- From the Editor:
- Message for 2016 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
- Message for 2016 Biblical Week
- Message for the 33rd Caritas Sunday
- Message for the 16th Week for the Sanctification of the Family
- Message for the 35th Human Rights Sunday and the 6th Social Doctrine Week
- 2017 Pastoral Letters of the Diocesan Bishops
- News From the Catholic Church in Korea
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
A Life of Giving Thanks for Small Things
The late Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan moved the hearts of all participants when he asked them to give a big hand to different groups. He said, “Let us give a clap to volunteers who prepared this event!” And then he continued to name those who should receive warm applause one after another. He even mentioned police officers and street cleaners who were at the venue. Lastly, he asked the participants to give a big clap to God as well as to themselves. The multitude was overwhelmed with enthusiasm.
A reporter witnessed this moment and wrote for a daily newspaper: “The Catholics give thanks in all circumstances. Giving thanks even for a small thing, they live a meaningful life day by day.”
We can find a good example of giving thanks in a pericope: Jesus healed the ten leapers (cf. Lk 17,11-19). The lepers stood at a distance from Jesus and raised their voices to ask his mercy. As they were going to show themselves to the priests, they all found that they were cleansed. However, only one of them returned and thanked Jesus. He was a Samaritan who was usually neglected by others. As soon as he found out that he was cleansed, he first glorified God in a loud voice. Glorifying the Lord is exactly the beginning of a life of giving thanks. We must also cultivate the good habit of glorifying the Lord for even small things.
Many people ardently pray to the Lord for their wishes. But what do they do when their wishes come true? They often forget to thank the Lord, as if they brought things about by their own efforts. However, we must realize that we can stand on our own feet only when the Lord helps us.
A person who achieves worldly success does not necessarily glorify or thank the Lord more faithfully than others. A person of greed or a person who practices only conditional prayer cannot have a thankful heart. On the contrary, it is true that a humble and obscure person like the cleansed Samaritan or a person who is poor in spirit can glorify God with all of his or her heart.
Therefore, we, as Catholics, always have to give thanks to God, singing the praises of God. When we bear witness to such a life in society, we may make a contribution to saving Korean society from its present quagmire.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Message for 2016 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Summary)
The Care for Creation is an Essential Duty of the Faithful
The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is celebrated by the Church to declare that environmental issues are no longer secondary to a life of faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church in Korea has observed the Day for the Environment every year on June 5 since 1998, issuing a message which enunciates her stance in the face of pressing environmental crises. She has continued to emphasize the necessity for the preservation of the order of creation through her publication. However, the Catholic Church in Korea felt that she has not done enough to encourage the faithful to recognize care of creation as a vital constituent of faith. If we want to promote care of creation as one of the priorities of faith, we have to manifest its significance in our prayers and liturgies as well.
In his letter for the establishment of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on August 6, 2015, Pope Francis stated that this occasion would offer us a great opportunity “to reaffirm our personal vocation to be stewards of creation and to implore God’s help for the protection of creation as well as His pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” Furthermore,the Pope gave impetus to cooperation among different Christian denominations for care of creation by his decision to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which has enjoyed a long tradition in the Orthodox Church. This is because protection of creation can be dealt with most effectively only when all Christians, other religious believers, and all men and women of goodwill combine their efforts.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis outlines current ecological crises on earth, explains causes of ecological destruction, and suggests ways of resolution. In recognition that much of the pain suffered by both the poor and the earth come from the same roots, the Pope proposes that in order to alleviate these sufferings, we should live an evangelical life which entails: considering the poor and creation as our own brothers and sisters, pursuing a modest lifestyle and living joyfully.
The encyclical also demonstrates that it is necessary to shed new light on the doctrine of the Catholic Church in order to live such an evangelical life. In addition, this encyclical describes Holy Mary as the Mother of all creation: “Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power” (n.241). Such a message is refreshing in comparison to the existing Catechism of the Catholic Church. On the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, I hope that this offers a wonderful opportunity to all the faithful to pay closer attention to Laudato Si’, and to practice its teachings in their daily lives.
The Pope also proposed to celebrate this day of prayer through the adoration of the Holy Sacrament in the Holy Hour. Such adoration is the moment when we, in the presence of the Holy Sacrament, repent of our sins towards creation and determine to change our lifestyles so as to better take care of creation as if it were our brothers and sisters. Praying in Jesus Christ can encourage us to ersist in taking care of creation, our wounded brothers and sisters. I hope that many people can participate in the World Day of Prayers for the Care of Creation. On this occasion, I ask you to partake actively in the environmental movement, realizing that care for creation is an essential duty of the faithful.
September 1, 2016
On the World Day of Prayer for
the Care of Creation
+ Peter Kang U-il
Bishop of Cheju
CBCK Committee for
Ecology & Environment
Message for 2016 Biblical Week (November 20-26, 2016) (Summary)
“Be Merciful, Just as Your Father Is Merciful” (Lk 6,36)
This year the beginning of the Biblical Week coincides with the conclusion of ‘the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy’ on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, so we celebrate it with an even deeper spirituality of mercy. It crosses my mind what the Holy Father said at the closing of the Jubilee year:
“On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew” (Misericordiae Vultus, n.5).
Explaining that “mercy is not opposed to justice but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner” (Ibid., n.21), Pope Francis mentioned how the mercy of God maintains His relationship with humanity by His infinite forgiveness for sinners. God gratuitously gives Himself away for us to sustain his loving relationship with us. Such an immense love of God is His mercy. “God’s justice is his mercy” (Ibid.,n.20).
We encounter the merciful face of God through studying the Bible. According to Dei Verbum: “For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them” (n.21). This is indeed true. We meet God through reading the Bible. Inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we meet God through the study of Sacred Scripture in company with prayer (cf. Ibid., n.25).
When we read the Bible, harboring the desire to meet God, we can certainly encounter with Him and receive His love and mercy so that we will be able to show generous mercy even to those who make us suffer.
The Bible is the food of divine mercy. How blessed we are because we always have the food of God’s mercy! I hope that all of us endeavor to nourish ourselves spiritually with the Bible everyday to the same extent as we supply daily bread to our bodies. In this way, we may avoid the anger of the master in the Bible, who reproached his heartless servant, saying, “Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” (Mt 18,33)
At the end of this year, may all of you thank God for His mercy to us and cherish it in the depths of your heart. I hope that many more people are invited to the rich table of the Word so that they may listen to and share the Word, and experience the mercy of God. May all of you proclaim the Gospel of salvation with enthusiasm.
November 20, 2016
of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
+ Joseph Son Sam-seok
CBCK Biblical Committee
Message for the 33rd Caritas Sunday (Summary)
“The Love of Christ Impels Us” (2Cor 5,14)
Looking back on the hectic days of 2016, we had to face various crises and challenges in almost every area of society, including human rights, culture, politics, economics, and so on. However, by good fortune, we managed to overcome damages caused by natural disasters through our collective efforts. At the end of this eventful year, it would be fitting to reflect how the entire Church community has lived throughout the Jubilee of Mercy.
I would, therefore, like to ask you the following questions: How much have I tried to be like our merciful Father?; Have I become more merciful by making such an effort?; Have I shown my concern, love, and solidarity to my neighbours and the marginalized, whom God cherishes to the extent of even counting all the hairs of their heads (cf. Mt 10,30)? Have I done any specific and concrete work of charity in my life? Without these questions, reflections, and answers, the voice of the Church, which proclaims peace and unity to the world, may end up being nothing more than an empty noise.
Once again I encourage you to look at our neighbours through eyes of mercy, care, and love. Mercy and care are neither empty catchwords for an annual event nor a temporary recommendation valid only until the end of the year. Instead, they are universal values of humanity required to be practiced until the end of our lives and the end of the world when all of humanity will finally be one in the merciful God. Furthermore, we, throughout our lives, should persist in practicing charity. In this way, we should put mercy and charity into practice by changing our attitude towards Mother Nature, which is being destroyed by our excessive consumption and immoderate lifestyles. If people suffering from injustice and persecution cry out for help, let us show mercy and charity towards them by offering a helping hand to wipe away their tears.
Let us be merciful to the poor, the sick, and the hungry through sharing and charity. When we attentively listen to their cries of pain, hold their hands, and practice charity, we can be making a most appropriate preparation for the upcoming arrival of the baby Jesus. Practicing mercy and charity can be the most precious gifts that we can offer the baby Jesus, and they are also blessings for our own lives. I honestly implore you to walk with others the path of love led by Jesus Christ, our Master. I wish and pray that the love and peace of God may be with all of you.
December 11, 2016
The 33rd Caritas Sunday
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Bishop of Chunchon
and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung
Caritas Committee of the CBCK
Message for the 16th Week for the Sanctification of the Family
Family and Prayer
“He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth” (Mt 2,21.23)
God still calls Christian couples and families to defend the family from all kinds of menacing dangers. However, there is a primary requirement in response to this call. As Joseph, the head of the Holy Family, did, we too should prepare a place for Jesus in our families. When Jesus is in our family, we can remain in His presence and have a conversation with Him. We need to listen to His words in His presence by withdrawing from our hectic daily lives for a while. His words enlighten and sustain every aspect of our works, and finally give us eternal life (cf. Jn 6,68). It is essential for each of us and all of our families to have a dialogue with the Lord while sitting at his feet (cf. Lk 10,42). When we contribute our efforts and time to such a dialogue, we can sow the seed of peace to overcome conflicts and crises of the family. A prayerful husband has a dialogue with his wife, and a prayerful wife attentively listens to her husband. Prayerful parents have a dialogue with their children, and a prayerful child respects what his or her parents say.
These days our daily lives are so frantic because we are occupied with too many things. Although we desire to pray, we assume that we are always exhausted from our many works and have no time to pray. However, prayer is not a matter of time, but a matter of heart and mindset. The amount of time we dedicate to something depends on how much we value it. Our mind-set determines how we use our time: time never dominates our mind-set. Furthermore, “without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless” (Evangelii Gaudium, n.259). Prayer is the most powerful weapon of the faithful. “Nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1,37), who always listens to our prayers.
When we pray, Jesus Christ is present among us. Where two or three are gathered together in the name of God, there is always He in the midst of them (cf. Mt 18,20). A family who commits itself to God realizes its holiness through the life of marriage, articipating in the mystery of the cross of Christ (cf. XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Relatio Finalis, n.87). When a family suffers crises and conflicts, it may experience the passion of the Lord on the cross and, in turn, overcome all its difficulties with the help of His power to conquer even death. Indeed, prayer is an act of hope in our humble attitude. To pray is to acknowledge our need for the great help of God. In other words, we cannot realize that we are poor until we ask God for what we cannot resolve through our own efforts. In this way, our original intentions and hopes can be deepened and strengthened when we pray.
In family life, we can learn how to pray. A prayerful couple makes a prayerful family, and their children naturally learn how to pray. Having time to pray together with their children, parents can understand the innermost depths of their children’s hearts and leave the most beautiful impression on their lives (cf. Familiaris Consortio, n.60). When all family members get together and pray, the family abides in the Lord. When a family prays, the family gets to know God better, grows into faithful believers and lives as members of the bigger and larger family of the Church. When people pray, they learn to practice love, forgiveness, care, and openness. Consequently, they willingly share their time and life with others, not just sticking to their own desires and hopes. In this regard, prayer is “the first expression of man’s inner truth, the first condition for authentic freedom.” The more faithfully the Christian family prays, the more it can be united with Jesus Christ and participate in the life and mission of the Church (cf. Ibid., n.62).
Christian parents, of course, have a responsibility to educate their children in prayer and introduce them to discovery of the mystery of God (cf. Ibid., n.60). A family ought to be the primary place to teach how to love God and neighbors and how to listen to God. Thus, parents needs to help their children to be openminded and become aware of their divine gifts and callings. In particular, “the concrete example and living witness of parents is fundamental and irreplaceable in educating their children to pray” (Ibid., n.60). The shared journey of prayer reaches its culmination through participation in the Eucharist (cf. Ibid., n.57). Family prayer can be inspired more by the Sacrament of the Eucharist because “the Eucharist is the very source of Christian marriage” (Ibid., n.57). “As a representation of Christ’s sacrifice of love for the Church, the Christian family finds the foundation and soul of its ‘communion’ and its ‘mission’ in the Eucharistic gift of charity” (cf. Ibid., n.57). The Eucharist, which is the sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ, inspires Christian couples to pursue a love which is stronger than death.
As Saint John Paul II said, the future of humanity depends mainly on the family (cf. Ibid., n.65). Therefore, we, above all, should be faithful to family prayer so as to defend the family. Through family prayer, Christians can find the meaning and joy of life and deliver the true happiness of the Holy Family to others. When the Christian family does this, it becomes a strong supporter which complies fully with all its responsibilities as the primary and fundamental cell of human society (cf. Ibid., n.62). On the occasion of the Week for the Sanctification of the Family, I hope every Christian family will prepare a place for the baby Jesus to abide in their family. A prayerful family is full of vitality. When all family members pray together, a bright future will open up in the light of faith. I earnestly pray that through the intercession and example of the Holy Family of Nazareth every man and woman will come to know Jesus Christ and experience His merciful love.
December 30, 2016
On the Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
+ Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil
Archbishop of Daegu
CBCK Committee for
Family Pastoral Ministry
Message for the 35th Human Rights Sunday and the 6th Social Doctrine Week
“Whatever You Did for One of These Least Brothers of Mine, You Did for Me” (Mt 25,40)
In this season of Advent when we stay awake and wait for the Lord, reflecting upon the mystery of the ncarnation, I pray that God’s love and mercy may be with you all.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea designated the second week of Advent as Human Rights Sunday. On this occasion, the Catholic Church in Korea invites the faithful to reflect on the significance of the dignity of the human person and human rights, which are ever more clearly manifested by the mystery of the Incarnation.
We cannot help but draw a deep sigh of despair and have a sense of regret when recalling all the violations of human rights which we witnessed in Korea over the past year. Over that period our society has witnessed a lack of respect for the dignity of the human person and human rights in so many ways: the escalation of military tension on the Korean Peninsula; the legislation of an anti-terrorism bill; the death of Mr. Immanuel Baek Nam-Ki, our brother as a farmer, resulting from the injuries which he suffered during an anti-government demonstration; the lives of alienated workers and the unemployed; the hasty settlement between South Korea and Japan at the end of 2015 over the issue on so-called “comfort women”, coerced sexual servitude in Japanese military-run brothels during the World War II; and, last but not least, indifference to the bereaved families and those of missing victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster who are still crying loudly for a fair and objective investigation in the search for the truth.
At the roots of these incidents, there lie idolatry and individualism. The idolatry manifests itself in the form of the worship of money and power, which denies the primacy of the human being. The deep rooted individualism shows the attitude of ‘none-of-my-business’ (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n.2). Hence, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal to all of you for conversion. We have to open our hearts in the spirit of solidarity and so overcome indifference towards God, neighbours, and all creation (cf. Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the XLIX World Day of Peace, n.3).
The second week of Advent is also designated as Social Doctrine Week. Since “the Church’s social doctrine is an integral part of her evangelizing ministry” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.66), it is essential for the Church's ministry “to teach and to spread her social doctrine” (Ibid., n.67). Moreover, the Church’s social doctrine is “authentic Magisterium, which obligates the faithful to adhere to it” (Ibid., n.80). However, today, misinterpretation of the Church’s social doctrine tends not only to interrupt her prophetic mission, which is executed on the basis of her social doctrine, but also to contort or even contradict its original meaning in order to use it for political ends. I wish that the Church’s social doctrine is read carefully, discussed and practised widely throughout the entire Church.
Although the current situation at home and abroad appears dismal, we should not lose faith that God is the true Master of history who will eventually lead the world to the alvation in His marvelous Providence. The Lord comes to our hearts as well as our world. He is present in the midst of human history. Salvation “concerns the human person in all his dimensions: personal and social, spiritual and corporeal, historical and transcendent” (Ibid., n.38). “As minister of salvation, the Church is not in the abstract nor in a merely spiritual dimension, but in the context of the history and of the world in which man lives. Here mankind is met by God's love and by the vocation to cooperate in the divine plan” (Ibid., n.60).
Let us pray that God may help us open our eyes to recognize and serve Jesus who identifies Himself with the poor and those in need (cf. Mt 25,31-46). May the Lord pour out his lessings of peace and justice upon the Korean Peninsula and the whole world.
December 4, 2016
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
2017 Pastoral Letters of the Diocesan Bishops (Summary)
They also stressed that we should live a life of giving and sharing, placing the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the heart of life. In addition, they encouraged the faithful to practice the evangelical spirit of the Word.
In his pastoral letter entitled “The New Era, the New Evangelization: Mass is the Center of the New Evangelization,” H.E. Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, placed emphasis on the importance of Mass. He noted that: “‘the liturgy [of the Eucharist] is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows’(Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.10). Mass is the center and driving force of the new evangelization.”He went on to assert: “ the Lord, who is present in the Eucharist and makes us holy, leads us to unity. It is by the Eucharistic celebration that the Church which consist of various people manifests her fraternity most clearly in unity with the Lord.”Therefore, he continued,“ when our faith grows and strengthens with the power of the Lord’s Words and the Eucharistic sacrifice within our ecclesiastical communities, especially through the celebration of the Holy Mass, we can reach out to the world, proclaim the Gospel, and practice love for our neighbors in our Sitz im Leben.”He also said, “while the faithful, despite their different circumstances, strive to receive the necessary light and strength for their lives through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, they, above all, can rediscover the grace of the Sacrament to experience the beauty and mission of the family to the full.”
The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Heejoong, Archbishop of Gwangju, issued his pastoral letter with the title, “The Year of Parish I: Evangelization of the Parish Community through Generational Revitalization and Unity of Generations” Reaffirming the Instruction of the Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community, the Archbishop noted that:“ ‘the Church’s most immediate contact with people normally happens in the context of the parish’ (n.30). A parish is a privileged place where the communion of God is realized (cf. n.9) and the Words of God are announced (cf. n.4). In particular, a parish is a place where the faithful life of Christians is realized in its entirety.” And he continued: “Therefore, it is hard to expect the growth of the Church without revitalization of a parish. The parish community along with its members are invited to experience the love of God in a concrete manner to live the joy of unity and peace in God. Most of all, unity and revitalization of parishioners are essential to invigorate the parish.”
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, issued a pastoral letter entitled “Children and Youth as Young Apostles of Christ.”He stated, “the youth are ‘the first to carry on the apostolate directly to other young persons’(Apostolicam Actuositatem, n.12).”He moved on to stress the importance of youth ministry which aims to make young people into apostles of Christ by providing them with an opportunity to know and experience Him. In this regard, he encouraged the Archdiocese of Daegue to organize various local events for young people and operate different types of Sunday schools, especially designed for the disabled and for the children of multicultural families. In addition, he urged the faithful to pay more attention to youth ministry focusing on university students since it is considered to have immense potential for evangelization. He also reflected on the Pope’s heartfelt appeal to young people at the welcoming ceremony of the Thirty-first World Youth Day on July 28, 2016, held in Jordan Park, Bl⁄onia, Kraków, Poland. His appeal went thus:“ Are you looking for empty thrills in life, or do you want to feel a power that can give you a lasting sense of life and fulfilment? To find fulfilment, to find a new life, there is a way. Jesus can give you a true passion for life.”In this sense, Archbishop Cho encouraged young people to have courage in the face of all the difficulties and challenges in their lives. At the end of his pastoral letter, he invited all parishioners to support and pray for young people to become Christ’s young apostles so that they can have an encounter with Jesus Christ and celebrate life to the full through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In his pastoral letter entitled “Christian Renewal through the Word and the Sacraments,”the Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon, emphasized that,“ the Church’ s renewal begins primarily with listening to the Words of God.”He went on to state,“ it is necessary for many more parishes and parishioners to participate in the ministry of the Bible at the level of diocese.”Likewise, the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Bishop of Chunchon, and the Most Rev. John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, Bishop of Incheon, in their respective pastoral letters, stressed the significance of God’s Words and the Sacraments. In a similar vein, the Most. Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, issued his pastoral letter entitled “The Year to Experience the Joy of the Gospel with the Synod.”
The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, Bishop of Cheongju, presented his pastoral letter focusing on a community which proclaims the Gospel to the whole world. Similarly, the Most Rev. Paul Hwang Chul-soo, Bishop of Busan, expressed his commitment to mission through parish evangelization. Other bishops also urged the faithful to take the initiative in building the Kingdom of God through faith, renewal of the family, mercy, and new evangelization.
News From the Catholic Church in Korea
The CBCK Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry (President: Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil) and the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea (Director: Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il) jointly held a seminar on December 12, 2016 at the auditorium of the CCK on the theme, “Amoris Laetitia, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and Family Pastoral Ministry of the Catholic Church in Korea.”The seminar aimed at deepening our appreciation for“ pastoral care,”as emphasized by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Another purpose of the seminar was to promote discussion on possible new directions for family pastoral ministry in the Catholic Church in Korea.
At the seminar, it was suggested that the Catholic Church in Korea should endeavor to overcome clericalism. In addition, it was proposed that the Catholic Church in Korea should carry out family pastoral ministry in a more concrete manner by making persistent efforts to improve the formation of the laity.
Dr. Choi Hyeon-Soon of the Institute for Theology in Sogang University, one of the speakers, gave a presentation on “Meaning of Amoris Laetitia in the Church and the Contemporary World.”She stressed that the Church must not teach in an authoritarian manner. Instead, the Church should try to sympathize with the concrete situation of ordinary people and accompany them with love and mercy.
Fr. Paul Han Min Taeg, a commentator, outlined why first and foremost a critical deliberation on the pastoral situation of the Catholic Church in Korea is needed. As for the reason, he explained:“ No matter how good a proposal is, it would be difficult to realize it as long as the Church prefers clericalism.”
Fr. Han argued that the apostolic exhortation shall remain as a dead-letter unless there are some fundamental changes in the Catholic Church in Korea. According to him, pastoral care should not emphasize bureaucracy and showy events. Instead, it should focus on people, formation, and faith.
Fr. John Bosco Kang Young-mok, in charge of Family Pastoral Ministry in the Archdiocese of Daegu, another speaker, remarked that for the formation of spiritually mature Christians, it is necessary for the Catholic Church in Korea to build more balanced and equitable relations among clergy, religious, and the laity; to pursue growth in quality rather than quantity; and to live an evangelical life. Fr. Kang went on to explain how it would be difficult to expect any genuine development and growth within the Catholic Church in Korea when priests, religious, and the laity cannot properly play their distinctive roles or when her structure is divisive. Concerning the family pastoral ministry specifically, he claimed that it would be necessary for the Church to overcome clericalism and to search out a new form of ministry which might provide the laity with more support and formation in various ways.
All the speakers and commentators at the seminar agreed that mercy practiced in a concrete manner through pastoral renewal must be a principle for all pastoral ministries, including family pastoral ministry.
Seminar on the Abolition of Capital Punishment
The Subcommittee for the Abolition of Capital Punishment (Secretary: Mr. John Kim Hyoung-tae) under the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) held a seminar at the Catholic Youth Center, Seoul, on December 14, 2016.
This seminar aimed at creating a culture of life within Korean society by abolishing capital punishment and promoting ‘restorative justice’instead. ‘Restorative justice’is an approach to restore relations among offenders, victims, and local communities by focusing on expanding the rights of victims of crime and repairing the harm caused by crime. It claims that jurisprudence should play a role in restoring humanity damaged by crime and not just in punishing criminals.
At the seminar, Mr. Park Joo-min, a member of the National Assembly, explained that when a victim participates in the legal process by presenting evidence and personal opinions, it might be beneficial in the restitution of criminal damages. Moreover, Mr. Park added that restorative justice can contribute to a lower crime rate as it helps both victims and offenders to properly return to their own communities.
Prof. Thomas Aquinas Hong Sung Soo from the Department of Law at Sookmyung Women’s University, gave a presentation on ‘Reasons for the Abolition of Capital Punishment.’ He pointed out problems concerning capital punishment, asserting that, “a true settlement between a victim and a riminal can be made only when all the problems are overcome. However, capital punishment creates an illusion as if all problems were completely solved only by the death of the perpetrator. Thus, this prevents oncerned parties from resolving more fundamental problems.”In this regard, he argued that capital punishment is the easiest but least effective method to deal with a crime and its consequences. He went on to insist that it would be more effective to prevent crime rather than to impose a heavy punishment.
Mr. Andrew Kim Duck-jin, Secretary General of the Catholic Human Rights Committee, pointed out, “Our social system has not yet met the international standard.”However, he said that we could nurture a culture of life in our society when research and investment in‘ restorative justice’projects are undertaken more actively.
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
Francis Bang (?-1799)
Francis Bang was diligent in practicing Catholic teaching. He was outstanding among the Catholics. He often shed tears when listening to the stories of martyrs, and aspired to die a martyr like them.
Many Catholics were arrested during the Jeongsa Persecution in 1797 and Francis Bang was arrested in Hongju the following year. He underwent severe punishments over a six month period, after which he was sentenced to death. Two Catholics who were sentenced to death with Francis Bang sobbed before the last meal customarily offered to criminals before execution. However, Francis Bang’s face was radiant with joy. He thanked the Lord and Holy Mother Mary for the grace of martyrdom. He said to his fellow Catholics:
“Just as the creation of the world and its preservation are God’s grace, so too, the generous treatment of the chief official is God’s providence. Why then are you so sad and discouraged? That is the temptation of the devil. If you miss such a good opportunity to go to heaven, when do you think you can expect another one?”
Thanks to his advice and encouragement which were inspired and empowered by God, the two Catholics repented their weaknesses and shared the same holy destiny as Francis Bang. Together they were martyred in Hongju-eup on January 21, 1799 (December 16, 1798 by the lunar calendar).