CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

CBCK Newsletter No.20 (Fall 1997)

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From the Editor:

The First Korean Religious Art Festival

 

  The first 1997 Korean Religious Art Festival is opened. We had music and art festival before but this one is special in the sense that it is the first pan?religion art festival in Korea which never had before. The festival is sponsored by the Religion Leaders’ Conference of Korea(RLCK) and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, The Art Academy of Korea and The Korean Broadcasting System. Inaugurated in Sept. 23, the festival will offer until Oct. 5 various music festivals, art festivals, movie festivals and academic seminars. Equal participation to the festival of all member religions of the RLCK makes it a friendly pan religious art festival. The member religions include Catholic, Buddhist, Confucius, Won Buddhist, Chondokyo and the Conference of the Korean People’s Religions which is an organization of various local religions born in Korea. A question was asked if the Confucianism is a religion, but its delegate was one of those who took initiative for the organization of the RLCK and contributed greatly.
  The primary goal of the RLCK consists of promoting the harmony and solidarity between different religions in the multi-religious society of Korea. Also its’ goal is to build up a spiritual and moral foundation for the Korean people by presenting a sense of authentic values based on the religious ideal, and by doing so help to contribute to the progress of the Korean people and its reunification. In order to reach this goal, the RLCK wants to develop “joint works that promote inter-religious harmony and mutual understanding, restoration of morals, reform of people’s mind, healthy society and solidarity, education to guide youth, mutual trust and homogeneity of Korean people in preparation for national reunification, environmental protection, study for multi-religious cultural progress”. In fact, the religious leaders have successfully organized the famine relief campaign for North Koreans and they continue to operate various projects. The 1997 Korean Religious Art Festival is part of this goal. It is not easy to sit together for people who’s belief and faith system are different. But those of the RLCK want to be authentic leaders of the society and in culture in unity by overcoming differences and conflicts between religions. For sure, the festival will be great opportunity for them to realize it.
  If art is an expression of the human spirit and the heart, then religious art is an expression of religious sentiments. Thus we will discover and understand the genuine image of other religions through their expression in art. Also the artistic expression of different religions will help us to discover common religious sentiments and the differences. The new understanding and discovering of differences between the various religious traditions will be the impetus to help us work together in the future.

 

Rev. John Kim Jong?su
Secretary General
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea

 


 

 

Collective Response to the Questions of Lineament

 of the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops

 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea issued on July 29 the “Collective Response to the Questions of Lineament of the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops”. Following are excerpts of the responses to the questions pertaining to the Lineament issued by the Pre-Synodal Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Asia.


 

I. Asian Realities

  Positive aspects of evangelization
  As the positive aspects of evangelization, we can cite in general the deep religious sentiments of the Korean people and their traditional sense of morals as well as high desire and achievement in higher education. There is also a deep yearning for a life and belief rendered more ardent in suffering and confusion of the times. The exceptional devotion of the laity that has characterized the history of the Church in Korea from the very beginning and their continuing active participation in the life of the Church and the abundant vocations to the priesthood and religious life are a great source of dynamism and encouragement. Also, the Church’s concern and efforts for the realization of social justice such as her engagement in the human and civil rights movement, assistance to the marginalized class and promotion of social welfare during the last decades have greatly contributed to enhancing trust in the Church among the Korean people.

 

  Shortcomings of evangelization
  The decline of the family structure and individualism caused by rampant materialism, the breaking down of the traditional outlook of values in the process of economic development, and urbanization are serious impediments in the evangelizing task of the Church. In this regard the Church in Korea has not challenged herself enough to work within this milieu and consequently does not provide proper and adequate pastoral care. The formation of priests who will assume pastoral care in such areas is indispensable.

 

  Areas requiring more consideration
  Areas that require special consideration are a re-evaluation and promotion of the genuine religious sentiments and traditional moral values of the Korean people and a revitalization of these values, education of the laity for the common mission of evangelization, and reflection and reforms in pastoral practice that respond to a broader meaning of culture and evangelization of society. Also, efforts for evangelization based on a deep and comprehensive understanding to the culture and mentality of the Korean people are urgently needed.


 

II. The Evangelization of Asia

  Evaluation of the state of the Church’s missionary activity
  In this respect we need a deeper understanding and awareness of the evangelizing role of each Christian which are essential to being a follower of Jesus Christ. Out of this awareness we have to strive for the primary evangelization which is a radical conversion of ourselves. Social welfare and social participation should be developed as a foundation of the missionary task. In order to do this concrete pastoral measures aimed at deepening faith through the areas of scripture, catechesis, community life, and love for neighbors are needed. We prepare ourselves for mission in China and other counties to the north of us.

 

 

III. God’s Salvific Design in History

  What can the Church learn from her dialogue with other Asian religions and the knowledge obtained?
  In the traditions and religions in Asia the Christianity is seen as a heterogeneous and distinctive religion. However, this difference can be a factor that leads to a friendly and positive journey of dialogue. Dialogue and relationship with non-Christian religions have been greatly improved in recent time. With formation of a conference of various religious leaders discussions have been held concerning faith, salvation, and topics of mutual concern. This conference has also developed joint projects of social welfare and ethics. The spiritual richness of other religions in Asia enriches the Catholic Church. We can learn from their methods of meditation and self?discipline, but what is needed most of all is a theological development based on Asian religious sentiments.

 

 

IV. Jesus Christ the Savior: God’s Good News to All

  Ways to maintain the centrality of the proclamation of Jesus Christ
  Jesus Christ is relatively well known to the people of Asia, but in general, they think that He is one of the many other founders of religions. Even though we dialogue with other religions on the assumption that different expressions and cults for the one truth(God) are possible we have to make them understand the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Dialogue with other religions and efforts for Christian unity should not be considered as an opportunity to relativise Christ. The Church should confirm the uniqueness of Christ through the self-renewal and bearing witness to her faith life. Also, we have to overcome religious indifference and show the special love of Christ for the poor and should present salvation of the whole human person.
  We have to make clear to others that Jesus Christ is not only one of the outstanding and great individuals who have appeared in history. The incarnation and divinity of Jesus as well as the whole mystery of salvation are much greater than this. We have to present significant characteristics of the life of Jesus: his death and resurrection and his all?consuming love for humankind. By reflecting and acting upon the words of Jesus the Church points the way for the solution of problems now and in the future.

 

 

V. The Church as Communion

  Church’s understanding of the need and responsibility of fulfilling Christ’s mission
  With the exception of a few of the faithful there is insufficient awareness of the demands of discipleship. In order to bring change about sufficient awareness, a transformation in the thinking of Church leaders and especially pastors is necessary.

 

  The fruit of mission efforts
  We are working on shaping the image of Church as communion and therefore trying to develop the Small Christian Community movement. However the results have not been very satisfying. Also for the communion between dioceses, parishes, and between diocese and religious institutes we need to work more.

 

  Activities in the future
  We have to develop activities oriented to evangelizing the culture of Asia. This should be done by respecting various opinions and realizing that Christianity is a minority religion in the region. For the multitude of Asian people living in difficult economic situations the Church should focus her efforts and activities on concrete charitable works. However, efforts to understand Asia and her people in their cultural context should take primary consideration.

 

  Christian communion
  Besides ecumenical events during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, common efforts on the ecumenical level are made in various areas in social justice and welfare, environmental protection, the unity and reconciliation of the Korean people.

 

  Ways to demonstrate more effectively the Christian unity in the mission of evangelization of the Church in Asia
  Tolerance and understanding of non-Christian religions are necessary as well as common study. Also important is the promotion of dialogue between other Christian communities. Common participation in social welfare and environmental protection movements is important but a greater task is joint efforts in theological reflection and the inculturation of the faith.

 

  Efforts made towards fostering greater ecumenical understanding and unity among various Churches and Church traditions
  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated every year with joint prayer meetings and seminars, but it is not very successful. We have a common translation of the Bible but it is only officially used by the Catholic Church.
  The Protestant Churches have many denominations and associations which do not hold favorable views of the Catholic Church. Sometimes there is criticism and slander directed towards Catholics. As a result of these misunderstandings, dialogue is difficult between the Catholics and the Protestants.

 

  What we do for inter-religious dialogue
  Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism are traditional religions which are very influential on the Korean people. On a personal level efforts for dialogue with these religions are active but on the official level of the Church nothing substantial has been done.

 

  Perspective for dialogue and its fruit
  Confucianism has made an important contribution toward the morals of a religious life and Buddhism toward the area of ascetical practice and mystical experience. As result there exist friendly sentiments between Catholics and these religions and belief system Continued studies, dialogue and collaboration are happening at the personal level.

 

  Concerns for the Church
  We have to study and re-evaluate the meaning and role of the great traditional religions in Korea. They too play a part in the salvation offered by God. This understanding is essential for the inculturation of the Gospel. Ignorance of these religions and their culture and a sense of religious superiority and exclusivism should be eradicated.

 

 

  VI. The Church’s Mission of Love and Service in Asia

 

  Inculturation
  As far as the inculturation of the Catholic Church in Korea is concerned this process has been continuing for the past 200 years. The Church was introduced into Korea by Koreans and built by them. Since the liturgy is celebrated in Korean language the life of the Church has become more familiar to the Korean people. The Pastoral Institute, which is under the auspice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, established the Research committee for Inculturation aimed at promoting the study of the Korean liturgical music, the Korean expression of liturgy, the Korean outlook of God, Shamanism and other religions in Korea. We need to develop a spirituality and Church music that fit the Korean people’s religious sentiments. The movement toward inculturation should include vestments and all liturgical instrument associated with liturgy as well as architecture.

 

  Effect of inculturation to the Church’s mission
  Compared to the times when the Korean practice of the veneration of ancestors was forbidden, many Koreans now welcome the changed attitude of the Catholic Church which allows this veneration. This example of inculturation has had a great positive effect on the Church’s mission.

 

  Contribution of inculturation to the world Church
  The family structure of the parish formed by clergy, religious and laity is the fruit of Korean inculturation and this is a special characteristic of the church in Korea. We believe the world Church can learn from this model.

 

  How is the social doctrine of the Church being utilized in the Church’s evangelizing mission of love and service in Asia(human promotion and development, situations of civil war and ethnic conflicts, refugees, migrants, marginalized peoples)?
  The social teachings of the Church serve as guiding principles in Korean society for the promotion of human right, social justice, and the well?being of all. In spite of their lack of knowledge or interest in these teaching, many clergy, religious and lay people continue to serve in the name of Christ and in the spirit of the Gospel.
  Each diocese has committed itself to social pastoral care in the light of the Catholic social teachings by establishing among other things social welfare, justice and peace, labor apostolate and prison apostolate committees. Charity clinics, orphanages, centers for the handicapped, and nursing homes are operated in all the dioceses. Also, some religious are working at welfare centers that are run by the local government. All dioceses have a special budget for social pastoral care.
  Presently, the most pressing tasks are aid to North Korea, pastoral care for foreign workers, outreach to youth, and concrete works for the realization of social justice in society by rooting out corruptions. It is not easy to integrate the social teachings of the Church with our daily lives. Implementation will have to be systematic and done in deep faith and commitment.

 

 

 

Catholic Academy of Religions and Culture Opended

 

  The Catholic academy of religions and culture was opened in Seoul, on June, 19th with Rev. John Kim Mong?eun, the president. The academy intends to study and do research on religions and cultures in the multi-religious Korean society. The main stream religions that have played a major role in Korean society are Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Protestantism, Won?Buddhism and Chondokyo. Besides them there exist minor groups such as the followers of Islam, Taoism and Shamanism. Among 200 people from all walks of society who attended the inauguration ceremony were Bishop Paul O. Kim, auxiliary bishop of Seoul, and leaders of six main religions including the Culture Minister, Song Tae?ho.
  Bishop Paul O. Kim said in his opening address that religion has a role to lead humanity to the truth. “As we prepare for a new millennium, we have to deal with the hurts of the 20th century. The healing of these hurts is a task of religon and this is precisely the goal of this new academy. We will pursue studies so that religions can fulfill their role and duty of savior of the world and humanity.”
  On the same day the international academic forum was held with theme of “The Spirit and the Religious Cultures in Asia” at Sogang University. Rev. Antoine Sontag, Secretary general of the Justice & Peace Committee of French Catholic Bishops’ Conference made the key address with the theme “The fascination for Eastern religions and their impact on Western Europe.” Dr. Choan?Seng Song, Professor of theology at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA., spoke on theme “The spirit blows where it chooses ? towards a theology of Asian religious culture”. Prof. Lee Eun?bong(philosophy) from Duksong Women’s University in Seoul was one of the speakers.
  Rev. Sontag challenged Catholics by saying that in France, a country where 80% of population are Catholics, there are growing numbers of Buddhists and other religions such as Muslims, Protestants and Jews.
“Nowadays, Europeans, and French people in particular, are attracted to Eastern religions, especially Buddhism,” Rev. Sontag said and added that this is not because Buddhism itself is an attracting religion but it is because the Catholic Church has many problems.” “The only way to keep attraction for the Catholic Church is to change herself in order to be able to respond to current social demands, to the hopes of people who are disoriented or simply dissatisfied with traditional politics or religions.”
  Prof. Choan?Seng Song born in Taiwan speaking on Asian theology said that Asian theology means where Asian people are the subject and not object of theological study. He showed a broad approach indicating that we embrace Asian traditional religions of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and even Shamanism. He placed importance on the “How” I live religion, more than the “What” of the religion I live.

 

 


 

 

  What we have done to use the means of social communications in the Church’s evangelizing mission and the initiatives to be taken in the future
  The instruments of social communications are actively used in the Korean Church. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea publishes two monthly magazines, the Kyonghyang Jabji and the Samok. The Archdiocese of Seoul publishes the weekly Pyonghwa Newspaper and operates the Phonghwa FM Radio station and Pyonghwa Cable Television network. In this way the Catholic teachings and news reach rapidly to every corner of the country. The Pyonghwa FM Radio and Cable Television network now have their local stations in Taegu and Kwangju archdioceses.
  The diocese of Wonju utilizes the MBC radio which is a civilian?run radio station. The archdiocese of Taegu publishes a daily as well as a weekly newspaper, the Catholic Shinmun. Thus, there are two weekly Catholic newspapers in Korea and all dioceses publish their own weekly bulletin.
  Many dioceses participate in preaching programs on radio and television stations not operated by the Catholic Church. They also use secular daily newspapers for writing articles on the purpose and mission of the Church. Also, the communication committee of each diocese tries to educate the faithful and help them to discern good values as seen from a faith perspective by recommending and offering good movies, television programs, and videos.
  Utilizing the Internet is currently a project underway. The Church in Korea has invested time, personnel and money in the area of social communication, but these activities will have to reach out to society more and be of higher quality.

 

  Marian spirituality and devotion
  The patron of the Catholic Church in Korea is Mary of the Immaculate Conception. The early missionaries consecrated the Church in Korea to Mary. The Korean Catholics’ devotion to Mary is very special, deep and authentic. Certain Protestant Churches still criticize the Catholic Church as the Church of Mary, but this criticism does not lessen the devotion to her. The Korean people’s love and affection for their own familial mother greatly influenced on their Marian devotion. However, certain Catholics consider Mary as an object of faith and not as an example of faithful discipleship.

 

  Additional remarks and suggestions for consideration by the Synod.
1) Family problems and evangelization of family;
2) Youth problems;
3) Problems of politic, environment and human rights;
4) Effective solidarity for evangelization of Asia in the spirit of Fedei donum(of Pope Pius XII);
5) Problems of new religious sects in diverse forms, AIDS, drug, prostitution and New Age movement.

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan Church Opposes Exporting Nuclear Waste to North Korea

 

  Following the official letter of the Justice & Peace Committee of the CBCK last March to the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference(of Taiwan, CRBC) on the matter of Taiwan’s export of nuclear waste to North Korea, the CRBC and its member organizations issued a statement and declared opposition to the storage of nuclear waste produced in Taiwan in other countries and urged the government that the nuclear waste produced by Taiwan should be stored in Taiwan. The CRBC sent the statement to the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCK and promised to struggle for the issue in solidarity with Korean Church. Meantime in the beginning of September, facing criticism from the international community, North Korea and Taiwan have rewritten a bilateral contract on the export of nuclear waste in order to virtually postpone its planned shipment to NK. Also last August the Foreign Ministries of five Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua jointly expressed support for Korea’s efforts to stop Taiwan’s plan to export N?Waste to NK. Following is the full text of the statement of the member organizations of the CRBC.


  Opposing the Export of Nuclear Waste

 

  For the price of 0.2 billion US Dollars Taiwan is shipping its nuclear waste to North Korea for disposal. Everyone know that nuclear waste is thorny issue. Since the people of Orchid Island formerly didn’t realize the danger, therefore, the government was able to smoothly store the nuclear waste on that island. Now the government still continuously tries to convince people in remote areas to Taiwan to accept the waste, even offering high compensation, but people still do not want to accept it, because they do not want to always live under nerve-racking uncertainty in such a dangerous environment. We do not want to be neighbors of the nuclear waste, we want our living area to be clean land. North Korea at the moment is both at the risk of famine and in dire need of cash, and also without the capability to process the nuclear waste. In order to enjoy clean land, we should not let the land of the poor become a garbage dump. Where is justice? If we act like that, are not we initiating another unjust structure? Dumping garbage into third world countries, is not that sealing their fate under the principle of no money, no rights?
  The waste we produce by using nuclear power now we should store in Taiwan. Imagine we let the danger from nuclear waste we ourselves cannot accept, be borne by the people of North Korea, because we have money and they are poor. Do not do to others what you yourself don’t want to be done to you! Is this only theory for us and not a part of our lives? We are always teaching this virtue to our next generation, but what we as rulers practice is: “What You do not want yourself, you dump it on others.” And we continuously rationalize this unjust behavior... It is a pure business transaction! Friends, please, use your “CONSCIENCE!” As Christians, do we have to follow this society and dump on others what we do not want ourselves? In view of this issue, how should we live out “love your neighbors as yourself?” Or should we continue to keep silence?
  Our silence will be another confirmation and will produce another evil. God uninterruptedly tells us: “Man!... what is good? What does God demand from You? Only this, that you act justly!”(Mic 6.8). Therefore, Taiwan should itself take care of its own nuclear waste and not pollute other countries with it.
  From the point of view of one life community, the only solution for this long term dangerous nuclear waste is not to use nuclear power. We are afraid that we won’t have sufficient electricity: the only way out is to change our way of living and further try to develop alternative sources of energy.
  Since we do not want to accept the threat nuclear power carries along, we should courageously say “NO” to nuclear power electricity. Mother Earth again and again receives destruction from civilization. She has no way to say “NO, you can not do that!” She silently accepts all that. But there will be one day when we have exhausted the life of Mother Earth: How shall we then survive?
  Friend! In order that mankind and technology of the entire earth may continue to produce life abundantly, we have no right to destroy it. Our duty is to deal fairly with it and manage it justly!

Therefore, we invite all of you to join us:
* To oppose the storage of nuclear waste in other countries: accepting that the waste we produce should be stored in Taiwan.
* To oppose the continued use of nuclear power for electricity and to promote simple life style and alternative sources of energy.

 

Justice & Peace Committee of the Taiwan Association of MSRMW Commission for Social Development
Commission for Justice & Peace of Taipei Archdiocese

 


 

 

● News from the Church in Korea

 

● Paris Foreign Mission Society Transfer Archives to the Church in Korea
The Paris foreign Mission Society made an official transfer of the important archives and letters of Fr. Choi Yang?up to the Korean Catholic Church after 160 years.
On June 23, Rev.Raymond Rossignol, the Superior General of the PFM announced the official transfer of the valuable archives to the Korean Church. He signed them over in the presence of the Rev. Gerard Mousset, the archivist of the PFM, Most Rev. John Chang Yik, the president of the Committee for Culture of the CBCK and the Rev. Theophilus Choi representing Cardinal Stephen Kim of Seoul.
The archives consist of 18 letters of Fr.Choi Yang?up; original texts translated into Latin of the acts of martyrs during Kihae(1839) and Pyong?oh(1846) persecutions and 70 pages of revised texts of these translation; letters of Pope Gregory VI for establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Korea and the appointment of the ordinary; letters of the martyrs You Jin?kil, Cho Shin?ch’ol and Kim Francisco addressed to Pope Gregory VI and Bishop Bruguier who was the first ordinary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Korea.
The returned archives will contribute greatly to the study of the history of the Korean Church and further process of canonization of the Korean martyrs.
Fr. Choi(1821?1861), the second ordained Korean priest and the only Korean
priest at that time, is considered as a ‘white martyr’ because he died of exhaustion and typhoid. He travelled up and down the country for a period of 12 years. It is recorded that during that period he walked up to 40 kilometers a day.

 

● Choltusan Designated as National Historic Site
The Office of Ministry of Culture and Sport announced Choltusan(meaning mountain of decapitation), a Catholic holy land of martyrs, on Aug. 22 as national historic site with name of “Yanghwanaru Jamdubong”.
The Office of Cultural Properties recently held a meeting to include the religious site of martyrdom. The Chultusan area was top on the list of prospective national historical sites. The mountain, Chultusan, covers 11,857 square meters in Mapo, western Seoul.
Among the qualifications or reasons whereby it is being considered a national historic site is that this place was where the persecution of Byongin in 1866 took place. During that persecution, over 2,000 Catholics were beheaded near the Han River by the Choson Dynasty government which feared the infiltration of the egalitarian religion coupled with the Korean?French War.
A memorial hall was established there in 1966 by the Seoul Archdiocese in commemoration of the centennial of the persecution and the site has emerged as a popular destination for Catholics coming on religious pilgrimages. Pope John Paul II visited it in 1984.
Currently, Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul, Tap-dong Cathedral in Inchon and five other churches are listed as national historic sites.
Seoul Archdiocese and Seoul City are discussing the issue of restoring original form of the Jamdubong area.
Until recently there was a city plan to construct high rise apartments in that area and the Seoul archdiocese has been protesting against such project.

 

● Promotion of Beatification of Thomas An Chung-gun Discussed
With the celebration of the 87th anniversary of “martyrdom” of Thomas An Chung?gun(1879?1910) a move to beatify him has grown in the Church. An who killed Ito Hirobumi at Harbin, China, the chief instigator of the Japan’s invasion to Korea on Oct. 26, 1909 was a devoted Catholic and vice?chief of staff of Korean Army at that time.
The Research Institute for Korean Church History and the Catholic historians have initiated re-evaluation work of An’s evangelic life as a Catholic and compilation of necessary materials. The RIKCH made request to the general house of the Paris Foreign Mission Society to make available related materials. Thomas An is claimed to be included in the 65 martyrs for whom the Seoul archdiocese is working for canonization.
An’s case reminds us the case of St. Jeanne d’Arc who was burnt at the stake in 1431 by the English Army during 100 Year War between France and England but who was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.
Baptized in 1895 by a French missionary, An had dedicated his entire life for his compatriots suffering from atrocity of Japanese colonial rule. When he shot Ito Hirobumi at Harbin, China, Oct. 26, 1909 it was in his capacity as the vice?chief of staff of Korean Army, thus this can’t be considered as an obstacle for beatification according to what the Vatican Council II says.
Cardinal Kim said that An Chung-gun was a committed Catholic who did not hesitate to risk his own life for the Kingdom of God in our land and for the realization of justice and peace in Asia.
“By the fact that Thomas An did not spare his life when the country and society were in a precarious state, he can be considered a martyr. He was a martyr of justice and peace in the history of the Korean people and this should be emphasized clearly,” Rev. Shin Song?guk said.

 

● Cardinal Kim Makes Official Visit to China
As Korea and China celebrated the 5th year of the normalization of diplomatic relation, Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou?hwan of Seoul made his first official visit to mainland China, from August the 12th to the 21st., on the invitation of the Religious Affairs Bureau under China’s State Council.
The Cardinal Kim was warmly welcomed by high government officials, Church leaders and Koreans in China. Besides his official visit, the Cardinal’s itinerary included visits to the autonomous Korean prefecture of Yanbian in Jilin province which boarders North Korea, to the National Seminary in Beijing and to the Korean Catholic community.
At the Seminary the Cardinal discussed plans for a monument to be erected in memory of Fr. Zhou Wenmo. Fr. Zhou was the first Chinese missionary priest to come to Korea. Fr. Zhou left Beijing in 1794 and was martyred in 1801 during the Shinyu persecution. While in Beijing Cardinal Kim celebrated Mass of Solemnity of Assumption of Virgin Mary with some 200 Korean Catholics. It was also the 52nd anniversary of Independence of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. “The relationship of our two countries is not official but it is special from the beginning for many reasons,” Cardinal said and added “that’s why my visit to China is a pilgrimage.”

 

● Campaign to Help North Korean People to Continue
The Priests Association for Justice(PAJ) announced that the total amount of $2,022,222 was collected for the North Korean Children. That amount was collected from March 1996 until August 25. The PAJ said it has decided to keep continuing the campaign. Meanwhile the inter-religion campaign to collect one million signatures for national reconciliation, formed by 210 religious leaders and people on July 5th, announced they reached 1.5 million signatures in 40 days. However the government showed reluctance to the demands of the campaign to multiply opportunities for sending food to North Korea as presented by Bishop Andrew Choi Chang?mu, auxiliary bishop of Seoul archdiocese, Song Wolju from Chogye Order from Buddhists, Rev. Chong Jin?kyong from the Protestant community, they said. In response to a demand to offer 500,000 tons of rice and medicines, the Vice Minister Kwon said the government will give US$4,000,000 equivalent in grain including US$10,000,000 in cash through the United Nations. Cardinal Kim said that “The purpose of the campaign was to help to open our heart which is closed by materialism and selfishness, to love and compassion and transform it into a loving heart” and added that “conditional aid for the North is impossible and unacceptable”

 

● Church Welcomes Supreme Court s Rule for Illegal Aliens.
Catholic labor world welcomed the Supreme Court’s rule in favor for migrant workers on Aug. 27. The foreign workers including illegal workers are entitled for severance pay according to the pertinent law. Following the Supreme Court’s rule, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said that from next year the foreign workers will be granted the same labor rights accorded to local workers: three basic labor rights, legal allowances and severance pay.
In its ruling on the appeal against Mohammed Abdul Kelek of Bangladesh, the Supreme Court said that Soan Co., employer of the foreign worker, should pay a total of 3.67 million won in retirement benefits for the four years it had him on its payroll.
The government’s position so far has been that illegal foreign workers are not entitled to the retirement benefit except accident compensation as it is stipulated in the Labor Standard Law. The Labor Ministry argued that their work contract can not be valid because they are illegal foreign residents so working violates the provisions of the immigration laws. But the Supreme Court ruled that their illegal resident status does not ipso facto make their work contract null and void. “This rule could affect some 140,000 illegal foreign workers in a positive way,” a Catholic labor activist said.
Meanwhile the Justice Ministry initiated measures, Sept. 22nd, to change the naturalization law to permit illegal aliens married to South Korean women to obtain citizenship. According to the current revisions, illegal aliens who have lived with SK women in a relationship virtually resembling that of married couples cannot register their marriage, and the husbands face deportation.
“Considering that there are more than 220,000 illegal aliens, it is inevitable that we will have to grant them SK citizenship as long as they have stayed here over a certain period of time(2 years) and their marital status is verified,” a ministry official said.

 

● Cardinal Kim Petitions for Amnesty of Foreign Workers in Jail
On Aug. 24, Cardinal Kim sent petition letter to President Kim Yong?sam and Kim Jong?ku, Justice Minister, on behalf of Chon Jae?ch’on(39), a seaman who was sentenced to death in relation to the riot on board of the Peskama.
In the letter Cardinal Kim said that “Chun’s crime deserves severe punishment ... however in order to offer him enough time and opportunity to repent and have new life, I petition that you suspend execution. Cardinal Kim insisted that the on board riot in which 11 Korean seamen were killed is not only the fault of these 6 condemned Korean?Chinese seamen. “The judicial sentence should consider the real context of the incident,” and he continued “we have to embrace those Koreans in China who are descendants of Koreans who went to China under Japanese occupation to fight against Japan and seek for freedom.” As we say that “We have to cure disease but save the person,” Chun Jae?ch’on’s execution should be suspended, he emphasized.
The six seamen including Chon Jae?ch’on were condemned to death under the collective murder charge of 11 Korean seamen on the Peskama in Aug., 1996. Many petitions from Koreans in China and also many religious, civic groups and labor organizations in Korea have sent petitions to the Justice Ministry on behalf of the six condemned men. Also in the case of two foreign workers Amir Jamil and Mian Mohamad Ajaz, both Pakistanis on death row in Kwangju prison on a murder charge, Cardinal Kim petitioned, in March, President Kim Young?sam and asked to

 

 

 

News in Brief

The Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious of Korea and Japan agreed on May to make a joint prayer on the 15th of each month for peace in Asia and harmonious relationship between the two countries. All Korean women religious were asked to pray with this intention. The solidarity work of the women religious of the two countries was initiated on December 1995 with the issue of the “Comfort Women”, sex slavery of Japan’s military men during the WWII.

● On July 8th, 42 temporary professed sisters of Franciscan Missionary of Mary in Seoul donated their bone marrow to the Bone Marrow Bank of Catholic University of Medicine. This collective donation of bone marrow is expected to raise the consciousness of people towards the value of human life. Last May The One Heart One Body Movement of Seoul has appealed to the Sisters to take an active participation in the human life movement.

● The Lay Apostolic Council of Taegu, at the seminar on evangelization and faith held on Aug. 24th focused on renewed faith life, active participation in the diocesan synod with prayer and devotion, simple life by reducing driving cars, saving electricity and other daily necessities.

● On June 12th, Bishop Andrew Choi Chang?mu, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul archdiocese was appointed as a member of the advisory committee of the Reunification Ministry which is under direct control of the President. The Committee’s role is to study issues on reunification and coordinate a strategic policy on the matter. The committee consists of 31 members from all walks of life; military, official servants, scholars, press people, women’s and religious circle. Bishop Choi is the first catholic clergyman to be appointed a member of this committee.

● Sr. Anna Kim Po?ae(St. Paul de Chartres), director of the Children’s Counselling Center run by Seoul City, received the 1997’ special prize on the 17th June for her love and dedication in working with youth who are addicted to drugs. Currently there are 93 drug addicted youth and psychedelics are under treatment at the Children’s Counselling Center. Since Spring of 1995 the Counselling Center adopted “a street counselling program,” which is a new method of guidance. The counsellors are supposed to go to the street to meet the youth who are involved in the drug culture.

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea [20]

 

by Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Prof. of Korea University
Department of Korean History

 

Church’s Concern for Justice and Political Power(1)

 

1. Context of the Times
  The 1970s is significant time in the modern history of Korea because the military dictatorship which was symbolized by the Revitalizing Reforms System ? so called the Yushin Law ? was established in this period(1972). Under this system the dictatorial regime was intensified, the conflict between the democracy and dictatorship increased and underground movement to defend human rights and democracy activated. The government controlled democratic movement by intelligence politic and enhanced the Central Intelligence Agency. Several emergency measures were issued during that period.
  Meantime the agriculture and light industry centered Korean economy was switched to the chemical and heavy industry centered one. In this process the agricultural population diminished rapidly and it fell down from 56.1% in 1961s to 28.4% in 1980s. Speedy economic growth was achieved by the economic policy based on the low income labor force. Korea has reached unusual growth of economy of 40.7 percent of annual extension rate of export and 8.9 percent of average economic growth through the first five-year economic development.
  The Saemaul Undong(New Community Movement) was developed with full support of the government(1971) and in the shade of economic growth the labor movement was developed on its way. The labor conflicts first began in textile, mine and chemical industries in the middle of 1960s and from the beginning of 1970s labor movement of those who were excluded from the export oriented policy and industries was emerged strong. The tragic incident of self-burning to death of Chon Tai?il(Nov.13,1970), a young male worker at a sewing factory of the Peace Market in Seoul under poor working condition, triggered a new labor movement.
  The educational world in 1970s had no tranquil day. The military dictatorship tightly controlled the autonomy of the educational institutions and imposed a militaristic way on the campus. In this process the college students played a significant role of vanguard for democracy by standing up against dictatorship and corruption. Also, in the world of culture and thoughts, a strong nationalistic cultural movement rose against the military controlled culture. By rejecting militarism and chauvinism these intellectuals pursued human liberation and committed themselves to the struggle for human rights, democracy and the peaceful reunification of the nation. People in the 1970s had strong sense of right to exist and sought for a better and dignified quality of life. A long march to ensure human dignity and democracy was started.

 

2. Development and Realization of Justice
  Around 1970s the Church in Korea reflected a lot on the meaning of her existence in Korean society and on the place of the Church in the history of the Korean people. Also under influence of the Second Vatican Council the Korean Church committed herself to her self renewal. Along with an economic centered development many problems emerged in Korean society while locally adapted theology, such as liberation theology, developed in the world at that time. In such world context people’s movements for the realization of justice was quickened in the Korean society of the 1970s.
  The full-scale justice movement was begun with the foundation of the Priests Association for Justice in 1974. From the end of 1960s the Church in Korea was interested in political democratization, industrialization and unification of the Korean peninsula. For instance when President Park Chung Hee attempted the 3rd amendment to the Constitution in order to perpetuate his military regime, the Church made clear her position against it. But the main interest of the Church from the end of 1960s was focused in particular on the solution of social problems provoked in the process of economic development. In that time the Seoul archdiocese introduced the pastoral committee for industry(1971) and the national association of the lay apostolates held a study meeting the theme of which was “The Catholic Church and Social Development”.  Also Catholics and Protestants formed “TheChristian Federation for Social Action” and carried out Prayer Meetings for the Promotion of Social Justice.
  Eventually the Church committed herself to correct structural defects in society and focused her efforts on the question of the workers’ welfare. One of the key examples of these efforts was the “campaign to expel corruptions”. In this way the Church challenged the absurd reality of society and its structure.
  The 1974 was a new turning point for the peoples’ movement for justice. The government announced the incident of the national league of students for democracy and in connection to it Bishop Daniel Tji of Wonju was indicted. His charge was rebellion and instigation (July 16, 1974). Thereupon the Korean clergy formed the Priests Association for Justice(PAJ) around Rev. Augustine Ham Sae?woong and challenged the military regime and its dictatorship. The PAJ, fully backed by the Catholics, tried to bring light on the concept of social justice and love on the basis of the social teachings of the Church. The PAJ demanded amnesty of all prisoners of conscience and fundamental solution of the social defects. It constantly denounced human rights abuses and asked for an end to the dictatorial regime, it asked for the abolition of the tip?off politics, it asked for the guarantee of the right to life and it asked for the eradication of corruption.
  The justice movement of the Korean clergy and lay people was carried out with support of some Bishops and Cardinal Kim Sou?hwan, Archbishop of Seoul. Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou?hwan spoke out for justice and said that there is no freedom of religion where there is no political freedom and freedom of expression. Street demonstrations and prayer meetings were carried out in most of dioceses.
  However, all Catholics did not participate in the democratization struggle and some clergy and faithful did not agree with it. Yet the Catholic movement for justice has played very important role in the process of the democratization of Korea and its realization of justice in the 1970s. The Church’s active involvement in social justice made a great contribution to the evangelization of the Korean people. For this reason the justice movement of the Church in 1970s is evaluated as the 2nd Pentecost of the Church in Korea.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
32 CBCK Newsletter No.32 (Fall 2000) Aug 27, 2009
31 CBCK Newsletter No.31 (Summer 2000) Aug 27, 2009
30 CBCK Newsletter No.30 (Spring 2000) Aug 27, 2009
29 CBCK Newsletter No.29 (Winter 1999) Aug 27, 2009
28 CBCK Newsletter No.28 (Fall 1999) Aug 27, 2009
27 CBCK Newsletter No.27 (Summer 1999) Aug 27, 2009
26 CBCK Newsletter No.26 (Spring 1999) Aug 27, 2009
25 CBCK Newsletter No.25 (Winter 1998) Aug 27, 2009
24 CBCK Newsletter No.24 (Fall 1998) Aug 27, 2009
23 CBCK Newsletter No.23 (Summer 1998) Aug 27, 2009
22 CBCK Newsletter No.22 (Spring 1998) Aug 27, 2009
21 CBCK Newsletter No.21 (Winter 1997) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.20 (Fall 1997) Aug 27, 2009
19 CBCK Newsletter No.19 (Summer 1997) Aug 27, 2009
18 CBCK Newsletter No.18 (Spring 1997) Aug 27, 2009

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