful must willingly answer the call of God who is love in person.
According to the Gallup-Healthways' State of Global Well-Being, only 14% of South Koreans think they are thriving in the Well-Being Index of Purpose. It means that the majority of South Koreans do not like what they do everyday, nor that they are motivated to achieve their goals.
It is estimated that about 4.1 million South Koreans are living in absolute poverty. It means that a household with three persons must live with less than 1.32 million KRW (ca. 1,100 USD) a month, which was set by the government to guarantee a minimum livelihood in accordance with the National Basic Living Security Act.
Many reports tell that the beneficiaries of the National Basic Living Security Act have been on the decrease since 2011. However, the decrease should not be interpreted as a positive sign, as if the former beneficiaries could emerge from absolute poverty through the increase of their income. On the contrary, the decrease was due to the more rigorous income and eligibility verification system which was introduced in 2010. Since then, the government has been able to verify the eligibility of the possible beneficiaries with the utmost rigor of the system. Consequently, more poor people must be dropped out of the last social safety net. We are now witnessing too many poor neighbours who cannot sustain their minimum livelihood, as they are denied the benefit of the basic social welfare system.
In the spirit of solidarity with our poor neighbours, we cannot leave the State or government to be concerned for them, as if it must take the exclusive responsibility for the poor. We, as Christians, must not separate love for God from love for our neighbours (cf. Mt 22,34-40). To love our neighbours is, first of all, meant to follow in God's footsteps which bear witness to His goodness granted first to all of humanity.
In the pericope of the good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10,29-37), we can see a scholar of the law asking Jesus, "Who is my neighbour?" Then, Jesus asked back, "Who was neighbour to the robbers' victim?" (cf. Lk 10,36) As the scholar of the law answered, our neighbour is "the one who treated him with mercy" (Lk 10,37). In this regard, our neighbours are all those who need our help.
In the pericope of five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus said concretely, "Give them some food yourselves" (Mt 14,16). It is our faith to confess that "all I have is from God." Therefore, sharing what we have with our neighbours is a way of practicing our faith.
What can we do when, as the saying goes, even a king cannot give relief to the poor? What can our humble deeds for poor neighbours bring about? In the face of the immense poverty in the world, our practice of sharing might seem to be just like a drop of water in the vast ocean. However, as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "An ocean cannot be an ocean without that drop of water. We must not calculate number or size."
We must not hesitate to love our neighbours. The love for our neighbours is a sacrificial decision to accumulate treasures in Heaven. Pope Francis said, "I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt." The practice of sharing in love for our neighbours is a concrete consequence of the time we spent in conversion and making satisfaction during this Advent season waiting for the Child Jesus, who "for your sake became poor although he was rich" (cf. 2Cor 8,9).
I pray that you all have a fruitful Advent season, doing what the Lord said to you: "Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father" (Mt 5,16).
December 14, 2014
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Bishop of Chunchon
and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung
Caritas Committee of the CBCK
The Family and Poverty
Christmas is a truly joyful day when the love of God is revealed to the whole world through the Infant Jesus. Sharing the joy of the sacred nativity of Jesus, I wish that God's grace and blessing may be with you all and your families.
The Pontifical Council for the Family and Caritas Internationalis, jointly suggested 'the family and poverty' as a theme for local Churches to ponder upon in their preparation for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on "the Family in the Context of Evangelization." In this regard, I would like to reflect on the contemporary challenges facing the families, paying attention to all forms of poverty, which threaten or destroy families, such as economic, moral, spiritual, social, and cultural poverties.
Modern human life enjoys unprecedented prosperity, as every sector of society has developed brilliantly. Nevertheless, we always have the poor with us (cf. Mt 26,11), and we can see them in every corner of the world. Many people are suffering from natural disasters and environmental pollution, while some people are not only exploited sexually, but also driven into life threatening situations due to various conflicts. Some nations are suffering from the lack of necessities and adequate health care due to unequal distribution, while others suffer from the exploitation of their natural resources and labor force due to their poor economic strength.
The real problem of poverty lies in the fact that it can be caught in a vicious cycle because of inhumane social, psychological, and cultural factors. While a small number of the richest people continue to accumulate their wealth, miserable poverty proliferates behind them. Despite material affluence, many people are suffering from spiritual poverty, loneliness and hopelessness. While the respect for neighbours grows weak, violence and social inequality get worse. Human beings are treated like expendable goods which can be thrown away when they are not useful any more.
On the other hand, when a family is poor in morality and lacks ethical values, it can be regarded as a community in danger. The problems in a family cannot be solved solely with financial means. Even when a family has no material problem, it cannot be sound as long as it lacks proper values and a moral sense. A family is not simply a place for gaining livelihood and physical health. A family, as the basic cell of society and the nation, is a place for transmitting universal values and the cultivation of social and cultural knowledge. The family is a basic community necessary to ensure the spiritual and moral continuity of a society. Therefore, correct values and social norms must take a deep root in the family, so that a moral culture can be abundently transmitted to the next generation.
If a family is not in good shape, society cannot be firmly established. In the same manner, if a society does not function in a proper way, it has a bad influence on the family. Children learn how to build a relationship with others, following in the footsteps of their parents who cultivate a bond and share common interests with other people in society. Parents should be deeply aware of their educative role within the family, remembering the Lord's words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20,35). Parents should teach their children to cherish a sense of solidarity, so that they may understand that no one can live by oneself. Parents also must teach their children that no one has right to enjoy exclusive happiness. The family is a privileged place for socialization and social solidarity.
Today families, as "the future of the Church and society", are burdened with many challanging problems. These challenges, however, can be a sign which invites us to: remember the original shape of the family; reaffirm the importance of the family; proclaim with courage the mystery of marriage and the beauty of the family. In this regard, such challenges and crisis coincide with the strong appeal of Pope Francis to us as the members of the Church. We must become missionary, 'go forth' toward the world, and constantly reach out to the peripheries of our society. As the "domestic Church" (Lumen Gentium, n.11) Christian families must manifest faithfulness and patience, openness to life, respect for the elderly, and concern and care for the young people. The key to all such virtues is Jesus Christ present in the family. He accomplishes far more than all we can ask or imagine, by the power at work within us (cf. Eph 3,20). Therefore, we should place Jesus Christ at the center of our family and serve Him as our Lord.
Let us go out and extend our concern and affection for the families who cannot live together due to many reasons, who still cannot find their own house or job, and who must suffer from difficulties and pains due to various reasons. Let us communicate evangelical values and a sound conscience to the families who are poor in ethics and who have a weak moral sense. With our deep concern and affection, let us approach married couples in conjugal crisis as well as divorced families. May these families become the light and salt of the earth, renewing themselves as truly happy families, truly blessed families.
December 28, 2014
On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph
+ Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil
Archbishop of Daegu
CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
● 2015 Pastoral Letters of Diocesan Bishops
On the occasion of the first Sunday of Advent, each diocesan bishop issued his 2015 pastoral letter.
In his pastoral letter, the H.E. Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, put stress on the "prayerful life." He said, "Prayer is the essential element for the sanctification of humanity as well as for the evangelization of the world." Then he added, "We must pray for the Church and the world, and, most of all, for those who are groaning under poverty and suffering, as we go beyond the enclosure of ego and our family."
In his pastoral letter, the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju, urged the faithful to build "a parish which experiences the Trinitarian communion as well as a world overflowing with peace." He also asked the faithful to participate in the evangelization of the world through the image of the Church in the service of the faithful.
Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, issued a pastoral letter entitled, "The Church Accompanying the Marginalized." He asked the faithful to become a seed of evangelization by living the poverty in their respective Sitz im Leben, reminding them of the meaning of evangelical poverty on which no other than Pope Francis placed emphasis.
Other bishops also urged the faithful to come nearer to the Lord through inner renewal and to do their best to invite their neighbours to God.
● A Survey on the Challenges of Catholic Church in Korea after Pope Francis' Apostolic Visit to Korea
From October 1 to 15, 2014, the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea (CPIK, Director: Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il) conducted a survey on the "Challenges of Catholic Church in Korea after Pope Francis' Apostolic Visit to Korea." The result was presented to the Korean bishops on the first day of the 2014 Autumn General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on October 27, 2014. The survey was meant to offer the Korean bishops materials which can be guidelines for their deliberation on the many challenges of the Catholic Church in Korea.
The responses to the questionnaire were received via the website of the CBCK, email, and SNS. The total number of respondents was 680.
44% of the respondents via e-mail replied that they were deeply touched by Pope Francis' unreserved attitude towards people. On the other hand, 51.9% of the respondents via the website of the CBCK said that they were profoundly moved when they saw the Pope offering his sincere consolation to the bereaved families of the Sewol ferry disaster.
42.2% of the email respondents said that they were overwhelmingly impressed by the address of Pope Francis urging the Church "to be guardians of memory and to be guardians of hope as a poor Church for the poor" when he met with the bishops of Korea. On the other hand, 51.9% of the respondents via the website of the CBCK said that they were deeply impressed by the words of Pope Francis who asserted that "where human suffering is involved, you cannot be neutral."
To the question, "What comes to your mind first when you think about Pope Francis?", most website and email respondents chose the words, "sympathy and communication."
To the question, "What is the main theme for the renewal of the Church in Korea?", many respondents chose "a poor Church for the poor" as the best answer (30.3% and 35.9% via email and website respectively). It was followed by "the Church living the joy of the Gospel" and "the Church realizing justice and peace in the world."
The answers to the question, "What should the faithful do to renew themselves?", were worth special attention. Most respondents replied that they want a bishop who is more open to dialogue and communication, and who takes the initiative in practicing social justice. On the other hand, they asked the priests to stop asserting 'self-righteousness and authoritarianism'. They also asked religious to pray more and deepen their spiritual life. In regard to the lay people, the respondents said that the faithful do not take enough time for prayer and spirituality, while pointing out that sectarian and divisive behavior of the lay people must be overcome.
In regard to the question, "What are the tasks of the Church in Korea for her renewal and evangelization ad intra?", most respondents said that "promoting an ecclesiastical ambiance in favor of the poor" must be the top priority
The CPIK summarized the results of the survey as follows:
- Regarding the Church's social engagement, she needs to engage in social issues in a more active manner, resolving social conflicts in the light of evangelization as well as promoting evangelical discernment and the social teachings of the Church.
- Regarding the Catholics in Korea, three tasks were pointed out: change in the ecclesiastical leadership; resolve to do good for our neighbours starting from even small things; institutional support and education for the ongoing formation of priestly leadership.
- Regarding "a poor Church for the poor", three tasks were pointed out: improvement of the modus vivendi of the priests; continual encounter and solidarity with the poor; establishment of a community structure for the poor, so that they can experience their full membership of the Church.
- Regarding "the Church living the joy of the Gospel", three tasks were pointed out: promotion of the ecclesiastical ambiance for the flavor of the Word; development of ongoing educational program for the lay people; revitalization of the Small Christian Communities.
Paul Yun Ji-chung (1759-1791)
Paul Yun Ji-chung was born in 1759 to a renowned noble family in Janggu-dong, Jinsan, Jeolla-do. His adult name was 'Uyong.' Francis Yun Ji-heon, who was martyred in Jeonju during the Shinyu Persecution of 1801, was his younger brother.
Paul Yun, who was intelligent and trustworthy, devoted himself to studying from an early age. He passed the first state examination in the spring of 1783. Around that time Paul Yun came to know about the Catholic faith from John Jeong Yak-yong, a son of his father's sister. He began to read books about it. He was baptized by Peter Yi Seung-hun in 1787, having studied the Catholic doctrine for three years.
Paul Yun taught the catechism to his mother, his younger brother Francis Yun, and James Kwon Sang-yeon, a son of his mother's sister, and introduced them to the Catholic Church. He also endeavored to proclaim the Gospel, together with Augustine Yu Hang-geom, a relative by marriage.
In 1790, when Bishop A. Gouvea of Beijing issued a decree prohibiting the practice of the ancestrial rites, Paul Yun and his cousin James Kwon burned the ancestrial tablet. When his mother, aunt of James Kwon, died in the summer of the following year, he performed the funeral ceremony according to the Catholic rite instead of the Confucian rite. This was also his mother's wish.
Very soon, a rumor was spread that Paul Yun did not offer funeral ancestral rites, and that he had burned the ancestral tablet. When the rumor reached the royal court, it was furious. After a while the royal court ordered the magistrate of Jinsan to 'arrest Yun Ji-chung and Kwon Sang-yeon.'
Upon hearing the news, Paul Yun took refuge in Gwangchoen, Chungcheong-do and James Kwon in Hansan, Chungcheong-do. Then, the magistrate of Jinsan detained Paul Yun's uncle instead of them. When Paul Yun and James Kwon heard this news, they left their hiding places and surrendered themselves to the magistrate of Jinsan. It was around the middle of October, 1791.
At first the magistrate of Jinsan tried to persuade them to renounce their faith. But they said that they could not renounce their faith under any circumstances. They emphatically asserted that the Catholic teaching is the true teaching. The magistrate, on realizing that he could not change their minds, ordered that they be transferred to the Jeonju governor's office.
Paul Yun and James Kwon were interrogated from the day after they arrived in Jeonju. The governor tried every means possible to get the names of other Catholics from them, but his effort was in vain. They defended their faith with determination and did not utter even one word that would do harm to the Church or to other Catholics. Paul Yun, in particular, pointed out article by article the irrationality of the Confucian ancestral rites by explaining the doctrine of the Catholic Church. This infuriated the governor, and he ordered that they be severely punished.
Paul Yun and James Kwon were already prepared to die for God. Their only answer was: "We serve God as our 'Great Father', and, therefore, we cannot worship Him by disobeying His Commandments."
The governor of Jeonju finally made them write their final statements and submitted them to the royal court. Once again these upset the royal court, and tension ran high. The ministers of the royal court claimed, "Yun Ji-chung and Kwon Sang-yeon should be beheaded." The king accepted the opinion of the ministers and finally permitted the execution. The following is an excerpt from the governor's report to the royal court:
"Though the bodies of Yun Ji-chung and Kwon Sang-yeon were covered all over with blood, they did not even groan. They refused to renounce their faith in God, saying, 'God's teaching is very strict, so we cannot disobey Him, though we may disobey our parents and the king.' They said that it is a great honor to die for God under the blade of a sword."
As soon as the judicial decision reached the Jeonju governor, Paul Yun and James Kwon were dragged from their prison cell and taken outside the South gate of Jeonju. Paul Yun looked as happy as someone going to a banquet. He ceaselessly explained the Catholic doctrine to the people who were following them. On December 8, 1791 (November 13 by the lunar calendar), they were beheaded and died martyrs while praying to Jesus and Mary. Paul Yun was 32 years old.