CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

 

 

 

From the Editor:

Korean Church Called to Give Authentic Witness to the Faith and

the Values of the Gospel

 

  Dear Friends,

  The Bishops of Korea will make their Ad Limina visit to Rome from March 20th to the 30th of this year. The Ad Limina visit is an occasion to visit the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a practice in the Church from the earliest times. However the visit has a deeper meaning for the bishops who see it as getting in touch with the foundation of their Faith and a strengthening of their communion with the Pope, the Successor of St. Peter, and the universal Churche. We hope that the Korean Bishops will find enlightenment and power to renew the faith of the Catholic Church in Korea as it marches towards the Great Jubilee of the year 2000.

  As she prepares for the Great Jubilee, the Church in Korea is strengthening herself to strive through self-reflection, for the new evangelization which is the evangelization of all peoples. We recall the teachings of the Holy Father who has emphasized the need for a “new evangelization” in order to suitably celebrate the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. The Church in Korea is especially trying to present concrete answers to the modern challenges of Church and society, and national reunification and the mission to the North, through an authentic interpretation of the signs of times, all the time keeping in mind the recent Apostolic Letter “Tertio Millennio Adveniente” in which the orientation of preparation for the Great Jubilee are presented.

  As we march toward the Great Jubilee, the Church in Korea, after genuine self-reflection, is called to give authentic witness to the faith and the values of the Gospel. This is the direction that has to be pursued to realize the “new evangelization”. The proclamation of the Jubilee Year, a year of grace, is for us a proclamation of freedom and liberation. Having lived for half a century with the reality of a divided nation and in the shadow of all kinds of materialism, the Church’s mission is to bring joy and hope to the world through the Great Jubilee and to proclaim the Good News of freedom and liberation.

  At this Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, Our Liberator, we pray for our freedom and joy.

 

Msgr. Dionysius Paik Nam-ik
Secretary General
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea

 


 

New Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon

 


  Rev. Paul Choi Duk-ki, aged 48, was ordained as Coadjutor Bishop of Suwon on Feb. 22nd, 1996. The ordination Mass was concelebrated by Most Rev. Angelo Kim, Bishop of Suwon and all the members of the CBCK along with some 250 priests at Suwon Gymnasium. A congregation of about 8000 attended the ceremony.


  Profile:
  He was born in Pyongtaek,Kyonggi-do, on January 15th, 1948. After attending Seoul minor seminary he studied philosophy and theology at Seoul major seminary. He was then sent to Eichstatt Seminary and Munster seminary in Germany where he obtained a Licentiate in Theology and a Doctorate in Pastoral Theology.

  He was ordained priest on October 10th, 1975 in Germany and he was incardinated into the diocese of Suwon. Since his ordination he has ministered in the following places: as parish priest of Pugok, as professor at Suwon major seminary, as parish priest at Namyang and later at Kimpo. Since 1990 he has been Director of the Pastoral Office of the Diocese. He is fluent in German and English.

 

  His motto, “With Christ”(1 Cor.1,5) expresses his willingness to serve for the salvation of the world by making the Church a community of love with Christ and modelling his pastoral ministry after Christ.

  The diocese of Suwon, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Seoul, has an area of 5,371 square kilometers and a population of 4,342,000 of whom 333,000 are catholics living in 74 parishes. Working in the diocese are 168 priests(139 diocesan and 29 religious), 54 brothers, 808 religious women of whom 27 are foreigners belonging to 31 different institutes, 10 lay missionaries, 827 full-time paid catechists and 1677 volunteer catechists. The major seminary in Suwon has 189 diocesan seminarians, 31 religious seminarians and 21 seminarians belonging to the Korean Foreign Missionary Society. In the last five years 57,000 adults and 32,280 children have been baptized, an average of 11,400 adults and 6,450 child baptisms a year.

  “During the ceremony a recurring thought was that to be faithful to my ministry is to be faithful to my faithful. I will try to live and commit myself to my assignment with the attitude of one who always stands before God. With this attitude I will fulfil my duty as Coadjutor Bishop with Most Rev. Angelo Kim and learn from him what I need. My most pressing duty at the moment is prayer and study in order to stay alert and discern the signs of the times,” the new bishop said.

 


Ad Limina Visit of the Bishops of Korea

 

  The 10-day Ad Limina visit of the Korean Bishops starts on March 20th. The participants will be 20 Bishops from 14 dioceses and military ordinariate including Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, OSB and Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dionysius Paik Nam-ik, Secretary
General of the CBCK. At the audience with Pope John Paul II the Bishops will exchange views on the mission to North Korea, the evangelization of Asia and other important current issues relating to the Catholic Church in Korea. The Bishops will make a visit to the Secretariate of State and four Congregations including Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples. They will also hold the 1996 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK in Rome and deal with questions relating to the amendment of the Statutes of the CBCK.


 

Most Rev. John Chang Yik to Become a Member of PCID

 

  Pope John Paul II appointed Most Rev. John Chang Yik, Bishop of Chunchon, as a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as of Dec. 11th, 1995.

  His nomination was welcomed with enthusiasm by the Catholic Church in Korea which is aware of the importance of interreligious dialogue.

  The PCID was instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1964 as a special department of the Roman Curia dealing with the relationship with people of other religions under the name of the Secretariat for Non Christians. In 1988 Pope John Paul II
renamed it the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

 

 

 


Message on Caritas Coreana Sunday 1996

“Let’s Promote National Dignity in Universal Love”


Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, Bishop of Andong and President of Caritas Coreana, issued a message on the 6th Caritas Coreana Sunday, Jan. 28th, titled “Let’s Promote National Dignity in Universal Love”. In this message he insisted on the universal love of Christians that embraces all humanity and said that “By practicing universal love we can show the world that Koreans are sincere people, concerned about truth and justice, faithful to historical facts and at the same time open to international organisations.” Also he reminded the Korean Catholics of the reality of poverty in the world saying that “in some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, there are still over one billion people who suffer from absolute poverty. Nearest to us are our brothers and sisters in North Korea who are in serious difficulties caused by the floods of last year.”


  Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  The Caritas Coreana Sunday was established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea in order to take part in overseas assistance programs. It has been the tradition of the Catholic nations to help needy people in other countries through collections during the Lenten season, however, in Korea we have used these collections mainly for those needy people in our own country. That was because Korea was among those countries which were assisted by foreign countries until recently. The 3rd Sunday of Advent is also a Charity Sunday which aims to help the poor so that we can with open hearts welcome Jesus who came to us in a poor manner. Thus the Korean Church frequently helps the poor in our country through collections during Lent and the 3rd Sunday of Advent. However the total collection on Caritas Coreana Sunday is for overseas assistance. In this way we participate in Caritas International that assists billions people who are in need throughout the world.

  Through the generous donations and cooperation of the people Caritas Coreana has assisted the needy people in Africa, particularly in Somalia, Rwanda and Kenya and others in Asia especially in Vietnam and Mongolia. We are very thankful for your heartwarming generosity.

  It was regrettable however that the income from the year-end charity campaign was low compared to previous years. It was more regrettable still to hear some Koreans complaining about assisting foreign countries when there are plenty of needy people in Korea. We do need to progress in our deeds of charity, don’t we?

  Pope John Paul II, in his Lenten message titled “Give them something to eat”(Mt. 14,16), urged us to do something for the starving people in the world. “We are aware that the means at our disposal are certainly insufficient to meet the needs of the nearly 800 million people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and who still struggle, on the threshold of the Year 2000, for survival”(Message of Pope John Paul II for Lent 1996).

  A community should be a community of dynamic love which is not simply “being with others” but “existing for others”. A communitycan grow when its power of love is oriented towards the world. Extending our love to all of humanity is not only for them but it can also be an aid in the reunification of our nation. Basically moral values are universal. Thus in searching for moral values and implementing them we participate in the universal love for humanity. This is also a part of the globalization drive now being proposed by our government. Through the practice of universal love which goes beyond national boundaries of nations and races we can promote the dignity of both the Church and Korea.

  Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  Is there anything sadder than starvation? We should not forget that the poor are digging in our garbage to find food. How can we not open our ears and hearts to that critical situation and start to make available those five loaves and two fish which God has put into our hands? Let’s listen to his appeal carefully.

The practice of love of our neighbours is not something sentimental that we do or quit according to our moods. Solidarity with the poor in the love of Christ is a matter of faith that is related to our everlasting happiness.

  I pray for God’s blessings on all of you and your families.


January 28th, 1996
Caritas Sunday
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak
President Caritas Coreana

 


 

Inch’on Catholic College Opened

 

  Inch’on Catholic College, the 7th Catholic college in Korea, had its inauguration and entrance ceremony for its 32 first students on March 2. The inauguration Mass and ceremony were presided by Most Rev. William McNaughton, MM., Bishop of diocese of Inch’on and chairperson of the board of directors of the college. Rev. Choi Ki-bok, the first president of the college in his address said that the goal of the new college is the education of students and seminarians with its focus on spiritual and human integration between virtue and intelligence.

  He also said, in a interview with Catholic Shinmun, that “the College will do its best not to disappoint the Church in its expectation with regard to the mission to North Korea and the evangelization of Asia. Formation of ministers for evangelization of China will be one of our goals. For this end, in the curriculum, Chinese language is obligatory and Asian philosophy will be given equal standing with Western philosophy. Furthermore, we plan to introduce Chinese and North Korean Sciences in order to further help in the evangelization of China and North Korea.

  Besides the original purpose of the College which is the formation of priests, one of its future targets is the formation of lay and religion leaders who will contribute to society by crossing the boundaries of religions. With this perspective, the University is planning to open, within the next year, ‘Research Institute of People’s (Korean) Cultures’ and ‘Research Institute for Asian Evangelization’. These two institutes will carry out professional study on China, Korea(South and North) and will hold academic seminars. The study on Korea will focus on the inculturation of the Christian faith into the Korean culture of both South and North.”

 


 

Bishops of Korea and Japan Agree to Compile Standard History Book

 

  The Bishops of Korea and Japan agreed to jointly compile a history textbook based on a common historical understanding.
  Delegates of the Bishops’Conference of Korea and Japan met on Feb. 16th at The Catholic Center in Tokyo and discussed major problems and concerns between the two countries as Catholic Church leaders.
  The new textbook will rewrite the ancient and interactive history of the two countries which have blamed each other for distortions and unilateral viewpoints. Particular points concern the Japanese aggression during the colonial rule that caused unbearable pain and anger among the Korean people and many other Asian nationals.
  In this perspective, they came to agree to pursue joint efforts to foster a common understanding of the history of Korea and Japan among their respective people and to compile and publish jointly a standard textbook of history that can be used at Catholic-run schools so that the youth of the two countries have a common and authentic understanding of the history of the past. There are 62 Catholic-run schools catering for some 69,096 students in Korea. The two parties agreed also that the new textbook should clarify the truth about the territorial claims over Tok-do Isle in the East Sea of Korea and record the facts about the Japanese atrocities committed against the Korean people during their colonial rule.
  Most Rev. Paul Ri remarked that the effort of coming together of the Bishops of the two countries as conscientious representatives of the Catholic Church, in order to carry out an historical correction and to solve the problems of the past is very meaningful for Catholics of both countries who believe in the same God despite the fact that the issue is still a matter of much concern due to the different national feelings and political interests on both sides.
  “The history taught in Korea and Japan is quite different. This is something that has to do with national interests. It is very difficult to find a common historical point of view at government level. However at Church level, it may be possible to work for truth, love and peace because we share the same faith in God and the salvation of all,” Most Rev. Paul Ri said. To this remark, Most Rev. Fumio Hamao said that in the pastoral letter of the CBCJ in Feb. 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Japanese Church reviewed its history and renewed their desire to contribute towards a peaceful future by repenting of the past, by deepening their knowledge about their past and by asking for the grace of purification and conversion.”
  In fact, an international joint compilation of history textbooks is not unprecedented as EC nations put together a book of European history in an attempt to ease conflicting historical view points.
  They resolved to strengthen relations between the countries by mutual visits and exchanges of priests, women and men Religious, laypeople and seminarians.
  Korean participants at the meeting were the Most Rev. Paul Ri, Archbishop of Taegu and president of the CBCK: Most Rev. IgnatiusPak, bishop of Andong; Most Rev. Peter Kang, auxiliary bishop of Seoul and president of the Seoul Catholic University. Japanese participants were Most Rev. Fumio Hamao, Bishop of Yokohama and Most Rev. Takeo Okada, president of the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCJ.

 


 

Catholic Historical Materials Clarify Korean Territorial Claims on Tok-do Isle

 

  A map of the Korean peninsula drawn in 1845 by St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean Catholic priest who was martyred in 1846, makes it clear that the disputed isle of Tok-do isle was a part of Korean territory.
  Rev. Choi Sok-woo, director of the Research Institute for Korean Church History, said Father Kim’s map is significant in that “it was the first map to indicate to Western geographic circles that Tok-do isls was part of Korean territory.”
  Claude C. Dallet of the Paris Foreign Mission Society also included the Tok-do isle in a Korean map in “The History of the Church in Korea” published in Paris in 1874.
  Such Catholic historical materials clarify the Korean territorial claims on the isle, said experts in Korean Catholic Church history; Dr. Cho Kwang, a history professor at Korea University, remarked that the early Catholic missionaries regarded maps as very important material, especially because they dealt with the regional divisions and territorial demarcation of their missionary districts. “The map of St. Kim was acquired by the National Library in Paris in 1855 and it was recognized as the most accurate map of Korea that was reproduced in a French Geographical Journal at that time” he added.

 

 

Holy See’s Plea and Korean Catholics’ Concern for North Korean People

 

  After a visit to North Korea, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli has appealed for food and medicines to assist its 22 million people. His visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, was at the invitation of the government of North Korea on a humanitarian mission in mid?January. “People are suffering from the disaster caused by last year’s flooding which destroyed crops, food reserves, plantations, houses and dams as well as mines,” he said “the country lacks everything.”
  The delegation delivered a gift from the Holy Father to the authorities in charge of the Aid Coordination Committee for their dramatic needs for food and other essentials.
  Mgr. Celli also met some local Catholics gathered for a Sunday prayer service at Changchung church in Pyongyang. There he expressed the closeness and affection of the Pope for those faithful who, in turn, have confirmed their fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to the Church. The most immediate pastoral needs of the Catholic community were discussed with the lay leaders.”
  Meanwhile, in South Korea, leaders of the leading religions, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Confucianists, Won Buddhists and Chondogyo, made a formal announcement, on Jan. 15th, that assistance from their respective religious communities will continue to be sent to aid flood victims despite allegations that rice provisions have gone to the military instead of to the victims.
  “Religious people have an obligation to help those in need that goes beyond ideology, politics and any other reasons there may be. Our only desire is to raise and promote, from a humanitarian and national standpoint, the sincere interest of all South Korean people in the suffering and difficulties the North Korean people are having due to the food crisis,” Cardinal Kim said.

  Caritas Coreana donated on March 14th, 178 million won (US$220,000) in flood relief for North Koreans to the Korean Red Cross. This is the third donation of the Korean Catholics as they donated 40 million won in Sep. and another 40 million won in Dec. of last year.
  The South Korean government has decided not to offer assistance without a formal request and verification from North Korea that donated rice is being used exclusively to assist flood victims.
  North Korea, with a total population of 23,472,000 according to the 1994 report of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, suffered the worst flooding in its recorded history last year and continues to suffer because of it. According to the report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP) North Korea faces a food shortage of 1,910,000 tons this year. The report said North Korea needs 5,990,000 tons of grain a year and so it has to fill a 1,910,000-ton shortage with imports and foreign assistance. Some 2.1 million children and 450,000 expectant women are in a serious condition in terms of malnutrition, the report said. “Arable land of North Korea covers about 2 million hectares, one sixth of its total area. Of the total, only 1,430,000 hectares are now fit for the cultivation of crops,” it added.

 

 

 

North Koreans are Our Brothers and Sisters... We Have to Welcome Them

 

  A Catholic woman religious’ thesis has advocated help for North Korean defectors by adding to the growing demand for a better understanding of and positive action to aid those who come to the South and for preparation for the reunification of the country.
  The thesis of Sr. Oh Hyae-jong of the Congregation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, titled, “The Current Situation of the Adjustment of North Korean Defectors to the South” is the first academic research of its kind. “I do hope it will improve the situation of the defectors,” she said.
  “To prepare for the reunification of Korea that is sure to come, I thinkd that an understanding of the situation of those North Korean people already with us could be very important and of great value for us Christians,” she says.
  Her thesis, based on a survey of 44 North Koreans who defected since 1988, reports that although they have increased freedom and economic well-being, they suffer from isolation, misunderstanding, indifference, and guilt for leaving their families behind. They are unaccustomed to money dealings and are often taken advantage of by their South Korean fellows.
  Sr. Oh argues that the current government protection and allowance given to the defectors are not enough to enable them to live happily in South Korea. In her opinion, the South Korean government’s first responsibility should be to provide them with the educational supports necessary to survive in the highly competitive environment of the South Korean sociery, as well as providing them with appropriate economic assistance.
  She says also that “comprehensive government policy and national reunification efforts are indispensable, and that businesses should be required to provide jobs so that our Northern brothers and sisters can enjoy political freedom and democracy.

 


News from the Church in Korea

 

● Cardinal Kim Calls for the Rebirth and Healing of the Korean People

  Cardinal Kim of Seoul appealed to Korean Catholics to work for the rebirth and reconciliation of the nation in 1996. In his New Year address he said that 1996 must be a year of rebirth for the Korean people by righting the nation’s history and healing the wounds of corruption. The government must undertake a “campaign to straighten out the nation’s modern history,” he said. Talking about the indictment of the two former presidents he remarked that “it is very important for the Korean people to learn the truth of the 1979 military takeover and the massacre in Kwangju in 1980 because it caused unbearable pain to so many innocent people. However, any retaliation or political revenge should be avoided.” On the question of reunification he said “the restoration of mutual trust is most necessary and urgent, and both the South and North should give up their vested interests in order to improve relations.”

 

● 47 New Priests Ordained
  During January and February the Korean Catholic Church ordained to the priesthood 47 deacons. Of them, 24 were from Kwangju, 20 from Suwon and 3 from Taejon major seminaries.
According to recent statistics, the number of candidates entering the seminary has decreased. Except for Seoul Catholic University which received 86 applications for 80 places, the other six major seminaries had merely half of the candidates they expected.

 

● CBCK Publishes Guide Booklets for Great Jubilee of 2000
  The Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000(Pres.: Most Rev.Joseph Kyeong) announced to publish a series of booklets on the Great Jubilee.
The guide booklets’ focus, first of all, is on educating the Korean Catholics about the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 and helping them in preparation of it. Entitled “The Biblical Roots of the Jubilee and Our Reality”, the first of three bookelts the Commission published, contains the history, origin, and meaning of the Jubilee as found in the Bible. The remaining two booklets will treat about the meaning of the Jubilee in the light of the Christian faith and how to make the Jubilee a lived reality and our future.

 

  ● Pastoral Experience Program Team of the U.S. to Visit Korea
Six delegates of the Asian and Pacific Pastoral Experience Program team headquartered in Chicago, made a 5-day pastoral visit to Korea, from Jan. 23rd to 27th. The team was headed by Fr. Alan Larkin from San Jose, California, and they spent five full days in Seoul during which they received briefings and held meetings with various Church leaders and representatives of apostolic organizations. Their visit included a pilgrimage to Korean martyrs’ shrines and trip to Panmunjom on the demilitarized zone. They said that “during the eighties, the Asian and Pacific populations were more than doubled and continue to grow. In response several dioceses have collaborated in a program to assist the Church to respond better to Asian and Pacific communities.” “Understanding and knowledge about cultural, historical background of contemporary Korean-Americans are vital for our pastoral ministry” they stated.

 

● First Catholic Art Awards for Inculturating and Promoting Church Art
  Three Korean Catholic artists were honored by the Cultural Committee of the CBCK(Pres.: Most Rev. John Chang Yik) for their contribution to the promotion and inculturation of Korean Catholic art, on Feb. 24th. Choi Young-shim was honored for her work in stained glass at Taech’i parish in Seoul, and Sister Choi Bong-ja of the Congregation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for her sculpture, “The Holy Family” in Seoul Cathedral. The Catholic Art Prize will be awarded annually for works in the formative arts created within the previous five years.
A special Catholic Art Prize, awarded this year to Dr. Chang Bal, will recognize artists who have made a significant contribution to Korean Catholic art since 1945. Dr. Chang Bal, after his studies in Tokyo and New York, established the Faculty of Art at Seoul National University in 1945 and dedicated his life to education. Several of his paintings can be seen at Seoul Cathedral in Seoul and Chultusan Shrine of the Korean Martyrs.

 

  ● Japanese Catholics Join Demonstration for “Comfort Women”
Four priests and seven lay people from Japan joined a weekly demonstration at the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest Japan’s military sex exploitation of Korean women during World War II. The team including Fr. Okura from the Justice & Peace Office in Tokyo joined the 197th Wednesday demonstration, on Dec. 17th, led by some 100 Catholic women religious, students, missionaries and Catholic women activists.
“As a Japanese I tried hard, with much sorrow, to do something on behalf of the women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan, however, I did not get far and I regret it very much,” Fr. Okura said.
Meantime a recommendation of the U.N. Commission for Human Rights that was issued on Feb. 6th, asked Japan to take legal responsibility for its Imperial Army operations during WWII, and thus pay individual compensation to the “military sex slaves”, known as “comfort women”. The Japanese chief cabinet secretary Seiroku Kajiyama responded to the U.N. recommendation by saying “we cannot accept it.” However the U.N. report said Japan should amend its education curriculum to reflect the historical reality, and that those involved in recruiting and operating the comfort stations should be identified and punished.
The Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women and the Catholic Women’s Community for a New World said they are determined to pursue the issue until their demands are met.

 

  ● Cardinal Kim Meets North Korean Woodcutters in Siberia
Cardinal Kim of Seoul met on Jan. 26th, with three defectors from North Korea who asked him during his visit to Moscow last October to help them come to South Korea.
Cardinal Kim appealed to the South Korean authorities on behalf of the three men, Lee Hak-bong(41), Park Il-sup(37) and Lee Song-nam(41) who were working as woodcutters in Siberia.
North Korean defectors numbered 561 at the beginning of 1996 according to Shin Young-suk of the Peaceful Reunification Research Institute. Of these, 253 are unemployed. According to him another 1,200 North Koreans in China, Russia, Vietnam or other countries are seeking entry to South Korea. While Russia is cooperating, China supports

 

  ● Catholics Call for Public Hearing on Nuclear Plants
Catholics and other environmentalists in Chonnam province have called for a public hearing on the planned construction of two nuclear reactors in Yonggwang in the Southwest part of Korea.
Representatives of several civic organizations including the Catholic Justice and Peace Committee of the Kwangju Archdiocese demanded from the authorities a detailed and objective assessment of the environmental impact before construction begins. They proposed to form a threeway task force comprising local government officials, civic organizations and nuclear experts.
The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) plans to complete construction of the two nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 2 million kilowatts of power generation by 2001 and 2002 respectively. Some 30 million tons of warm waste water from each of the reactors will flow into the sea. Accidents related to nuclear plants in the past also caused very strong reactions among thelocal people.
Thousands of fishermen, local people and environmentalists claimed at a rally on March 13th, that the amount of fish are decreasing and their life impoverished since the construction of the other nuclear reactors.

 

● Religion Leaders Declare for a Greener Environment
  Korean religion leaders and organizations agreed to work together for a greener environment. Leaders of the six major religions including Catholics, issued a joint “Green Environment Declaration” at a meeting on Feb. 1st and pledged to actively participate in the campaign to protect the environment.
They declared that the religion organizations would work together in harmony to preserve the environment, knowing well the critical state of pollution and the fragile nature of the ecology. The religion leaders decided to let religious buildings and facilites be used as education centers for environmental protection.
The religion leaders attending the meeting were Cardinal Kim from the Catholic Church and Ven. Song Wolchu from the Korean Buddhist Chogye Order including representatives from the Confucian Community, Won Buddhist, Korea Christian Academy, Chondogyo and Protestant denominations.

 

● “Project of Paul” to send First Team of Twelve
  The “Project of Paul”, an organization for the training of apostles for poor areas embarked on the full implementation of its objectives by holding a mission ceremony on Feb. 29th, at Myongdong Catholic Center in Seoul.
Eight women religious, two lay men and two lay women are the present members who will be sent in small groups to poor areas for three years. This will include one year of education and two years of “immersion” apostolate.
The Project of Paul is a model of the Catholic Poor Pastoral Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul directed by Rev. Lee Ki-woo. It is modelled after St.Paul who spread the Gospel by forming communities and working for his living. This model is expected to open new ways of evangelization for the poor of the modern world. “Those who want to commit themselves to evangelical poverty will find opportunities to realize it in the Project of Paul. And I hope this marks a new turning point in the Church’s mission and evangelization,” Rev. Lee said.

 

● Pastoral on Women Takes Positive Step
  Following the Beijing 4th “ Conference on Women”, the study of women’s issues is being positively pursued in the Catholic Church in Korea. On March 6th, an 8-week course on women, co-sponsored by Myongdong Cathedral and the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women of Korea opened with the theme of “Looking for God’s Image.” Some 150 nuns and lay people participated.
In the Archdiocese of Taegu, a oneyear course on women’s study,sponsored by the pastoral department of the diocese, is to be opened soon. The study will focus on “Renewal of the Church and the role of women”, “Identity and vocation of lay women” and “Church and the family”.

 

 

News in Brief

 

● In January the Education department of the diocese of Masan had a 4-day retreat for over 400 altar boys from elementary schools at Chnagnyong youth camp with the theme of “Sharing: the more we share the more we have”. Participants came from over 30 parishes.

● 19 members of the parish council of Yenki in China made a 20-day visit to Korea beginning on Jan. 20th. They were welcomed by the North Korean Evangelization Committee and were given a special catechetical instruction and a session on the Cursillio movement. They also visited major Korean martyrs’ shrines and met with Korean catholics of various walks of life.

● Cardinal Kim reminded Catholic lawyers and politicians of the importance of their role and responsibility in building a society where people are treated equally before the law. “Lawyers should witness to the fact that truth and honesty are values we have to pursue,” he said.

● Two Korean priests, Fr. No Yon-ho (Matthew) and Park Eun-jong(John) have joined the Columban Father’s Volunteer Priest Program and were sent to Chile on Jan. 3rd. “The Catholic Church in Korea is turning now into a donor Church, from a receiving Church to a sending or mission church,” Cardinal Kim said in his homily during the “Mission Mass” that was celebrated before they left. “We will do our best to proclaim the Gospel to the people and also to promote cultural exchange and share with the local churches,” they said.

● Rev. Father Franz-Joseph Eilers, Executive Secretary of the FABC/OSC visited Korea on Jan. 5th. On this occasion he thanked the CBCK for its financial and spiritual support for Radio Veritas in Manila. “Mass Communication is an important vehicle for promoting harmony between religion and culture in Asia. The responsibility and role of the Catholic media are very significant for the communication of social issues,” he remarked.

● Cardinal blessed, Feb. 22, the six walking pilgrims headed by Fr. Joo Pyong-gook. They marched 430km, during 26 nights and 27 days starting from the Songshim campus of Seoul Catholic University where St. Andrew Kim Taegon’s remians are enshrined to the Korean martyrs’ Memorial Center in Pusan. The Cardinal encouraged and praised them by saying that the pilgrimage will rekindle in their hearts the faith and fervor of the Korean martyrs.

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea [13]

 


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

 

The Establishment of a Divided Era and the Church (1)

 

1. Context of the Times
  When World War II ended the world entered into what is known as the Cold War era. The confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union made a significant impact on the Korean peninsula. In this era of confrontation between the two superpowers the Korean peninsula became a showdown area for the Cold War world and the 38th parallel became the dividing line between communism and capitalism. Many patriots were involved in the movement for independence and nationalism and fought hard in order to prevent the division of the country.
  However, all their efforts ended in vain and finally, as a result of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and also because some politicians took advantage of this Cold War situation, South and North Korea came to establish independent governments in their respective territories in 1948. This separation already predicted a future war. Indeed, the Korean War broke out in 1950 and until the Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953, the Church had to undergo terrible upheavals.
  From 1948 to 1953 there was a period of settlement of the Cold War system in the Korean peninsula. During this particular period of time, the Church’s attitude can be portrayed as one of sitting by and watching with anti-communist ideology while the divided governments were established in the country. That can be said to be one of the characteristics of the Catholic Church in Korea at that time.

 

2. Establishment of Separate Governments and Church in South Korea
  The government of the Republic of Korea was established on August 15th, 1948 in the South, while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was formed in the North on September 9th of the same year. Democratic powers in the South were furiously opposed to establishing an independent government in the South and the leftist camp joined them. A campaign was launched to boycott the general election to stop the establishment of an independent government in the South and to urge a unified government. Meantime the rightist camp headed by Rhee Syngman was pushing hard to hold a general election aimed at establishing a free democratic nation.
  On the other hand, the Church was seriously concerned about the risk of the communization of the South, because she was aware of documents from the Holy See that warned the faithful about the dangers of communism. Information on the Catholic Church in Eastern European countries which was persecuted by communism made the Korean Catholics even more fearful and alert about communism. South Korean Catholics realized the closeness of the danger of communism when they saw multitudes of Catholic refugees from the North comingto the South to escape from the communist regime. In this particular context, the Church in the South made clear her anti-communist position. Anticommunist ideology, thus, was advocated widely in Catholic media and pulpits.
  Thus the Catholic Church in South Korea never took any official position against the establishment of an independent government in the South which allowed the division of the country. The Catholic media rather clearly expressed its support for the independent government and this phenomenon arose from the strong feelings of the faithful who sought freedom of religion at least in the South.
  The Southern Catholic Church encouraged the faithful to participate actively in the general election and the Catholic media tried to stress the meaning and importance of free elections and advised them to choose their representatives. Also by supporting and as it were campaigning for Catholic candidates it tried to promote the participation of the Catholics in politics.
  At that time, Chang Myon, backed by the Catholic Church, went into politics and grew into a matured competent politician. Politicians of the rightist camp, including Rhee Syngman, expressed favorable feelings toward the Catholic Church. In such a climate, quite a number of Catholics participated in the construction of the nation by committing themselves to politics. The National Constitution made by those people guaranteed freedom of religion and the government always looked favorably on religious activities.

 

3. Church in North Korea
  In North Korea, the Council of the People, which will become the foundation of the North Korean government, was formed by that time. Soon after the South Korean government was declared, the People’s Republic was born in North Korea. The communists in the North pretended to claim a unified government, but in fact, they were seeking for an independent government under the communist system.
  The situation of the North Korean Catholics was quite different from that of their South Korean counterparts. Most of them were under repression since national liberation in 1945 and were very much against the communist regime. At that time, the Choson Democratic Party was acting as a nationalistic party and it carried out activities against the Choson Workers’ Party which was the communist party. In this context, some prominent North Korean Catholics joined the Choson Democratic Party. However, during the establishment of the people’s government, those of nationalistic tendencies were gradually excluded from the political realm and Catholics were not given any political opportunities.
  This situation of the Catholic Church in the South and North does not reflect the official position of the Church as a whole. However, the Church of the South and the North were treated quite differently by their newly formed governments. While the South Korean government considered the Church as a supportive power and backed their activities discreetly, the North Korean government defined religion as the opium of the people. Catholics who refused to join the Korean Christian Association initiated by pro communists were considered as impure and dangerous elements. Immediately after the establishment of the government of thePeople’s Republic, controls and restrictions upon the Catholic Church were intensified.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
17 CBCK Newsletter No.17 (Winter 1996) Aug 27, 2009
16 CBCK Newsletter No.16 (Fall 1996) Aug 27, 2009
15 CBCK Newsletter No.15 (Summer 1996) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.14 (Spring 1996) Aug 27, 2009
13 CBCK Newsletter No.13 (Winter 1995) Aug 27, 2009
12 CBCK Newsletter No.12 (Fall 1995) Aug 27, 2009
11 CBCK Newsletter No.11 (Summer 1995) Aug 27, 2009
10 CBCK Newsletter No.10 (Spring 1995) Aug 27, 2009
9 CBCK Newsletter No.9 (Winter 1994) Aug 27, 2009
8 CBCK Newsletter No.8 (Fall 1994) Aug 27, 2009
7 CBCK Newsletter No.7 (Summer 1994) Aug 27, 2009
6 CBCK Newsletter No.6 (Spring 1994) Aug 27, 2009
5 CBCK Newsletter No.5 (Winter 1993) Aug 27, 2009
4 CBCK Newsletter No.4 (Fall 1993) Aug 27, 2009
3 CBCK Newsletter No.3 (Summer 1993) Aug 27, 2009

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