CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter






From the Editor:

    Activity of the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies in Korea

    During last Christmas season, with the "Magnificat Choir" of Seoul archdiocese the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood in Korea (PSHCK) went on a tour of the cathedrals of five major cities in Korea: Seoul, Taejon, Taegu, Kwangju and Pusan to help North Korean children. The members of the choir are elementary and middle school students. They announced the Good News to children and appealed for help for children of North Korea as their slogan says "children helping children." In each diocese the choir was warmly welcomed by members of the PSHCK, Sunday school students and their parents. The audience heard the message of the PSHCK to their North Korean friends and contributed gladly to the collection. The choir collected 15,244,430 won (US$12,500) which was given to the Red Cross of South Korea to buy medicines for North Korean children. It was a very meaningful event.
    The KPSHC opened a 3-day "Mission School", March 18-20, for the assistant priests of parishes who are in charge of the pastoral care of children. It was a short program but significant one for it is expected to help those young priests to promote and expand missionary zeal among the faithful. Up to now the role of the KPSHC has been limited to publishing periodicals of "Mission", "Moirang" and "Missionary Life" and to take care of the Church collections in Korea on Mission Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations which they pass on to the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies in Rome. It has not had any specific activity with a mission focus.
    During the second half of last year the PSHCK has tried to promote the spirit of mission among the clergy and the faithful by publishing and distributing to nationwide dioceses one million copies of the mission pamphlet. In addition to that it has tried to announce Jesus Christ to people by circulating 10 thousand copies of the mission related books and periodicals. They also distributed them to Catholic-run hospitals and people of other faiths throughout the country. The purpose of the Mission School is to create mission awareness through activities. In this spirit, we wanted to awaken a sense of mission among the clergy and the faithful who understand the mission only conceptually so that they evangelize themselves and others. We don't expect to see any visible result of our efforts immediately. However we believe that our efforts will be sufficient to motivate a sense of mission regardless of the number of participants. Our Mission School, even though it was a short one for this time, is based on the method of the School of Missionary Animators(SOMA) of the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood. We will develop it further and will ask Rome for help if necessary. We are glad that the CBCK appointed as new Executive Secretary of the Committee for Evengelization Fr. Pietro Bae Kyong-min, an expert in missiology. With him we will analyze the current situations of the mission in Korea and take appropriate measures to promote spiritual and effective development of the mission.

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



1999 Spring General Assembly of Bishops Held

1999 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
On-Goingm Formation Institute for Priests

    At the 1999 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK, held March 8-9, the Bishops decided to establish an on-going formation institute for priests. They elected Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu, the newly appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju, to take responsibility to carry it through. In accordance with this decision Most Rev. Choi will draw up concrete plans and make the necessary preparation in consultation with the Episcopal Commission for Clergy & Religious and the Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee Year 2000. The establishment of the on-going formation institute for priests is part of the follow-up of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia held in Rome, last Spring.
    The Bishops elected Most Rev. Ignatius Pak of Andong as delegate to the International Eucharistic Congress which will be held in June of the Great Jubilee of Year 2000 in Rome.
    The Bishops established a number of complementary norms of the Code of Canon Law among them are: The complementary norms on the offical retirement of diocesan priests from pastoral ministry and the leave for physical, mental and spiritual reason. Up to now each diocese had its own policy for this matter but it was decided to make a national policy. With this new norm a priest, if he so wishes, and his wish is granted by his bishop, can retire from official ministry from the age of 65.
    The complementary norm on giving radio or television talks on Christian doctrines and morals: The Bishops made it clear that in being called to use this opportunity to preach the Gospel one must be faithful to the authentic teaching of the Church in accordance with the spirit of the profession of faith. Nobody can speak on these matters as representative of the Church without the permission of the local ordinary. And concerning the requirements for clerics and members of religious institutes it was decided that those who take part in radio or television programs, which deal with questions concerning Catholic teaching or morals, must distinguish between the official teaching of the Church and the opinions of theologians. They are also asked to pay attention to proper speech and behavior and to wear suitable attire.
    The CBCK established norms of the presbyteral council in accordance with the CIC can. 495, article 1.
    The complementary norm on the form of conferring the sacrament of baptism says that: Baptism can be conferred not only by pouring water on the forehead of the candidate but also by immersion in water.
    The Special Episcopal Commission for the Great Jubilee for Year 2000 reported its plan for the on-goning formation of the priest that has to be focused on the renewal of priests themselves rather than teaching them pastoral skills and technics.



Message on the 9th Caritas Sunday

Message of the 9th Caritas Sunday:

    Let Us Think of Those Who Are Hungry in the World and in North Korea

    On the occasion of the 9th Caritas Sunday, Jan. 31, Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, President of Caritas Coreana, issued a message and appealed to Korean Catholics to think of North Koreans and people in poor countries suffering from starvation. "Even if we are in serious economic difficulty we, as Christians, cannot overlook people who are starving," he said. The amount of aid given by Caritas Coreana is only symbolic, since it is very small, compared with the GNP of Korean people and with what other developing countries are doing, he pointed out. During the last 6 years Caritas Coreana contributed some 6 billion won (US$487,804) for 65 countries, of those, 33 countries are in Africa, and for 219 operations inside and outside the country. That amounts to one billion won (US$81,300) in contributions per year. In his message he pointed out that "Today, a billion people on the earth are starving and another two billion people are in absolute poverty.
    In Africa, West Asia and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern European countries people are suffering from malnutrition and starvation due to incessant civil wars and natural disasters. North Korea is in the same situation. Because of globalization, where the only way to survive is through the power of competition, the gap between rich countries and poor countries is accelerating and the reality of poverty is aggravated. In this regard, the Holy Father said that: "Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age. Many more of them suffer physical and mental growth retardation. Thus whole populations are immersed in pitiable circumstances and lose heart"(Populorum progression, no. 45).
Such reality calls us to reflect on the early Church: "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each; as many had need"(Acts 4,34-35). When we share, in love, with one another, what we possess, the poor will be liberated from poverty, as Mother Teresa said.
    The Vatican II Council appealed to all individuals and governments to: "Feed the person dying of hunger, because if you have not fed them you have killed them"(Gaudium et spes, no. 69).
    We believe that this is not an impossible dream. In response to the call of God, the Churches in the world tried to help the poor by establishing Caritas under the Bishops' Conference. Since 1993, the Church in Korea, on the decision of the CBCK, holds a second collection on Caritas Sunday, the last Sunday of January, in order to help alleviate world hunger. We are in difficulty economically. But let us remember the story of the poor widow in the Gospel and help our brothers and sisters in need as she did. Helping people who are destitute when we are in difficulty is true charity. We should not forget that the real spirit of Gospel is right there.
    When our help reaches people who are starving in North Korea, Africa, South America and many Asian countries, the Church in Korea will become a donor Church instead of a receiving Church.
    "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink"(Mt. 25:35).





Most Rev.Choi Appointed to Coadjutor of Kwangju

Most Rev. Choi Appointed to Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju

    On March 5, the Holy Father John Paul II appointed Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Seoul, as archbishop coadjutor of Kwangju.
    Kwangju has an area of 12,414 square kilometres and the population is 3,479,629. There are 252,678 catholics, 156 priests, and 578 religious in the Kwangju archdiocese which is about 300 kilometres south of Seoul.
    In accordance with the Canon Law art. 403, no 3, Most Rev.Andrew Choi will become the 8th bishop of Kwangju when the Most Rev. Victorinus Youn, the incumbent archbishop of Kwangju, will retire.
    Born in Sept. 1936 in Paju, Kyongkido, Most Rev. Andrew Choi completed his studies in philosophy and theology at Seoul Major Seminary in 1960. He graduated from Freiburg University in Germany in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1963. He worked as the assistant pastor of the Myongdong cathedral in Seoul for one year before returning to Freiburg University to pursue further study. In 1969, he obtained a doctorate in moral theology with thesis "Die Laienfrommigkeit seit Jahrhundertswende bis zum II. Vat. Konzil" and returned to Korea. He taught moral theology at the Seoul Major Seminary in 1970 and became the eleventh rector in 1979-1980 and the sixteenth rector 1991-2. He became the first president of the Catholic University of Seoul, 1992-1995. Pope John Paul II appointed him as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Seoul on Feb. 22, 1994 and was consecrated bishop on March 25.
    Since 1994 he has served as the president of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the CBCK, the Episcopal Vicar for Religious and Social Apostolates of the archdiocese of Seoul. When the Korea Reconciliation Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul (KRCAS) was established in 1995 he became its first president. In Oct. 1995 he participated in the seminar of South and North Korean Catholics in New York and in June 1997 in a similar meeting in Beijing. In May, 1998 he made a pastoral visit to Pyongyang, which was the first ever visit of a South Korean bishop to North Korean Catholics since the division of the country in 1949.
    His contributions and achievements in the area of national reconciliation and labor apostolate are highly esteemed. In particular, as the first president of the KRCAS, he has made significant steps toward the reconciliation of Korean people.
    In 1995, through the "Two -Year Noodle Sharing Campaign with North Korean Brothers and Sisters" he succeeded in collecting 6,781,000,000 won ( US$5,513,000), and made food shipments, equivalent to 636,500,000 won (US$5,174,000) to help famine-stricken North Korean people in their sufferings.
    In March 1995 he initiated the Weekly Mass for national reconciliation at Myongdong cathedral. Also in Oct. 1995, he opened the National Reconciliation School (NRS) to help people understand the theological, theoretical and historical foundation of the national reconciliation movement and taught the course of lectures to 761 students. He has shown special concern for the social apostolate and opened the Catholic Social Teaching School and has taken measures to integrate the Catholic Social Services and the "One Heart-One Body" Movement into one organization.

At a Press Interview on March 5, 1999, the Coadjutor Archbishop
Stressed the Option for the Poor as the Mission of the Church

    "The Holy Father has entrusted me with an important responsibility by appointing me as archbishop coadjutor of the archdiocese of Kwangju. I accept it in the spirit of obedience. I wish to support Most Rev. Victorinus Youn, and to listen to the clergy. I will also try to do my best to be at service of the diocese," the archbishop coadjutor Most Rev. Andrew Choi said.
    "Option for poor is the mission of the Church. Respect for human rights that the Holy Father has focused on, in the message of the 1999 World Day of Peace is only possible when we understand the preciousness of life and overcome our selfishness. This is the inviolable mission of the Church," Most Rev. Choi stressed. The following is a summary of the interview:
    - What is your plan as archbishop coadjutor of Kwangju?: First of all, I will do my best to assist Most Rev. Victorinus Youn.
    - Do you have any special concerns?: I have a special concern for farmers because I grew up in a rural community. Also I have a special affection for workers. Since I was a young seminarian I was involved in the movement of the Catholic Christian Workers and used to work as a member of the diocesan labor apostolate committee. My concern now is how to support and console farmers and workers. I will try to do my best.
    - Next year is the 20th anniversary of the struggle for the democratization movement in Kwangju. What is your comment?: Only people who are strong can forgive. The visit of bereaved families to the commando force was truly a great act of forgiveness. True reconciliation is possible when people who are hurt forgive the enemies. When we overcome anger and hostility by love, that is very beautiful and a human way, and that is what God wants of us.
    - What is your view of pastoral ministry?: Bishops should not get in the way of priests and lay people!... All that we have to do is to support and encourage them ... I think.
    - Would you like to mention some of the works you were involved in, in Seoul archdiocese? The social pastoral ministry was considered a special pastoral need and became an important pastoral concern of the archdiocese. I feel good about it. I may add to that the Korea National Reconciliation Committee of Seoul Archdiocese. When dialogue between North and South Korea was difficult we began to hold a weekly Mass for national reconciliation. It is now 208 weeks since it was started and it still continues. Meanwhile the leaders of both Koreas have started to use the term "reconciliation" instead of "reunification." In June, 1998 the National reconciliation conference was begun in North Korea and in South Korea in July 1998. At least we could be united on one term... I think that this is a valuable result of my efforts." I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the clergy, religious and lay people of the Seoul archdiocese for their support and collaboration. Without them I could have done nothing. Thank you for your support.





Archdiocese of Seoul to Launch Mission Parish

Archbishop of Seoul to Launch Mission Parish

    Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, archbishop of Seoul, announced establishment of mission parish on the Sunday bulletin of the diocese on March 7th and asked the faithful to encourage the mission priests by prayer and sharing and to participate to this mission aimed at preparing for the Great Jubilee Year. Following is full text of the message.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    1. Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, the former archbishop of Seoul, stressed on the spirit of "option for poor" asking to live evangelical poverty.
    Accordingly the archdiocese of Seoul mapped out an itinerary to accelerate the effort to announce the Good News to poor through the pastoral care for poor. This effort means to go to the area where poor live and establish parish for them. This model is already implemented in the diocese of Chonju.
    Poor are always but in this particular time of IMF controlled economy suffering that poor have to endure due to mass unemployment is critical.
    The mission parish will be the sign of our Church that wants to shares"the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the poor of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted(Gaudium et spes, 1). This will be also a concrete expression of the Clean Poverty Movement led by the Catholic Urban Poor Pastoral Committee of Seoul archdiocese within and out of the Church.

    2. The mission is our important task that is raison d'etre for the Church that has announce the Good News of Kingdom of God. Not only clergy or religious but all Christians are called to this mission. The mission that Pope Paul VI taught is an effort of mission "not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgement, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation,"(Evangelii Nuntiandi, 19).
    Mission for poor is vital requirement for our Church who's raison d'etre is to announce the Good News of kingdom of God to poor. Today, the Church in Korea has grown in number but majority are from middle class and only 1-2% of them are from poor class. Serious question in this regard is social indifference for poor and their sufferings. The mission parish's primary goal is not to convert poor people but to be with them and for them. Priests and missionaries should become one of them and bear witness of Good News in their lives before preaching the Gospel with lips. Their activity should focus on transforming anti-Gospel environment that oppresses poor into evangelical environment. They should make effort to protect poor families in danger and sanctify them. If they are docile to the Holy Spirit who leads us then many poor will receive gift of faith.

    3. Priests in mission parish will not construct costly churches and live poorly. They will not have pastoral assistants such as religious, personnel and servants to not give economic burden to local faithful but commit themselves uniquely to evengelization of poor. Also by assuming, if possible, local welfare facilities they will try to make mission parish a real avenue of encounter between poor and those from parishes in cities. Last year Seoul archdiocese has established one mission parish in Mia-dong in poor area in Seoul. This time we will open three more mission parishes in Kumho 1-kadong, Muakdong and Pongch'on 3-dong. We ask your understand and support for priests who will be sent to mission parishes. We wish your participation to mission work that the Seoul archdiocese has undertaken as preparation for the Great Jubilee Year.

+ Nicholas Cheong
Archbishop of Seoul




CBCJ to Publish Book on Church's Responsibillity During War

CBCJ to Publish Book on Church's Responsibility During War

    The Office of Research for Evanglization of the CBCJ is to publish a book on the responsibility of the local Catholic Church in Japan with regard to Japanese military aggression in modern times: "What We Can Learn from History: The Catholic Church's Involvement in the War Effort and Formal Shrine Visits." The book presents the historical context of the modernization and militarization that followed the Meiji era (1868-1912), in which the Church was swept along to the point of collaboration in war efforts. It comes amid preparations for the Jubilee Year 2000, for which Pope John Paul II has urged Catholics to repent for their failings as Church.
    "Now is the time to beg pardon for the mistakes of the past; to accuse ourselves for our lack of faith, our inconstancy, our slowness to act in times of need," the Holy Father said in his 1994 encyclical "The Coming Third Millennium" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente).
    Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi of Tokyo, whose introduction points out that the book was not written by professional historians and it may be lacking in that regard but has led the Japanese Church in acknowledging its past.
    Addressing the Fourth Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences in 1986 in Tokyo, the prelate, not then a cardinal, apologized for the local Church's collaboration in Japan's war effort during World war II.
    "As Japanese and also as members of the Church in Japan, we, the Japanese bishops, ask the forgiveness of God and of our brothers and sisters in Asia and the Pacific area for the tragedy brought upon them by Japan," he said, noting that the country was responsible for the deaths of more than 20 million people.
    "It saddens us to know that the wounds inflicted by us can still be seen in the lives and cultures of the people," he said.
    In 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of world War II, the bishops of Japan collectively acknowledged the Church's failure to critique the war in the light of the Gospel in their message: "Resolution for Peace."
    "We must admit that the Catholic Church of Japan failed to realize and courageously proclaim how inhuman and out of harmony with the Gospel were the elements of that war," they wrote.



You Gave Us New Life! You save our Families!

You Gave Us New Life! You Saved Our Families!

    "We are saved thanks to Cardinal Kim and the Korean Catholics who did not spare their efforts to save us. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! ... " exclaimed the two Pakistani prisoners when being released from Taejon prison.
    On Feb. 25, at 10 a.m., the heavy door of Taejon prison was opened and Amir Jamil (33) and Mian Mohamad Ajaz (39) found liberty. They embraced Kim Hyong-tae, a lawyer and president of the Catholic Human Rights Committee of Seoul(CHRC), and Oh Ch'ang-ik who came from Seoul to welcome them. Ajaz and Jamil were crying... "You gave us new life! You saved our families! If you and Cardinal Kim were not there we would have to die or spend all our lives in prison. Even our lives might have been destroyed completely!..." Prisoner No.5652 and No. 5508 expressed their emotion and deep gratitude for being granted an amnesty from their sentence to life imprisonment.
    "I could not sleep for the past two nights, with emotion, after being informed of my special amnesty," Ajaz said, as he took out from his inside pocket a letter to Cardinal Kim.
    "Dear Cardinal Kim, I don't know how to express my feeling ... I learned a great lesson from you. You taught me that human persons are equal beyond race and nationality ... that we have to help each other in order to make the earth a happy place to live," his letter read. They were supposed to have a meal with Cardinal Kim but the meal was cancelled because Cardinal was not feeling well.
    Amir Jamil and Mian Mohammad Ajaz came to Korea, with a Korean dream in their hearts, in 1992, having promised their families to return with lots of money. However their dream was ended after two months. In March of the same year a Pakistani foreign worker was murdered. Amir and Mohamad, who were working in a factory in Songnam, were accused of being the primary suspects of this murder incident, and were subsequently charged with murder. The judge sentenced the defendants to death in the first and second judgement. They appealed to the Supreme Court in 1993 but nothing was changed. They cried out "we did not kill, we are innocent," but their painful cry was not heard by anybody.
    At that time thousands of foreign migrants were arriving in Korea with the "Korean dream" in their hearts as Amir Jamil and Mian Mohammad did. They were hired in 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and difficult) that Korean workers hate to do. Their working conditions were poor and miserable. Payment of their low income was often delayed and often they did not receive any payment. The abuse of their human rights has become a social issue.
    As the proverb says: drowning person will even catch at a straw,often they decided to write to various human rights groups, missionaries and the press about their situation. But their painful screams seemed to be ignored.
    One day in 1996, a letter reached Cardinal Kim at Myongdong cathedral. It was a letter from Amir and Mohamad. The letter started: "Dear Reverend Cardinal Kim ..." Cardinal Kim read it carefully and entrusted the matter to the CHRC. He asked it to make a careful investigation. After four months of investigation the CHRC concluded that Amir and Mohammad were not the murderers but there was another person who killed the colleague and that Pakistani had already left Korea.
    Cardinal Kim did not hesitate to write a petition letter to former President Kim Young-sam asking for a reinvestigation of the case and the CHRC entered a campaign to save them.
    As a result of Cardinal Kim's continual petition and CHRC's efforts their death penalty was commuted to a life sentence, last August 15, on the occasion of a special amnesty on National Liberation Day. Then, on Feb. 25, they were released during a special amnesty on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement. On the same day they were deported to their homeland.

Mohammad's Father Died of Illness Caused by Pent-Up Anger

    During their 7 year nightmare, Mian Mohammad Ajas lost most of his hair due to his fear of death and the little hair left has turned grey. But his profound pain is not because of his hair but because his father died of an illness caused by pent-up anger and his mother lost her memory when they heard that their son was sentenced to death. On the other hand they made many Korean friends including Cardinal Kim, the CHRC, Columban Fathers and many others.
    Through them they came to know God. "We are sinners. We are sinners not because we are criminals who received the death penalty but because we have experienced God. When I return to my homeland I will go to the Catholic Church and I want to have St. Stephen as my patron, like Cardinal Stephen Kim. I pray that God will continue to bless Cardinal Kim and the Korean people," Mohammed said. Amir said that when he goes home, first of all he will take care of his mother who is living in a cave and that he also wants to work at the Catholic Justice and Peace office in Pakistan. Mohammed's first wish is to visit his father's tomb and start a new life by running a small clothing shop. Both of them believe firmly that God's helping hand will guide them. "We thank you all our Korean friends. We wanted to see Cardinal Kim even just for one minute..." they said as they headed to the departure desk.
    In Korea, there are 310,000 migrant workers including 100,000 who are undocumented. It can be said that their working conditions have somewhat improved but their basic human rights are still abused in many cases. Who will be their friends if not Christians?




News from the Church in Korea

News from the Church in Korea

* 210th Mass for National Reconciliation Offered

    As of Feb. 1999, the Korea National Reconciliation Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul (KNRCS), celebrated the 210th weekly Mass for the reconciliation and unity of Korean people. It was initiated on March 1, 1995, the 75th anniversary of the Independence Movement against Japanese occupation. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Choi, the chairperson of the KNRCS, said that "the Mass for national reconciliation is a means of opening our hearts to the Church, society and all Korean people, and of offering ourselves to God in sacrifice for the peace and unity of Korean people. If we are authentic people of God and disciples of Jesus Christ we should embrace our brothers and sisters in the North with unconditional love...True reconciliation is possible only through divine grace and is the reason for offering this Mass; and peace is a gift from God for those who welcome it with a humble heart."

* Human Cloning Experiment Should be Controlled by Law

    The Justice and Peace Committee of Seoul archdiocese (JPC) made clear its position on human cloning in a press conference held on Jan. 9, at Myongdong cathedral, and issued a statement entitled "Our Position on Human Cloning." The statement read that: "We oppose it from the moral theological point of view and Catholic Church's teaching." Rev. Chang Deuk-pil, the president of the JPC, condemned the human cloning and said: "It has nothing to do with the good of people and it has neither justification nor morality. It is a grave violation and an unjustifiable insult against human dignity." He asked the government to establish a legal way to control and prevent such experiments and attempts. He said in the statement that: Human cloning takes away from the sacredness of marriage and destroys the traditional family system and its principles, and it may even lead to a society that orders a baby just like we order things," he said. "Besides it is a dreadful shock that will raise legal and moral problems. It violates not only human dignity, but will shake the root principles of the family and the social structure," he warned.
    Rev. Lee Yong-hoon of Suwon Catholic University said that: "This human cloning experiment represents an unethical manipulation of a living thing and, furthermore, an infringement upon human dignity. This question requires mature consideration and the Church should take a realistic countermeasure against it."
    The JPC's statement was issued immediately after the announcement of the human cloning experiment, by Profs. Kim Sung-bo (51) and Lee Po-yon(40), of the Kyong Hee University Hospital's Infertility Clinic. It has provoked reaction in religious circles and among theologians.

* Efforts for Unity of Christians Urged

    On the occasion of the Prayer Week for Christian Unity, Korean experts on ecumenism expressed some concerns about ineffectiveness of ecumenical work in Korea and proposed to establish various ways of official ecumenical dialogue. In fact, the ecumenical movement in Korea was quite active in the 1970s during which the common translation of the Old and New Testament was achieved and in the 1980s when Catholics and Protestants worked together in solidarity to fight against the military dictatorship and struggle for democratization and human rights. But since then the ecumenical efforts in Korea slowed down and have even become stagnant and prayer meetings of the Prayer Week for Christian Unity made no contribution to influence Christians.
    Experience has shown that in the Korean context, the European style of ecumenical approach through liturgy or the use of a common Bible is not easy, but ecumenical collaboration in the social pastoral domain has been productive in various aspects. Successful results of collaboration between Catholics and Protestants in assisting North Koreans and jobless people are good examples. Rev. Kim Tong-wan, Secretary General of the Korean National Council of Churches (KNCC), said that the Christians who confess the same faith can be united in works of charity and proposed holding a Forum of all Christians during the Great Jubilee Year 2000 instead of the conventional annual prayer meeting held for the Prayer Week for Christian Unity.

* 72 New Priests Ordained

    In the beginning of the year 72 priests were ordained in five major seminaries of: Kwangju, Suwon, Pusan, Taejon and Inchon. Also 91 seminarians were ordained deacons. Seoul and Taegu major seminaries will have ordinations in the Summer.
    The archdiocese of Kwangju was happy to rejoice with Joseph Youn Paik-hyon and Monica Choi Hyae-soo who have offered all their five children to God. Fr. Thomas Youn Yong-jo (29) who was ordained on Jan. 25 at Imdong cathedral is their third son and last children.     His elder brothers are Fr. Simon Youn Yong-nam, 35, the vocation director of Kwangju archdiocese and Fr. John Youn Yong-kil, 32, the assistant priest at Jojondong parish. His two sisters are Caritas Sisters.
    "I did not want my youngest son, Yong-jo, to go to the seminary, but he wanted it... All we want now is that he lives a happy life as a priest and remains faithful to the call of God," his mother said with a happy smile.
    Newly ordained priest, Fr. Park Kap-jo (36) from the diocese of Pusan lived with 100 orphans and street people at Marian Village before going to the seminary. There he worked as a shoe shine boy. Marian Village is a social welfare house run by Park Chang-bok, a layperson, with the help of volunteers. While he lived there as a volunteer with Park he felt a call to become priest and to live with the poor, he said. "Sometimes, when I was seminarian, I shined the shoes of professors ... and they gave me good credit for that," newly ordained priest said with a big smile. "All what I want for him is to see him always as a happy priest who is dedicated himself to the poor and wipes their tears," his 70-year-old mother, Maria Roh said.

* Korean and Japanese Catholic Youth to Strengthen Friendship in Christ

    The fourth Korean and Japanese Catholic youth exchange meeting was held in Hadano Feb. 14-17. The theme was "Instrument of Peace". The youth of both countries spent a meaningful time and exchanged thoughts through free discussion about the painful past of the shared history of the two countries. Tabata Noriko (20), a Japanese student, presented a booklet illustrating the "true" history that she prepared on her own.
    "Through simple exchanges the youth of both countries confirmed that they are all brothers and sisters, and true friends in Jesus Christ and promised each other to become instruments of peace and reconciliation." Rev. Peter Chung Byung-jo summed up the meeting in a few words. "On the last day, I saw them embrace each other with tears in their eyes and they expressed their sadness on parting -- As I watched them I felt the fruit of our meeting and I said to myself that our future is promising and bright," he added.
    Participants included 25 youth from Korea with Rev. Chung, Executive Secretary of the Committee on Education, and 50 youth from Japan with Fr. Sawano Koji. Eucharist was celebrated in both Korean and Japanese.

* Korean Catholic Mission Orientation Association

    The Korean Catholic Mission Orientation Association (KCMOA) established by seven religious congregations offered its first orientation program for one month from Feb. 1-26 at the Columban Fathers' House in Seoul. The course was attended by clergy, religious and lay people who are interested in, or preparing for mission work as well as formators of future missionaries.
    "Our primary purpose is to give mission education to Korean people going on overseas mission," Rev. Chuck Lints, the director of the KCMOA said. 33 priests, religious and lay people completed the first session and received a certificate of completion on Feb. 25.
    "It helped me to understand the essentials of mission and the difference between the local mission and overseas mission," Sr. Ilumina, Missionary Benedictine Sister, said. The members of the religious institutes include: the Columban Fathers and Sisters of St. Columban, Korean Mission Foreign Society, Sisters of the Korean Martyrs, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Paris Foreign Mission Society and Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. In all there are 21 members including 10 priests, 5 women religious, 5 laypeople and 1 Protestant minister.

* Catholics Join for Justice for North Korean Defectors

    Catholic and other human rights organizations demanded that the South Korean government to act on charges that North Korean defectors have been abused physically and mentally and had their civil rights violated. The Catholic Human Rights Committee(CHRC) and the Campaign for Freedom-Seeking North Koreans, and other groups denounced on Jan. 15, human rights abuses against people from North Korean and urged the government to clarify the issues and punish the responsible. They told the press that they will support Ho Ch'ol-soo, Hong Jin-hui and Yoo Jae-ui and help them to file lawsuits against the nine intelligence officials who abused them during interrogation, on their arrival in South Korea. "During the joint questioning we were severely beaten, insulted, tortured, controlled, confined and limited in our freedom to express ..." they alleged at the press conference held at the Cultural Center Myongdong. "Out of 800 people from North Korean 80 percent were severely abused and their human rights violated. They still suffer side effects physically and mentally," they said. "We came to Seoul seeking freedom, but no one has yet enjoyed a taste of it. As far as we can tell, from the human rights perspective, South Koreans still have a lot more to do to become truly free." But a senior intelligence official said: "We have never mistreated them. We are here to protect their rights and well-being."

* President Kim to Invite 41 Catholics

    On March 16, President Kim Dae-jung invited 41 Catholics to a luncheon in Chong Wa Dae, the presidential residence. Among them were Archbishop Nicholas Cheong of Seoul, Archbishop Paul Ri of Taegu, Coadjutor Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-mu of Kwangju, Rev. John Kim Jong-su, sec. general of the CBCK, Sr. Hong Soon-heung, president of the Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious and Ryu Deuk-hui, president of the Lay Apostolic Council of Korea.
    In his greeting address the President Kim explained about the "Sunshine Policy" to his guests and asked for their support and prayers. He thanked the Catholic Church's contributions to overcome the IMF crisis and the generous sharing with jobless people.
    Archbishop Nicholas Cheong said to the President that: "It is necessary for Christians to be faithful to the spirit of the Gospel so that our society be filled with the spirit of the Gospel: justice, reconciliation, mercy and love. During the luncheon the guests proposed to the President abolition of death penalty, and raised question to activate social welfare. Most Rev. Ignatius Pak of Andong explained to the President the move against the death penalty system among Korean Catholics and asked his particular attention on the issue. Rev. Kim Won-taek of Chongju asked the President to be faithful to prayer life and promised to remember him in his prayer.

* Welcome Party for Recently Released Long-term Political Prisoners

    The Catholic Support Group for Help Long-term Political Prisoners (CSGHLP) held a special welcome party for the 17 non-converted political prisoners released on March 1, on the occasion of a special amnesty to mark the 80th anniversary of the March 1 Movement against Japanese colonial rule and the first anniversary of President Kim Dae-jung's inauguration on Feb. 25. Some 100 members of the CSGHLP and friends welcomed them at the "One Heaven - One Earth Tea Shop" in Myongdong.
    Woo Yong-gak(71) who served a 41-year prison term said how happy he was to see the Catholic friends face-to-face. "I really can't believe that I don't feel any wall with Catholic friends that I have never met. I feel that we have known each other for a long time. I feel that I'm fully accepted by you and fully loved and respected..." he added. Woo who was imprisoned for his Communist activities in the 1950s was the longest-serving prisoner in the world.
    The CSGHLP was founded in 1989 and it has about 800 members. Its activities include sending money and necessary materials to long-term political prisoners (LTPP); helping when they are released and providing them with housing, helping their families and assisting with the education fees of their children etc.

News in Brief

Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul has donated his life savings of some 500 million won(about US$427,310) to Catholic social welfare college in Hyondo, Chungbuk Province on Feb. 9. The college was founded by Fr. Oh Woong-jin of Kkottongne, a complex village for homeless elderly, disabled, beggars and orphans


A survey made by Taejon diocese has shown that 1 of 3 teens think they don't need confession while 70% of respondents agreed on traditional way of confession to priest in order to obtain peace in heart and reconciliation with God. 82.6% of respondents said they believe in eternal life while 18.5% said they don't believe in Resurrection of Jesus.


Priests of Mach'on parish and other five parishes in Seoul decided to offer lunch to 300 poor students who have to skip lunch. For elementary school students they will provide it for weekends only because they get lunch at school during weekdays. But middle and high school students will get lunch for 5 week days. Volunteers will deliver it where they are. Accordingly some 150,000 children
don't eat lunch, five time higher than last year.


According to the report of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants of the CBCK, as of Nov. 30, 1998, the number of the Korean Catholics living in foreign countries reached 102,398 in 53 countries. 140 Korean priests and 101 women religious are working for them in 137 parishes and 75 mission posts. By country, 64,802 are in the United States, 10,436 are in Canada and
6,120 are in Australia.


For Lenten time 100 members of Third Order Franciscans made collective donation of organs. Donations were made after a special lecture on love and passion of Jesus, Christian meaning of sharing of ones most precious treasures with those in need. "We signed it to express to God my will of repentance and conversion," they said.


Yongwol parish and Justice & Peace committee of Wonju continue campaign against construction of Yongwol hydroelectric dam. Over 100,000 Catholics from 150 parishes across the country signed. During Mass concelebrated by 20 priests of Wonju on March 15 demanded President Kim Dae-jung to cross out the plan.




Brief Stories of the Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints

Brief Stories of the Lives of the 103 Korean Saint Martyrs - 1

    After having published a brief history of the Catholic Church in Korea, in 25 installments in the CBCK Newsletter, we are pleased to present to our readers the brief stories of the lives of the 103 Korean Saint Martyrs who were canonized by Pope John Paul II at the ceremony of canonization that took place May 6, 1984, in Yoido Plaza, Seoul, Korea.
    As Pope John Paul II said from the thirteen-year-old Peter Yu Tae-chol to the seventy-two-year-old Mark Chong, men and women, clergy and laity, rich and poor, ordinary people and nobles - many of them descendants of earlier unsung martyrs - they all gladly died for the sake of Christ.
    "The Korean Saint Martyrs have borne witness to the crucified and risen Christ. Through the sacrifice of their own lives they have become like Christ. 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the reign of heaven'(Mt. 5:10). The truth of these words of our Savior, the truth of the Beatitudes, is manifested in the heroic witness of the Korean Martyrs." Pope John Paul II said. As an introduction to the stories of the individual Korean Saints we present here the "Brief Resume of the Lives of the 103 Korean Saint Martyrs" that was presented at the ceremony of their canonization.
    "God who desired the salvation of all peoples, planted the seeds of the Catholic Faith in Korea, in a remarkable manner and caused them to blossom. The Christian community first began to take shape when Yi Sung-hun started to study Christian doctrine by himself and was eventually baptized and given the name Peter in 1784. In the beginning, because of their belief in God, the first Korean Christians were persecuted repeatedly, rejected by their own families, and suffered the loss of not only their social rank but even their fundamental human rights. Nevertheless, despite persecutions, the faith continued to spread.
    The Christian community in Korea which had begun without any priest pastor was finally given the assistance of two Chinese priests. But their ministry was short-lived, and another forty years passed before the Paris Foreign Mission Society began its work in Korea with the arrival of Father Mauban in 1836. Until his arrival, the Christian community was moved by an ardent desire for the graces of the sacraments. A delegation was selected and sent 750 miles, on foot, to Beijing in order to beg the Bishop of Beijing, with tears in their eyes, to send them bishops and priests.
    The same appeal was made to the Holy Father in Rome. Serious dangers awaited the missionaries who dared to enter Korea. The bishops and priests who confronted this danger, as well as the lay Christians who aided and sheltered them, were in constant threat of losing their lives.
    In fact, until the granting of religious liberty in Korea in 1886, there was a multitude of "disciples who shed their blood, in imitation of Christ Our Lord, and who willingly submitted to death, for the salvation of the world"(Lumen Gentium, 42). Among those who died as martyrs and were canonized were eleven priests and ninety-two lay people.
    Together with their spiritual pastors, there were men and women, young and old, learned and unlearned, without any distinction of social class. They were bound together by their common faith to witness that God calls all people, without exception, to the life of perfection.
    Bishop Laurent Imbert and ten other French missionaries were the first Paris Foreign Mission Society priests to enter Korea and to embrace a different culture for the love of God. During the daytime, they kept in hiding, but at night they travelled about on foot attending to the spiritual needs of the faithful and administering the sacraments.
    The first Korean priest, Andrew Kim Tae-gon, prompted by his faith in God and his love for the Christian people, found a way to make the difficult task of a missionary entry into Korea. However, just thirteen months after his ordination he was put to death by the sword when he was just 26 years old and the holy oils of ordination were still fresh on his hands.
    Paul Chong Ha-sang, Augustine Yu Chin-gil and Charles Cho Shin-chol had made several visits to Beijing in order to find new ways of introducing missionaries into Korea. Since the persecution of 1801, there had been no priest to care for the Christian community. Finally, they succeeded in opening a new chapter in the history of the extension of the Church in Korea with the arrival of a bishop and ten priests of the Paris Foreign Mission Society.
    Among the martyrs honored were fifteen virgins, including the two sisters Agnes Kim Hyo-ju and Columba Kim Hyo-im who loved Jesus with undivided heart (I Cor.7,32-34). These women, in an era when Christian religious life was still unknown in Korea, lived in community and cared for the sick and the poor. Similarly, John Yi Kwang-hyol died a martyr's death after having lived a life of celibacy in consecrated service to the Church.
    It is also important to recall in a special way some of the other martyrs who were canonized that day: Damien Nam Myong-hyok and Mary Yi Yon-hui were models of family life; John Nam Chong-sam, though of high social rank, was a model of justice, chastity and poverty; John Pak Hu-jae who, after he lost his parents in the persecutions, learnt to survive by making straw sandals; Peter Kwon Tug-in who devoted himself to meditation; Anna Pak A-gi who, although she did not have a deep grasp of Christian doctrine, was wholly devoted to Jesus and His Blessed Mother; and finally, Peter Yu Tae-chol who at the tender age of 13, bravely confessed his faith and died a martyr.
    More than 10,000 martyrs died in persecutions which extended over more than one hundred years. Of all these martyrs, seventy-nine were beatified in 1925. They had died in the persecutions of 1839 (Ki-hae persecution), 1846 (Pyong-o persecution) and 1866 (Pyong-in persecution). In addition, twenty-four martyrs were beatified in 1968. All together, 103 martyrs were canonized on May 6, 1984 - on the shores of the Han River and in view of the martyrs' shrines at Saenamto and Choltusan, where they went to their eternal reward."

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
» 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

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