From the Editor:
Vision and Activity of the Catholic Church in Korea in Preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
With a view to realizing the spirit of the Apostolic Letter “Tertio Millennio Adveniente” of Pope John Paul II, the CBCK established a Special Episcopal Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 at its 1995 Spring General Assembly and elected five bishops as commission members. They are Most Revs. Joseph Kyeong, Vincent Ri, Ignatius Pak, John Chang and Andrew Choi. Since then, the Commission has held 13 meetings and published three booklets which are the fruit of a thorough study on Tertio Millennio Adveniente, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The three booklets, designed to educate Korean Catholics in the spirit of the Apostolic Letter and to help them to apply it to their life, are The Biblical Roots of the Jubilee and Our Reality, The Meaning of the Jubilee Year in the Light of the Christian Faith, and The Practical Tasks of the Jubilee Year 2000 and Our Future.
The Bishops of the Commission also organized during last Advent a special conference at Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul having as its theme “The Advent of the Great Jubilee Year” and gave a series of five lectures which offered the faithful an opportunity of instructing themselves in the spirit of the Jubilee Year. The Commission produced the Jubilee poster which contains its Logo as well as stickers for cars and has decided to raise a prayer movement by distributing to all the faithful a “Prayer for the Jubilee Year” printed in handy format. It also proposed the establishment of the ‘Diocesan Committee for the Jubilee Year’ in each diocese for a fruitful preparation for the Jubilee Year. The Commission is now geared to pursue in a concrete way the realization of the spirit of the Jubilee Year and to lead the faithful toward its fulfillment.
However that is not all, there is to be done and there are still some problems. Education on “What the Jubilee Year is” and “How we should live it” has not reached all the ordinary faithful yet. Despite of all efforts many of them think that the Jubilee Year is simply a kind of a big celebration that will take place in the year 2000. The Jubilee Year is not something that will come about by itself with the year 2000 but something that will be achieved only when we live like Jesus Christ who proclaimed ‘a year of favor.’ Only then will the Jubilee Year become for us an opportunity to renew ourselves and whole of the Church. For this we are called to conversion and to bring all believers in Christ together. We have to prepare the Jubilee Year adequately during these last three years of the second millennium which will become the foundation of a new evangelization of the world.
Rev. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
1997 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
The 1997 Spring General Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Korea was held at the CBCK’s Conference Hall in Seoul from March 3rd to the 6th with all of the 21 Ordinary members participating.
During the Assembly which was marked by intense reflection on particular points of pastoral concern, the Bishops agreed to issue a Joint Pastoral Letter in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 which is expected to play a major role in the future of the Church in Korea and in the renewal of her interior and external life.
The Bishops approved the tentative Korean version of the “Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium” and the “Order of Children’s Mass” prepared by the Liturgical Committee and decided to ask the Apostolic See for confirmation. Regarding the regulation concerning the use of the copyright of the Korean liturgical texts, the Bishops decided that written permission from the Secretariat of the CBCK is necessary for those who want to use them in order to prevent any reproduction for commercial purposes without permission.
The Bishops decided to make a collective response at the CBCK level to the questions of Lineament of the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops. They commented on such questions as the Asian reality, the evangelization of Asia, God’s salvific design in history, Jesus Christ the Saviour, the Church as communion and the Church’s mission of love and service in Asia.
They discussed questions concerning the various modern spiritual movements and tendencies inside and outside the Church that are detrimental to the spiritual lives of believers. They discussed private revelation, New Age Movement, secret associations related to health and curing, prophecy and divination based on geomancy, former existence and reincarnation syndromes including the Ki-movement. Based on their reflections the Bishops decided to issue some educational guidelines in order to help the faithful to lead orthodox Christian lives.
Concerned about the recent success of experiments dealing with the cloning of mammal organisms, the Bishops agreed to send a letter to President Kim Young-sam and to the National Assembly asking them to introduce without delay legal safeguards against human cloning and the banning of all kinds of research and experimentation related to the reproduction of human beings by cloning.
The CBCK Condemns Human Cloning
Concerned about the success of experiments cloning mammal adult organisms, the Bishops agreed to send a letter to President Kim Young?sam and to the National Assembly asking for the introduction of legal safeguards immediately against human cloning and the banning of all kinds of research and experiments related to the reproduction of human beings by cloning. Condemning research into human cloning the Bishops warned against carrying out “dangerous experiments” with life and said that “mass production of humans is incompatible with the dignity of human beings and human nature which are the foundation of all ethics and morality. It is very disturbing to realize that this technology could lead to the destruction of the family order as well as other catastrophic results. For this reason other advanced countries have already introduced legislation banning all experiments related to human cloning or are moving to introduce it. Legislation banning human cloning is imperative in light of the nation’s achievements in the field of genetic engineering. Therefore we ask you to introduce legal safeguards against human cloning,” the letter read.
The CBCK will work in solidarity with Catholic, medical, professional and civic organizations to call public attention to the unethical nature of this issue. On March 7th, civic and religious organizations including Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Green Korea and Pro-life activists staged a rally against such cloning in downtown Seoul. “The issue of cloning is one that concerns not only advanced countries but all human beings. Every government and international organization must introduce the legal and social apparatus necessary to check it closely,” they said in a statement. They also asked the government to set up an ethics committee dealing with genetics and to impose a total ban on research on all kinds of cloning.
The Joint Pastoral Letter:
“Looking at the Great Jubilee Year”
The CBCK, as agreed at it’s Spring General Assembly, issued a joint pastoral letter titled “Looking at the Great Jubilee Year” on March 6th. Its aim is to prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. By reconfirming that the preparation for the Great Jubilee means living a life fully according with the spirit of Christ, the Bishops have put emphasis on the role of Christians as “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” and on the necessity of building a society where love and moral values and principles are respected so that together with all people we can welcome the new millennium.
In the pastoral letter the Bishops, reflecting on the history of the past 2000 years, invite the Korean faithful to meditate and to pray to God, the Master of time and history and to ask for His guidance.
Looking back the past decades during which Korean society has lost its sense of true value by relying on the “economy comes first principle”, the Bishops have faced up to the critical state of Korean society which is in suffering the bad side effects of selfishness and greed, the destruction of the ecology and of social and spiritual values, corruptions and injustice, contempt for human life and the destruction of the environment through pollution and to a loss of moral values.
By reminding us that true repentance means the renewal of our obsolete way of life and the living out of the Christian vocation to be salt of the earth and light of the world, the Bishops have emphasized on the radical conversion of Christians and said that “the world can’t be changed unless Christians are changed first.”
They challenge all Catholics to reflect on whether there were times when they overlooked injustice where they should have intervened, on whether they turned their backs on Jesus by pursuing peace that is not founded on Gospel values, on whether they tended to settle themselves comfortably in their own little corner while they ignore all those who suffer from all kinds of injustice, and on whether they collaborated in social evils so that personal interests could be maintained.
The Bishops who have stated that materialism and the pursuit of honor and power are the root causes of corruptions in our society, invite all Catholics to strive to overcome these temptations as Jesus did in order to reach a true conversion.
They maintain that “laziness, cowardice and silence of those who are in position to do something to root out social evils or at least lessen them, the neglecting social evil through indifference, silence or conspiracy, selfishness where people want to live in “peace” by refusing to make efforts to improve the world, the hypocrisy of those who say much but really don’t want to make the sacrifices necessary and of those who denounce social evils and the wrongdoing of others while considering themselves innocent of any wrongdoing”, are major causes of the evils of the world.
Because of this they urge all believers to turn their eyes to Jesus Christ in order to save our sick society and ask them to face the future with trust even through society is stained with much injustice and corruption.
One notable characteristic of the joint pastoral letter is a serious selfreflection on the attitude of the Catholic Church in Korea. Recognizing the growth of the Church in Korea during the past generation as a great blessing, the Bishops warned that “the most dangerous time is when everything seems to go well without it being acknowledged as the work of the Holy Spirit,” and said “frequently the Catholic Church has become blinded by material wealth and has forgotten the essentials and just flowed with the tide of society thereby estranging many from the way of truth”.
The joint pastoral letter stressed four points: the restoration of the spirit of Christ and the living out of the spirit of the early Christian community as we march towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000; the extension of fraternal love and sharing with needy people without preconditions, especially with our North Korean brothers and sisters and foreign workers; the necessity of keeping hope and trust even in a society that is stained by corruption and injustice; the evangelization of Korea and other Asian peoples.
The joint pastoral letter is expected to be a prelude to the general teachings of the Church in Korea on her journey toward the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the third millennium.
Justice and Peace Committee Sends Anti?Nuclear Letter to CRBC
The Justice and Peace Committee(Pres. Most Rev. Ignatius Pak) sent a letter on March 3rd, to S.E.R. Mons. Paul Shan Kuo?hsi, the President of the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, asking for their cooperation in getting the Taiwanese government to cancel its plan to ship nuclear waste to North Korea.
In the letter, the JPC expressed the deep concern of the Catholic Church in Korea and all the Korean people about the secret contract made between Taiwan and North Korea with regard to radioactive waste disposal. “We are very concerned about the recently disclosed contract which says that Taiwan will dump 200,000 barrels of nuclear waste in Pyongsan, Hwanghae Province in North Korea after paying between USD$1,000 ? 1,200 per barrel” the letter said and appealed to the CRBC to collaborate in deterring such an act which will lead to the destruction of the natural environment which God has created for us.
The JPC asked the CRBC to make every possible effort to get the Taiwanese government to change its plan to ship nuclear waste to North Korea in order to protect the natural environment and to prevent it from becoming a “land of death”. “The Church in Korea and all the Korean people are concerned because North Korea’s technical ability to safely store nuclear waste is not highly recognized internationally ,” it added.
Meanwhile various Catholic organizations including the Lay Apostolate Council of Korea(LACK), the Korean Priests’ Association for Justice(KPAJ) and the Catholic Human Rights Committee of Seoul(CHRCS) have urged the government of Taiwan and North Korea to cancel their plan for dealing with nuclear waste disposal. In a statement made public on Jan. 25th these groups said that “we cannot remain indifferent in relation to Taiwan’s plan to ship nuclear waste to NK because not only are there doubts about NK’s technical ability to store nuclear waste safely but we feel we also have a duty to leave the beautiful mountains and rivers of the Korean peninsula to our descendants and to be enjoyed by all the people of Asia”.
“The fact is that Taiwan and NK’s secret contract to export 60,000 barrels of radioactive nuclear waste to NK is a serious act against humanity, and to export nuclear waste produced in its own nation to a foreign country which is economically weak is an act of imperialistic supremacy based on economic power,” they claimed.
Six members of the Green Korea party staged a sit-in protest by shaving their heads in front of Taipower’s headquarters in Taipei while a national campaign to deter the Taiwan Government’s plan was organized by about 50 civic and religious groups on Jan. 30th at Tapkol Park in Seoul after which they marched to the Representative Office of Taiwan in Seoul.
The Korean Committee of the UNEP said that some 100 environmental groups from across the world resolved to act in concert to deter the Taiwanese shipment plan during the 19th executive council meeting of the UNEP held in Nairobi, Kenya on Feb. 6th.
A Statement by the Justice and Peace Committee on Current Affairs:
Concerned about the critical situation of Korean society caused largely by the country’s biggest financial scandal concerning the Hanbo Steel Company and following a six-week nationwide general strike by workers demanding the repeal of the new laws railroaded by the ruling party on Dec. 26th, 1996 in the absence of the opposition, the Justice and Peace Committee of the CBCK issued a special statement and demanded the President should make a resolute decision to root out for good the dirty chain of corruption in officialdom and to destroy the “structure of sin” that a few people have created for their personal interests.
Time of Conversion and Grace
- Our Advice on Finding a Way Out of the Difficult Situation Facing the Country -
This is a time when we feel very urged by the teaching of the Church that states that, “All those who are responsible for ensuring a ‘more human life’ for their fellow human beings need to change their spiritual attitudes”(cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38). The critical situation of the country caused by the unreasonable handling by the ruling New Korea Party in adopting the new legislation for labor and the Agency for National Security Planning, and the outrage of people against the immoral and unreliable political and social leaders in connection with the Hanbo Steel Company’s loan scandal has almost brought about the collapse of the country by paralysing the nation’s economy. This is the reality we face. Just four years ago, those in power took some measures and declared an all out?war against corruption under the pretext of a “civilian reform” and sent many people to prison for their injustice and corruptions. Today these very same people who are still in power are masterminding the very same widespread corruptions resulting in the ruin of the country. Indeed we are very shocked by it.
Today’s state of affairs is really a national crisis which is provoked by a lack of justice to such an extent that we cry out to heaven(cf. Populorum Progressio, 30). We thirst more for justice than ever because the National Assembly whose role is to respect people’s opinions and to speak for them is not fulfilling its duty. In addition, the Prosecutor who should honestly and faithfully apply all laws independently of any governmental authority has been shown once again to be unable to give crystal clear answers to people’s suspicions about the Hanbo scandal and instead has become once again the servant of state power.
How serious is the situation which brings today such expressions as “civilian dictatorship” to everybody’s lips? Our diagnosis tells us that a few people of the leading class have created a “structure of sin”(cf. Solicitudo Rei Socialis, 36-37) and given themselves up to it. The history of humanity bears witness to the horrible results of the ambitions of men when they seek illegal profits and to the fact that a longing for and the misuse of power will lead to one’s ruin.
But it is not too late. The leaders in power are called to restore the trust of the people. To do this they must be honest and sincere, repent of their sins and ask forgiveness from God and from the people for their wrongdoings. They must get out from the structure of sin as soon as possible and commit themselves to the service of the common good and be determined to sacrifice themselves. They will solve problems not by oppressing people for their own interests but by offering themselves to work for the common good of the people with a “attitude of service”(cf. Mt 10, 40-42).
As a first step the determination of the President is necessary. With regard to Hanbogate, the President has to do his best to remove every doubt. If he would have neglected to do his duty as national leader, he should make this clear to the people and take responsibility for it.
The political authorities including the National Assembly should duly settle the pending problems regarding the second revision of the laws on labor and the Agency for National Security Planning through checks and balances, dialogue and compromise. We wish to remind social leaders, especially the politicians of the ruling and opposition parties that their priority is neither their individual interests nor partisan interests but the national interest and the good of the people. The government should reform certain unjust structures, in particular their political institutions in order to replace corrupt, dictatorial and authoritarian forms of government by democratic and participatory ones(cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 44). By doing so the government must prevent such bad seeds as the Hanbo scandal from germinating ever again.
We cannot but confess our sense of shame and perplexity at the fact that quite a few religious figures, including Catholics were found to be among those who became the focus of criticism not only this time but in many small and big scandals in the past. Those who profess to have a religion should practice the religious teachings in their social lives. This applies especially to Christians who are called to conversion and to live the authentic meaning of Lent which is a time of grace.
We Catholics especially should prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 by reminding ourselves of the fact that we cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without purifying ourselves, through repentance of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency and slowness to act(Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 33).
Finally we appeal to all the Korean people. In order to take care of our land in a spirit of justice and peace, each of us is called to show its beauty and to humble ourselves by accepting our neighbors in love and unity. As far as mistakes are concerned we should not pass them off as the failure of others or point fingers, but instead, we should commit ourselves positively to destroying the structures that cause these mistakes(cf. Centesimus Annus, 38) and repent and convert ourselves so that such incidents never happen again. If this is done a way may be found to construct a unified country, to stand high at the center of the world and become a truly happy country.
February 2nd, 1997
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak
President Justice and Peace Committee
Myongdong Cathedral Shelters Sit-in Protesters
Once again Myongdong Cathedral became a “sanctuary” for protesters who staged a six-week sit, in demanding the repeal of the illegally passed two laws for labor and National Security Planning at dawn on December 26th, 1996 by ruling New Korea Party, a move which is expected to lead to a deterioration of the human rights situation, a slowing down of the reunification movement and a worsening of laborers’ rights. This ignited a nationwide strike by workers under the strong leadership of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union(KCTU), an unauthorized trade union, and angered people of all walks of life including hundreds of professors, lawyers and religious people. The protesters declared unanimously that the new labor and national security laws are invalid. Arrest warrants were issued for 20 key leaders of KCTU and they took refuge in Myongdong Cathedral’s compound to began a sitin protest on Dec. 26th. Since that date, with Myongdong Cathedral as a focal point, a nationwide protest was carried out for about two months and caused serious political and economic problems for the country and provoked violent clashes with riot police. Eventually, the government agreed to repeal the new laws and admitted its mistake. On March 11th, the National Assembly passed a revised version of the labor law and declared the earlier bills null and void and thus ended the two month-long political deadlock.
At the height of the tension Cardinal Kim of Seoul made clear the Church’s position vis-a-vis the government. He did not hesitate to point out that the primary cause of the current unrest was the illegal process by which the bills were passed and Most Rev. Youn Kong-hi of Kwangju in his side officiated at a Mass for the current affairs of state at his Cathedral called on the government not to ignore the people’s will. Mass and prayer meetings were held in many other places across the country. The Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Women Religious sent a joint letter to President Kim Young-sam and asked him to repeal the controversial new laws by indicating that “the new laws are against Jesus’s teachings and anti- Christian, therefore unacceptable to the conscience of all christians.”
1100 priests signed a statement in which they stated that the new laws were invalid.
Korean Clergies Ask for Cremation After Death
Bishop Andrew Choi, the Episcopal Vicar for the Social Apostolates of the Archdiocese of Seoul, and ten priests working with him made a declaration asking for cremation after their deaths.
The declaration was made during a seminar held from Jan. 16-18th at St. Mary’s Education Center in Suji and had the approval of Cardinal Kim. The declaration includes the donation of organs, cremation, the scattering of their ashes and a request that no tombstone be erected. Their intentions were formulated in personal testaments with the approval of Cardinal Kim and deposited with the secretariat of the Archdiocese. Their organ donation wishes were made through the Organ Donation Office of the Archdiocese of Seoul.
Through their actions they have made it clear that cremation is not against Church Law either theologically or morally, and they have expressed their desire to follow Jesus Christ in the complete offering of themselves to God. With this in mind they have chosen not to leave any human trace after their deaths but merely wish to be remembered in the Church. “To be remembered in the prayers of the Church is enough for a cleric,” they stated.
Their decision was welcomed by both Catholics and non?Catholics and appreciated as a meaningful gesture by those who gave their lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Their choice is seen as a symbol of fidelity to their sacerdotal ministry and its ultimate achievement. Their decision is expected to promote and encourage Catholics to consider organ donation after death and to agree to cremation as a means of solving the severe shortage of land. In fact with some 200,000 new graves every year the land situation in Korea is getting quite serious. At the moment the area of land used for graveyards is equal to half that used for residential areas and is three times larger than that used for industrial areas.
Generally Korean Catholics have been reluctant to accept cremation and organ donation because of their belief in the resurrection and out of respect for their ancestors.
● News from the Church in Korea
● 305 Church Terms Revised
The Permanent Council of the CBCK agreed on a revision of 305 Church terms submitted by the Committee for Terminology on Jan. 27th.
“We have revised part of the Church terms that have been misused or mixed?up as well as those terms coming from Chinese or foreign terms and replaced them with correct and proper Korean terms. This indeed represents 2 years of arduous work and study by the Committee,” Most Rev. Michael Park, the president of the Terminology Committee said.
Of the revised 305 terms 89 are ordinary and theological terms, 49 are liturgical terms and 167 are used in the Order of Mass.
The revised terms, which are a blend of modern linguistic usage, are a response to the Korean people’s sensibilities, and are expected to be helpful for the life of the Church in many respects especially helping the participation of the faithful with a greater comprehension.
● Seoul Establishes Committee for Canonization of Korean Martyrs
As the Church in Korea prepares for the bicentennial of the Shinyu persecution in 2001, the archdiocese of Seoul decided to undertake the work for the canonization of the 64 Korean martyrs who died before the Kihae persecution in 1839 and 1000 more martyrs by the year 2016. In response to a request from Cardinal Kim, the Research Institute of Korean Church History(RIKCH) has proposed a plan for promoting the canonization in two stages: 1997-2001 and 2001-2016.
The first stage will deal with the 64 martyrs who gave witness to their faith in God by martyrdom during the Shinyu persecution in 1779 and the second stage will deal with some 1000 martyrs killed during the Kihae persecution in 1839 up to the Pyongin persecution in 1866, the largest persecution of Catholics in Korean history. They also intend to look at the cases of those killed during the Korean War from 1950-1953.
Starting with the martyrs Thomas Kim Pom-woo, Augustine Chong Yak?jong and Colomba Kang Wan-sook from the Shinyu persecution in 1779 the 64 martyrs have been chosen as the first candidates for beatification and canonization.
“The campaign for the canonization of the founders of the Church in Korea is timely as we prepare for the Great Jubilee Year and it goes with the commitment to a new evangelization of the Korean people throughout the 3rd millennium,” Rev. Andrew Choi, the director of the RIKCH said.
● Helping North Koreans, An Opportunity to Witness to Our Conversion and Love
The National Reconciliation Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul(NRC, Pres.: Bishop Andrew Choi Chang-mu) recommended March 2nd as a “Day for Sharing Noodles with North Korean Brothers and Sisters” and appealed to all the faithful to actively participate in it.
The Catholic campaign to relieve the hardships of the North Korean people launched by the NRC last August progressed well with positive participation of the faithful but it was cooled somewhat due to the intrusion of the North Korean agents last September. “In this Lenten season, in order to stimulate our Christian awareness and love for needy people, especially our brothers and sisters in NK, the Committee decided to renew the campaign,” Bishop Choi said. With this in mind he sent an official memorandum to all the parishes in Seoul along with preaching guidelines and posters.
The Committee sent recently 85,294 sacks of wheat flour (10kg per sack), valued at some USD$497,100, to North Korea through the Korea Red Cross. This flour was distributed to 26,000 families in 15 cities in NK that included Shinuiju, Pakju and Jongju in Pyongan Bukdo, Bishop Choi said.
Meantime the noodle factory located on Kwangbok Street in Pyongyang, the capital of NK, jointly sponsored by the NRC of the Archdiocese of Seoul and Korean Catholics in the US, started operation on Feb. 16th. The factory will require some 40t of flour per month to keep the three machines in operation. “Pyongyang proposed that the Korean Catholics set up a second noodle factory in Anju, a mining village in Pyongan Namdo Province”, said Rev. Augustine Park who attended the opening ceremony of the noodle factory.
● Bishops of Korea and Japan Reconfirm the Importance of Accurate Historical Understanding
A meeting between the Bishops of Korea and Japan aimed at furthering the project of a joint history textbook compilation based on a common historical understanding was held from Dec. 17?18th at the CBCK’s conference room in Seoul.
The meeting was a follow?up to the meeting of bishop delegates from the CBCK and CBCJ in February 1996 in Tokyo which was held to discuss various questions related to past history and the joint compilation of a textbook based on a common historical understanding.
During the meeting discussion was focused on concern about correct understanding of the past history and finding of ways to right the distorted historical views of many Japanese people. In this regard the bishop delegates from both sides fully recognized again the importance of an objective and accurate historical understanding as a basis for mutual approaches and agreed to make reciprocal visits at the episcopal level and to make various exchanges between priests, religious, lay people and especially youth.
On the occasion of the visit, Most Rev. Hamao expressed his hope to invite the Korean Bishops to a CBCJ’s general assembly during 1998. It was agreed that a group of Catholics from Nigata and Wurawa would come to Korea and visit some historical sites marked by the Japanese colonial rule. “The younger generations of Japanese people don’t seem to care what happened in their country’s recent history and whether their historical understanding is right or wrong. The Church leaders on both side can help them build a new understanding of history by rectifying their erroneous comprehension,” Most Rev. Hamao underlined.
Korean participants included Most Revs. Nicholas Cheong, the president of the CBCK, Paul Ri, Ignatius Pak, Angelo Kim, Peter Kang, Paul Choi and from Japan Most Revs. Fumio Hamao and Takeo Okata.
● First World Day for Consecrated People Celebrated
On Feb. 4th, some 1,400 Korean religious men and women made a joint celebration of the first World Day for Consecrated People at Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul. The celebration included Mass and special lectures on the Apostolic Exhortation “Consecrated Life” of Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal Kim who concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Andrew Choi and Rev. Andrew Kim, S.J., the president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men Religious thanked all the consecrated men and women for their great contribution and dedication to the Church in Korea and reminded them ofthe essentials of the consecrated life. “Over 8000 consecrated people who live their evangelical calling through religious profession are truly a precious gift of God to the Church in Korea,” he said.
Sr. Eom So-ok, president of the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea, evaluated the joint celebration of the Day as a significant step for men and women religious to work together in solidarity and as an occasion to reconfirm the identity and role of the 7000 Korean women religious in the Church and society. She envisioned the future of women religious of Korea becoming more focused on a prophetic role by discerning the signs of the times, by a commitment to special pastoral fields while leaving parish works in the hands of lay people, by the formation of the laity for apostolic work and by working for inculturation based on the true values of Korean culture and an interest in social problems. “Working for the equality of men and women in the Church and in society will become a significant part of the new evangelization in our time,” she added. According to the statistics of the Catholic Conference of Korea, there are over 7000 professed Korean women. Every year some 200 women religious take final vows.
● New Textbook of Philosophy Published
The Catholic Education Foundation(chairman: Most Rev. Peter Kang) has published a new textbook on philosophy for Catholic high schools. The research team that prepared the new textbook included Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, Rev. Paul Tjeng and experts in philosophy.
Unlike existing textbooks on philosophy which gave importance to Western ideas and philosophies, the new textbook has placed more focus on Asian philosophy and ideas and Korean ideas and philosophies. The content of the new book is arranged in a way that helps students with their perception of other religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
The new textbook will be in use in the 39 Catholic high schools throughout the country from the second semester of this year. 18 Catholic high schools are already using it.
● Minjunochong Receives First Tji Hak?soon Justice?Peace Prize
The Minjunochong or the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU) was given the first Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Prize(THJPP).
The Tulpit?hoe(former Memorial Society for the late Bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon, chairperson: Rev. Matthias Kim Seung-hoon) honored the KCTU for its tireless struggle against the new laws on labor and the Agency for National Security Planning that were railroaded last December and which finally forced the government to amend them. The ceremony was held on March 10th and prize money of 10 million won was awarded at Myondong Cultural Center.
“The Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Prize”, an award to commemorate the late Bishop Tji, the former ordinary of the diocese of Wonju, was established by the Tulpit?hoe, meaning “light upon the field,” to promote justice, peace and human rights which the late Bishop advocated during his life.
Bishop Tji was imprisoned under Park Chung?hee’s dictatorial regime in 1974 for his involvement with dissident activist students. A front runner in religious activism opposing the injustice and dictatorship of the Park Chung-hee era, he represented the voice of the Catholic Church in Korea regarding matters of justice and human conscience.
The Tulpit-hoe will award the Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Prize every year to people or organizations who contribute to the promotion of justice and peace and human rights.
● “Mongolia is Another Call from God
Fr. Robert Lee Jun-hwa(45) of Taejon diocese, first Korean missionary priest to Mongolia left on Feb. 28th for his new work. He will join the three sisters of the St. Paul de Chartres who went there last June and now studying the local language.
“The Mongolia mission is another call from God. I am a little worried about the venture but I am excited about it at the same time. My first job over there will be to develop underground water by digging wells. Mongolians who are nomads have no idea of what a well is. Because of this digging wells can become for them an epoch?making opportunity in their lives. My only problem is that I have to transport instruments and that will cost one hundred million won,” he said.
Dream of Fr. Lee who has experienced to cultivate a 23,100 square-meter farm with parishioners while he was pastor of rural Unsan is to dedicate himself fully to wheat farming, to build a technical school and teach young Mongolians, and also to construct a church in Ulan Bator. “For this I am ready to change even my nationality,” he said.
News in Brief
● 45 new priests were ordained to the priesthood in January and February. There were 5 from Kwangju, 8 from Chonju, 20 from Suwon, 8 from Taejon and 4 from Pusan.
● The Catholic Businessmen’s Association mapped out its primary activity for 1997 and decided to offer more job opportunities to defectors from the North and to migrant workers and to focus on the evangelization of business management and the strengthening of their competitive power.
● The Church encourages the Korean faithful to help defectors from North Korea materially and spiritually and especially to help them settle into society. Eleven Korean religious Women institutes sponsored 13 of them on Dec. 30th, 1996. The majority of them said they feel better off materially but worse off socially.
● On Dec. 19th, Cardinal Kim blessed ‘Bethania House’, a new shelter for foreign workers in Miadong, Seoul. Donated by 81-year-old grandmother Kim Martha, the shelter will be available to the victims of industrial accidents who have no place to go to. 7 foreign workers from Uganda, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Peru and Nepal are living there now.
● Bishops Gabriel Lee of Pusan and Michael Park of Masan have opposed the construction of an industrial complex at Wich’on near Taegu, 260km Southeast of Seoul, and urged the government to abandon its plan in order to save the Nakdong River. “It will cause ‘dreadful’ damage to the Nakdong River and its environment”, they claimed.
● Kang Tok-kyong(69), a former ‘Comfort Woman’ died on Feb.3rd. Before she died she was baptized and given the name Bertha. Last year she depicted in her paintings her experience as a sex slave to the Japanese solders during WWII and she never missed the ‘high noon’ protest rally every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul demanding from the Japanese government justice for the victims.
A Brief History of Catholicism in Korea 
by Professor Cho, Kwang, Ph.D.
Department of Korean History,
The Church in Korea in the 1960’s
1. Context of the Times
The 1960’s for Korea were meant to be not only a turning point in a century but also a turning point in history. From the political point of view the April 19th Revolution was the eruption of the ardent desires of the people to decentralize the top-heavy national structure, to reduce its power, to heal the scars of war and division, to lessen the controls being inflicted on the people because of international relationships, and to expand national sovereignty and its autonomy. The April Revolution was also the starting point of the determination of the people to achieve a democratic economy, a just distribution of wealth and national industrialization through a rebuilding of the declining economy.
For this reason, right after the April 19th Revolution the presidential system which brought in Rhee Syngman’s dictatorship was rejected and the parliamentary system was introduced and John M. Chang was elected as the Prime Minister of the Cabinet. The Cabinet of John M.Chang took concrete steps toward the reconstruction of the economy in order to meet the needs of the times and develop plans which became a blueprint for the 5?year economic development plan later on. However the Democratic Party of John M. Chang which had inherited the anti?communist ideology and the huge military system from the previous Liberal Party lasted only about nine months.
The military authorities who took power through a coup tried to justify their conduct by strengthening the anticommunist ideology and by stressing the urgency of effective economic development. Consequently they carried out rapid industrialization by inducing foreign capital. Most of the people sympathized with their anti-communist ideology and industrialization policy.
However the military authorities built up an authoritative political system very quickly by breaking their promise to the people of not keeping political power but returning it back to a civilian government. In this process they tried to persuade people of the necessity of their development system but they faced the people’s strong reaction. The military government repressed all opposition by means of a highly systematic intelligence machinery. In the process of rapid industrialization many problems and issues arose regarding the preferential inducement of foreign capital and the abuse of workers’ rights.
From the perspective of Church history the 1960’s was also a turning point. After the Second Vatican Council(1962-1965) a general movement to attempt the renewar of the Church was expanded across the country. The Korean Bishops who participated in the Council that had presented a systematic theory on the social participation of the Church tried to emphasize the new mission of the Church. In this process tension had developed gradually between the new teachings of the Church and the new situations that the Korean society was facing.
2. The Church, the State and the Apostolic See
Under the Cabinet of John M. Chang, right after the April Revolution the Church and the government had maintained a peaceful relationship. In 1961, Most Rev. Zavier Zupi(1961.3-1962.4.) was appointed as the Apostolic delegate to Korea and the relationship between the Korean government and the Apostolic See grew stronger. This situation continued after the May 16th military coup.
The Church, a strong supporter of John M. Chang’s Cabinet, tried to keep a good relationship with the military authorities in power who had overthrown Chang’s Cabinet by a military revolution. The Apostolic delegate recognized the military revolutionary power expressed friendly feeling towards it because of its anti?communist policy. This attitude of the Apostolic delegate was understood to be a prearranged plan by the Church in order to avoid the rejection from the revolutionary government.
The Catholic Church in Korea in the 1960’s made remarkable progress on the institutional level. It obtained permission from the Holy See to establish an official hierarchy on March 10th, 1962 and at the same time the ordinaries of Seoul, Taegu and Kwangju were promoted to Archbishops. In this way the Church in Korea was restructured into three archdioceses and eight dioceses. The Dioceses of Inch’on, Taejon, Ch’unch’on, Pyong-yang and Hamhung belonged to the ecclesiastic province of Seoul, the dioceses of Pusan and Cheongju to the ecclesiastic province of Taegu and the diocese of Chonju to the ecclesiastic province of Kwangju. 178 years after its establishment, the Catholic Church in Korea gained the necessary structure to become an autonomous local Church and so no longer be called a mission territory.
The Church and the government continued to maintain a relatively peaceful relationship. The Catholic Conference of Korea which consists of all the ordinary bishops as constituent members, established in 1949, was re-registered as an incorporated body according to the new Korean law in Sep. of 1962. In the meantime a number of Catholics participated in the new military government and thus the relationship between the Church and the government had apparently been smoothed out. The Catholic participation in the new government was motivated by the regime’s declaration to focus on anti-communist and industrialization olicies because the Korean society and the Church at that time were challenged by crucial poverty and so they felt the urgent need to overcome this poverty through industrial development. However the military government used highly sophisticated intelligence operations and attempted to investigate the Church. Because of this seeds for a new conflict between the Church and government were germinating in the 1960’s.