CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter


CBCK Newsletter No.1 (Advent 1992)

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Vol.I No.1 Issue No.1 The First Edition, Advent 1992


CBCK Newsletter is published quarterly by the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea


Publisher: Most Rev. Angelo Nam Sou Kim

Editor: Rev. Dionysius Narnik Paik

Associate Editors: Theresa Hwa-young Kim, Christina Chong-ae Kwon



1. Introducing CBCK Newsletter by Most Rev. Angelo Nam Sou Kim

2. "Bishops Seminar on Evangeliization 2000"

3. ‘Don' t Kill Unborn Children" A Anti-abortion Statement of CBCK

4. News from the Church in Korea

5. The Young Church of Korea, Founded by Laity, Prepares to Face New ChaIIenges by Prof. Thomas Hongsoon Han

6. "Resolution"’ Against Death Penalty by His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim



Introducing CBCK Newsletter


  The launching of a Newsletter from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea is a happy and timely event.
  It is over 200 ye따s since the Go여 News 때ne into our land without the mediation of foreign missionaries.
200 years is a considerable length of time but, compared with other countries,the Catholic Church in Korea is still young. That is why we have much to leam from other Churches,and it is also why we are still so vigorous and enthusiastic.
  Up until now we have being widening our expe디ences by reading about foreign Churches which confess and proclaim the same faith. Recently, however, we have been asked to introduce our Church's activities to the Churches of the world.
  I am convinced that the active exchange of information and experiences among the Catholic Churches will contribute in no small fashion to the manifestation and reinforcement of the unity and universality of the Catholic Church.
  Our Church in Korea enjoys increasing growth thanks not only to the activity of the Spirit but also to the intercession of our 20,α)() martyrs,including the 103 S없nts of our countη. The remarkable increase in the number of both conversions and vocations to the priesthood and religious life gives rise to the active emergence of new parishes in every part of our nation and also provides an impulse for our efforts towards evangelization.
  Certainly in terms of the numbers,Catholics are still a minority of the nation’s population. Yet,the numerous lay people who zealously areb witness to their Christian faith, and the various forms of well-organized lay groups which unceasingly carry out their apostolate, encourage us to believe that God's message W버 penetrate deeper into our society in the near future.
  The CBCK Newsletter will play an important role in introducing the contexts in which the Church in Korea operates and making the achievements of the marvelous activity of God in our land known to the universal Churches.
  I am indeed happy to have our own Newsletter and congratulate the staff involved.


Most Rev. Angelo Nam Sou Kim
Bishop of Suwon
President Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea



Bishops' Seminar on Evangelization 2000


  In accordance with a decision made by the Permanent Council, at the Autumn Session of the Bishops' Conference, each bishop reported on the progress of "Pastorale Orientation and Evangelisation Towards the Year 2000 in his diocese.
  The bishops began their reports by voicing concern about the problems that have emerged in evangelizing so far. These include an increase in the number of those who have dropped out of the Church, a loss of community sense due to the large size of parishes and the separation of faith from the realities of life due to incomplete instruction.
  Each diocese presented its plans to meet these challenges at the Autumn Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held from Oct. 13th to Oct. 18 in Seoul.

1. To Restore a Sense of Community.

Seoul Archdiocese
has already begun a program to build and develop small christian communities. Seminars to prepare the clergy are seen as the first step.
Suwon diocese plans to form communities which will live out the Gospel in a visible way and attract outsiders.
Andong diocese believes such communities should be built on devotion to God, study of beliefs, the practice of fraternal love and the unity of clergy and laity.

2. To Improve the Formation of Clergy and Laity.

Taejon diocese
sees a prior need to provide solid formation
for the clergy and plans to establish a diocesan seminary.
Pusan diocese believes the Church has to growin quality before increasing its numbers dramatically and plans to develop a spirituality of mission as well as a desire to evangelize society
Chonju diocese intends to establish a training center for clergy, religious and lay leaders in order to encourage Christians to think of the "people we can meet only if we go out to them" .
Similarly Cheju diocese hopes to set up a formation center for laity as a step to increasing the catholic population of the island to 6%. Inchon diocese sees Bible study as the center of such formation.

3. To Practice Charity and Service.

The Archdiocese of Taegu
sees the practice of charity and service as the way to reflect the spirit of the early Church. Masan diocese is taking the necessary educational and pastoral steps to make the church a cooperative, serving and sharing community.
Taegu Archdiocese also recognized the need to form missionaries for North Korea, China and Russia. Chongju diocese will work to increase the number of parishes so that by the year 2000 there will be a parish for every 25,000 people and 10% of the population will be Catholic.

Wonju diocese decided it would have to hold a diocesan Pastoral Council to draw up a plan to meet the needs of its mountainous and scattered areas.




From the edior:


Communion and Sharing

  The nature of church is communion and unity. The Catholic Church in Korea, in communion with Holy Father who is the successor of Peter, is making a continuing efforts to live in a concrete communion with all local churches in the world. As one of these efforts the Catholic Church in Korea thought to publish a Newsletter of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea in order to share its pastoral concerns with the universal Church.
  The Catholic Church in Korea has received much from other churches both materially and spiritually. Now, as it approaches toward its tercentenary of evangelization and the year 2000, it seeks to become a donor church. It is true that we Korean catholics have long had concern and affection for our brothers and sisters in other churches but, on reflection, we wonder if our pastoral efforts were not focused too much on our own growth and pr-oblems. Today we want to open our Church in a concrete way to the concerns of the world and other churches. We hope this Newsletter will serve to communicate and share our activities and concerns with the churches in the world.
  We are well aware of the expectations of the Vatican and the universal church. Especially we are conscious that we are called to play an important role in the evangelization of Asia. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea needs the support and concern of its brethren churches as we try to live this communion and unity with the niversal Church.

Rev. Dionysius Namik Paik
Secretary General Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea







Statement of the Catholic Bishops ’ Conference of Korea on the Campaign to Repeal the Revised Bill of Criminal Law Art. 135.


  Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  We, the Catholic Bishops,have fumly clarified our position on human dignity,inviolability of the right for life and the criminality of foeticide since 1961 on more than ten occasions. On Human Rights Sunday,December 8,1991, we declared that abortion is a criminal act and the source of the social disregard for human life. We appealed to all Christians and people of good will to create a new culture of respect for human life.

  We are deeply concerned and shocked by the Revised Bill of the Criminal Law,Chapter 4,Clause 135 (permitted limit of abortion) announced by the Korean government on April 8,1992. It clearly contains elements which tend to neutralize the law prohibiting abortion and to encourage the practice of abortion.
  Since then committees under the Bishops' Conference and Catholic organizations and institutions,including other christian denominations and religious groups took a firm stand against this law and pointed out the wrongfulness of the government’s measure. Nevertheless the Revised Bill was brought before the National Assembly. Therefore we, the Catholic Bishops,strongly urge the Korean government to withdraw immediately the revised bill which is against both divine and natural law.
  The Revised Bill of the Criminal Law Art. 133 made an effort to reinforce the abortion law by setting a penalty of either less than one year’s imprisonment or less than 2,000,000 won (under the law in force, art. 269, the penalty is 10,000 won) for women who had an abortion by taking medicines or using other means. But in Art. 135 a “permitted limit of abortion" was newly introduced. According to Art. 135 abortion is allowed either when it is requested by the concerned pregnant woman or when it is accepted by her in the following situations: in the case of women in childbirth who' s life is in danger,no limit of time; in cases of rape,within 20 weeks; in cases of deformed children,24 weeks.
  Even if these elements are not fundamentally different from the Mother and Child Health Law which was imposed unilaterally under the Yushin system,we have to point out that Criminal Law Art. 135 is practically leading to a “Justification of abortion" 아 even to the abolition of the abortion law itself.
  Since 1962, the year Korea set up a policy of population regulation, the government has practically approved surgical operations for artificial abortion. According to research conducted by the Minisσy of Health and Social Affairs in 1964 abortion was practiced by 7% of women who were aged 15-48 but in 1991 it was 54%. The practice of abortion by single mothers is increasing considerably and in fact it is estimated that single mothers' abortions take up 32.9% of the total abortion rate.
  The number of artificial abortions actual1y practiced in Korea amounts to over 1,500,000 cases per year,a figure double the normal child birth rate. Compared to the United States,in Korea the practice of abortion is six times higher. According to research on the national child birth and family health in 1984,out of the total abortion rate only 7.3% were legally conducted and 8% in 1988. All the rest were illegal but were not considered as violations of the positive criminal law.
  Human beings,created in the image of God,are the creatures to be most respected in the world and have inviolable rights to life and dignity from the moment of their conception. Nobody has a right to take it from them. Very exceptionally there can be emergence cases which require the surgery or sacrifice of a child such as when there is a disease not directly related to the pregnancy or extra-uterine pregnancy putting the mother's life in danger. Even in such cases one shouldn’ t kill the unborn baby intentionally.
  No killing act of an unborn baby can be justified even for eugenic or genetic reasons. The impact of abortion when it is allowed for the so-c띠led better qu떠ity of life is to sacrifice human life but have more unborn babies killed due to doctors' wrong judgment. It fm떠ly can lead to indiscriminate abortion for sex discrimination. It can stir up and encourage killing acts for the survival of the fittest.
  Abortion directly 01ψoses both divine and natural law,the source of all laws. Therefore no positive law can allow abortion because of the nature of the crime. The Mother and Child Health Law and the permitted limit of abortion law,Art. 135 of the Criminal Law,are against divine law. Nobody should practice such evil laws or commit her/himself to them. Nobody should cooperate in supporting,protecting and expanφng such a wrongful law. Those who bury the natural law bury also themselves. ln the light of the history of humanity we learn the lesson that no human society in opposition to the divine and natural law has ever prospered.
  Widespread crimes in our society such as flesh traffic,burglary,murder and violence have their root in a materialist society that disregards the value of human life and practices abortion. There is no doubt that the practice of abortion for individual comfort and selfishness is a challenge to the order of God’ s creation. Since it is a crime that destroys human beings and society it is necessary to create a “new culture of respect for human life". We need this new c비ture from the first moment of conception to that of death in order to build a healthy human society and to overcome the social tendency toward contempt of human life.
  The Korean government should stop imprudent and short sighted family planning and develop a family regulation plan based on natural birth control. We urge the government to withdraw immediately the Revised Bill of the Criminal Law Art. 135 which allows free abortion and to enforce pen떠ties for the violation of the abortion law. We sincerely urge the government to take steps to find a prφer solution and to set up a positive system including appropriate educational programs for youth on sexual ethics,a policy of protection for single mothers and child adoption, reinforcement of the will of gynecologists to ethically protect human life and realize proper medicare measures.

  Dear Brothers and Sisters,
  Let us first recognize our own mistakes for not living fully our faith in a society where human life is not respected. Let us begin with our own conversion and ask God's forgiveness. Let us do penance for the sins we and our people committed in a society where millions of unborn children are killed. Let us take a firm resolution to create a new culture of respect for human life asking the Holy Spirit’ s light and courage. Let us commit ourselves with firm determination to the campaign against the Revised Bill of the Criminal Law Art. 135. We,the bishops,pray to God for all of you who are with us in union of spirit and heart.

July 13,1992
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea





News from the Church in Korea


Meeting of East Asian Laity R~presentatives in Suwon, Korea


  The Third East Asian Regional Laity Meeting was held in Suwon, Korea, 24-28 August, 1992 (l st-1983, Taipei; 2nd-1989, Tokyo). Over 80 delegates from Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea gathered for five days of discussions and sharing on the theme, "Participation of the Laity in the Life of the Church the Parish, the Family and Society" .
  The keynote address was delivered by Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in which he stressed that the essential nature of the Church is communion. For this communion to become a reality, the active participation of the laity is a necessary condition. Delegates from the five areas presented reports on the level of lay involvement in. parish life, in the family, and in society.
  The reports highlighted that while parish councils can be helpful forums for laity to participate in the parish very often they fail to involve the laity. Among the reasons put forward for this were:
  I) the members of the parish council often are not representative of the community;
  2) sometimes there is a lack of spirit of mutual respect and cooperation between the parish priest and the lay members of the parish council.
  Because of the crucial role of the parish priest in parish life, it was strongly recommended that seminary formation help priests to be open and have an ability to accept and be able to work with lay people.
  Several reports called for more equal relationships between women and men. Recognizing the tremendous contribution women make to the life of the Church, they should have more representation in parish councils than they have at present.
  Many delegates requested that liturgies be better prepared, especially in the areas of singing, readings and sermons. Attempts to create a welcoming atmosphere at Sunday Masses have been found helpful in promoting more lay involvement in Church life.
  Admiration was expressed for the courageous attitude of the faithful in the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao in the way they are preparing themselves to meet the challenges of 1997 and 1999. The small group reports pointed out that while the Church has made positive contributions to society in the fields of education and social welfare, the absence of the Church in other areas of social concern needs to be examined. Reasons for the absence of lay involvement in social concems were put forward:
  1. fear for negative consequences if they do get involved, e.g., criticism, loss of their jobs, etc.
  2. emphasis on individual salvation and lack of connection between faith and life.The discussion on family life concentrated on the lack of opportunities for family members to communicate with each other. In these fast v.aced societies the demands of work and study interfere with the forming of solid family relationships.
  This meeting was an experience of good communication between laity, clergy, religious and bishops from the five areas of East Asia. Six cardinals, 10 bishops, some priests and sisters, together with more than 60 lay women and men, discussed reports, shared insights and experiences, and tried to look for solutions to the present problems. Many of the delegates commented on the spirit of listening and acceptance that pervaded the meeting.
  The participants in their final message expressed the hope that in the near future delegates from North Korea, mainland China and Viet Nam will join the meetings. During the final plenary assembly the Macao delegation volunteered to host the next meeting, in 1995.


Over 80 New Priests and 75 Deacons Were Newly Ordained in Korea from June to August


  The Korean Catholic Church announced the ordination of over 80 new priests and 75 deacons during the summer.
The number of priest and deacons and their diocese are as follows:


     Archdiocese of Seoul:40 (36), 
     Archdiocese of Taegu: 13 (18), 
     Diocese of Wonju:l, 
     Diocese of Ch' unch' on:2 (2), 
     Diocese ofCh' ongju: 13 (4), 
     Claretian Missionaries:2, 
     Passionists: 1, 
     Jesuits: 1, 
     Franciscans: 1, 
     Benedictins:(1). ( ) = deacon


The "New Culture for Life Movement". Initiated by the Catholic Church, Makes a Significant Social Impact in Korea


  Last April 24, the Research Institute for the Culture of Life sponsored its first seminar on the theme "Life". 250 people from all walks of society attended in it. Among those present were Most Rev. Angelo Kim, the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, Soh, Ui¬Hyon, the Secretary General of the Buddhist Priests' Association and Bishop Kim, Song-soo from the Anglican Church. The delegations from five major protestant denominations including some of the nation' s prominent scholars and medical doctors were present too.
  The focus of seminar was put on how to awake consciousness, concern and interest in our society in the value of "Life" . The issues of suicide, murder, violence, flesh traffic and abortion were among the key points of discussion.


Most Rev. Angelo Nam Sou Kim, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim from Seoul Archdiocese Present a Petition to the National Assembly to Withdraw the Abortion Law


  A petition to repeal the Revised Bill of the Criminal Law Art. 135 was presented to Park, Jun Kyu, chairperson of the National Assembly of Korea on Oct. 21 by Most Rev. Angelo Kim and His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim along with the list of 1,593,505 signatures from the anti-abortion Campaign.
  The Campaign was launched on July 13, under the sponsorship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea as part of the "New Culture of Life" movement. The petition, signed by the 18 bishops of Korea, pointed out that not only does the "permitted limit of abortion" in art. 135 oppose human dignity and the basic right to life of human beings but also it denies the prohibition of abortion in art 133 and opens the possibility to a widening of the abortion practice.
  This campaign was a follow up to the message of the Catholic Bishop's Conference on abortion: "Don't Kill Unborn Children(see p.S)", issued on the same day. Rev. Song,Yol-sup, the campaign director and under secretary of the Bishops' Conference, announced the number of signatures as 1,593,505 on October 13.
  From the beginning, the campaign to protect the life of the unborn children and to respect human life according to the principles of the Catholic Church, drew much attention and interest from both christians and non-christians. During the campaign the number of participants and the cooperation given increased beyond expectation. It was also significant that other religions and christians engaged in similar campaigns.
  "The movement to protect life IS a movement to save oneself and society. In Korea every year there are 1,500,000 innocent lives killed by abortion. I am convinced that it is God's will to protect the foetus' right to life. Protection of the life of the foetus is the work of God, the Master of life. This is only a first step.
  We hope to reduce abortion practice from 1,500,000 to 500,000 by next year. The U.N. has proclaimed 1994 as the year of the family. Should Korea then have the disgraceful reputation of being a kingdom of abortion?", Fr. Song asked.


Seoul Archdiocese Builds Cemetery for Abortion Foetuses


  As one of the projects of the "New Culture for Life" movement, Seoul diocese decided to build a cemetery for foetuses killed in abortions. It is intended as a stand against the social tendency to slight the lives of foetuses who are also humans, though immature. According to the report, the foetuses' tomb will be housed in the Seoul diocese cemetery in Yongin, Kyonggi-do.


Foreign Workers' Labor Counselling Office Opened


  A Foreign Workers' Labor Counselling Office was opened in August 27 by Auxiliary Bishop Paul Kim in Myong Dong, Seoul. The inauguration ceremony was attended by many of the people committed to the labor pastoral.
  "This place is a holy place where human sufferings are shared and strangers are welcomed in the name of Jesus Christ" , Bishop Kim said in his homily. The rapidly increasing number of foreign migrants looking for jobs in Korea is becoming a critical reality that the Church has to face. According to a report of the Labor Ministry issued in Oct. 16, 46,000 foreigners were found working illegally in Korea between Jan. and Sep. 1992.
  In a report to the national Assembly, It said that 56,264 foreigners, including 42,965 who turned themselves in, were illegally employed. The largest group were Filipinos at 17,650, followed by Chinese at 9,737, Nepalese at 5,000, Pakistanis at 1,867 and others at 12,004. Of these, 44,217 were employed in the manufacturing industries and 1,996 in
entertainment spots.


Joseph Clinic Celebrates Its 5th Anniversary of Serving the Poor.


  On Oct. 10, Joseph Clinic (director: Dr. Son woo, Kyong-shik) celebrated five years of serving the poor by offering free medical help, housing, food and spiritual support. A thanksgiving mass was offered in Shillim-dong Church by Son Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim. It was attended by over 500 friends, long term supporters, clinic staffs, volunteers and visitors. Cardinal Kim praised all those who have dedicated and shared their lives, time, talent, expertise and energy with the "small ones" as Jesus taught to us. Joseph Clinic, known as a "Come as You are" hospital, was founded in Aug. 29, 1987, under the hospices of Caritas Coreana for the poor of the mountaintop villages around Shillim District. It was staffed by a group of dedicated medical doctors, religious, and lay volunteers coming from all walks of life. They have treated over 75,000 patients since its foundation, accepting 70-80 patients a day. Joseph Clinic is not just a place where medical help is given free of charge. It also offers a complete rehabilitation to the poor and sick through various forms of guidance and counselling.
  "The most common complaint of our patients is ''I' m hungry', 'I've no bus fare', 'I've no place to sleep in' . They are usually more in need of basic human items like food, a place to sleep or means of transportation rather than medical care. While medical treatment is a medium of expression, the attitude of service is not that simply of giving but also of receiving from patients. We feel it is a privilege to work with and for them and that the God of all makes sure everyone has something to share" , emphasized Dr. Son woo, Kyong-shik.


Korean Catholic Church Moving to Donor Church from Receiving Church


  "Donor church means living out the Christian faith and duty to help needy people ", said Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, the president of Caritas Coreana."
  The possibility of assisting overseas countries became concrete for the Catholic Church in Korea with a decision made at the Autumn Plenary Session of the Bishops' Conference of Korea which took place from Oct. 13 to 16 in Seoul. Following an initiative launched by Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, the president of Caritas \ Coreana Committee, the bishops agreed to create a Bishops' Joint Fund for Overseas Assistance. It was decided that the second collection on Social Welfare Sunday will go to the fund.
  The Korean Church had recei ved assistance for decades from organizations such as CRS (Catholic Relief Service) in the U.S., Misereor in Germany, ACR (Australian Catholic Relief), and CAFOD (The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development) in England. The announcement of the Bishops' decision is a significant step marking the Korean Church's move to becoming a donor church. The bishops' action can be interpreted as stating that the Korean Church is now able to take some of the responsibility in helping their needy brothers and sisters in the world. Currently Korean's GNP is over $5,000.00.
  Efforts to assist overseas countries have been made on local, diocesan or national level such as in the "One Body and One Heart Movement" in Seoul Archdiocese.
  Recipient country will be selected in consultation with International Caritas which is experienced in that area.
  Caritas Coreana Committee has responded to the continuing request of churches and individuals who are concerned about the situation in Somalia. There thousands of people are dying every day from famine, decease and epidemics. Collection for Somalia were launched by the president of the Caritas Coreana, Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, who made an official announcement to churches and organizations nationwide and opened a bank account for the purpose.


  Taegu: Songdang Dong Church in Taegu (Rev. Park Hyong-jin) held a second collection on Nov. 1, for Somalia and made a donation of 1500,000 won while Paik Yoon-shik (Taegu, Tae-an Church) contributed 2,100,000 won.


  Taegu: Sunday school children, members of the Pontifical Society of The Holy Childhood, Taegu branch (director: Rev. Choi Hong-duk) carried out a one month campaign to help children in Somalia. The donation made by 16 churches amounted to 4,000,000 won. "It is surely a significant act for Korean Church to help other countries in need. This kind of activity initiates Sunday school children into a fresh vision of Christian life," Rev. Choi Hong-duk insisted.


  Seoul Prison: On Nov. 14, a donation of 1,300,000 won for Somalia was sent to the Catholic Shinmun through Sister Choi Nam-soon, from the Religious Council in Seoul Prison. The donation was made by 13 catholic prisoners in Seoul Prison with intention for the people in Somalia who are suffering from the civil war and drastic famine.


  Korean Association of Religious Generals: Last September the Korean Association of Religious Superior Generals (president:Sister Ch' a Soon-hyang) sent a donation of $1,000.00 for Yugoslavia and Somalia through the Apostolate Nuntiature.


Statement on "Unity and Reconciliation of the Nation" Expresses a Desire to Meet Representatives from Chang Ch'ung Church in Pyongyang


  On June 21, the president of North Korea Evangelization Committee, Rev. Placid Ri, spoke on reunification during a talk on the 'Prayer day for the unity and reconciliation of the nation". He highlighted the importance of mutual understanding= and reciprocity between South and North.
  "Today, both South and North are closing their doors to each other for political reasons and their common pursuance of power. We have to open our doors to each other in mutual understanding and trust. We need to consolidate a legal and systematic support system in order to create concrete opportunities to draw nearer to each other," he stated.
  In his homely on Sep. 27, he expressed his desire to meet representatives from Chang Ch' ung Catholic Church in Pyongyang either in Panmunjom or any other place to discuss the problem of a joint Mass and to transmit funds collected by the NKEC. He urged the South Korean government to include religious exchanges to improve relations between the two parts of the country, drawing attention to the five point proposals he made last year to facilitate the meeting of catholics from South and North.


Symposium Marking the 30th Anniversary of Vatican Council" Aims at Diagnosing Problems in the Catholic Church in Korea


  On Sep. 25, a commemorative symposium on the 30th anniversary of Vatican IT was sponsored by Most Rev. Victorinus Youn, Kong-hee, Archbishop of Kwangju and the president of the Catholic Justice and Peace Research Institute. It was held at the Franciscan Auditorium in Chong-dong. Following the address of keynote speaker Most Rev. Dupont on the theme 'The Context and Character of the Council Vatican IT" , Fr. Lee, Jae-rnin, professor of Kwangju Seminary presented a talk on "The Current Situation of Inculturation in the Catholic Church in Korea seen from the light of Vatican IT" .
  "Vatican Council II, proclaiming openness and aggiornamento in the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, pursues the renewal of the Church, the ecumenical movement and aggiornamento to the changing world. However, the central point that unifies these "three area is service and dialogue. When we examine our church in this aspect '?Ie can see she has not yet overcome a clerical and diocese-centered mentality, collective selfishness and authori-tarianism. The faithful think they serve the church in serving the clergy ... The efforts of the church towards inculturation should be directed towards leading the faithful to dedicating themselves to humanity and the world instead of serving the clergy", Fr. Lee pointed out. Fr. Ham, Sae-wung, professor at Seoul Seminary, also stressed dialogue and service as essentials of the Council, pointing out the necessity of overcoming authoritarianism in the Catholic Church in Korea.


The Catholic Church Opposes Death Penalty.


  'Love is the Only Way to Pay Back Hatred is Love", stressed His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim in his Resolution against Death Penalty System.

  On May 30, 1992, in the occasion of the national campaign against the death penalty by the Prison Apostolate Committee (National director: Rev. Kim, Woo-song), His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim issued a resolution calling for abolition of the death penalty (see page 8). The Committee submitted to the Constitutional Court a petition with 86, 509 signatures collected in the first period of the campaign and will submit a second petition by the end of October.
  "Legal measures to maintain social order and peace, and to protect people' s lives shouldn't find their solution in capital punishment but the spirit of law should stem from a concern for the salvation of those who are marginalized and rejected by society", the petition states.
  Fr. Kim, Woo-song, director of the Committee, stressed the importance of educating people on the value of human life and to offer an appropriate system stressing repentance and rehabilitation. He gave as an example the case of Brazil which abolished the death penalty system in 1979 with some exceptions.
  "In Humanita prison those imprisoned on serious charges must undergo heavy labor and they have to give a certain amount of money earned from imposed labor to the victim' s family. In such a way they try to obtain reconciliation from the victim's family and society. The criminals are helped to restart their life with a new look. They should begin a new life in love and the tragic circle of violence should be stopped ", said Fr. Kim.
  In Korea sixteen criminals received capital punishment in 1990 and nine in 1991.




The Young Korean Church, Founded by Laity,

Prepares to Face New Challenges


by Thomas Hongsoon Han.
Member of the Pontifical Councii for the Laity; Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Trade at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

I. Korea's first evangelizers

  The Church in Korea is truly young; it began in 1784, little more than 200 years ago. However, its history is quite extraordinary, perhaps unique in the history of the universal Church. The Church in Korea was founded not by missionaries, but by the laity. It began with a group of scholars who were looking for a new way to transform society. They studied catechisms brought in from China not for reasons of faith, but to learn about "western science" . They were, in fact, looking for a way to change society, and gradually they come to understand how truly new the way was:
Little by little this scientific interest was transformed into faith. One of them was sent to China where he was baptized in Beijing in 1784. That is why that year marks the beginning of the Church in Korea. When the scholar, Peter Lee, returned from Beijing, he in turn baptized his colleagues. Thus Korea's first Catholic community was born.

II. The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity


  Very little time passed before the community' s existence was discovered by the government. Persecution began because Catholicism represented a new way which was unacceptable to the ruling classes. Catholics sought to change society through Christian values based on the principle of equality of all men and women, a principle which was in conflict with the special interests of the ruling classes. Therefore a harsh persecution began which continued until about 1890, when religious freedom was granted. In one century more than 10,000 people were put to death for the faith. Of these, 103 were canonized by Pope John Paul.Il in Seoul in 1984.
  After having obtained freedom, the Church in Korea took up various evangelizing activities not only to spread the Gospel but also to help modernize the country through various social and cultural activities. Indeed, the Church was in the vanguard in publishing a magazine and a newspaper, and in founding modem schools.
  During the period of Japanese colonization (1910-1945), however, the Church was once again subject to restrictions. Even though the country was liberated and became independent in 1945, it suffered a division onto north and south.
  In North Korea the persecution continued after the communists came to power in 1948. No priest has survived this harsh persecution. There in no visible sign of the Church's existence in that region. In South Korea, however, the Church has prospered since the Korean War (1950-1953). It has been actively involved not only in direct evangelizing activities, but also in charitable activities with the help of churches in other countries.
  During the period from 1953-1960 the number of Catholics in south Korea tripled, rising from 166,000 in 1953 to 452,000 in 1960. From 1960 to 1970 there was a 74% increase; from 1970-1980 a 55% increase, and the number more than doubled in the 1980' s. More than half of the Catholics in Korea have been baptized since 1980 (see chart)

lll. Serve people and society

  The Church in Korea is vigorously involved in the questions of justice and human rights raised by the country' s rapid economic growth. The Episcopal Conference has published statements or pastoral letters on social and economic problems whenever they felt it was necessary to foster justice and peace. In 1982 the Bishops' Conference initiated Human Rights Sunday, which is observed on the second Sunday of Advent each year.
  As part of the preparations for her bicentenary, the Church financed eye operations for the blind. On the occasion of the forty-fourth International Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Seoul in 1989, the Church began a movement called "One Heart, One Body", which is involved in the following areas: 1. blood or organ donors; 2. adoption of children; 3. giving to the poor money that was saved by fasting; 4. volunteer service.



IV. Associations of lay apostolate

  As a consequence of Vatican II, the lay faithful are more aware of their own vocation and mission in the Church and the world, and actively participate in the Church's life. Soon after the Council, consultations concerning the apostolate of the laity. were instituted on the diocesan and national levels. Pastoral councils were formed in almost all the parishes. Parish life takes place primarily in small communities consisting of fIve to 10 families each. Almost all these communities are headed by women and their representatives articipate in the parish pastoral council.
  Forms of lay apostolate have had a strong growth, especially since the arrival of the Legion of Mary in the early 1950' s. A little later other movements arrived: the Cursillos de Cristianidad; the Charismatic Renewal; Marriage Encounter; Young Christian Workers; and associations for uni-versity students, farmers, entrepreneurs, etc. It can be said that more than half. of Korea's Catholics are involved in some form of lay apostolic association. For example, at the end of 1991 the Legion of Mary also had 230,000 members. At the same time the country can claim approximately 14,000 "Sunday school" teachers, almost all of whom are university students.
  In the early part of the last decade Korea's national council for the lay apostolate began a movement for moral reconstruction. Since 1982 each year the Catholic "Grand Prix" has been awarded to citizens who have gained distinction in the fields of justice, charity and culture, without discrimination based on religion.

V. Conclusion


  We must note that one of the salient traits of the growth of the Church in Korea has been the active participation of the laity. It is they who founded the Church; they were, are, and will be the main agents of evangelization. They are ready to perform the tasks of evangelization, conscious of 'being Church. They are also prepared to follow the example of their ancestors in the faith who assumed the responsibility of looking for a new way to transform the society of their day. For the lay faithful in Korea, the faith is not only something personal for themselve alone, but something for the whole of society.


(From LOsservatore Romano, Sep. 2, 1992. N. 35)



"Resolution" Against Death Penalty


"Our Constitution holds the dignity ofhumans as a most important value. The foundation ofhuman dignity consists ofguaranteeing a right to life but ironically capital punishment still exists in our country and execution is practiced. "


  We Catholics, who want to follow our Lord Jesus Christ who offered his life for the world, petition the government to abolish the death penalty system which we believe to be against the teaching of Jesus.

  The Supreme Court declared several times that the death penalty is not opposed to the Constitution, however it recognizes that it has to be abolished.

  The reason why judicial precedents of the Supreme Court have accepted the death penalty is that it is an efficient
punishment for crimes. But the fact that the criminal who was crucified on the right side of Jesus went to paradise after he repented tells us that anyone can be our brother and sister if they repent their sins.
  The death penalty is an insult to believers who believe in the repentance of sins. People who favor the death penalty believe that it can deter criminals and appease the victim's family. But the historical fact is that in France and Germany criminals continued to be prevalent while the death penalty was in effect. The experience of the French Revolution and Nazi era also teaches us that this argument is ungrounded.
  We know that the only way to pay back hatred is love. Thus we know well that the way of helping the victim's family is to foster a loving heart.
  Human judgement entails the possibilities of mistrial and we remember in fact there have been misjudgment cases. It is said that in the United States from 1985 to 1990 there were 347 innocent people who were sentenced for capital punishment and 29 of them were executed. Therefore the death penalty system has to disappear from our land. There is also the possibility that the death penalty will be misused for political purpose as in the case of Latin America where the death penalty system was restored with military regimes and abolished with democratic government.
  Our Constitution holds the dignity of humans as a most important value. The foundation of human dignity consists of guaranteeing a right to life but ironically capital punishment still exists in our country and execution is practiced.
  The U.N. already admitted that the death penalty has to be abolished and advocates strongly that nations which maintain the penalty consider its abolition. In the developed countries they do not practice execution even though they keep a capital punishment system. But in our country there were 16 executions in 1990 and 9 in 1991.

  Convinced that the capital punishment system stemmed from primitive retaliation and is a shame for cultivated people, we hope to see its abolition and the day when we can live in mutual love and respect. Thus we passed this resolution against capital punishment and urge ourgovernment to abolish it a~ soon as possible.


May 30,1992
Stephen Cardinal Kim
Archbishop of Seoul



Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea CPO.Box 16
Seoul, 100-600
Republic of Korea
Tel. (02) 466-0123, Fax (02) 465-7978

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List of Articles
No. Subject Date
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
2 CBCK Newsletter No.2 (Spring 1993) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.1 (Advent 1992) Aug 20, 2009

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