CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

 

 

 

From the Editor:

Campaign to Abolish Capital Punishment

    The Committee for Justice & Peace (CJP) of the CBCK has launched a campaign to abolish capital punishment as a primary task of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. As a first step of the campaign the CJP sponsored on May 31st, a seminar on the subject "Human Dignity and the Abolition of Capital Punishment."
    One of the speakers defined the death penalty as "legitimate murder planned by the state" and said that it is a kind of "state terrorism." He alleged also that capital punishment is the extinction of human life rather than being a punishment or a preventive control."
   Following the seminar the CJP has resolved to continue the campaign at a national and international level beginning on Human Rights Sunday in December. Some Catholic lawmakers have started a "One Million Signature Campaign to Abolish Capital Punishment" and are actively committed to it. However the campaign seems to have received little positive response from the public because many think that capital punishment should be maintained in order to keep public order and peace. Generally speaking Islamic and Confucian countries are in favor of the death penalty. Abolition of the death penalty may be a difficult question for the Korean people whose mentality is strongly influenced by Confucian culture. In general the Korean people believe in retribution and think that those who have committed crimes of murder deserves death.
   Since 1991 an anti-capital punishment movement has existed in the Catholic Church in Korea but this is the first time that the Church has undertaken to promote it actively at all levels. People from all walks of life including people from judicial, religious and academic circles have expressed their full support for the campaign and they hope that this campaign led by the Catholic Church will bring about a change in the Korean people's mentality regarding the death penalty. "When Catholics move we succeed," they said.
   As of April 1999, 105 countries have abolished the death penalty while some 90 countries still maintain it. This shows that a majority of countries have already abandoned the system and we hope that this fact will help the Korean people to change their views.
When we talk about human life there is no difference between advanced country or underdeveloped country. Complete abolition of this system may take longer than we expect but the Catholic Church in Korea will continue the campaign to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and continue it beyond this if necessary. We are determined to realize it for the new millennium.

Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Secretary General
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea

 

 

 

Joy of Great Jubilee to the Poor

Campaign for Remission of Debt:

Joy of Great Jubilee to the Poor

    The Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 took the decision at its April meeting to join the international debt remission campaign so that the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 be truly a year of grace and joy for all. The whole Church in Korea took part in the campaign with great interest and collected 115,000 signatures in one month. The list of signatures was sent to the Jubilee 2000 Coalition in England to be followed to the ministerial summit of the "G-8" group of major industrialized democracies held in Germany in June. Meanwhile the Korean Catholic Coalition for the Asian Economic Crisis(KCC-AEC), a solidarity movement formed by clergy, religious and lay people, organized a lecture tour titled "Third World Debt for the Jubilee of the Year 2000". The KCC-AEC urged the government to remit the debt of farmers and fishermen in Korea. The full text of the campaign message follows.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    "1999, the third and final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, will aim to broaden the horizons of believers, so that they will see things with the eyes of Christ, with the eyes of the 'Father who is in heaven'"(Mt 5,45; TMA, 49).
    As the Holy Father said the aim of the final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee Year is to learn to see things, to think and to live with the mind of the Father who is in heaven.
    What then was the first thing that God, the Father of all people, saw? "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry of complaint against their taskmasters.
    Indeed, I know their sufferings"(Ex 3,7). At that time, the first thing that God noticed was the people of Israel who were living in slavery with no possessions and freedom. The historical meaning of the Exodus is that God liberated Israel from slavery and guided them to the promised land. There land was distributed evenly so that they could make a living. The people of Israel have remembered this event since then through the Paschal celebration. However, as time passed since the people of Israel were given the land of promise the gap between rich and poor began to increase and many people in fact became slaves again. Again God had mercy of them and established the Jubilee Year system.
    "And you will hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family"(Lv 25,10). Since then the Israeli people, including their slaves, could redeem their original properties and live in peace with dignity when the jubilee year returned.
   Today the situation of people in many countries demands the realization of justice in the spirit of the jubilee year. Instances of where the
rich get richer and the poor get poorerare more numerous and frequent. Because of this the problem of the debt of the poor has emerged as a very serious question. It is said that wealth owned by 450 rich people exceeds the total sum of the GNP of poor countries where 56% of the world population live. While the wealth of the rich snowballed the debts of poor countries
   increased at the same speed. The snowballing of foreign debts has reached USD$2 trillion one thousand billion. In Korean currency this would come to 2,500 trillion won. Such colossal debts are choking the life of these people.
   The problem of foreign debts became critical when oil prices skyrocketed in 1979. The oil crisis dollars just poured into oil producing countries like an incoming tide. These countries, not knowing how to manage such amounts of money, started to lend them to foreign countries through the International Monetary Fund(IMF).
    This was a pure financial speculation. It is said this was the decisive reason for many foreign debt problems. At the beginning the interest rate was relatively low but it continued to increase as many countries competed to borrow money from the IMF.
   Consequently poorer countries were forced to bear this heavy burden more and more. Furthermore about 20% of the money borrowed from the IMF was used to purchase weapons and a great part of the loan was often hoarded by dictators secretly and became their personal wealth. As a result, despite huge loans, ordinary people's lives were hardly affected and in many cases even worsened. For instance, in Zimbabwe, when compared to past years, we see that the infrastructure directly related to people's lives such as schools and hospitals were reduced by up to 30% since 1980 when foreign debts began to appear. In Uganda, every year, as much as four times the cost of medical insurance for the entire population is used to pay the interest of its foreign debts.
    Here we have to listen to the Holy Father's recommendation. "If we recall that Jesus came to 'preach the good news to the poor'(Mt 11,5; Lk 7,22), how can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church's preferential option for the poor and the outcast? Indeed, it has to be said that a commitment to justice and peace in a world like ours, marked by so many conflicts and intolerable social and economic inequalities, is a necessary condition for the preparation and celebration of the Jubilee. Thus in the spirit of the Book of Leviticus(25,8?2), Christians will have to raise their voices on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought to, among other things, reducing substantially, if not cancelling completely, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations"(TMA, 51).
    It is true that for both the people and the community, the problem will not be solved completely by merely reducing the debt and we know well that this is not a desirable solution when we weigh its consequences. If the debt problem of poor countries is solved during the Great Jubilee Year a further step should be the setting up of a sound structure for the appropriate administration of future loans so that all funds be used for the promotion of people's welfare which should be the purpose of any loan. If foreign loans are administrated and used under strict guidelines then all the problems caused by previous loans will not be repeated. With this in mind we should strive to realize the spirit of the Great Jubilee through our active participation in the international signature campaign aimed at the remission of third world debts.
    "Christians will have to raise their voices on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought to, among other things, reducing substantially, if not cancelling completely, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations"(TMA, 51).

April 6th, 1999
Episcopal Special Commission
for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
of the CBCK

 

 

 

Let's Eradicate All Man-made Elements of Division

Message on the Eighth Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People

Let's Eradicate All Man-made Elements of Division

    Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, OSB, president of the Committee for the Evangelization of North Korea, issued a message on the occasion of the 8th Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People on June 20th. In the message Rt. Rev. Ri appealed to Catholics to share with North Korean Catholics the grace of the Great Jubilee Year and the joy of salvation. He expressed his deep desire to invite North Korean Cahtolics to the celebration of the Great Jubilee so that they can celebrate together the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity and reconciliation. Following is the full text of the message.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters
    Today is the 8th Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People. We have to pray constantly to Our Lord, the Savior of humanity, to grant peace, true reconciliation and unity to the Korean people who suffer from half a century of division which has scarred many hearts and has forced them to live in a state of hatred and confrontation.
   It is time for all of us to bury the darkness of the 20th century which is stained with the blood and suffering of the people who suffered in the name of ideology, and to welcome the 21st century with the hope of realizing true peace and national reconciliation.
   Fortunately, South and North relations seem to be gradually improving while the South Koreans are making generous efforts to understand and help their Northern neighbors who are suffering from a severe food shortage. Also both governments seem to be trying to open ways to improve things politically as much as possible.
   However, at the bottom of our hearts there still remain shadows of mistrust and apprehension which block the path to reconciliation and collaboration. Why is this so? It is because people don't understand the truth that the master of reconciliation is our Lord Jesus and that the grace and right of reconciliation belong to God.
    They don't understand the mystery of salvation and the fact that peace and reconciliation are possible only through of His suffering and death on the Cross.
   "In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross"(Col 1,20). Therefore, in order to bring about true reconciliation, it is necessary to have a deep belief in the mystery of salvation that is achieved through the cross. The path of genuine reconciliation and unity will be opened to us only when we forgive our enemies unconditionally as God forgives us. This is the very mystery of salvation.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
   As St. Paul said Christ has torn down the walls of division and hatred by offering his life and has brought all people together to become one. He abolished all articles and regulations of the Law that separated them.
   So we too have to tear down not only the visible walls but also all kind of invisible walls and barriers in our hearts. Let's endeavor to eradicate all man-made elements of division and take away all obstacles which divided our country. At the same time we urge political leaders on both sides to improve all legal and institutional elements to get rid of the dividing walls.
    Political leaders on both side should seek genuine dialogue without preconditions not for their own political interest or gain but in order to find a solution to the deadlock. We humbly implore the leaders of both Koreas to establish a reunification policy aimed at expanding a concrete foundation for reunification through exchanges and collaboration at a civilian level. This can become a short cut to national unity and reconciliation.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    We are marching toward the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The Jubilee Year is a 'year of the Lord's favor'(Lk 4,19) and 'the day of salvation'(2 Cor 6,2). We have to share this grace of the Jubilee and the joy of salvation with our brothers and sisters in North Korea. We have to invite them gladly to the celebration of the Great Jubilee Year and offer together the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity and reconciliation. With this in mind our ardent wish is to celebrate the Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People of the year 2000 together with our North Korean counterparts.
    The culmination and ultimate goal of reconciliation is peace, and this peace can be realized only through 'a living together'. Thus peace in the Korean peninsula can be realized only through unity and reconciliation of the Korean people themselves. This will require constant self-sacrifice, tolerance and the practice of love.
   If it is true that our country is emerging from the IMF economic crisis earlier than we expected then this might be a gift from God to the Korean people who, in difficult times, generously helped their Northern brothers and sisters.
    No matter what difficulties we face we cannot ignore tens of millions of North Koreans who may be dying of starvation. Helping North Koreans in disaster is a matter of God's justice before it is one of fraternal love. If we turn our face away from their sufferings it is impossible to envision the true salvation of our people. True salvation and peaceful reunification will be possible only when North and South Koreans can look at each other with the "new eyes" of reconciliation.
    On this meaningful day of prayer for true unity and reconciliation of our people I invoke God's merciful love upon all of you and send my message of peace and joy to our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

June 20th, 1999
Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, OSB
President
Committee for the Evangelization
of North Korea of the CBCK

 

 

 

Human Life is the Breath of God and His Gift

Message of the Fifth 'Day for Life'

Human Life is the Breath of God and His Gift

    Archbishop Nicholas Cheong, acting president of the Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry of the CBCK, stressed in his message published on the occasion of the Fifth Day for Life, May 30th, the inviolability of human life and the Church's position against human cloning. "Human life has to be respected and protected in all circumstances because it comes from God and is His image," he said. The full text of the message follows.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    People of today, by deifying themselves, want to take the position of the Absolute Being who has the power to plan and control life. Our faith and convictions that only God has all the answers to the mystery of life and death of human beings are facing a new crisis. The loss of a sense of God and of mankind by today's society which has abandoned God has brought about a tremendous confusion regarding the true understanding of human dignity and human life. In effect, in society a "culture of death" is being disguised as a "culture of life" and this is creating and consolidating actual "structures of sin"(Evengelium vitae, 24).

    Biotechnology - Future of Humanity?
    As in advanced countries, in Korea too, stories of successful animal cloning have been much talked about. The Korean people may hope to be less concerned about their food in future because it is said that with the success of animal cloning they can produce and supply large quantities of milk and beef with no problem. In a word with the success of cloning there are signs that humanity will be able to solve its food problems and overcome various incurable diseases thanks to progress in biotechnology. It is true that progress in biotechnology has made possible the treatment of certain genetic disease in humans while still in the embryonic state, and opened up new ways to produce medical supplies cheaply. Furthermore it is said that it will be possible to extend human life by using organs from cloned animals which will have organs compatible with human beings. How wonderful it will be! It seems that progress in modern biotechnology will solve all our problems at once.

    Human Cloning
    However this amazing progress can change into a terrible fear in an instant. We are threatened by the reality that such amazing biotechnological research is in fact making such progress by using the human being itself as research material. It is reported that the scientists have cloned human beings for medical research by cloning the human embryo, and will produce organs for transplant and manufacture medicines out of the basic cells of the embryo of these cloned human beings. For us, sacrificing the embryo in order to improve people's lives and health is an unacceptable conception.
    Furthermore the technology to transform and manipulate human genes can have frightening consequences. Let's suppose that with this technology we mass
roduce animals with human genes and clone pigs with human brain cells in this way. If this happens it is not beyond the bounds of imagination that we could one day see pigs walking on the street like people or maybe being in a position of authority over them. Fear of such a possibility is not totally unfounded.
    The Holy Father has stressed that the outcome of human genius and inspiration can become the means and instrument of unimaginable self
estruction, compared to which all the cataclysms and catastrophes of history which are known to us will fade in comparison(cf. Redemptoris homini, 15).

    Origin of Human Life
    The holy Catholic Church teaches us about the origin of human life. According to this teaching a new human being begins to exist from the moment the egg is fertilized, and this new human life is neither its father's nor its mother's. This is the life of a new human being that has a right to grow on its own(cf: Declaration against abortion).
    Regarding the origin of human life biology has proved that a fertilized egg is already a new human individual with its own biological subjectivity. If this is true then all acts of manipulation and experimentation on human embryo and its destruction can be considered as homicide. There is no other way to describe this kind of activity. To clone the human embryo for
    medical purposes means the production of human beings in order to sacrifice them for others. Therefore, going on the principle that the dignity of the human being should be respected and protected under all circumstances and at all times, we oppose human cloning in the strongest possible way even it may have excellent goals.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    Human life should be respected and protected no matter what the circumstances are because "man's life comes from God, and it is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life. Man cannot do what he wants with it"(cf. Evangelium vitae, 39). Even if comfort and usefulness become the governing principles in the world human life can never be sacrificed for them. Science and technology will have meaning and value only when they serve people and respect human life. Let us walk the path of life in union with the God of all living things who calls us to witness to our respect and love for all human lives.

May 30th, 1999
Fifth Day for Life
Archbishop Nicholas Cheong
Acting President
Committee for Family Past. Ministry

 

 

 

Capital Punishment Beyond State Power

Capital Punishment Beyond State Power

    The Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK (CJP, Pres. Most Rev. Ignatius Pak) hosted a seminar to discuss the capital punishment at CBCK's Grand Hall in Seoul on May 31st. The seminar with theme "Human Dignity and the Abolition of Capital Punishment" was the first step of a campaign for the abolition of capital punishment which the CJP initiated early this year as one of its Jubilee Year preparation projects. The CJP's campaign aims at arousing public awareness which will lead to the petitioning the government and related international organizations for the abolition of the capital punishment.
    The main speakers and panelists who were both for and against the death penalty were experts on the issue: three lawyers including Rev. Kim Chung-woo from Taegu-Hyosung Catholic University, Ven. Park Sam-jung from the Buddhists and Rev. Moon Jang-shik from the Protestant Church. The numbers who attended showed widespread interest in the issue.
    Prof. Han In-sup from the Law School of Seoul National University said that the question of whether the death penalty is effective in preventing crime has been the subject of discussion for a long time. In fact, we can see that in countries which abolished capital punishment the rate of homicide even decreased. In Japan, homicides have diminished in the past few decades since it stopped the execution of criminals while in the United States the number of murder cases has increased despite many more being executed.
    In regard to the argument that it prevents crime we can see that the death penalty is no more powerful than a life sentence. If it has no more of a crime prevention effect than the life sentence, then maintaining the death penalty is meaningless and it in fact means condemning criminals as people who are incapable of change.
    Frequently we see the possibility of erroneous judgements based on racial or ideological prejudices and in fact many instances of erroneous judgments have been confirmed throughout the human history. Also the passing of time can bring new light to many cases and this should be taken into account. We know well that among those executed in the past there are people who will be judged innocent in our time. All things considered the death penalty should be replaced by a life sentence.
    Rev. Kim Chung-woo from Taegu-Hyosong Catholic University: The first point of the theological argument for the abolition of capital punishment is whether the state has the right to determine the life and death of any human being. Who will take moral responsibility for the life of those criminals executed by the state? The state can't give life, therefore it has no right to take it away. God alone has power over human life. Therefore execution is a fundamental violation against the right to life. A second point of theological argument is that the death penalty is a violation against the dignity of human life. Human beings are created by God in his own image. The origin and the end of human beings rest not in themselves but in God Himself. Human dignity is inviolable for it was created by God. It transcends all human weakness. Capital punishment takes away any opportunity to repent or convert. Capital punishment is the destruction of a human life that is irrevocable and irreplaceable by any other value. Through repentance and conversion people experience God's love and mercy, and continue to pursue moral good and perfection. Man is called to salvation in Jesus's death and resurrection. He finds his original image in communion with Christ. He is predestined for eternal life. Capital punishment is directly opposed to the Christian view of human beings and therefore it has to be abolished for ever.

    Lawyer Roh In-su, a former prosecutor and supervisor of executions, argued the prudent necessity of maintaining capital punishment: Regarding the principle of equality, human dignity has to be considered not only from the criminal's side but from the victim's side also, and we can't say that a life sentence can necessarily guarantee the human dignity of criminals. Prior to demanding the abolition of capital punishment we have to think seriously of the hurts and pains of the victims. Before we speak of the abolition of the death penalty system we need to create a social atmosphere and make improvements so that criminals will no longer have to exist. There is also the question of the financial burden of keeping many criminals who have been sentenced to life imprisonment. This is the reality.
    Ven. Park Sam-jung from Jabi Temple who has attended executions for many years and met some 300 criminals on death row pointed out the great possibility of mistrials by saying that 8 out of 10 of them think they were treated unjustly.
    Rev. Moon Chang-shik from the Protestant Church in his critique pointed out the absurdity of the death penalty and shared his experiences and feelings after attending many executions. He stressed the need for urgency and solidarity among religions and people of good will in order to realize the abolition of the capital punishment. He thanked the Catholic Church for initiating the campaign.
    "The capital punishment is an insult to Christians who believe in repentance, conversion of sinners and the forgiveness of a merciful God. Our Constitution holds the dignity of the human as a most important value. The foundation of human dignity lies in guaranteeing the right to life but ironically and regrettably capital punishment still exists in our society and execution is still practiced. Human judgement always contains the possibility of error and we know in fact that there have been misjudgments in this regard," Cardinal Stephen Kim said in 1992 in his dissertation against the death penalty. He collected 86,509 signatures and has petitioned the government for the abolition of capital punishment.

    The CJP's next step will be to submit the list of signatures to the CBCK's Fall General Assembly and the final step will be to expand the campaign on a national level in solidarity with the world Church and civic organizations and to present the petitions to the National Assembly on July 9th, 2000, the Jubilee Year's Day for Prisoners.

 

 

 

News from the Church in Korea

* News from the Church in Korea

    * Church in Korea to Map Out Great Jubilee Year Plan

    The Episcopal Special Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 of the CBCK adopted at its May meeting four themes for common celebration of the Great Jubilee Year by the Church in Korea. The themes are "Youth, Family, National Reconciliation and Life & Environment". The Commission also published a Jubilee Year calendar and in the calendar they have specified special days as Jubilee days for street people, for sick people, for educators, for handicapped, for missionaries and for lay missionaries.
    The 60 participants who gathered with Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong, chairman of the Commission and three other bishop members agreed on a common celebration of these four themes but allowed for the independent plans and initiatives of each diocese, religious institutes and organizations. These four themes will give an opportunity to the Church in Korea to share its social teachings and values with Korean society because they are relevant to the signs of the times and major issues of Korean society. The four themes will be hosted by four dioceses; "Youth by the archdiocese of Taegu, Family by the diocese of Cheongju, National reconciliation by the diocese of Chunchon, Life & Environment by the diocese of Andong.

    * Korean Catholics Number Eight Percent of Population

    According to the "Statistics to the Catholic Church in Korea" published by the CBCK, the number of Korean Catholics reached 3,804,094 or 8.1% of the Korean population (about 46,850,000) at the end of 1998. This shows an increase of 127,883 Catholics in one year or an increase of 3.5%. This is the highest increase rate of Korean Catholics since 1994 which had a 4% increase rate. On the other hand, the number of non-practicing Catholics is 1,137,428 or 29.9% of the total number of Korean Catholics and the number of those attending Sunday Mass is only 1,168,477 or 30.7% of the total umber of Korean Catholics.
    According to the statistics the Church in Korea has 1 cardinal, 18 bishops(including 2 non-Koreans), 2,800 priests(including 194 non-Koreans), 9,435 religious (1,145 men religious from 43 religious institutes and 8,290 women religious from 93 religious institutes), 1,147 parishes, 1,148 mission stations, 1,537 major seminarians, 38 Catholic high schools, 9 Catholic universities, 19 Catholic hospitals, 89 historical sites and 77 retreat houses.
    Seoul archdiocese has the highest number of Catholics with 1,253,329 or 10.2% of the total population of Seoul(12,262,602).
    During 1998 in Myongdong parish 1,084 were baptized and 2,697 received sacrament of Confirmation. The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, archbishop of Seoul, launched a 10-year-plan to increase evangelization among the Seoul population and to double the number of parishes from 199 to 400 by the year 2010.

    * Religious Leaders Agree to Promote Interreligious Reconciliation and Unity

    "We can give light and hope to society and humanity by means of friendly collaboration among all believers, especially between Catholics and Buddhists," the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, archbishop of Seoul, said to Ven. Kosan, the Chief Monk of the Chogye Order, during his visit to Myongdong cathedral, on May 12th.
    "Our two religions have many common ideals, and many common points in our spirituality, and a friendly relationship and dialogue between our Buddhist monks and Catholic religious seem to be developing in a healthy way," Ven. Kosan said. Following the visit of Ven. Kosan, the Most Rev. Cheong sent a congratulatory message on the occasion of Buddha's 2543rd Birthday on May 22nd praying that the mercy of Buddha would shine forth upon the earth and all humanity. "Reconciliation and unity between religions will bring national reconciliation and unity," the Archbishop said.

    * PIK to Evaluate Its 13 Years Inculturation Efforts

    On May 31st, the Pastoral Institute of Korea(PIK) under the auspices of the CBCK conducted an evaluation of its 13 years study of the inculturation of the Christian faith in Korea. Since 1987 the PIK has sponsored 48 seminars on inculturation focusing on seven major areas of inculturation; liturgy, spirituality, catechesis, evangelization, mission, attitudes towards God and human beings, comprehension of Korean shamanism, attitudes towards community etc. A total of 227 experts and scholars participated in the seminars as speakers and panelists. The PIK did not just confine itself to theoretical research but attempted to present practical models of inculturation in various areas. It produced a tentative plan for funeral rites after five years of study and soon plans to publish "Inculturation materials for Catechesis" based on the outcome of its research.
    "Confucianism and Buddhism became our own religions when we embraced them with creativity and for the same reason active efforts for the inculturation of the Christian faith are vital for the evangelization of the Korean culture," Prof. Cho Kwang said. He also pointed out some elements that need to be overcome viz, the danger of reactionism, the tendency to overlook the valuable tradition of inculturation that the Church has gained over 2000 years and an attitude that just wishes to beautify traditional culture.

    * SK Church Urges UN Protection for North Korean Escapees

    The Committee for the Evangelization of North Korea of the CBCK, (Pres. Rt. Rev. Placid Ri, OSB) has urged the United Nations to grant refugee status to North Koreans who flee their country in search of food. "Hundred and thousands of North Koreans escape from NK while risking their lives or persecution, and they must be recognized and protected as refugees by international law," says a petition from the Committee. "Most of the North Koreans are hiding in China, leading a miserable life and living in constant fear of being arrested, sent back, and executed or jailed in concentration camps in the North," Rt. Rev. Placid Ri said in announcing the campaign.
    Rt. Rev. Ri, apostolic administrator of the diocese of Hamhung and of Tokwon Abbey territory, both in North Korea, also appealed to the UN to set up refugee camps in China for North Korean escapees. He has also urged the Chinese government not to treat those who have crossed the border as mere illegal aliens and not to repatriate them to NK where they would be punished as 'betrayers of the fatherland'. The Committee will send a list of signatures to the UN through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The same campaign was launched by the Protestants and Buddhists in early March.
    Father Paul Jeremiah Hwang Young-yon, the social work administrator of the diocese of Taejon, who visited Northeastern China reported that most of the North Korean children whom he met there are suffering from serious malnutrition and anemia. "They were scared of being caught and sent back to NK by Chinese and NK police," he said. NK defectors and human rights organizations in Seoul estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 North Koreans, including children, have fled to Northeastern China and some go to other countries to avoid being repatriated.

    * Clergy and Lay Catholics Join Environmental Campaign

    Some 5,000 religious including the Most Rev. Victorinus Youn, archbishop of Kwangju and the Most Rev. James Kim, bishop of Wonju and 100,000 members of the laity have joined a signature campaign opposing a government plan to build a multipurpose dam on the Tong River, Yongwol county, Kangwon Province, 160 kilometers Southeast of Seoul.
    The Justice & Peace Committee of Wonju and the Priests Association for Justice including the National Priests Association for the Environment and the One Heart-One Body Movement sent a petition to President Kim Dae
ung on May 12th to urge the government to abandon its plan to build the dam. "We Catholics think that protecting and keeping the Tong River alive is our duty and mission because dam construction poses an ecological threat, the petition read.
    According to a report from Prof. Kwak Seung-joon of the Economics department of Korea University the environmental damage resulting from the construction of the Tong River Dam is estimated to cost about 111.8 billion won per year. He alleged in a paper that the construction of the dam will bring only 630 million won in gains, resulting in a net loss of 111.8 billion won if environmental damage is taken into account. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation announced the plan to construct a dam on the Tong River in Kangwon-do early this year.

    * Catholics Request Remains of a Missionary from North Korea

    Kupo parish of Ansong, Suwon diocese (pastor, Fr. Edward Lee Sang-don), on the occasion of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of its establishment in 2000, has launched a campaign to collect one million signatures in order to recover from N. Korea the remains of Fr. Antoine Gombert of the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Father Gombert founded Ansong parish in 1901 and became its first pastor, and worked there for 32 years until 1932. During the Korean War he was captured by North Korean soldiers and taken to North Korea. It is known that he was killed in Jungkangin and buried there. Fr. Gombert was known and loved by both Catholics and local people for he was a man of faith and charity completely dedicated to evangelization and helping the local people.
    "The return of the mortal remains of Fr. Gombert who sowed the seed of the Gospel in our country can be a bridge of reconciliation between the North and South," Fr. Lee said. The parishioners decided to fast every Friday until 2000 in remembrance of the difficulties Fr. Gombert endured.

    * Cardinal Kim Says 'Human Beings Precede the Law'

    Invited by the Judicial Research and Training Institute to give a lecture on Apr. 14th, Cardinal Kim in a talk titled "Law and the Human Being" told said "human beings precede the law."
    "Is the law first? Is the human being first?..." he asked the audience and continued "Most of you believe and are convinced that "law exists for the human being," but what you experience in reality is often the very opposite."
    By quoting 'Les Miserables' written by Victor Hugo, the Cardinal stressed the fact that the Codes do not explain everything and that law is true only when it serves the human being.
    "People can make errors of judgements and therefore innocent people can be victims of a man made system," he said. Speaking of the death penalty added that "People who favor the death penalty believe that it can deter criminals but historical facts have shown us that this is not so. Unfortunately human history has shown us that despite the existence of the death penalty criminal activity has continued unabated."

    * Interreligious Dialogue & Spiritual Center Opened

    On April 5th, the Consolata Missionaries opened the "Fountain of Consolation", an interreligious dialogue and spirituality center in Puch'on, Kyonggido. Those present included the Most Rev. William McNaughton, bishop of Inch'on, the Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio and Rev. F.S. Antonio Gabrielli, general counselor of the Consolata Missionaries and some 200 people. "The center will serve to promote interreligious relations by offering a means of developing and creating opportunities for prayer, meditation, dialogue, study, encounter, personal retreat and spiritual dialogue," Most Rev. W. McNoughton said in his address.
    "We want it to help mutual understanding and dialogue between believers of all religions in the spirit of the second Vatican Council which has insisted on the importance of interreligious dialogue," Rev. Diego Cazzolato, the superior of the Consolata Missionaries' House in Puch'on said.

    * Suwon Clergy Donate Organs and Bodies

    Following the guidelines of the One Heart-One Body Movement of Seoul Most Rev. Paul Choi of Suwon and 46 of his priests completed on Apr. 9th, the registration procedure for the donation of their organs and bodies after their deaths. This is the second collective donation of organs and bodies by Korean Catholic clergy following the donation made in Feb. 1997 by nine clergy of Seoul Archdiocese together with the Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mou, then auxiliary bishop of Seoul. This gesture of clergy is expected to further promote the expansion of the organ donation movement among both clergy and Catholics and to help people to understand the value of organ donation. "The donation of organs and bodies is in line with the vocation of priests who offered their lives for God and neighbor after the example of Our Lord Jesus and I do believe that this act will enrich priests' lives and make their consecration more meaningful," Rev. Gabriel Kim Young-ok, Vicar General & Chancellor of Suwon, said. "I decided to donate my whole body after my death in order to make my life a total gift to God and to my fellow human beings, and I hope many people will join us," Rev. Soh Jongsop, pastor of Songnam, said.



News in Brief

    The Holy Father has appointed Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, archbishop of Seoul, as a Presidential Committee Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family as of April 29th. Rev. Lee Tong-ik and Dr. Hwang Kyong-shik have been appointed to the correspondent members of the Pontifical Academy of Life.

*

    Cardinal Kim was visited by Ven. Ko San, the secretary general of the Chogye Order, the largest Buddhist denomination in Korea. They exchanged ideas on interreligious dialogue. "Reconciliation and collaboration between religious leaders are vital to bring truth and light to the world," they said. Ven. Ko San presented a folding bamboo to the Cardinal.

*

    The Association of AIDS Patients of Korea opened the first Catholic-run shelter for AIDS patients in Seoul, Feb. 25th. Rev. Park In-son invited the participants to open their hearts to welcome those who are being rejected by society and expressed a wish to see more shelters opened in the future.

*

    Some 100 family members of young soldiers whose deaths have been reported as suicides, attended a memorial Mass at Samgakji parish, Seoul, and they asked the government and military authorities to explain doubts concerning the deaths. "The miracle we want to see today is a clarification of all doubts about the questionable deaths of so many young soldiers and to see their rights reinstated," Fr. Paul Cho Hae-in told the participants. In 1998 alone more than 80 deaths in the military were reported as suicides.

*

    Mach'on parish (Fr.Ju Kyong-soo) welcomed 831 new catechumens as a result of a '90-day Evangelization project'. "Mission is not a technical work but is the work of God and today we have confirmed this", Fr. Ju said. The parish is determined to continue this evangelization project to the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

*

    The Korean Catholic Lay Association for Justice collected 1.3 million won on May 5th, National Children's Day, to buy medicine for NK children. "The South Korean children were very generous towards their North Korean counterparts and happy to share their pocket money with them..." said Im Hyon-ju from the Korean Catholic Women's Community for a New World.

 

 

 

Brief Stories of the Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints

The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints (2)

    St. Kim Tae-gon Andrew

    1. Family Background
    Kim Tae-gon Andrew was born on August 21st, 1821, in Solmae, Naepo, Chungchong Province. His great-grandfather, Kim Chin-hu Pius, was the son of a famous noble family in Solmae and once was an official of the regional government. About 1788, when Kim Chin-hu was 50, his son, who was Catholic, urged him to be baptized. After baptism in about 1788, he resigned from office and dedicated himself to a life of faith. Very soon, he was arrested during the persecution and sentenced to death. He spent more than ten years in prison and died there on February 20th, 1814. His grandson Kim Chae-jun Ignatius lived in Solmae with his wife Ko Ursula who gave birth to Kim Tae-gon. Kim Chae-jun Ignatius was martyred on September 26th, 1839.
    Kim Tae-gon, who was born into this family of martyrs, was a man of excellent intelligence and strong personality. He was also a man of deep faith. When he was young his family moved to Kolbaemasil in Kyonggi Province in order to escape the severe persecutions. Father P. Maubant, one day, visited his village in 1836 and chose him as a seminarian. He was 15 years old at that time. Along with two other seminarians, Ch'ae Pang-je Francis Xavier and Ch'ae Yang-up Thomas he was taught by Father Maubant. The seminarians were sent to Macao where they arrived on July 6th, 1873, after eight months of travel.

    2. First Korean Seminarians in Macao
    The missionaries of the Far Eastern Procure of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in Macao welcomed the first young Korean seminarians. They studied theology, Latin, geography, history, French and many other subjects. Father Legregois wrote to Father Maubant as follows: "Ch'ae Pang-je Francis Xavier is very quiet but a deep thinker and a gentleman. Ch'ae Yang-up Thomas is meek, precise and wholehearted. Kim Tae-gon Andrew is active but precise, obedient but daring, and has strong will power. He is a very promising young man. He is eloquent and his judgement is good, enabling him to solve problems quickly and easily. Although they have been here only a few months, they can communicate in simple Latin and French."
    One of them, Ch'ae Pang-je, died in Macao in 1838. In 1842, Kim Tae
on left Macao as an interpreter for Admiral Cecile on board a French war ship. He happened to be present at the signing of the Nanking Treaty. After Admiral Cecile returned to France, Kim Tae-gon tried to enter his homeland with Bishop Ferreol through the strictly guarded northern frontiers but all his attempts failed.
    Kim Tae-gon was ordained a deacon in 1844 in China. As a deacon, he decided to come into Korea alone through Uiju and he arrived in Seoul on January 15th, 1845. For safety reasons, he met only a few leading catechists. He was sick for about a month and when he recovered he decided to lead the French missionaries by sea, and left Chemulpo for Shanghai in a small wooden boat.

    3. First Korean Priest
    Weathering severe storms he safely reached Shanghai where he was ordained a priest by bishop Ferreol on August 17th, 1845, thus becoming the first Korean priest in the sixty-year history of the Catholic Church in Korea. At the end of August, he returned to Korea by boat with Bishop Ferreol and Father Daveluy. They arrived at Cheju Island first, having been driven there by severe storms.
    They reached Kanggyong in Chungchong Province in October of the same year.

    4. His Missionary Activity and Martyrdom
    Father Kim Tae-gon spent some time helping Bishop Ferreol and went to his hometown where he moved around the area, mostly at night, teaching and instructing the various Catholic communities.
    At the beginning of 1846, the bishop summoned him to Seoul. On the orders of the bishop Father Kim Tae-gon tried to contact Chinese fishermen on Yonp'yong Island in order to have them lead Father Ch'ae Yang-up Thomas and the French missionaries waiting in China into the country. But he was arrested on the island on June 5th, 1846 and was sent to the central prison in Seoul. The King and some of his ministers did not want to execute him because of his great personality and his immense knowledge of western studies and foreign languages. However he was sentenced to be beheaded on Sept 15th 1846 as a ringleader of a heretical school and as a betrayer of his country.
    In prison Father Kim Tae-gon Andrew wrote a last letter to his faithful. The following are a few excerpts from that latter.
    "Dear brethren!... Meditate on the fact that from eternity God created all things in heaven and earth and let men, whom He made in His own image, be in charge of the world.
    "There are many miserable and sad things in the world. If we were born once in this difficult and miserable world and didn't know the Master, who had created us, our lives wouldn't be worth living but would be useless. ... My friends! Keep in mind that Our Lord Jesus has come to this world, suffered countless torments, and founded and fostered His Church through pain and suffering. Since the Catholic Church was introduced into Korea 50 or 60 years ago, our people have suffered many severe persecutions and many Catholics, including myself, have been put in prison. How agonizing it is for us to suffer as one body and how humanly sad it is for us to part! However as the Holy Bible says that Our Lord even takes care of the hair on our heads, aren't these persecutions according to His providence? ... In this difficult time, to be victorious, we must be steadfast using all of our strength and capabilities like brave soldiers fully armed in the battlefield. After we die, please, take care of the bereaved families. ... We will soon go out to the battlefield. Be steadfast, and let us meet in Heaven. ... God will soon send you a much better pastor than I. So do not grieve but practice greater charity and serve the Lord so that we may meet again in God's eternal mansion". (Signed by) Father Kim Tae-gon Andrew.
    The death sentence was carried out the next day, Sept. 16th in Saenamt'o by the Han River in Seoul where three French missionaries had been previously martyred. He was 26 years old when he was martyred. Just before his death, he made a farewell sermon saying "My eternal life is beginning now", and he calmly and courageously received from God the glorious crown of martyrdom. The feast of Saint Kim Tae-gon Andrew is July 5th.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
28 CBCK Newsletter No.28 (Fall 1999) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.27 (Summer 1999) Aug 27, 2009
26 CBCK Newsletter No.26 (Spring 1999) Aug 27, 2009
25 CBCK Newsletter No.25 (Winter 1998) Aug 27, 2009
24 CBCK Newsletter No.24 (Fall 1998) Aug 27, 2009
23 CBCK Newsletter No.23 (Summer 1998) Aug 27, 2009
22 CBCK Newsletter No.22 (Spring 1998) Aug 27, 2009
21 CBCK Newsletter No.21 (Winter 1997) Aug 27, 2009
20 CBCK Newsletter No.20 (Fall 1997) Aug 27, 2009
19 CBCK Newsletter No.19 (Summer 1997) Aug 27, 2009
18 CBCK Newsletter No.18 (Spring 1997) Aug 27, 2009
17 CBCK Newsletter No.17 (Winter 1996) Aug 27, 2009
16 CBCK Newsletter No.16 (Fall 1996) Aug 27, 2009
15 CBCK Newsletter No.15 (Summer 1996) Aug 27, 2009
14 CBCK Newsletter No.14 (Spring 1996) Aug 27, 2009

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