CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter







Thank God, Thank All!

Thank God, Thank All!

   Dear Brothers and Sisters,

   Since he was elected as the 264th pope in 1978, the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has faithfully carried out his mission as the Apostle of Peace, traveling every continent around the world tirelessly. Although afflicted with his chronical disease, he fulfilled his mission to the very last moment of his life.

   As the saying goes, "We recognize better the place someone is leaving than the place someone is entering." The passing of the Holy Father was a source of great sadness for all Catholics as well as for many people who respected and loved him in the world.

   On hearing of his passing, I personally felt as if I had lost a big star on whom I depended so much in heart. As the new Pope said at his inauguration Mass, "How alone we all felt" after the passing of John Paul II. However, he did not leave us without giving a big gift.

   To restore humanity and to build a world of peace and coexistence beyond the differences of races and religions were his lifetime pastoral aims. His last words, "I am happy and you should be as well," will be a good guideline for our life.

   On this occasion, I, on behalf of all Catholics in Korea, would like to thank all who expressed heartfelt regret for the passing of the Holy Father. In particular, I express gratitude to the leaders of other religions, including the Buddhists and the Protestant Churches in Korea, and to all Korean people.

   Through the conclave, we came to have a new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Personally, I think that God gave us a pastor who our time needs most. As a response to the desire of the faithful and the world, evangelical renewal and development started from Pope John XXIII and became more distinct through the Second Vatican Council. Pope Paul VI was also devoted to this cause, and John Paul I and II continued it as the mission of the Church.

   I believe without doubt that Pope Benedict XVI will also successfully carry out his mission to make the world more human, peaceful and valuable, a place where all can live together without anyone being marginalized.

   Above of all, I am certain that he will pursue the "catholic spirit of the Catholic Church" in any case. He will certainly show us leadership, realizing the Catholic spirit of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

   While I was going through these successive events of the Church this month, I, as a simple believer, was able to have the hope that "The Church is alive. God is present." It was a time of grace and blessing for me. I expect that the new Pope will have much concern and love for the Catholic Church in Korea. as he also personally experienced national division.

   Watching this conclave, I thought that considering the status and roles of the Catholic Church in Korea, it was regretful for us not to have another Cardinal. If necessary, God will grant us another cardinal.

   Once again, I thank all the Korean people who showed much concern and prayed for our late beloved pope and the newly elected pope. In particular, I appreciate the tireless efforts of those working in the field of mass media.

April 28, 2005

Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan






Statement on the Embryonic Stem ...

Statement of the Catholic Church in Korea 
on the Embryonic Stem Cell Research of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk

A Human Embryo Is a Life. 
We Were All Embryos.

   Nowadays our society is in an ecstatic mood after the publication of the results of the embryonic stem cell research by Dr. Hwang Woo-suk. It is hard to understand how the mass media follow uncritically the social rapture of overwhelming praise for the achievement of Dr. Hwang. We can hardly hear the critical voices of professionals in bioethics who pointed out the technical danger of this research last year when Dr. Hwang succeeded in producing human embryonic stem cells for the first time.

   The results of the embryonic stem cell research, made public by Dr. Hwang himself, expanded the limits of the therapeutic application of biotechnology. In his research Dr. Hwang used the same method applied to Dolly, the first mammalian clone, i.e., the nucleus transplantation of adult somatic cells. But according to Dr. Hwang, he extracted the embryonic stem cells from human embryos. He is expected to use this procedure to produce cells for therapeutic purposes and to make new medicaments. What is more surprising is that he used "just" 185 ova to produce 11 successful embryonic clones, a stunning 5.53%p improvement in the success rate (5.94%) as compared with that of last year when he got just one embryo out of 242 ova (0.41%).

   The Catholic Church in Korea has expressed a great concern for this matter and has taken a firm stance against this research of Dr. Hwang for the following reasons.

   First, the research of Dr. Hwang is associated with an anti-life behavior. Cloning an embryo involves the artificial manipulation and creation of a human life, which contradicts our belief that human life is a divine creation of God the Creator (cf. Gen. 1,26-28;2,7). Even though it is cloned, an embryo is a human life and therefore it is against the dignity of the person to conduct experiments on or to manipulate the human embryo. Although it might seem to be a solution for the treatment of an incurable disease that we employ therapeutic means and medicaments produced from cloned human embryos, the method is ethically absolutely intolerable because it obviously presupposes the destruction of a human embryo. We must understand how unethical and opposed to life it is to reduce the living human body to mere biological materials, or to treat it as disposable biological materials, even in the name of medical development and health improvement.

   Second, the possibility of human cloning becomes more evident due to the research of Dr. Hwang. Even though Dr. Hwang himself said that he had neither the intention nor the technique to make it possible, someone surely will try it and eventually create a cloned human being, since it is technically much easier for a human embryo to be a cloned human being after it has become implanted on the uterine wall than to be an embryonic stem cell extracted from a 14-day-old human embryo at the stage of blastocyst. We are very anxious about the possibility of cloning a human being. This will infringe upon human life, violate its dignity, and bring about numerous disasters for the human race.

   Third, a woman is likely to become simply a biological object to be used for human embryonic research. It is absolutely necessary to secure many ova in order to produce and clone an embryo. Dr. Hwang insisted that some women donated their ova with informed consent, after the full explanation about the reason and process of the donation. But there is something more to be clarified. It is technically not so simple to secure an ovum. There are still more medical and ethical problems to be investigated, not to mention those of hormone injection, follicle maturation diagnosis, and the resulting side effects, such as ovarian defects, permanent infertility.

   The Catholic Church does not turn her face away from the pain and agony of the terminally ill, even though she opposes the embryonic stem cell research. But the Church cannot agree with the method of sacrificing a life through the artificial intervention of a third party to cure another life. The Church can never support scientific technology which violates human dignity and uses a human life as a means. It is a living human body even at the embryonic stage. We were all embryos. It is a kind of violence and tyranny on the part of a man with vested rights that he thinks that for the sake of treating a disease he can arbitrarily manipulate a life which has no ability of self-defense or self-decision. Biotechnology can win trust and support when it discerns and forgoes what it should not do even when the thing forgone is scientifically possible. Just as the aim of a behavior has to be ethical, so too must be the means. The use of embryonic stem cells is not the only way to treat the terminally ill. Adult stem cell therapy, which has been clinically well proved, is ethically non-controversial and very safe.

   The Catholic Church has great interest in the field of biotechnology because the development of biotechnology can enrich human life all the more. But at the same time, biotechnology can intimidate human life and bring ruin upon it. If we regard the human embryo as a mere cell mass and a tiny unobservable thing, and think that we can easily destroy it, there will be a rapid proliferation of the culture of death in our society. Instead of being carried along with a frenzy for the results of Dr. Hwang's research, we hope that our society regains its reason and makes a new start in respecting life and in recognizing the dignity of life.

June 4, 2005

Episcopal Commission for Doctrine

Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs

Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea





Message for the Day for Life

The "Quality of Life" Cannot Be the Criterion of Life

   Ten years have passed since the publication of "Evangelium Vitae"(1995), the Encyclical Letter of the late Pope John Paul II. The Church tried earlier to propose an ethics conforming to the dignity of the human person and his whole mission (cf. Donum Vitae, 1). The Church has practiced incessantly the mandated principal mission in accepting the weak and the sick with love and following the example of Christ the Master. But nowadays, due to the great progress of scientific technology, there are many new ethical problems raised by artificial interventions on life at its beginning and at its end. In this regard, Pope John Paul II gave us "Evangelium Vitae", which contains the ethical teaching about the mystery of human life, as a gift for our times. He said that the contemporary trend of contempt for life, which the Encyclical Letter "Evangelium Vitae" defined as "the culture of death", resides in the loss of the sense of God and of man (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 21). The rise of secularism and materialism deprived human beings of God the Creator, and the loss of the sense of God led to the loss of the sense of man, i.e., it deprived us of the sense of respect for the dignity of the human person and his life. "He no longer considers life as a splendid gift of God, something 'sacred' entrusted to his responsibility and thus also to his loving care and 'veneration'. Life itself becomes a mere 'thing'"(Evangelium Vitae, 22).

   Nowadays there are incessant controversies about euthanasia in every corner of our society. Throughout the world there are invigorated activities trying to legalize euthanasia on the grounds of alleged "quality of life" or "decent death." The voices against life are becoming louder, which claim that it is more humane when you remove the feeding tube from a human vegetable and let him die or do not deprive the terminally ill of the alleged right to die a decent death. They think that death is a great pain and regard it as a heavy burden which must be tossed off as soon as possible. And they mistake euthanasia as the best choice to escape from pain.

   People around the terminally ill even want to stop the alleged "unnecessary treatments" on the grounds of the "quality of life."

   But even though a patient is at the terminal stage waiting for death with no consciousness, he or she needs normal care and should be supplied with useful nourishments and medications. People who are responsible for the patients should not deny the just hope of the patients and their family who want further treatments (cf. Declaration on Euthanasia, 4).

   A human life has its own value because of the very fact that it is the life of a human person. In other words a human being has his or her value not because he or she has a life but because he or she is a living being. But all attempts to evaluate the human person according to the person's "quality of life" reduce him or her to the mere value of having. The alleged "quality of life" is interpreted primarily or exclusively according to economic efficiency, inordinate consumerism, physical beauty and pleasure. Furthermore, the more profound dimensions - interpersonal, spiritual and religious - of existence are neglected (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 23).

   All attempts to measure human life according to the standard of the "quality of life" lead to the regard as true human beings only people who already live a life of high quality or who have the possibility for it. In this way, the concept of the "quality of life" is going to be wrongly the ethical standard for the establishment of social responsibility to protect human rights and care for human persons. Moreover it will be used to define the human person himself. If some kinds of lives are not worth protecting because they do not have certain qualities or because they do not meet a certain standard, who will care for the sick, the suffering, children, and the aged in our society?

   Our society, where the "euthanasia controversy" is still very real, does not need controversy over the "quality of life" but painstaking efforts for the true "restoration of the human consciousness". Even when a patient needs no more treatments, this should not mean he or she is not qualified for care. Even if a patient is terminally ill and waiting humbly for the last moment, this last period is the most important time for the accomplishment of his or her whole life. Medical personnel and families must approach this patient as companions who stay by him or her to the last moment of death with medical help. As the communicators of the true meaning, they have to make it possible for the patient to have a grateful experience of the dignity of human life through their spiritual and personal participation and existence. A decent death as a human person must be manifested through this true personal relationship.

   We want to ask you to remember always how precious and essential it is to give kind and sincere comfort with love to the sick and those who are near their final hour. In this way, we hope that the "Gospel of Life" spreads all over the world. With our concern and help they will enter a new life opened by the God of Life and we also will find a new way to life through their life and death.

   "Truly I tell you, just as you did to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me"(Mt. 25,43).

May 29, 2005

+Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok


Bioethics Committee

under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith

of the CBCK



Message for the Day for the Environment

Let's Return to Healthy Food!

   On the occasion of the 2005 Day for the Environment, I wish all the Korean people and all Catholics the grace of God who gave this rich and beautiful creation to us for our place of living. I especially remember those who work in the shadows for the protection of the environment.

   For the last three years, the Committee for Justice and Peace has pointed out various environment-related problems, including global warming and environmental hormones, and encouraged the active participation of Catholics in solidarity and movements organized on national, interreligious and supra-diocesan levels.

   This year, I propose to pay attention to the food on our daily table. It is a pending question directly linked to the way of our surviving and at the same time it is a broad question related to the entire ecosystem.

   The Culture of Death Shadowing over the Table

   After the creation of man, God gave him the first present which was food. "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food."(Gen 1:29) From this we can learn that food belongs to the fundamental right to life.

   Unfortunately, today the culture of death is permeating our food.

   First of all, food is contaminated by harmful elements resulting from chemical fertilizers, poisonous chemicals for agricultural use, contamination of water, soil acidification, and the destruction of the food chain. Moreover, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food additives, usually produced by advanced countries, are critically threatening human health.

   As a result, we are on the verge of the disturbance of the ecosystem and the disorder of human life. We cannot see sparrows and swallows in our neighborhood any more because the overuse of agricultural chemicals made insects disappear. These poisonous chemicals tend to be difficult to resolve and they accumulate in our bodies or in the soil, thereby causing allergies, atopy or various cancers to humans and working as environmental hormones. We often see people suffering from modern nutritional diseases, for example, atopy, overweight, diabetes and high blood pressure and the rate of death due to cancers is increasing rapidly. About half of all new- born babies are afflicted with atopy and one out of three men die from cancers.

   Next, gigantic multinational companies are spreading fast-food chains all over the world. This phenomenon represents a symbol of the penetration of capitalism and at the same time threatens people's health. As a result, the rate of overweight youth in Korea increased from 3% to 30% over the last 20 years, a cause of concern. Adolescents show an imbalance of physique and physical strength. According to research, this increases the chance to get diabetes and become infertile.

   Integral Efforts for the Culture of Life on Our Table

   Food is not just something to eat. It is interwoven with the agricultural and environmental policies of the nation and also with the spirituality and way of life of the Church.

   Therefore, our efforts to restore and guide the culture of life on our table should be integral. In consideration of this, I suggest three alternatives.

   First, let's positively participate in the Save-Our-Farm Movement.

   At present, the self-supply rate for food in Korea is not more than 25%, which indicates that we cannot supply for ourselves even one meal out of the three meals we eat in a day. If we exclude rice, the rate decreases even further to 5%, so we have to import 97% of grain for fodder. If the self-supply rate for food in a country, however rich that country may be, is lower than 50%, that country can be in trouble according to the international food situation.

   Therefore, we should promote our agriculture to stabilize the food supply.

   In this regard, I encourage the associations in each diocese which have played important roles for the protection of the environment and our farming to bear more fruit by arousing the awareness of the faithful regarding the environment and agriculture.

   In addition, I recommend each parish to take the lead in the distribution of healthy food through sisterhood relationships between urban and rural areas and lively cooperative unions. Urban-rural exchange is a way of mutual living for both parts.

   Second, let's concentrate our strength on developing and realizing an ecological spirituality in the spirit of Catholicism.

   In fact, the Catholic Church has regarded the environmental movement as a part of its social movement. For this reason, the environmental movement was limited as a practical movement, without specific distinction from other social movements.

   Now, we should take a new step to develop a new kind of thinking by reflecting on the environment as a dimension of Christian spirituality concerned with creation and the ecosystem. The Catholic environmental movement should not be confined to the protection of nature or simply be a voice protesting environmental pollution; it should be developed as a life movement. In other words, we should base our ecological spirituality on the awareness that creation is the "tabernacle of the Holy Spirit" and "God resides in creation, through creation and with creation."

   This Catholic ecological spirituality, of course, should be put into practice. For example, it should be a practical spirituality which is oriented to spiritual piety, abstinence free from greed, willing acceptance of poverty and escape from shallow materialism.

   In addition, Catholic ecological spirituality should bear in mind the inseparable relationship between ecology and justice. Ecology is oriented towards the common good. In reality, however, consumers who look for chemical-free food are sometimes the very people who cause pollution. The poor both in urban and rural areas are the victims who cannot but consume polluted food because of economic reasons. It is ironical that a few offenders of the environment accumulate capital to continue its destruction and even have the chance to escape from the polluted environment while the general public must live with the results of pollution.

   In a sense, the challenge of a Catholic ecological spirituality is to expand the benefits of the current well-being trend from the privileged to the entire population.

   Third, let's live out the simple way of living.

   Voluntary acceptance of a simple way of living is the antidote for a consumer society and the spiritual antibody to treat the problem of poverty. Voluntary acceptance of poverty and a simple life is the alternative to overcome the culture of death and the destruction of life on earth caused by indiscriminate exploitation and greedy desire.

   It was reported that 24% of the total food, amounting to 16 trillion won, is being wasted every year. Above all, we must not waste food. To this end, we should practice making simple menus; avoid fast food, canned food and chemical seasonings. We can instead enjoy vegetables, organic food, and fermented food.

   God is life who created all living things. Christ came to make our life abundant. "I came that they [the sheep] may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

   Truly this Triune God who wills life for us gives us the command to save the environment and our farming community.

June 5, 2005 
Day for the Environment

+ Boniface Choi Ki-san


Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK








Message for the 2005 Prayer Day for Reconciliation and Unity ...

Message for the 2005 Prayer Day 
for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People

From the Culture of Confrontation 
to the Culture of Co-existence

   Dear Brothers and Sisters,

   This year marks the 60th anniversary of national liberation and the fifth anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration of South and North Korea. However, the relationship between South and North Korea is still immature. We still face a tall wall of confrontation and feel insecurity and tension.

   After the 2000 South-North Korea Summit, the relationship was expected to see rapid development. The two Koreas agreed to resolve questions regarding national reunification cooperatively and autonomously; and to this end, they were determined to provide humanitarian care for separated families, to enhance economic cooperation for balanced growth, and to promote civil cooperation and exchanges for mutual trust. In reality, however, we cannot predict a bright future any more because of the mass influx of North Korean escapees last year and North Korea's acknowledgement of having nuclear weapons. In particular, the U.S.A. implies that if the six-party talks cannot resolve the nuclear problem, they will bring this matter to the U.N. Security Council and have economic sanctions imposed on North Korea. North Korea, on the other hand, opposes this, saying that they will regard such economic sanctions as a declaration of war.

   Observing this unfortunate situation, we feel keenly once more the depth of the wound originating from the division of the country. For a long time we have distrusted and been hostile to each other, and thus it seems difficult to heal the deep wounds of distrust. Moreover, we witness that even in South Korean society, people are divided and hostile to each other, categorizing themselves into the left and the right or the progressive and the conservative. Even in the Church, there are different views on North Korea and the Church there, and different opinions on reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea.

   Dear Brothers and Sisters,

   God wills that human beings, created in His love, embrace different images, respect each other and reach reconciliation and peace.

   Now, the two Koreas must prepare a space to accept different opinions, open to God, rather than build walls and rush to extreme confrontation. We should also change the culture of confrontation to the culture of coexistence.

   We should not criticize each other because of different views, but try to have genuine conversation to lay a solid foundation of consensus. Reflecting on the time when we were one, we must pray for the reconciliation and unity of Korean people so that we can all be one in the love of God.

   Knowing that Jesus "in his flesh, has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us,"(Eph 2:14) we are confident that God will respond to our prayer.

   In particular, the Church calls on you, brothers and sisters, for concern and participation in the projects to prepare for the time of unification in the faith.

   May God give you His love and peace. I also send a loving greeting of peace to our brothers and sisters in North Korea. "Peace be with you."

June 19, 2005
Prayer Day

for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People

+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe


Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People

of the CBCK








News from the Church in Korea

News from the Church in Korea

* Bishop You Succeeds to the See of Daejeon

   The Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Coadjutor Bishop of Daejeon, took possession of the See of Daejeon on April 6, 2005, succeeding the Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong Kap-ryong, Bishop of Daejeon.

   Bishop You was appointed as the Coadjutor Bishop of Daejeon with the right of succession on July 9, 2003 and ordained a Bishop on August 19 in the same year. Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Bishop Kyeong as of April 1, 2005 and appointed Bishop You as the Diocesan Bishop.

   His installation took place at Chungmu Stadium in Daejeon. Some 6,000 attended, including the Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea, and 24 other brother Bishops. His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, the Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, President of the CBCK, and the Most Rev. John Chang Yik, Bishop of Chunchon, Secretary of the CBCK, were unable to attend because they were at the funeral Mass of the departed Holy Father.

   In his installation address, Bishop You said, "I wish for the grace to live as a true Christian so that after completing my service, I will be able to say before God 'I did my best in serving people and loving them.' I also hope we can make a beautiful community, a community conformed to the Holy Family."

   The retiring Bishop Kyeong also wished a bright future for the diocese, saying, "I hope that all priests and lay Catholics in the Diocese, centered on the new Bishop, open a new era of the diocese by starting afresh." He also thanked Jesus Christ the High Priest for having given him the strength and courage for the 20 years of his episcopate.

* Bishop of Incheon Issues Message for the Diocesan Labor Sunday

   The Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of Incheon, issued a message for the 4th Diocesan Labor Sunday on April 24, 2005 entitled "Here Are My Mother and My Brothers"(Mt 12:49).

   Pointing out the difficulties of workers in our society, including the widening gap between the poor and the rich, unstableness of jobs, and economic inequality, he appealed to ecclesial communities to pay more attention to and to show greater love towards workers who bear witness to the evangelical life in their workplaces. He also added that the high rate of divorce can be attributed in part to the financial difficulties of the family.

   The Diocese of Incheon instituted the Labor Sunday on the diocesan level in 2002 and has observed it annually.

* "Pastoral Admonition for Julia of Naju and Matters Related to Her"

   The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju issued "Pastoral Admonition for Julia of Naju and Matters Related to Her" on May 5, 2005. He said "It is neither a sound devotion nor a correct liturgical act to hold a religious meeting or a ritual celebration in the house or private chapel of Mrs. Julia Yoon in the name of the Catholic Church without official approval." And he said further, "Mrs. Julia Yoon and her followers keep propagating their own thoughts permeated with other phenomena, showing no respect for the Magisterium." He firmly asserted, "It is an offense against the Magisterium not to follow the teachings of the Archbishop of Kwangju, issued on January 1, 1998 and again on May 5, 2001."

   To solve the problem of Mrs. Julia Yoon, the Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou has on three occasions met personally with Mrs. Julia Yoon and her husband from March to August, 2003. On February 4, 2005, through Rev. Song Lucas, pastor of Naju Parish, the Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou ordered Mrs. Julia Yoon to do as follows:

   1. to stop announcing or propagating her thoughts,

   2. to practice no public religious celebration,

   3. to receive the sacrament of penance and donate the denarius cultus to the parish as a decent Catholic,

   4. to send a financial report on the money and real estate transactions, if there were any, related to the alleged 'St. Mary Garden' or the 'Chapel' to the Archdiocese of Kwangju, by April 4, 2005.

   The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou said, "I want to make it clear that the conduct of any priest or religious, regardless of his diocese or nationality, is totally wrong and against the law and order of the Universal Church and the Local Church if he or she pay a visit to the alleged 'St. Mary Garden' or the 'Chapel', performing a religious ceremony and celebrating liturgy with no official permission of the Archbishop of Kwangju."

   The Archdiocese of Kwangju established an investigation committee on December 30, 1994 and began to make a thorough investigation about this matter. On January 1, 1998, with the consent of the Holy See and the CBCK, the Most Rev. Victorinus Youn Kong-hi, then Archbishop of Kwangju, officially announced that it was not a private revelation which happened with Mrs. Julia Yoon in Naju. The Most Rev. Andreas Choi Chang-mou reconfirmed the conclusion of his predecessor on May 5, 2001.

* 12th Congress of the IACMS Held

   The 12th Congress of the International Association of Catholic Medical Schools (IACMS) was held from May 11 to 13 at the Catholic University of Korea and the Palace Hotel in Seoul.

   Under the theme of "The Past, Present and Future of Catholic Medical School Education," 40 participants from 14 Catholic medical schools in 8 countries gathered together to discuss ways to conduct medical schools with a Catholic identity and Catholic moral values.

   The Catholic Church has strongly opposed euthanasia, abortion, and medical research cloning human embryos which aims only at practical results and medical efficiency while disregarding the dignity of the human person.

   In relation to this matter, the 12th Congress of the IACMS was held to review agenda facing the medical schools managed by the Catholic Church and to discuss ways to educate medical students to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ by integrating the Catholic identity into the medical curriculum.

* Meeting of Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea

   The Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) held a meeting on May 17, 2005. Their decisions are as follows:

   1. The Council approved the message proclaiming the Case of Beatification of 'the Servant of God, Fr. Thomas Choi Yang-eop', submitted by the Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization.

   2. The Council decided that the Message for Day for Life would be issued by the Bioethics Committee under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith. Previously this had been a task of the Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry.

   3. The Council decided to publish a booklet based on the research report on Devotion to Mary, submitted by the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith, to introduce the laity to the positive aspects and orientation of Devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

   4. The Council decided to inform the laity of the plan to publish the newly translated version of the Bible by the end of May, 2005.

   5. The Council reviewed and approved the Message for the 10th Farmers' Sunday submitted by the Committee for Justice & Peace of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs according to the decision of the Permanent Council of the CBCK, which entrusted the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs with the task to issue the message. Since the Message for the Farmers' Sunday was originally to be issued only for ten years, it was agreed that the 2005 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK would decide whether a Message for the 11th Farmers' Sunday in 2006 should be issued.

* 2004 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea Published

   The 2004 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea was published June 2, 2005 by the Catholic Conference of Korea. The statistics imply that the Catholic Church in Korea faces an important turning point to set up new pastoral strategies and orientation.

   According to the statistics, the total number of the Catholics in Korea as of December 31, 2004 exceeded 4,500,000 (4,537,844) or 9.3% of the total population (49,052,988). Compared to the previous year, Catholics increased 107,053 or 2.4%. However, the number of the newly baptized (including infant baptisms) last year was 138,715, showing only a small increase from the previous year (135,379).

   As for the composition of Catholics, it was noticeable that the ratio of male to female Catholics was unbalanced at almost 4:6 (41.4% to 58.6%), this despite the high ratio of males to females in the total population (50.2% to 49.8%).

   The rate of Sunday Mass attendants was 28.1% and of those who confess during Advent and Lent was 24.1%. From this, we can say that the proportion of practicing Catholics is only one quarter. In addition, the rate of lethargic Catholics increased from 35.7% to 36%. All of these indications require more profound measures for the re-evangelization of the faithful and the re-examination of pastoral strategies.

   In addition, 51.3% of the faithful were living in seven big cities, showing that the concentration phenomenon was even greater than the urban concentration of the general population (47%). To cope with this concentration in big cities, it will be necessary to make efforts to promote exchanges between cities and rural areas.

* From Being a "Receiving Church" to Becoming a "Giving Church"

   The plans of various ecclesial entities, including religious institutions, parishes, and associations, to devote themselves to overseas volunteering this summer is a bright sign that the Catholic Church in Korea is moving towards becoming a "giving church" and away from being a receiving church.

   Gaepo-dong parish in the Seoul Archdiocese plans to send a youth volunteer team to Ulan Bator on June 27. Some 30 volunteers will help agricultural and constructing work there and conduct a special educational course for the Mongolian youth. When they finish in mid-July, "Ttiatnuri," a team of short-term international volunteers from the One Body One Spirit Movement of Seoul Archdiocese will take their place from July 19 to August 2.

   The Association of Youth Volunteers in Korea and the Society of St. Francis De Sales, who carried out volunteer work in East Timor last year, plans to send another team to East Timor in July this year.

   The Youth Committee of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul plans to send a volunteer team to the Philippines in August for a week.

   Activation of foreign volunteering, especially on the part of youth, is regarded as a hope that the future Church in Korea will become a giving church providing a good opportunity for Catholic youth to learn the true meaning of sharing in a wider world.

* Archbishop of Seoul Meets with Dr. Hwang

   Following upon the statement issued a week earlier by the CBCK Episcopal Commission for Doctrine and the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs regarding the embryonic stem cell research of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul, sent a letter to his priests recommending that they arouse the awareness of the faithful to this bioethical matter, saying "Research on human embryonic stem cells is an anti-life act and we can replace it with research on adult stem cells." The statement aimed to keep the faithful from being misled into blind support for unethical research. It also pointed out that research on human embryos cannot be ethically justified because it presupposes the destruction of human embryos, which are absolutely living beings.

   Responding to this warning, Dr. Hwang expressed his willingness to meet Catholic leaders to discuss bioethical issues involved in his research. Accordingly, on June 15, Archbishop Cheong met with Dr. Hwang and for an hour exchanged opinions on stem cell research.

   Reaching a consensus on the importance of respecting human life, they discussed life-related questions in an amiable environment. At the meeting, Archbishop Cheong asked the scientist to take adult stem cell research as an alternative while praising his efforts on behalf of patients with incurable diseases, an informed source reported. After the closed meeting, Dr. Hwang said, "I came to meet him expecting to be scolded, but he gave me a blessing and teaching."

News in Brief

   The Rev. Andrew Choi Seok-woo, Honorary Chairman of the Research Institute for Korean Church History, and the Rev. Paul Tjeong Ui-chae, Chair Professor of Sogang University, were named Prelates of Honor by the Pope John Paul II as of March 10, 2005, the Seoul Archdiocese announced. Also, the Rev. Anthony Trauner, the 83-year German priest in the Pusan Diocese, was named a Prelate of Honor by the Pope Benedict XVI as of April 27, 2005.

   - On the occasion of the national Day of the Handicapped on April 20, 2005, the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, issued a message titled "Love Makes Perfection," and invited the faithful "to remove the boundary between the handicapped and the non-handicapped and to be companions of handicapped neighbors by the practice of charity." He also added, "With faith in Christ the Savior, we also should be freed from the psychological obstacles which restrict all of us."

   - Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking and a devout activist for the abolition of capital punishment, visited Korea from May 18 to 21, 2005. She gave lectures in Seoul and Daegu, met His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan to talk about the matter of capital punishment, and urged the members of National Assembly to abolish capital punishment which is already illegal in 120 countries in the world.

   - The Catholic Conference of Korea announced at a press conference that the CBCK Biblical Committee will finalize the new translation of the Bible at the end of June. Following two months of proofreading, the new translation titled Seonggyeong (Biblia Sacra), will be first printed around the end of September. Considering the distribution process, the faithful will be able to use Seonggyeong from the first Sunday of the Advent.

   - The Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea announced that the medical research team of Catholic University of Korea successfully completed a large scale clinical research project on vascular incurable diseases using adult stem cells. The team found significant improvement in 64 of 74 patients with vascular incurable diseases after applying a treatment of adult stem cells. It also said that the study's success has dismissed doubt over the efficiency of adult stem cell treatments and contributed to advancing their commercial use.




The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 37, 38

Saint Siméon François Berneux, Bishop (1814-1866)

   Bishop Berneux was born on May 14, 1814 in Mans, France. He came from an ordinary family. His mother was a very devout woman, and gave Siméon a good Christian education. When he was ten years old, he told his mother that he wanted to become a priest.

   There were many obstacles in the way of his desire. His father was lukewarm, and his family was poor. Finally his father gave his consent and his parish priest helped him go to school. Young Berneux studied very well. He continued his studies in Mans.

   In 1831, he entered the major seminary in Mans. A year after he began his studies, he fell ill. His bishop found him a job as a family tutor for two years. Later he returned to the seminary. He taught philosophy before he finally was ordained a priest on May 30, 1837. After his ordination he continued at the seminary as a professor and a spiritual director.

   On July 15, 1839, Father Berneux joined the Paris Foreign Mission Society. He wanted to go to Korea which had been hard-hit by persecutions, and he left Paris on January 15, 1840.

   He met Bishop Retord in Manila, who wanted to take him to Tonkin, China. They were separated on the way, and Father Berneux worked in Indochina. He was captured by persecutors and severely beaten. He was sentenced to death but was released through the intercession of a French admiral. Then he went to Singapore and on to Macao. He worked in China so hard that he fell ill many times. On August 5, 1854, Father Berneux was appointed by Pope Pius IX as the fourth Vicar Apostolic of Korea, succeeding Bishop Ferréol.

   Bishop Berneux was very happy to go to Korea, "a wonderful country of martyrs", as he exclaimed. Bishop Berneux together with Fathers Charles Antoine Pourthié and Michel Alexandre Petitnicolas waited for about two months. At last they were successful in obtaining passage on a boat owned by a Korean Catholic, and four days later they were safely in Seoul.

   The tireless Bishop Berneux immediately started his pastoral work. He built a seminary in Baeron to educate future priests. He also started publishing Catholic books. He named Father Antoine Daveluy a coadjutor bishop. He was a kind and merciful father as well as a great leader. The number of the Catholics increased tremendously.

   Bishop Berneux was arrested and sent to prison on February 23, 1866. Fathers Dorie, Beaulieu and De Bretenières were also arrested and put in the same prison with Bishop Berneux. After severe tortures they were sentenced to death on March 6, 1866. The next day they were beheaded at Saenamteo. They were happy to die for the faith in this country. It has been said that Bishop Berneux had a mysterious smile on his face when he died. He was 52 years old.

Saint Pierre Henri Dorie, Priest (1839-1866)

   Pierre Henri Dorie was born on September 23, 1839, the sixth son of simple peasant parents working on a farm in St. Hillaire di Talmont, France. His parents were not learned but very devout.

   The pastor of the local church was interested in Dorie and recommended that he go to the seminary in 1852. In October of 1860 he moved on to a major seminary in Luçon. After a devout life and studies in the seminary, Dorie entered the seminary of the Paris Foreign Mission Society on June 14, 1862. His pastor and his parents strongly opposed his plan to be a foreign missionary but nobody could discourage him from his earnest desire to work for souls in a foreign land.

   After ordination to the priesthood on May 31, 1864, Father Dorie was assigned to work in Korea, and was very happy to go together with his best friend, Father De Bretenières.

   Father Dorie left Marseilles with three other missionaries, Fathers De Bretenières, Beaulieu and Huin. After a stormy voyage, they finally arrived in Korea on May 27, 1865. His ministry in Korea, however, was much shorter than expected.

   Father Dorie was studying the Korean language and working at Sonkokni (near Yongin, Gyeonggi Province). Shortly after he heard that Bishop Berneux was arrested, Father Dorie was also arrested on February 27, 1866. He joined Bishop Berneux and the other missionaries and endured many severe tortures. They were taken to Saenamteo for execution. An eye witness said that Father Dorie's praying attitude was really angelic. Father Dorie was the last of the missionaries to be beheaded on March 7, 1866. He was 27 years old.

List of Articles
No. Subject Datesort

CBCK Newsletter No.46 (Spring 2004)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.47 (Summer 2004)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.48 (Fall 2004)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.49 (Winter 2004)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.50 (Spring 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.51 (Summer 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.52 (Fall 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.53 (Winter 2005)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.54 (Spring 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.55 (Summer 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.56 (Fall 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.57 (Winter 2006)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.58 (Spring 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.59 (Summer 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

CBCK Newsletter No.60 (Fall 2007)

  • Aug 27, 2009

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