From the Editor:
Facing the New Reality...
As we come close to the end of the year, we would like to express our deep appreciation for your interest in the Catholic Church in Korea and CBCK in particular. This year we had immense joy of welcoming three new Korean Bishops. As you may know, two new Bishops were appointed on the same day, February 3rd, 1994: Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu (ordained Bishop on March 25), Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese, and Most Rev. Alexander Sye Chong-duk (ordained Bishop on Apr. 8), Auxiliary Bishop of Taegu Archdiocese.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II nominated on Nov. 11th, 1994, solemn feast of Christ the King, as Bishop of Ch' unch' on Rev. John Chang Yk. His episcopal ordination and installation took place on Dec. 14, at the Cathedral of Ch' unch' on. On welcoming Bishop Chang, a pastor with both deep knowledge and high virtue, the CBCK feels strengthen with new energy. Our expectation and joy at having the new Bishop console our heart, saddened by the death of our beloved Bishop Thomas Stewart who dedicated all his life to the Korean Catholic Church
The CBCK, at its Autumn Assembly General (Oct. 10-13), treated many important subjects but I believe that the Bishops' seminar on "The Current Situation of the Korean Catholic Church Seen from Statistics" presented to the Bishops a new pastoral approach. Mr. Bernard Shin, the president of Institute for Catholic Daily Life, presented the theme and made an important contribution to the Bishops by offering them a pastoral reflection based on reality. For this, he had dedicated himself to two years of study and research. In order to face the new reality, we are urged to take new measures and set up clear pastoral directions for the Evangelization of the new millennium in the light of the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, ''Tertio Millenio Adveniente."
During this International Year of the Family, the Catholic Church in Korea has taken various pro-life initiatives and made efforts to protect the dignity of human life. The CBCK presented to the National Assembly, Oct. 13, a proposal to withdrow the pending bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law that promotes abortion. And on Oct. 26, several Bishops participated to a Catholic-Protestant joint pro-life demonstration in silence in front of the National Assembly Building in Youido.
Finally, this year, we followed with concern and expectations, and desire for national reunification, the development of dialogue and negotiation on nuclear problem of North Korea. We invite all those who seek peace in the world to join us in generous prayer and fraternal solidarity so that the dream of the Korean people for reunification may come true in the conling year.
May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you and may God bless you in the coming New Year!
Rev. Dionysius Paik Nam-ik
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
1994 Autumn General Assembly of Bishops' Conference Held
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held its Autumn General Assembly, Oct. 10-13, at the CBCK Conference Hall in Seoul. The meeting was followed by a seminar on the "Current Situation of the Korean Catholic Church Seen from Statistics" presented by Mr. Bernard Shin, the President of the Institute for Catholic Daily Life.
The discussion of the Bishops focused on priestly formation and pastoral plans with a particular concern for future prospects as the Korean Catholic Church' s journey towards the third millennium.
The Bishops decided: to publish in the near future a Directory for Priestly Formation which will be based on texts prepared by each diocese; to hold a seminar on Reunification of South and North Korea at the 1995 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK; to facilitate the legal stay of foreign missionaries; to train missionary personnel for new Evengelization in view of the third millennium; to assign a sum of 50 million won (USD $62,500.00) for the 10th World Youth Day in response to the fmancial appeal from the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and to carry out positive efforts to realize electrical coding system in the Church on national level.
On Oct. 13, the last day of the meeting, the Bishops made a visit to the National Assembly and met Hwang Nak-ju, the Speaker of the National Assembly, to present the position of the Catholic Church against to the pending bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law which permits limited abortions. Most Rev. Paul Ri Moun-hi, the President of the CBCK, challenged the government and said that "there are over 1,500,000 fetuses killed every year in Korea through the act of abortion. Fetuses should not be treated as one's possession. Killing them cannot be justified under any excuse."
Also, the Bishops agreed to hold a joint- Catholic-Protestant pro-life rally as part of the Church' s commitment to protecting the right to life.
The study presented at the seminar on '''The Current Situation of the Korean Catholic Church" , carefully documented with statistics and analysis, showed a considerable drop in religious practice among Korean Catholics. Mr. Bernard Shin, in his comprehensive study, starting from the early years of the 1930s to the present, asked basic questions: Where does the Korean Church stand today?··· What are the key problems facing it?··· What must the Church do to revive local Christian life as a community founded on the Gospel? He pointed out that the key concern lies in constant increase in non-practicing and "missing" Catholics; "Missing Catholics" have gone from 10.4% in 1973 to 13% in 1993. As of the end of 1993, the number of "missing Catholics" reached 419,830 (12.9% of Catholics) and non-practicing reached 368,000.
The rate of new baptisms rapidly increased in late 1950s to 1980s but has declined considerably since then. The actual rate of general increase in Catholics is 5.6% which is the lowest since 1930 while those who are not practicing reached 25%.
Over-sized parishes and middle-class oriented Church attitudes were pointed out as among the most serious causes along with rampant materialism and individualism that lead the faithful to a spiritual void. According to the research, 57% of Catholics believe that religion has lost its original meaning; 70% of Catholics think that religion is more interested in its expansion than pursuing truth and 55% believe that religious laws are too rigid. It showed also that 40% of practicing Catholics are not very sure what they believe.
Mr. Shin stressed the importance of continuing education and spiritual renewal of the faithful after their baptism. '''The Church must focus on its primary pastoral concern and study the reasons for missing and non-practicing Catholics rather than trying to attract new converts," he pointed out. "New vision and inspiration are necessary to overcome the present crisis and awaken a sense of Christian community in Korean Catholics who' s vocation is to becom the salt and light of the world. Creating pastoral programs with professionalism would help to face certain contemporary problems,"
Most Rev. John Chang Yk Nominated Bishop of Ch' unch' on Diocese
The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, nominated Bishop of Ch' unch' on diocese in Kangwon Province, Rev. John Chang Yk of Seoul Archdiocese.
Ch' unch' on diocese has 52,559 catholics with 38 parishes and 84 secondary stations served by 56 priests, 126 women religious, 21 men religious and 356 Sunday school teachers. It has 54 major seminarians. Most Rev. John Chang is the third Ordinary Bishop of Ch' unch' on.
Profile of Most Rev. John Chang Yk
• Born in 1933 in Seoul
• 1956: Graduated from Maryknoll College in the USA
• 1959: Graduated from Louvin University in Belgium
• 1963: Completed studies in theology in Innsbruck University in Austria
• 1963: Ordained Priest in Innsbruck, Austria
• 1967: Pastor of Daebang Parish in Seoul
• 1967: Secretary of the Archbishop of Seoul
• 1970: Pastor of Chongnung-dong in Seoul
• 1976: Chief Secretary of the Communication Office and Secretariat of the Seoul Archdiocese
• 1977: Member of the Theological Research Institute of Sogang University
• 1986-1990: Director of the Pastoral Research Department of Seoul Archdiocese
• 1986-present: Member of the Department of Education for Clergy of Seoul Archdiocese
• 1990-present: Pastor of Sejongno Parish
• 1990-present: Member of the Mission and Pastoral Commission
• 1994-present: Member of the Permanent Commission for Education of Clergy
• 1994-Nov. 20: Nominated third Ordinary Bishop of Ch' unch' on diocese
• 1994-Dec. 14: Ordained Bishop and become the 3rd Oridinary Bishop of Ch' unch' on Diocese
The new Bishop, Most Rev. Chang, is the third son of Chang Myon, the late prime minister who led the government of Korea for a brief term in 1960. A deeply religious man, Chang Myon received Pontifical Hon- "They may aII be One" ors and his dauthter, a Maryknoll Sister, was killed during the Korean war.
Bishop Chang was involved in canonization process of the Korean martyrs and in preparations for the Pope's visit to Korea in 1984. In Oct. 1988, he visited Pyongyang in North Korea with Fr. Chong Ui-ch' 01 as special delegates of the Vatican. He was the first Catholic priest to celebrate Mass in Changchung Church in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in forty years since the North Korea became communist countury in 1948. As spiritual director of the Catholic Artists' Union of Seoul, he brought new inspirations in church art and architecture. Besides Korean and English, the Bishop Chang speaks French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin.
Bishops 1995 Pastoral Letters Focus on
Family Values and Small Christian Communities
The Bishops of all fifteen dioceses in Korea issued their 1995 pastoral letters on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, and indicated their pastoral directives towards the third millennium. The general focus was on evangelization through small Christian community structures, announcing the Good News of Christ to neighboring countries and activating the family community
Cardinal Kim of Seoul Archdiocese declared, at the annual general assembly of the clergy, Nov. II, that 1995 would be a year for establishing a new image of the Church through small Christian community. The Cardinal asked his clergy to provide faithful lay leaders, collectively and individually, opportunity to study and understand the real meaning of small Christian community and to commit themselves actively to it. He recommended to his pastoral colleagues, in particular, to guide pastoral councils and those who are directly involved in the pastoral field to perform their role in building up Church community through small communities. The Cardinal called for all clergy, consecrated people and faithful of his diocese to make their lives a ground for evangelization just as the first ~hristians experienced their faith in small Christian communities and asked the clergy to study how to divide parishes that have more than 5000 faithful and set up effective pastoral plans based on an accurate analysis of pastoral works done in the past three years.
Most Rev. Paul Ri Moun-hi of Taegu Archdiocese put his pastoral focus on the importance of sanctifying the family, the frrst unit of small Christian communities and the Church community. He proclaimed 1995 a year of "Family and Gospel" and invited family members to foster the habit of praying together and treating each other with respect. They should be faithful to their duty and responsibility as spouses, educate their children, be friendly with neighboring families and help those in difficulty.
Most Rev. Victorious Youn of Kwangju Archdiocese set the point of his pastoral directives on the " Family that
Prays" by insisting that the sanctification of a praying family community is possible when the family is strengthened by selfdedication and prayer. This is the only solution to save our society from the illness of extreme materialism and individualism which is expressed in anti-life trends.
Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong of Daejon diocese announced a five-year plan to redouble the number of faithful and build up healthy family communities in his pastoral directives on the theme of "Mission and Family" . He said that it is obligatory for each Catholic to bring one new person to the Church and for all priests and religious to be involved in religious education for catechumens.
Most Rev. William McNaughton of Inch' on diocese announced a 3-year plan of Evangelization and 1995 as a year of "Parish Community in Evangelization" . He said he will concentrate efforts to transform neighbor meetings into evangelization meetings and presented his plan to promote weekly Gospel sharing in each family. There will also be monthly meetings of small communities, 2-4 model small Christian communities established in each parish and an evangelization school for small Christian communities in the diocese.
Most Rev. Angelo Kim of Suwon diocese said that 1995, the last year of his 3year plan for evangelization, will focus on evangelization of neighbor countries such as China and Russia. He insisted that announcing the Good News to nations which have not heard it yet is a way of achieving our own evangelization. "So far, we have regarded ourselves as a young church and were only concerned about the evangelization of our own country. But our Church is grown up now. Therefore, we have to commit ourselves to the evangelization of other peoples."
Most Rev. Gabriel Lee of Pusan diocese who set the theme of his pastoral letter as "Spiritual Renewal and Actualization of Apostolic Mission" , underlined the importance of spirituality in the Christian life of his diocese to regain respect for human life and dignity. Hence the importance of moral values and education on the sacraments and liturgy. He called for a faithful prayer life and conversion.
Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong of Ch'ongju diocese invited his diocesans to sanctification of family community and protection of life and nature. He emphasized that the family is the frrst Church community and foundation of all forms of communities of people. While Most Rev. Michael Pak of Masan diocese set his pastoral direction on family pastoral by issuing his pastoral letter intitled "The family that protects life" . He called faithful to work with problems of family, women and protection of nature which are the actual concern of our society.
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak of Andong diocese tressed the role of the Church as protector of life and requested his faithful to concentrate their efforts on fmding out the whereabouts of Catholics who have stopped their religious practice in order to bring them back to the Church. Most Rev. Paul Kim of Chaeju diocese set 1995 as the year of "With the Youth" by insisting on the importance of youth pastoral as youth are the future of humanity.
Most Rev. James Kim of Wonju diocese in his directive, "The Church that Teaches" , stressed the importance of education in the faith in family and parish communities. He reminded his faithful that the mission to announce the Gospel is the prophetic ministry given to each baptized in the Holy Spirit and asked them to share the Good News with others.
Most Rev. Augustine Cheong of the Military Ordinate set 1995 as the year of "Bible reading" and proposed that Catholic soldiers complete reading of the Bible and memorize Bible texts in order to incarnate it in their lives. Most Rev. Vmcent Ri of Chonju diocese issued his pastoral letter on the theme of "Walk with our Lord" and called on his faithful to integrate the Bible in family prayer and group meetings.
The Sixth FABC Plenary Assembly will convene at Makati, Metro-Manila, in the San Carlos Seminary Complex, from January 10-19, 1995. The theme of the Plenary Assembly is: "Christian Discipleship in Asia Today: Service of Life." The 10th World Youth Day will take place in Manila the same week-end. The Holy Father will address the Plenary Assembly in the afternoon of January 15.
Rev. Dionysius Paik Nam-ik, Secretary General of the CBCK
Bishops of Korea Fight Against Abortion Laws
The Church' s concern to protect human life was strongly expressed during the visit of the Bishops to the National Assembly, Oct. 13, headed by Most Rev. Paul Ri, the President of the CBCK. The visit was made to reaffIrm the clear position of the Catholic Church against the pending bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law which will liberalize abortion laws. The Bishops presented to Hwang Nak-ju, the Speaker of the National Assembly, a proposal of the CBCK in which they urged either a withdrawal of the pending bill or acceptance the proposal of the Bishops. An excerpt from the proposal presented to the National Assembly is given below.
Meanwhile the Korean Catholic Church challenged the government, on the occasion of the National and World Family Day, to amend laws that encourage couples to limit families to two children and called for a law to help families fostering children who need temporary aid. On Oct. 26, the Korean Catholic Church and the Christian Association of Antiabortion Movement held a joint pro-life rally in front of the National Assembly Building in Youido. The demonstrators challenged government authorities to change their existing policy of abortion and repeal Art. 14 of the Mother and Child Health Law and the pending Criminal Law Art. 135. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Choi Chang-mu of Seoul Archdiocese delivered a statement to the National Assembly.
Proposal of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea to the Government in Relation to the Pending Bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea submitted on Nov. 2, 1992, a petition to the National Assembly Session with 1,059,000 signatures and called on the government to remove the pending bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law. The CBCK testified at the public hearings sponsored by the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly in last April. There is concern about many unsolved questions which are going to be introduced during the discussions of the National Assembly. Thereby, we want to reaffmn clearly the position of the Catholic Church to the pending bill Art. 135 of the Criminal Law.
1. Right to Life is an Inviolable Basic Right
Human dignity and right to life are based both on divine and natural law and must be protected from the very moment
of its conception. "Do not kill" is an unchangeable divine and natural law All human rights, genuine philosophy and laws
made by people are founded on this naturallaw.
Protection of the life of the fetus is not only a moral and religious demand but also a fundamental demand of social justice. Abortion is against 'the human dignity and value' that Constitution Art. 10 stipulated as one of the general principals of human basic rights. The realization of human dignity, the supreme norm of the Constitution, presupposes the protection of human life. This is to say that we can talk about 'dignity' and 'human rights' only where life exists fIrst.
Most biologists think that the life of an individual commences at the moment when sperm and ovum meet. The fetus is
an independent being from its mother and has its own life. Therefore the life value of a fetus can not be differentiated by its stage of development. Life value is unique and absolute by itself. Thus life value can not be discriminated against according to its stage of development. The value of life of healthy people and feeble minded or deformed children is the same.
2. Abortion is the Source of Anti-life Trends
Lately, anti-life trends have seriously intensifIed in Korean society and the source of this is abortion. This is because abortion is a major crime of destruction of the right to life and justice. The most important contradiction of our time is that we condemn a child who kills its parents as immoral but parents who kill their child are forgiven.
An unbalanced sexual ratio caused by preference for male babies (a survey made in 1990 showed 100 female babies for 111.2 male babies) emerges as a serious social problem. 32.9% (as of 1991) of abortion are by single mothers. This tells us of the negative influence on youth caused by Art.14 of Mother and Child Health Law which permits limited abortion. We have to remember that the advanced countries that implemented population control fIrst are turning to promoting baby boom policies from the 1980s in order to face labor manpower and changes of population structure.
3. Our Opinion on Pending Criminal Law Art. 135
The pending Criminal Law Art. 135 based on the Mother and Child Health Law Art. 14 permits abortion in the following cases which we think deserve further reflection.
1) When continuing pregnancy endangers, for medical reason, the health of the mother (Art 135, Clause 1, No 1).
When there are conflicting rights to life between mother and child, abortion which removes the right to life of the child
is permitted in order to save the mother' s life. When the mother' s life is in danger by extra terine pregnancy or other decease unrelated to the pregnancy, an emergency measure may be performed that results indirectly in the sacrifIce of the fetus to save the mother' s life. However, this should be strictly limited to special situations. The problem in this article is the vague conception of "mother' s health" that can be liberally interpreted.
2) If genetic defects are detected in the fetus or there are clear symptoms of such defects (Art. 135, Clause 1, No 2).
It is hard to accept giving birth to feeble minded or defonned children from genetic defects. A survey showed that 809:
0% (42% in case of France) of people answered positive for abortion. But something is not right just because the majority
agree to it. The right to life is inviolable law according to divine and natural law and so stipulated by the Constitution Art.
19. The eugenic question is not something that can be solved by abortion but is a task for all of society to overcome.
3) If pregnancy resulted from the reasons indicated in Arts. 166 (rape),170 (quasi-rape), 172 (attempted rape),175 (adultery below age of 14).
When we consider the right to decide on the part of the woman who is the direct victim, the legitimacy of aborting an unwanted baby sounds convincing. Especially, people agree to abortion by 14-year old girls. However this question requires. our deeper refection because once pregnanted the fetus has an inviolable right to life. The personal right of a woman cannot be compared to the right to life of a fetus. If abortion is justified for the sake of the personal rights of a woman, confusion in the value order will be created by detennining the right to life on a scale of values. Such
questions should be solved by social efforts to prevent sexual abuses, to protect single mothers and to fonn a policy for
adoption rather than abortion.
4) In cases in which pregnancy resulted from rape or sexual contact with blood relatives or relatives in marriage (Art. 135, Clause 1, No 4).
The legal prohibition of marriage between person of the same surname and same family origin (Art 809) should be removed. Abortion could not then be justified for those reasons. The right to life is innate and prior to law. The right to life of a fetus does not depend on legal marriage. Right to life is not given by law. The life of a baby who is born out of legal marriage is subject to legal protection and any violation against this baby' s life is a crime of murder. Therefore, the right to life of a fetus has to be protected beyond legitimacy of marriage.
As conclusion, the Bishops proposed the govemment either to withdrow the pending bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal
Law or to cross out its paragraphs no 2, no 3 and no 4 which permit abortions because the right to life of a fetus is an inviolable and absolute right, that is based on both natural and divine law and Constitutional rights as well.
• News from the Church in Korea
• "True Humanization is the Short Cut to Reunification," says Cardinal Kim
"A deeper reason for our not being able to achieve national reunification is not just ideological differences but our
chronic malady of not knowing how to cooperate and make concessions" Cardinal Kim said in his address at a seminar sponsored by Yonsae University, Nov. 24, with the theme of "How Can We Achieve Reunification?"
"South Korea is more advanced than North Korea economically and in democracy, but spiritual and moral power is
more important. In the current situation, if there is economic cooperation between the two Koreas, South Koreans could drag down the North Koreans into corruption, materialism and selfishness. But they would not be true companions for reunification of the national community."
He called for a sincere self-examination on the fact that, since the North Korea and US agreement was reached, contact
with Pyongyang has become more difficult unless it passes through Washington and emphasized the importance of efforts for dialogue.
He urged North Korea to get away from its ideological stiffness and accept economic cooperation with the South and
to open the door for communication, trade and travel by adopting the utilitarian approach of China.
Restoring mutual trust and love between generations is an absolute necessity for the reunification of Korea, he said in
his address. ''To achieve reunification we have to construct moral and spiritual values and live them out. The recent controversy with regard to "Juche ideology" (the self-reliance ideology of the late North Korean president Kim II-sung) infIltration among students has its cause in the absence and emptiness of moral values in our society," he said.
• Catholic Lay Apostolate Counci I of Korea Calls for Healing of Social Malady
On the occasion of the 27th annual Laity Sunday, Nov. 12, the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea called for the
personal conversion of Korean Catholics to bring about changes in society where a number of major crimes and accidents have occurred lately.
"We, the lay people, who are called to be salt and light in the world, have to ask ourselves what we have done and how we live out our faith in this society. The Gospel demands of us that we be leaven that changes the world" , the Council' s message said. "When each lay person lives out Christian love with a sense of commitment, our society will change in truth and justice. If our society is going in the wrong direction, each of us shares a part of the responsibility. Don' t wait for others to change but be the first. We must not lose hope. Desperation is denying God. Through us, the lay people, the Church of Christ will be present in the world as sign and source of hope and love."
Also, the Council passed at its 2nd standing committee meeting, Oct. 8, a resolution to launch a pan-national movement
to restore social morals, revive a pro-life mentality and show respect for elderly people. These virtues are a long standing traditiqn among the Korean people but are now declining. "Lay Apostolate Councils should take the lead in implementing the social teachings of the Church out of a concern for the serious pathological phenomenon emerging in
Korean society such as major crimes of violence, rape, murder and the irregularities and corruption of public officials," they said. Bishop Ignatius Pak of Andong diocese pointed out in his address that the moral void we experience today comes from extreme individualism and materialism based on selfishness, and invited the participants to be witness of the supreme goodness and truth of God.
• Over 1700 Youth Ready for Mani la World Youth Day
According to Rev. Kim Jong-su, Exec. Sec. of the Educational Committee of the CBCK (Pres.: Most Rev. Ignatius
Pak), about 1700 Korean Catholic youth nationwide completed their application for participation in the 10th World Youth Day 1995 which will be held Jan. 10-15 in Manila, Philippines. 1,476 of them are official delegates from dioceses and the others are individual or group participants. This number exceeds the originally planned figure of 1500, Fr. Kim said. Several Korean Bishops who will be in Manila for the Sixth FABC Plenary Assembly at same week-wind are scheduled to join them.
• Korean Local Church to Reach Out Universal Concern
The 20th meeting of the "One Heart, one Body Movement" of Seoul Archdiocese, on Oct. 19, opted for ten special
needy cases. They agreed to offer assistance to: • Seoul Headquarters of the " National Movement to Resurrect Our
Farm Community" , • Maria Education Center, • Youth Counselling Center in Noryang-JIn, • 2000 Bibles to Youth
Custody, • Uganda, India, Philippines, • Centers in other countries: the Focolare center and Don Bosco School in Uganda • St. Mary's orphanage in India, • Fatima Educational Center in India and a center for missionary formation in the Philippines.
• 65 Major Women Superiors Experience Life of the Poor
As part of efforts to implement the "option for the poor" , the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea (AMSRWK) organized in October a special program of exposure to and immersion among the most marginalized members of society. The 65 superiors of women religious congregations, in three groups, had a three-day program of living side by side with various categories of marginalized people: urban poor, workers, farmers and prostitutes. The purpose of the program was to discern where and how these people can be helped in concrete way. Among the centers visited by the Sisters were Magdalena House and a shelter for abused women. 'This opportunity will help us who are in charge of religious communities to rediscover the concrete meaning of religious poverty and ways of implementing it," Sr. Son Insook (Regional Superior of Sacred Heart) said.
• Seoul Diocese to Reinforce Prison Pastoral
The Prison Apostolate of Seoul archdiocese restructured its activity on Oct 4 by forming a Prison Pastoral Committee. More inspirational and creative pastoral care for the world of criminals are expected with the new plans. The newly formed pastoral committee aims to improve pastoral care and provide better spiritual care, not only for those serving prison sentences, but also for those recently released from prison. The fifteen founding members of the committee comprise of priests, religious and lay people including experts in legal affairs. They will seek to offer effective pastoral care as well as material support in housing, job, counselling and education.
Meanwhile 300 detainees, including 100 women of Sondong Detention House, took part in a sport day organized by the inter-faith group of the Prison Educational Association including Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists. Detainees left the confinement of their prison cells to play athletic games with prison officers and guards, and also members of the Prison Educational Association.
• Korean Catholics Raise Voices Against Capital Punishment
Following the determination of the Korean government to take stiff measure on crime, fifteen death row inmates were executed, Oct. 7. On this particular occasion, Father Kim Woo-song, the director of Seoul archdiocese Prison Apostolate, celebrated Mass with two Catholic inmates (Oh Tae-whan, Marco and Chon Ki-eh' 01, Paul) before their executions. Seven of the executed inmates donated their organs for transplant and medical research purpose. After the executions, Fr. Kim denounced capital punishment because it does not allow for criminals' repentance. Two years ago Cardinal Kim issued a ''Resolution against the Death Penalty" and the Prison Apostolate carried out a year-long campaign against capital punishment. ''The executions are meant to show the government' s strong will not to tolerate heinous criminals any more," a government spokesperson said.
Meanwhile the Catholic Human Rights activists, Council Against Capital Punishment, Amnesty International, the Korean National Council of Churches and other civil organizations condemned the executions
"The practice of execution following human judgement can lead to great mistakes and these can be murdering acts in their own way," Fr. Kim said.
With regard to recently crimes of rape and murder, Fr. Kim said that " such crimes are not the responsibility of a few individuals only but are due to the distorted and wrong value system, mentality and trends in society." He called Christians to sincere conversion and social responsibility as heinous crimes can be cured only in a radical way.
• Social Leaders Stand Against Heinous Crimes
Some 50 elders from various sectors of society, including Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, Rev. Wol-ha (Buddhist)
and Rev. Han Kyong-jik (Protestant), formed a "Headquarters for Filial Piety" . The organization is designed to promote
moral values in Korean society where a series of recent frightening cold-blooded crimes were caused by moral bankruptcy and extreme materialism which slighting human dignity. The movement aims to help to cure such social cancers as egoism and immorality, which society is suffering from, while spreading the Korean traditional value of filial piety at home and abroad.
As an initial step, they plan to stage a campaign calling for the recovery of morality, to be followed by a series of activities for the promotion of welfare of the underprivileged in our society. They will also seek enactment of a law for the promotion of filial piety, explore policies and hold seminars and lecture sessions to this end.
• Suwon Diocese to Welcome Guest Seminarians
As part of the established sisterhood between Suwon diocese in Korea and Jilin diocese in China, Suwon diocese has decided to welcome two Korean ethnic Chinese seminarians from Jilin seminary to attend Suwon seminary beginning in 1995. The sisterhood between the two dioceses was established by Bishop Angelo Kim of Suwon and Fr. Abraham Yan Taijun of Jilin to further pastoral exchanges and cooperation. This decision was taken during the visit of Fr. Chong Ji-ong of Suwon diocese to Fr. Yan Taijun last August.
• 20 Farm Communities Launched in Pusan Diocese
"The Movement to Resurrect Our Farm Community" was launched Nov. 5, at the Catholic Center in Pusan in the presence of Bishop Gabriel Lee and others concerned with the issues of farm communities today. In his address Bishop Lee pinpointed the necessity for the Church to commit herself to support farmers following the UR trade agreement. ''Farm communities and urban cities must seek for a way to survive together and cooperate for each other' s sake" he said. The headquarter of the ''Movement to Resurrect Our Farm Community" made plans to increase the chapters of the Production Communities to 50 by next May and to set up in each parish a cooperative association for effective cooperation and promotion of the movement.
• Secretariat of the CBCK Opens Press Room
Rev. Dionysius Paik Nam-ik, Secretary General of the CBCK, announced in November the opening of a CBCK press room. "As the media interest in the Church has intensified, the secretariat of the CBCK thought it is timely to open a press room in the CBCK in order to provide society and the media with accurate and prompt information relating to the CBCK and the social teachings of the Church," he explained. Rev. John Kim Jong-su, undersecretary of the CBCK, was appointed as official spokesman.
In Memoriam :
Most Rev. Thomas Stewant, former Bishop of Ch' unch' on diocese, a Columban missionary in Korea, died of a heart attack in Navan, Ireland, at the age of 69, Oct. 30. His 40 years of life dedicated to the Korean Church was marked by deep concerns for Catholic families. He introduced the Happy Family Movement to Korea in 1975 and later the Marriage Encounter Movement. As the President of the Family Pastoral Committee of the CBCK he tried to make family pastoral a priotity of the Korean Church.
Rev. Alphonse Ahn Byong-tae, the Regional Superior of the Jesuit Fathers in Korea and chairman of the board of trustees of Sogang University, died while attending an Asian Jesuits meeting in Taiwan at the age of 63, Nov. 23. Ordained priest in 1968, he was responsible for the counselling and pastoral care of students besides l1!s professorship in religious studies. Graduated from Catholic College in S~ul, he did undergraduate and postgraduate studies at St. Louis University in the US ill the early 60s as well as at Sophia Univ. in Tokyo, 1966.
Rev. Joseph.Ku died at the age of 97, Oct. 26. Born in Hwanghae Province in 1897 be was ordaiIied priest in 1926 in Seoul. From 1963 he was spiritual director and confessor at Seoul seminary until he retired in 1975. His simple life centered on prayer will long be remembered by Korean Catholics and his disciples.
News in Brief
• The initiative taken by Keuch' ang parish in Masan diocese to invite a Buddhist priest, Rev. Hyun-ki, Nov. 13, to give a talk in the church furthered inter-religious understanding. This was the first event of its kind.
• Joint Campaign for Rwandan refugees launched, last August, by the Caritas Coreana and the two Catholic Weeky (Pyonghwa Shinmun and the Catholic Shinmun) collected over 1.2 billion won (USD $1,500,(00).
• Foreign Workers' Counselling Office in Seoul and Inch' on hosted a twoday Full Moon festival celebration for migrant workers Sept. 20. About 15,000 technical trainees and 54,000 illegal residents are working in industrial companies in Korea.
• The National Council of the YMCA of Korea installed a hotline Nov. 1 to assist foreign workers in Korea with various difficulties such as human rights violation, industrial hazards and back wage payments.
• Card. Kim met President Kim Young-sam at the Blue House, Nov. 2, to discuss the current state of affairs, and the two leaders agreed to cooperate in rooting out felonious crimes and promoting social transformation.
• Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, President of the North Korea Evangelization Committee, proposed to North Korean Catholics to celebrate a Mass for peaceful reunification, Oct. 16.
• The Northern Mission Conference was formed by some 20 religious institutions and lay associations, Sep. 28. The new conference aims to collaborate closely on questions of mission work in China and North Korea.
• The first Year Book of the Korean Catholic Church was published. It contains 760 pages in six chapters, organized by category. It gives comprehensive information on the local and world Church.
Respect for Humanity - The Foundation of National Reunification and Prosperity
A statement issued by the Catholic Justice and Peace Committee ofthe CBCK on the occasion of the 13th Annual Human Right's Sunday, December 13, 1994
Today we celebrate the 13th Annual Human Rights' Sunday as we have done it since the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea declared the second Sunday of Advent for Human Rights' Sunday in 1982.
Today' s Gospel reads; "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight His paths" (Lk 3,4). These words remind us of the task that we have to carry out throughout our lives. For the Church, the justice of God means that the dignity and fundamental rights of all human beings, without exception, are to be respected. Indeed, every person is precious for shelhe is made in God' s image. Therefore, the promotion of human rights is a demand of the Gospel and a primary task of the Church.
Our society today has lost a sense of moderation and its moral values. Cruel murder crimes, the collapse of the Songsu Bridge and other horrific incidents in these days make us realize the seriousness of Korea' s social ills. Respect for life is a precondition for building a humane society and achieving national reconciliation. Therefore, each of us is required to accept our own responsibilities.
1. The Family is the Cradle of Love and Life.
The future of our society depends upon the family, which is the cradle of love and life. The UN designated International Year of the Family for 1994 has come to a close. Nonetheless, we must continue in our efforts to build a true family. First and foremost, there must be proper human development and education for children in the family and this education begins with the mother' s attitude from the time of conception. Parents today, however, through the act of abortion, teach their
children violence and injustice rather than love and responsibility.
In fact, such slogans as "recovery of morals" or "realization of justice," are only empty words if the prerequisite condition of the right to life is not guaranteed from the very moment of conception. All of us who live in this country are called upon to examine with sincerity our consciences concerning the reality that 1,500,000 unborn children are killed every year due to abortion. We emphasize that all laws and medical technology are for the purpose of serving humanity.
Keeping this principal in mind, we urge the Korean government once again to withdraw the pending reform bill on Art. 135 of the Criminal Law that will liberalize abortion in limited cases. Because this will lead to the possibility of generalized abortion.
2. An Authentic and Just Lifestyle is the Essential for the Common Good of Society.
We have to understand clearly the impact of injustice and corruption upon the common good of the society. The disastrous collapse of the Songsu Bridge speaks loudly of the systematic bribery, slipshod inspections, the corrupt handling of public bids for public construction projects, and other social absurdities that directly effect the lives of the nation's. citizens. The government cannot deny its responsibility in the shoddy construction of the Songsu Bridge. The indolent, secretive and negligent management of all authorities concerned are truly regrettable.
We are even more concerned about suspicions surrounding the current construction of the Yongkwang nuclear power plants because they are directly connected to the safety of the entire peninsula and right to life of the Korean populace. We are particularly worried of persistent questions concerning faulty construction of the recently completed and presently operating Yongkwang Nuclear Power Plants Nos. 3 and 4. There have already been reports of bribes connected to the construction company, and when we consider that the nuclear industry is more secretive than any other, we realize
that these doubts concerning faulty construction are not to be taken lightly. To clarify such doubts, the government must open to the public all necessary information and guarantee strict supervision and administration of these power plants.
3. Workers Must Never be Considered a Tool of Production.
Inhumane working conditions and the ill treatment of workers must be eliminated. Unresolved cases of workers' suffering occupational accidents and unpaid wages are a clear violation of their fundamental human rights.
Fortunately, the government decided, last February, to compensate illegal foreign workers for occupational injuries "from a humanitarian perspective" and on the basis of equal treatment to foreign and domestic work: ers. Nevertheless, the vocational trainee system that the government introduced as an alternative solution to illegal foreign workers has from the beginning been fraught with problems. Furthermore, poor human rights conditions for the foreign vocational trainees and
the problems of overdue wages, violence, and occupational accidents are still very serious. Thereupon, we urge the government to actively redress the problems surrounding this policy and conduct an overall revision.
It is natural that workers should be faithful to their duty, but employers and the government must equally respect their fundamental rights. While we express our deep concern for the excessive disciplinary measures against 3,360 workers involved in the railroad and subway workers' strike last June, resulting in 21 jailings and 165 dismissals, we also look forward to a peaceful settlement for the sake of this land' s industrial peace.
4. The year 1995 Marks the 50th Anniversary of Korea' s National Liberation.
While we work to heal the wounds of division through reconciliation and exchanges, for the sake of national reunification, we make the appeal that all must first have respect for humanity. We are deeply concerned about human rights violations in both North and South Korea. In South Korea there are the problems of the numerous "prisoners of conscience" and "fabricated espionage" cases, while in North Korea there are the problems of the "logging camps in Siberia" and the camps for "criminals of ideology" - considered as the death ground of human rights - where descriptions of inhumane conditions have been publicly disclosed several times. Thereby, we urge the authorities of both
governments to take into consideration the question of restoration of human rights of those who are suffering unjustly. We expect also that North Korea will promote an authentic freedom of religion. True freedom and liberation are possible only when human beings are treated with dignity and respect.
5. The 4th World Women' s Day Will be Held in Beijing in 1995.
While we hope that this day will contribute to the promotion of women' s basic rights, we also hope that this event does not forget the responsibilities and duties of women and does not provide momentum to claim that abortion is one of women' s rights.
It is a fact that women' s rights have been violated in many ways through the generations. Discriminatory mentality based on long-standing Korean customs and traditions must be corrected. At the same time, injustices originating from discrimination should be dealt with on a legal and systematical level. Such a discriminatory mentality has caused the indiscriminate killing of unborn female children and has led to serious problem resulting imbalance between the number of boys and girls in society. Widespread sexual abuse in the family, the work place and on the streets has been the cause of unbearable pains and sufferings for women. For this, men should sincerely examine their consciences, and those responsible should frankly admit their guilt of violating the dignity of women through human trafficking and using sex as a tool for pleasure, thus placing a dark cloud over the whole of society.
6. In Conclusion, on the Occasion of the 13th Human Rights' Sunday, we must sincerely ask for reconciliation for those times - whether knowingly or unknowingly - when we violated the dignity of others. We have to ask ourselves whether we have hurt other people' s feelings or violated their rights by our selfishness and unfaithfulness. Beginning with ourselves and with oUr family, we must truly practice justice and authentic values in our lives. People in the government, educational circles, in media and social communications should faithfully pursue the restoration of the values of our culture.
As we approach the New Year, the 50th anniversary of our national independence, let us try to share the sufferings of national division and promote respect for human dignity so that genuine peace and justice reign over North and South Korea. Welcoming into our hearts the Lord' s command, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight His paths," we pray that God may grant abundant grace and peace to all of you who struggle with love and sincerity for a peaceful national
reconciliation and for a world ofjustice. December 4, 1994
Most Rev. Josehph Kyeong
President Justice and Peace Committee of CBCK