CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter




From the Editor
From the Editor:

"New Day, New Life" Movement and the Great Jubilee Year

The Korean Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 has launched a "New Day, New Life" movement as the Church prepares for the Great Jubilee. The Bishops at their monthly meeting held on Feb. 26th at the CBCK Conference Room in Seoul adopted a four point motto. "Start with myself", "Let's make a happy family", "Be a good neighbor" and "Let's march together." In order to attract more attention and to get the people more interested in participating in the movement the Commission has decided to invite the public to join them by creating detailed projects related to the four point motto. This will be announced throughout the country through TV and Radio. The theme song will be chosen in the same way so that the faithful will be able to enter more deeply and joyfully into the spirit of the Great Jubilee through songs. Is it too late? No it is never too late! The Special Commission is happy to respond to many requests of the faithful, providing them with concrete orientation for the Jubilee.
    While preparing for the Great Jubilee, which has as its focus the renewal of the Church and the re-evangelization of ourselves, the Special Commission has looked for various ways to effectively realize it. However, concern was shown lest the faithful be distracted by external events instead of being helped to concentrate on the essentials of the Great Jubilee which are inner conversion and spiritual growth. Therefore by means of the movement of "New Day, New Life" with its fourfold goal, the Commission is seeking to help the faithful to realize their inner conversion as well as help them to give witness to their renewal in their daily lives.
    The year 2000 is truly a new year! In order to welcome the new year we are called to change ourselves. The "New Day, New Life" movement is the expression of our determination and our commitment to the spirit of the Great Jubilee Year. Thus, I think that this movement is a profound and appropriate expression of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. As well as this the mottos, when they are lived out with sincerity, will bring about good results for ourselves and our neighbors as well as for the Church and society because they are all oriented to building up a society of togetherness and happiness. Therefore the Special Commission wishes that this movement not just remain within the walls of the Church but reach out to the whole of society so that it becomes a social movement. We pray to Our Lord to be the Lord of all people and to move their heart by His presence.

Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Secretary General
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea



Lenten Message of Cardinal Kim

Lenten Message of Cardinal Kim:

Ask for the Wisdom and Power of the Cross!

As Korea is going through a difficult time due to the IMF imposed regulations, Cardinal Stephen Kim of the Archdiocese of Seoul, in his Lenten message, focused first of all on burden sharing in a spirit of fraternal love and the wisdom of the cross. He called on Korean Catholics to place their hope and trust in Christ who triumphed over death. "At this time of trial the meaning of the passion of Our Lord who did not spare his own life for our salvation is specially important for us," he said. Following is the full text of his message.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We once again start the Lenten season when we commemorate the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent will take on its real significance only when the Passion of Jesus is embodied in our lives through meditation on the deep meaning of his cross and when we fix our sights on Him on the cross.
    These times, nowadays called the IMF era, are economically difficult for all of us. Without the IMF bailout Korea was in danger of national bankruptcy. In other words, we were not able to repay our foreign debts which amounted to over US$150 billion. All of us, including the government, businesses, companies and workers have become poor because we have lived under the illusion and pretension that we were rich. Every day countless big and small business companies are collapsing, and big enterprises especially are in difficulty. As a result, many people are losing their jobs
and the number of unemployed is increasing every day.
    However, we should not succumb to desperation and hopelessness. We have to be convinced that we will be able to overcome these difficulties if we do our best to rebuild our economy together and change our lifestyle. In one word we have to make this misfortune an opportunity for a better life. Fortunately we have a great national spirit and this has spread out into movements to revive the economy. One of them is the gold collecting campaign.
    What we need at this time of trial is burden sharing in a caring spirit and a community consciousness which means practicing love of our neighbor. This is the significance of the Passion of Jesus, the extreme expression of his love for humanity. He did not spare his own life but offered Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation. As we are going through the IMF era the Lenten period of this year has more significance than ever for us.
    Sometimes we do not understand the meaning of our suffering because we do not understand the real meaning of Jesus' Passion. We wonder about sufferings and misfortunes and ask "Why me?". We wonder why Jesus, the innocent, had to die in such an incomprehensible way. Why did God not intervene? We must remember that Jesus said that he had to suffer. "We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God"(1 Cor.1,23-24).
    How can Jesus, who died on the cross naked and stripped of all human dignity, who was "so marred in his appearance that he seemed no longer human", be the Son of God? We have to meditate on this fact profoundly during this time of Lent. The death of Jesus on the cross is hard to understand. Jesus on the cross is nothing but a tragedy in itself when we regard him with human eyes and measure his death by worldly standards. There is nothing but darkness, death and hopelessness. There exists no greater disaster, suffering or defeat than Jesus's death on the cross.
    But St. Paul who had persecuted followers of Jesus, proclaimed that Jesus is the wisdom and the power of God. "For I decided to speak of nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"(1 Cor.2,2). He dedicated his life to proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. He desired to share the passion of Jesus and die like Him. For him Christ did not exist without the cross. Thus he could not think of either salvation or the Gospel without the cross.
    Paul confessed that "Whatever I have, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord... I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and how to share in His sufferings by becoming like Him in his death"(Phil 3,8-10). Paul finally wanted to share Jesus's Passion and die like Him because this is the only way to take part in the Resurrection of Jesus and the salvation He brought. We will rise from death when we die like Jesus.
    The ultimate goal that all humanity is searching for is eternal life, the life that has triumphed over death. This life we cannot obtain with worldly power, wisdom, technology or anything else. Only the power of God and his love can give it to us. God's unconditional and endless love that surpass human knowledge is revealed on the Cross. "For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength"(1, Cor 1,25).
    Furthermore the wisdom and power of the cross are for us the way through which we can overcome these difficult times. The cross of Jesus means for us the giving of self and self emptying in order to bring life to others. This means the sacrifice of ourselves in love. In difficult times like these people are inclined to relapse into selfishness and seek their own interests only. The examples of cornering and hoarding that we hear about is a good example of this. As I already mentioned the only way to overcome our current crisis and save our nation is through the practice of Christian love by becoming more conscious of the community in which we live, by caring for each other and sharing each other's burdens.
    This will demand a spirit of sacrifice for our neighbors. When we are determined to overcome the crisis in this spirit we will conquer not only the current crisis but also make our country a happier and a more human place to live in. So the wisdom and the power of the cross are the best way to save our country.
    In this year of the Holy Spirit, let us pray for a deeper understanding of the mystery of the passion and the cross of Jesus and experience it in our daily lives by being united with Him in His cross and in His love.


H.Father Appoints Card.Kim...

Holy Father Appoints Cardinal Kim as President Delegate of Asian Synod of Bishops for Asia and Approves the Nomination of Bishop Delegates

   For the Special Assembly of the Asian Synod of Bishops that will take place from April 19th to May 14th of this year Pope John Paul II has appointed His Eminence Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Archbishop of Seoul, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, S.J., Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, Bishop of Kaohsiung, Taiwan as president delegates.
   The four Bishop delegates to the Synod from Korea are Most Rev. Paul Ri, Archbishop of Taegu, Most Rev. Vincent Ri of Chonju, Most Rev. John Chang of Chun Cheon and Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul archdiocese.
   Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the President of the CBCK will participate in the Asian Synod as a member as ex officio member.
   Most Rev. William McNaughthon of Inch'on is the alternate member.



Overcome Difficulties through Solidarity

Overcome the Difficulties through Solidarity

On Epiphany Sunday, Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, the president of the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCK, issued a special message to the Korean Catholics regarding the economic crisis titled, "Let Us Overcome the Economic Crisis through Solidarity." He urged the Church to take the lead in finding a way out of the difficulties by living out the evangelical spirit of poverty and love expressed by a simple lifestyle and solidarity with those in greater difficulty.
    Bishop Pak said in the message that "At this juncture what Korea needs is not mere lip service but a Church that is salt of the earth and light of the world" and urged the Church "to be aware of her responsibility", and stressed that "The clergy and consecrated people should be the first to give this example."
    He quoted from Pope John Paul's message for the World Day of Peace where he stated that "From the justice of each comes peace for all," and he challenged all Christians: clergy, consecrated people and lay people to be salt of the earth and light of the world. He asked whether we are all free from social injustices and corruption, whether we are guilty of creating regionalism which is a great obstacle to national unification and whether we are living luxurious lives and spending excessively. He invited all the faithful to make a sincere self-examination before God.
    The message focused also on the clergy's life. "Clergy are the first ones who should practice poverty and detachment. They should show solidarity with the poor through their simple lives in a spirit of poverty. They should listen carefully to the criticism at times directed at them by lay people. If the complaints and anger against the clergy are left untreated then the future of the Church in Korea will become very fragile. Our Divine Master taught us that when salt loses its saltiness it has no value. The clergy have a duty to live a life that is 'poor in spirit.' When they embrace such a life it will become a source of peace for all. Our society needs to be renewed and refreshed mentally. Society expects from us a new hope and a new vision."




Calls for Sharing and Simple Life

Caritas Sunday to Focus on Sharing and Simple Life

    On Jan. 25th, the last Sunday in January, established by the Korean Bishops' Conference as Caritas Sunday when collections are made for the needy people of the world, Bishop Augustine Cheong, the president of Caritas Coreana, addressed all Korean Catholics urging them, despite the economic crisis, to be more generous towards people "who live in extreme poverty throughout the world." He reminded Catholics that as Christians they must live by the Gospel, caring for others even when they themselves are encountering difficulties. "If economic progress is used only for the accumulation of wealth and hinders people from becoming more human, then it is not progress" he affirmed. He said "Although we are in a difficult situation, it is our duty to think of those who are worse off than ourselves", and added that about one billion people who are faced with starvation and some 2 billion live in extreme poverty. "In the Northern part of our country, our brothers and sisters are dying because of food shortages and innocent children are dying of malnutrition," he said and concluded by suggesting to share even more when it is more difficult.




Demands Fairness Caritas Sunday

Economic Burden Sharing Demands Fairness

    The Justice & Peace and Labor Committees of the Seoul archdiocese issued on Jan. 12th, a joint statement placing emphasis on the need for fairness in sharing the economic burdens which are being stressed by the government in order to overcome the difficulties of the IMF era.
    The statement titled "The current economic crisis and our opinion on the IMF contract" said that "Any economic activity's goal must seek not only economic benefit but the genuine common good of the people." It stresses that "The basic rights of ordinary workers must not be sacrificed just for the benefit of a minority of people who hold economic power, for businesses or for those who enjoy high incomes."
    The statement particularly urged the government and business companies not to transfer the burdens to the workers and the people only but to shoulder their own fair share of it as well.
    While the Korean people are being called on to tighten their belts to overcome the current difficulties, the Korean Catholics are being asked to live a simpler life but one that is more generous in regards to others by getting rid of materialistic and consumeristic mentalities.
    At the Church level the dioceses and parishes have decided to freeze their budgets and to halt the construction of church buildings. The Lay Apostolate Council of Korea has also issued a statement asking the faithful to reduce unnecessary expenses, to refrain from buying imported products including religious objects, to purchase home made products, to hold Masse in small chapels to save electric power, to reduce lavish receptions after weddings and not to drive private cars to Mass.




Decl. of M.Rev.Victorinus Youn Concerning :Julia of Naju"

Declaration of Most Rev.
Victorinus Youn of Archdiocese of Kwangju Concerning
"The Phenomena which Happened to Julia Youn of Naju and Her Statue of the Blessed Mother and the Messages which She Received"

On Jan. 1st, 1998, the Feast of Mary the Mother of God, Archibishop Victorinus Youn has declared the so-called "miracles" attributed to the Blessed Mother in Naju city have procuded no evidence that "they are supernatural and thus from God." He warned also that to concider the alleged events in Naju as surernatural is regarded as "an act of distroying the unity of the faith of the Church." He said that as the "authentic teacher of the faith and legitmage shepherd," he wished to give priests, consacrated people and laity in the archdiocese "an authoritative interpretation" regarding the reported phenomena and messages associated with Julia Youn of Naju and her statue of Mary. Following is the full text of his Declaration.

The problems concerning Julia Youn (The events arising in Naju city located in the Archdiocese of Kwangju) which started with the weeping statue of the Blessed Mother on 30th July 1985 have developed into various events and publication of bulletins which have been broadly circulated. These include the so-called miracles such as the Blessed Mother's statue shedding bitter tears and fragrant oil, the moving of the statue forward and backward in the niche, the rose fragrance of Julia's body, her bodily suffering for the sins of abortion and other sins which fill the world, and the most recent miracles of the Eucharist, etc. Julia Youn, a mother of four children, realizing the fact that many were interested in such phenomena and believe them to be genuine, began to insist that the so-called "messages of the Blessed Mother of Naju" which she had heard from the Blessed Mother were authentic and therefore were truly private revelations.
As all Christians know, revelation and the Eucharist are the heart of the Orthodox Catholic Faith. For that reason, all matters related to them must be definitely discerned by the teaching of the Orthodox Catholic Faith.
    The Naju Investigation Committee that I, the Ordinary, Archbishop of Kwangju Archdiocese, formed on 30th December 1994 has examined carefully from the point of view of faith and from a multilateral standpoint the so-called "phenomena which happened to Julia Youn of Naju and her statue of the Blessed Mother and the messages she received." After its first meeting on 9th January 1995 I published an interim report of the Investigation Committee which was co-signed by the Chairman of the Naju Investigation Committee (Rev. Fr. Augustinus Kim Jai-young) on 16th June 1995.
   Since then the Naju Investigation Committee has convened 15 times. An examination of the faith and an inspection of the phenomena by analyzing all the contents and the process of their formation in all the related books and all printed materials has been carefully made. In conjunction with this the Committee has on five occasions heard the testimony of 14 people, including that of Julia Youn who are central to "the events arising in Naju." The members of the Committee have also visited Julia's house to examine not only the statue of the Blessed Mother but also the hall where it is enshrined.

1.1  Based on the results of the investigations, I, the Archbishop of Kwangju Archdiocese, make this public judgement on the so-called "events arising in Naju" because I have an episcopal mandate to give an authoritative interpretation (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 75-78; Verbum Dei, 10) on the results of the investigations carried out by the Investigation Committee.

1.2  In the so-called "Messages of Our Lady of Naju" which claim to have come from Our Lady, there are several human and artificial elements involved. Because of this, there are several parts which appear to be lacking in genuineness and credibility. Firstly as regards the content, there are some parts resembling imitations, plagiarisms and quotations from recognized books such as Father Gobbi's "To the most beloved priests of the Blessed Mother" and "The message of the Sacred heart" published by the Catholic Publishing House, Seoul. There are also parts which appear to be purposely manipulated, omitted or inserted as a result of the influence of some people and other circumstances. Examples of this are the appearance of miraculous water, the making of a Sanctuary and the building of a Basilica. In addition, there are discrepancies between Julia's own hand-written diaries and published materials.
    Moreover the teaching that because of Julia Youn, the Father seems to delay the end of the world (cf. the content which seems to be regarded as "The Word of the Father" heard on 16th July 1995) which is already decided and thus known only to the Father (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1040) obviously conflicts with the teaching of the Orthodox Catholic Faith. Therefore, the so-called "Messages of the Blessed Mother of Naju" are seen as the result of Julia Youn's personal experience or meditation, and do not bear any evidence that they are private revelations although Julia Youn and her followers insist that they are authentic, private revelations.

1.3 The phenomenon alleged to be a miracle of the Eucharist falling from heaven is contradictory to the doctrine of the Catholic Church that says that only through the legitimately ordained priest's consecration does the sacrament of the Eucharist begin to exist (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1411; DS, 902) even though the priest is in grave sin, because when all the sacraments are properly celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church (ex opere operata), Christ and His Holy Spirit operate in them(cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1128; DS. 93-794). Furthermore, the alleged phenomenon that as soon as Mrs. Julia Youn received the Eucharist, it was changed into a lump of bloody flesh in her mouth is also contrary to the doctrine of the Catholic Church that says that even after the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ during the recitation of the formula of consecration, the species of bread and wine remain (cf. Pope Paul VI's Mysterium Fidei; DS. 782, 802, 1321, 1640-1642, 1652). Such phenomena do not enhance the faith of the people in the Eucharist which exists under the species of bread and wine. On the contrary, they seem to act as elements which cause great confusion and embarrass the peoples' faith in the Eucharist.

1.4 Various strange phenomena which happened to Julia Youn and in her surroundings (phenomena arising from her body, and the statue of the Blessed Mother), or personal visions also produce no evidence which proves that they are truly supernatural and thus from God. Perhaps, they can be said to show some preternatural power.

2.1 I, the Archbishop of Kwangju Archdiocese, as the authentic teacher of the faith and legitimate shepherd of the flock sincerely ask all the priests, religious and the faithful in the diocese and those who are involved in "the events arising in Naju" to accept these pastoral instructions in a spirit of obedience to the authentic teaching authority of the Church.

2.2 For the sake of one's personal interest, considering the alleged disturbing phenomena like "the events arising in Naju" and insisting on them as supernatural can be regarded as an act destroying the unity of the Church's faith. Therefore the publication or dissemination of all materials for propaganda relating to "the events arising in Naju" (eg, printed or published literature, audio/video tapes, photos, etc.) is officially forbidden (cf. Canon Law, 824, 1), and it is also my request that people refrain from reading or even looking at such documentation.

2.3 Therefore I, as Ordinary, have asked Julia Youn to discontinue the memorial services which have been held on the anniversary of the first weeping of the statue of the Blessed Mother, and not to spread her personal experiences and the so-called "Messages of the Blessed Mother of Naju" which were erroneously declared to be supernatural phenomena and private revelations. This advice is still valid and thus obedience to the teaching authority is again required.

2.4 The previous prohibition related to the saying of mass, the celebration of liturgy and the sacraments at any private place related to Julia Youn is still valid. Such gatherings as Vigils which assume the from of a Liturgy of the word and Hora Sancta, and other private prayer meetings which are held every Thursday and on the first Saturday of every month in Julia Youn's hall that enshrines the statue of the Blessed Mother are also forbidden. Therefore people around Julia Youn (especially voluntary helpers) are requested to obey the Magisterium and return home and exercise authentic devotion to the Blessed Mother.

2.5 Previous directives which I have made about this affair are still in effect, viz, apart from the parish priest who has jurisdiction over Naju, all priests who have been acting as supporters should refrain from playing any further roles. It is also desired that pastors and priests take care that the faithful's interest in the so-called "events arising in Naju" will not be allowed to permeate into the general devotional life of the parishes or Catholic institutions that they are responsible for. Lastly, I hope and pray that all members of Kwangju Archdiocese may listen to and accept Catholic teachings which state that "...true devotion consists neither in sterile nor transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith" (Lumen Gentium, 67), and spend their time and energies in promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother, in the many forms which have been approved by the Catholic Church. Through a sincere and genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church we will all be more deeply united to Christ who is "the source of all truth, sanctity and piety" (Lumen Gentium, 67). As the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary "takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father" (Introduction to Marialis Cultus), we also note that "the ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and to lead Christians to commit themselves to a life which is in absolute conformity with His will"(Marialis Cultus, 39).
"May the heart of Mary be in each Christian to proclaim the greatness of the Lord ; may her spirit be in everyone to exult in God" (St. Ambrose ; Exposition Evangelii Secundum Lucam, II, 26).

On the 1st January 1998,
The Feast of Mary, the Mother of God
Victorinus K. Youn
Archbishop of Kwangju





News form the Church in Korea

News from the Church in Korea

International Fast Day for North Koreans Launched

    Religious leaders and civilian organizations including Cardinal Kim of Seoul agreed to hold an International Fast Day for the North Koreans(IFDNK) who are suffering from a great shortage of food.
   The Korean committee of the IFDNK announced on March 12th that the religious leaders and civic groups would organize a one day fast in 70 cities throughout the world in order to help the North Koreans. Participants in the day of fast will include Pope John Paul II, the former US president Jimmy Carter, Cardinal Kim of Seoul and other important figures.
   The IFDNK announced an all out effort to collect money for NK. "The hardship of Spring is expected to cause severe food and medical problems, it said.
   Ven. Song Wolju from Chogye Order, an advisor of the committee, said that "In North Korea food rationing has been reduced from 300 grams to 100 grams of grain per person and to make matters worse only 40% of the people are being helped in this way."
   "The event is designed to promote the relief campaign for NK by raising international opinion", a committee official said. In Korea, events will be held in Seoul, Taegu, Kwangju and Pusan and people from Australia, North America, Japan and New Zealand will participate. On the Catholic side participants will include Cardinal Kim, Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu and Rev. Oh Tae-soon from the One Heart, One Body Movement.

Time for Evangelical Poverty

    The association of Major Superiors of Religious Men and Women of Korea held a prayer day at Myongdong cathedral on Jan.17th to pray for the country which is experiencing dramatic economic difficulty. About 700 religious participated.
    Cardinal Stephen Kim and Most Rev. Giovanni Battista, the Apostolic Nuncio in Seoul, concelebrated the Mass during which the participants adopted a resolution to practice evangelical poverty to which they are called in a very special way. The resolution includes the sharing of one's possessions with those in need, the concentration on evangelical poverty, the rejection of all materialism and the promotion of respect for the human person.
    "We as consecrated people want to live a simple life with a minimum of needs and with the mind of the Beatitudes by embracing all the inconveniences coming from this voluntarily chosen poverty," the resolution said.

Temporary Suspension of Foreign Aid Unavoidable

Caritas Coreana of the CBCK(Pres. Bishop Augustine Cheong) has decided at its monthly meeting to suspend all foreign aid until Korea overcomes the economic crisis. "At this juncture of national economic crisis temporary suspension of foreign aid and belt-tightening policies are unavoidable," he said.
    However it was agreed to present 45 million won to Fr. Robert Lee Jun-hwa for use in his mission to Mongolia and 20 million won to Sr. Kwon Young-hee and Sr. Lee Ki-jun for use in the food program for children in need in the Republic of the Congo.
Fr. R. Lee Jun-hwa, a diocesan priest from Taejon, went to Mongolia in Feb. 1997 and joined three Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres who have been living there since 1996. He is the first Korean priest to go there as a missionary.
    While on a visit to Korea recently Fr. Lee appealed to the Caritas Coreana and Korean faithful for financial aid.

Cheju Diocese Holds Grand Assembly of Legio Mariae

   On March 1st to mark the anniversary of the late Bishop Harold Henry (SSC), the first diocesan ordinary of Cheju and the one who introduced the Legio Mariae to Korea some 50 years ago, the Commissium of Mary, the Mother of Martyrs, held a faith assembly at the tomb of Hwang Sa-pyong, the martyr.
    The ordinary, Bishop Paul Kim asked the participants to be stimulated to follow Christ and to co-operate in the movement to double the number of Catholics by the year 1999, the centennial of the introduction of the Catholic Church to Cheju Island.
    The Legio Mariae movement was introduced to Cheju by the late Bishop Henry in 1955 and the Praesidium of Mary, the Mother of God was founded. The Curia of Mary, Mother of Martyrs, was formed in 1957 and the Commissium in 1980.
   The Commissium of the Mother of Martyrs has now 20 Curiae and 413 Presidia with 3,600 active members and 5,500 auxiliary members

"Raphael Clinic" Receives Second Tji Hak soon Justice and Peace Prize

   The Raphael Clinic has been given the second Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace prize. The Tulpit-hoe, a memorial society for the late Bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon, honored the Raphael Clinic for its humanitarian medical service for foreign workers in Korea and the promotion of their human rights and social welfare.
   The Raphael Clinic, run by the Association of Catholic Medical Doctors and the Catholic Students Club of the School of Medicine of Seoul National University was opened last April and since then it has offered free medical service to foreign workers.
   The association consists of 10 medical doctors and 30-40 medical student volunteers. They receive some 60-70 foreign patients a day and offer help in all areas of medicine including obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, ophthalmology and dermatology. Over 2,000 foreign patients have been treated so far.

Journalists' Role Essential in Protection of Human Dignity

    Cardinal Kim of Seoul at the annual meeting of the Catholic Journalists' Federation held at the Franciscan Center in Seoul, March 7th said that the role of journalists is essential for the protection of human dignity.
    "The dignity of human beings is an inviolable God given gift," he said "and therefore people who work for the press which influences the public should understand the deep meaning of human dignity and protect its integrity. What is most affected by the IMF era is not the economy but the dignity of human person."
    Some 50 Catholic journalists who attended the meeting were encouraged to renew their role in the conscientization of people and realization of the Kingdom of God through their work.

107-year Old Historic Church Burned

   Chungnim-dong Church in Seoul archdiocese, Korea's first Gothic Catholic church, was destroyed by fire on the morning of Feb.11th after having been set afire by a drunken homeless man.
    The arsonist, Chang Yang-geun(33) who was caught by the police confessed that the sight of a statue of Mary with a smiling face had provoked him to do it. "I am a Protestant who believes in Jesus Christ, and belief in Mary is wrong," he said.
    The Gothic style red brick church which was built in 1892 by Fr. Eugene Jean George, a priest of the Paris Foreign Mission Society, was designated as cultural property No 257 by the government. Damage amounts to about 1.2 billion won(US$740,000) which includes the pipe organ which costs about 1 billion won. If at all possible the parish would like to restore the church.

Death Penalty is Another Murder

   The Social Correction Apostolate of Seoul archdiocese kicked off a signature campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. At the same time the Taegu archdiocese's department of family, life and environment initiated a signature campaign on Feb. 14th together with the Taegu chapter of the Conference on Religion and Peace.
   On Jan. 12th, in front of Taegu prison, human rights activists from Taegu diocese held a memorial service for the repose of the souls of the 23 prisoners - of whom six were Catholics - who were executed on Dec. 30th, 1997. In their joint statement and in an open letter sent to the President Kim Young-sam they said that "Capital punishment is a system made by the government that legalizes murder and thus it should be abolished together with all other punishments which are the result of such an evil system."
    The campaigners urged the government to adopt an alternative to capital punishment and to strengthen correctional education.
    The Catholic campaign to abolish the death penalty started in 1989 but it was not been strong enough to influence the authorities.
    In 1992, Cardinal Kim issued a "Resolution" against the death penalty which encouraged the campaign to make greater efforts. Following it, the Justice and Peace Committee of Seoul archdiocese initiated a "10 million signature campaign against the death penalty." The Catholic Human Rights Committee and Priests Association for Justice have been particularly active in this area.

Catholics Not Satisfied with Special Presidential Amnesty

    On March 13th, in celebration of the election of President Kim Dae-Jung, over 5 million people were granted special presidential amnesty, the biggest number ever in the 50-year history of Korea.
    Released from prison were former Catholic lawmaker Soh Kyong-won for a secret meeting with the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung; Rev. Chinkwan, a Buddhist monk for participating in a North Korea-organized meeting in Beijing and Rev. Kang Hi-nam a Protestant.
    However, there was great disappointment felt by many that long term political prisoners, labor dissident and poet Park Ro-hae, Paik Tae-woong and student activists were excluded form the special amnesty. "They might overthrow the government." People reacted to this by asking "Then what difference is there between the new government and the old ones?" Cardinal Kim who has been campaigning for the release of certain prisoners of conscience and even sent a personal letter to Pres. Kim Dae-jung, expressed his great regret and disappointment at the scale of the amnesty.
    "Of 478 prisoners of conscience only 74 or 15 percent were released while the former president Kim Young-sam released 144 or 28 percent," the Catholic Human Rights Committee pointed out and urged President Kim Dae-jung to immediately release all the rest.
    "We have been saying that the new government should release all prisoners of conscience if it wants to realize the grand reconciliation of the Korean people but it failed to do this", the Priests Association for Justice said in expressing its disappointment.

News in Brief

Evangelisation among the Korean military ranks made significant progress in 1997 with the Baptism of 4,378 members. Statistics for 1997 show a total of 79,248 Catholic soldiers; 6,709 in the army, 5,915 in the navy and 5,915 in the air force. There are 51 army chaplains, 11 navy chaplains and 14 air force chaplains. The army has 157 chapels,the navy has 16 and the air force has 27.


Michael Camdessus, the managing director of the IMF, visited Cardinal Kim at Myongdong cathedral on Jan. 12th during his visit to Korea. At their meeting Cardinal Kim said that "It is like a rich brother helping a poor brothers. And the imposed layoff of workers for the restructuring of businesses you ask is like asking poor brothers to decrease their family members." "I believe that the Korean people are capable of revitalizing their national economy in the near future and I'm sure the IMF will do its best to help out," M. Camdessus said.


Ven. Song Wolchu, the chief executive of the Korean Buddhist Chogye Order, made an official visit to the Kkotdongnae (Flower village) in Umsong on Jan. 21st and offered Rev. Oh Woong-jin, the founder of the village, 100 sacs of rice and 5,000,000 won to be used as running expenses. This visit by Ven. Song was the first official visit to a welfare center run by another religion. It can be seen as significant gesture of friendship towards the Catholic Church.


The Jesuit run Sogang University in Seoul has established an IMF Special Scholarship Fund aimed at helping students whose parents lost their jobs because of the economic crisis. The faculty members including the president have agreed to contribute 10% of their annual income to the fund. "Demonstration of a family spirit is important when a community suffers form difficulty," Rev. Lee Sang- il, the president, said. 700,000 won will be given to each of 270 students starting with the first semester of this year.


For the first time in Myongdong cathedral's 100-year history a Buddhist monk was invited to speak to the congregation. Ven. Pubjong, a distinguished Buddhist spiritual master and writer, spoke about the national economic crisis and religious poverty. His address was a return courtesy after Cardinal Kim addressed a Buddhist meeting on the occasion of the opening of the Kilsang Temple in Seoul in December 1997. Open and friendly relation between Catholic leaders and Buddhist masters was welcomed by all as a sign of hope for greater interreligious approach. "A freely accepted and self-inflicted poverty is a liberating power unlike the poverty from which people want to be liberated" Ven. Pubjong said.




A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea

A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea

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

The Korean Church Growing and Rejuvenating(1)

1. Context of the Times

   In the recent history of Korea, the 1980's era was opened with the Kwangju democratization movement (May, 1980). This movement is a watershed event in the understanding of modern Korean history. Since the military coup led by Chun Doo-hwan the dictatorial rule of the military regime was imposed continuously upon the Korean people. The people struggled to overthrow the military regime and anti-government protests by students and workers were held almost daily and some denounced the regime by burning themselves to death.
    The government clamped down on the anti-government movements and tried to control them with its hard line policies. Students and dissidents were arrested and tortured. Some activists went missing and died mysterious deaths. In such an atmosphere the anti-government movement grew very strong and became so furious that the government had to accept part of their demands.
    With regard to the Kwangju democratization movement many young people and intellectuals claimed that the United States were involved in the affairs and in sympathy with and so giving legitimacy to the military regime. Because of this they were determined to oppose the United States by pointing out the problems in their policies rather then just keeping on friendly terms with them.
    While domestic politics were becoming more and more closed and oppressive the international politics were moving toward detente. China attempted to introduce a new economic system which was a mixture of socialist and capitalist economies as it entered the 1980's and sought to emerge from the nightmare of the cultural revolution. Meanwhile in Eastern Europe Communist rule was challenged in many places. This was confirmed by the establishment of a non-communist government in Poland in 1989 and the declaration of the end of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. While these international changes were taking place some changes happened in North Korea too. The North Korean Catholics' Association was founded in 1981 and declared that it would speak for North Korean Catholics and be their advocate. As well as this an exchange between North and South Korea through the Red Cross was realized even though their overall relationship had not improved much from what it had been during the Cold War.

2. Church Speaks to Society

    In the 1980s, depending on the conditions at the time, the Church continued to make its position known to Korean society and tried to strengthen its inner life. The Church's voice continued to be heard in society even after the Kwangju democratization movement. In July of 1980, some clergy and lay people who had tried to get to the truth about the massacre that occurred during the democracy movement were arrested by the military authorities and tortured. In 1982, an anti-US activist set fire to the US Cultural Center in Pusan and he sought refuge in the Church. Because of this incident a priest who tried to help him and mediate in the situation was arrested. The Permanent Council of the Bishops' Conference of Korea made clear its position and said that "the priest's action was merely an effort to seek the best solution to the problem". However the case went to court and the priest concerned was given a prison sentence. By 1986, a majority of Catholics demanded a Constitutional revision allowing direct presidential elections. A signature campaign for this Constitutional reform was carried out in all    
    Churches across the country. The Church's opinion was broadly supported by all walks of society and as a result, their demand was granted. As well as this efforts to solve various problems in the farming community resulting from the authoritarian government's policies were carried on by the Catholic farmers' movement.
    The anti-government struggle reached its peak by 1987. At that time government investigators tortured a student activist to death and tried to cover up the incident. This led to the Priests Association for Justice launching a nation wide protest campaign and the disclosure of the truth. At this time most of the Korean people thought that the publicly financed Korea Broadcast System(KBS) was merely a propaganda tool of the government and so playing a leading role in the distortion of facts. To show their opposition the Church in the Chonbuk Province launched a campaign asking Korean people to refuse to pay the TV license fee. This campaign expanded rapidly and gained the full support of the people and as result KBS had to change its position.
    The 1980s was a time marked by civilian efforts to improve the hostile relationship that existed between South and North Korea. In this context a Catholic female college student challenged the National Security Law, and went to North Korea to meet some North Korean youths. She discussed various questions regarding the reunification of Korea with her North Korean counterparts. The Priests Association for Justice, knowing there would be trouble as a result, sent a priest to North Korea to protect the student, to expressing its support. This provoked a serious social problem. On their return to South Korea through the DMJ of Panmunjom they were immediately arrested and put in jail. The opinions and evaluations of their conduct were many and varied.
    During this period some people within the Church had different opinions and some clergy and faithful were still critical of the Church's social involvement. However the Church leaders and intellectual groups wanted to justify the social participation of Catholics from the point of view of the social teachings of the Catholic Church. This led to the Church, that was oppressed once, receiving positive support from the Korean people for her social stance and becoming a symbol of the power and the conscience of Korean society. During this period of trial, the Catholic Church gained much recognition and support. These were some of the characteristics that marked the history of the Catholic Church in the 1980s.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
35 CBCK Newsletter No.35 (Summer 2001) Aug 27, 2009
34 CBCK Newsletter No.34 (Spring 2001) Aug 27, 2009
33 CBCK Newsletter No.33 (Winter 2000) Aug 27, 2009
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
» CBCK Newsletter No.22 (Spring 1998) Aug 27, 2009
21 CBCK Newsletter No.21 (Winter 1997) Aug 27, 2009

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