Please, Pray for Unity of Two Koreas
The June 15 Joint Declaration that President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea and the Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea Kim Jong-il signed at the inter-Korean Summit held on June 15, 2000 in Pyongyang gave much hope to Korean people for unity of their nation. The historical Declaration filled the Korean people's hearts with dream for unity and healing of interminable pains and scars of the division. People thought that the unification work would move along actively even if unity might not come as early as they expected.
However, the reality did not turn out quite as we expected. Some domestic problems interfered with the work, but the main reason was the change in U.S. policy toward North Korea after the September 11 terrorism incident. The Bush administration defined North Korea as 'Axis of evil' and one of countries that supports terrorism. Under such circumstances inter-Korean relations were badly affected. All follow-up procedures of the June 15 Joint Declaration were interrupted including inter-Korean dialogue and the reunion of separated families. The Korean peninsula entered a severe cold winter again. Will spring come back again? People wondered.
Then a surprise came to the Korean people with the resumption of the ministerial-level meeting of the South and North on August 12. Spring returned unexpectedly! All of a sudden the big lump of ice melted away and people in authority were seen moving around busily. The two governments announced a new round of family reunions and the reopening of economic talks as part of the 10-point agreement for future inter-Korean exchanges, which include the 5th inter-Korean family reunion, participation of the North in the Busan Asian Games and reconnection of rail and road of links across the border etc.
Inter-Korean relations are now at a new turning point. We hope it will lead us for good to a new path toward unity. With this hope, we want to ask all Christians in the world for their supports and prayers for the two Koreas.
In the past the Church in Korea prayed constantly for change in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Now it is time for the universal Church to pray for Korea, the only divided country in the world. The Korean problem cannot be solved by human capacity alone. We need God's help. Pope John Paul II, with his mission intention for September, 2002 "Reconciliation of the Korean people" asked all Catholics to pray that the Holy Spirit, through the contribution of the Church and ecclesial Communities, may help the two Koreas to rediscover the deep reasons for their reconciliation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, pray for the two Koreas that they may live in the joy of unity and reconciliation.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
We Oppose Legislation Permitting Closing of Human Embryos
We Oppose Legislation Permitting Cloning of Human Embryos
The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, President of the Bioethics Committee and Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement to oppose legislation permitting cloning of human embryos as the government demonstrated its intention to go with legislation favorable to that decision at the public hearing held on July 15. The Bishop made clear the Catholic position on this matter, stating, "Now some life scientists strongly assert that even human cloning should be permitted by law and the Government seems to consider legislation favorable to such opinions, being in sympathy with them. They argue that cloning of human embryos can contribute to the health and life of humanity because incurable diseases can be overcome by producing human tissue and organs. However, we can never agree on such opinions. For to clone a human being means to produce human life through artificial manipulation. Thus, the idea contradicts our fundamental faith that human life is a sacred work of God(cf. Gen 1,26-28; 2,7)."
For several years we have witnessed tremendous progress in life sciences. However, our worries about the subsequent ethical problems also have grown as well. The development of life sciences caused drastic changes in the lives of humanity and thus many even say that the future of humanity depends on the progress of life sciences. Nonetheless, we should not overlook the anti-life aspects hidden on the other side of life sciences.
Recently our society has been under intense debate on the permission of cloning of human embryos in regard to the legislation of relevant laws. Ministries of Government relevant to this matter as well as academic circles, enterprises, civic groups, religion circles, and individuals have their own position according to their own interest. Though great values such as health of humanity, prolongation of human life, national wealth, and the dignity of the human being are suggested as arguments, we should first consider what the most important value is, which all of us must recognize.
In February 1997 the whole world was deeply astounded by the birth of the first cloned animal, a lamb named Dolly. Though the artificial cloning of life has been continuously studied since the 1930's, the method which gave birth to Dolly was a totally different one, that is, somatic cell nuclear transplantation. Now the progress of cloning reached an asexual and agamic reproduction, and since the possibility of human cloning using somatic cells was opened, the concept of reproduction has drastically changed.
As we see, biotechnology began to be utilized very concretely. In many places of the world research to extract embryonic stem cells is conducted very actively and sometimes we even hear the news report that the first cloned human being will soon be born. Korea is not an exception in this situation. In 1999 a Korean scientist succeeded in cloning a cow by means of somatic cell nuclear transplantation and recently a cloned swine was born using the same method. Now some life scientists strongly assert that even human cloning should be permitted by laws and the Government seems to consider legislation favorable to such opinions, being in sympathy with them. They argue that cloning of human embryos can contribute to the health and life of humanity because incurable diseases can be overcome by producing human tissue and organs.
They also maintain that it will strengthen the national competitiveness in the health care industry. However, we can never agree on such opinions. To clone a human being means to produce human life through artificial manipulation, and thus the idea contradicts our fundamental faith that human life is a sacred work of God(cf. Gen 1,26-28; 2,7). Biologically, the cloning of human embryos is the act to create a human being who has the same genes as the donors of somatic cells. The cloned embryo is nothing other than a human being with human life, so research and manipulation on a human being violates the dignity of the human being. In addition, to produce medicines and treat hard-to-cure diseases using cloned human embryos, which may be considered good in itself, can never be permitted because it presuppose the destruction of human embryos. We should consider how immoral and inhuman it is to degrade human life as mere "biological material" which can be used and freely disposed of under the pretext of progress of medicine or enhancement of human health, or to produce human life for the purpose of such use.
Eventually the cloning of human embryos has something to do with the production and utilization of stem cells. People who seek permission for the cloning of human embryos actually want to produce and use embryonic stem cells. This area seems to give us hope for the improvement of human life and health, as maintained by some life scientists. However, if we consider the seriousness of the ethical problems mentioned above, the cloning of human embryos can never be permitted. Even if the study of stem cells can improve the quality of human life greatly, the research on human embryonic stem cells is not the sole option. Rather, we believe that embryonic stem cells can be adequately replaced by adult stem cells which are more desirable for safety, utilization and ethical legitimacy.
The Catholic Church has great concern over the life sciences. For the progress of life sciences can either enrich human life or endanger and destroy it. Thus, with regard to the recent draft on the Life Ethics Law we express great concern over the cloning of human embryos by means of somatic cell nuclear transplantation, which is now promoted by certain life scientists and some parts of Government. We hope the Life Ethics Law will not become an evil law of anti-life which violates the dignity of the human being and endangers human life by permitting the cloning of human embryos. "We cannot do evil so that good may come"(cf.Rom 3,8).
July 22, 2002
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok
Coadjutor Bishop of Masan President
Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith Bioethics Committee
Message on the Seventh Famers' Sunday
"It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops"(2 Timothy 2,6)
On the occasion of the Seventh Farmer's Sunday the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, President of Caritas Coreana and the Save-Our-Farm Movement said in his message that the rural village of today is impoverished due to a decrease of agricultural productivity and income of farming families, a decline in the degree of self-sufficiency in food, and the loss of sovereignty of food and seed making it hard to predict the destiny of the Korean farm community in ten years. Bishop Chang also insisted that the efforts of the faithful ought to be actualized through the Save-Our-Farm Movement. The Bishop pointed out that the farmers are the ones who suffer the most from the high wave of new liberalism and stressed equal distribution of goods. "God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people"(Gaudium et spes, 69).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The third Sunday of July is "Farmers' Sunday" and on that day all members of the Church in Korea are invited to remember the farmers and their rural villages. The Church in Korea instituted Farmers' Sunday in 1995, so it is the seventh Farmers' Sunday we celebrate this year. The Church is concerned with the farm, rural village and farmers for God "causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth"(Ps 104,14). The Church is also concerned because farming, which is the foundation of people's lives, is a marvelous plan of God for He teaches the farmers how to cultivate the soil with wisdom(cf: Is 28,26-29).
The reality of the rural community is that it is more impoverished as the days go by. Over 50 percent of the rural population are over sixty years of age according to the statistics released by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry in 2000. This will result in serious consequences such as a decrease of agricultural productivity and income of farming families, a decline in the degree of self-sufficiency in food, and the loss of sovereignty of food and seed. It is hard to figure out what the destiny of Korean farm communities in ten years will be.
Furthermore, the agricultural field is no exception to the global wave of new liberalism. In a mere two years we might face the indiscriminate opening of the farm market. However, we really hear real concerns or a warning voice about the future destiny of our agriculture, rural community or farmers which are the great foundation of life. That is our reality.
"God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people"(Gaudium et spes, 69). However, privileged few continue to accumulate excess goods, squandering available resources, while masses of people are living in conditions of misery at the very lowest level of subsistence. It is manifestly unjust. In fact, it is the greed and selfishness of modern capitalism that cause problems with agriculture, farmers and the rural community of today. This has direct consequences for the problem at hand. Today, the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness - both individual and collective - are contrary to the order of creation, an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence. (cf: Holy Father's Message of 1999 World Day of Peace). In many countries, excessive human greed has provoked impoverishment of the rural communities, unequal distribution of land, increase of petty farmers, collapse of community among farming families, and impoverished soil. Korea cannot be considered an exception from this reality.
The Save-Our-Farm Movement that was launched in 1994 is an alternative for the critical situation of agriculture, farmers and rural community and is an expression of the mission of the Church, that is, preferential love for the poor. The Church in Korea is determined to promote farmers' life by recognizing their rights and legitimate reward for their toil. The farmers are those who suffer the most from the high wave of new liberalism.
Rural promotion is a way to realize the words of the Bible for "It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops"(2 Tim 2,6). We the Christians should live with a new sense of value and responsibility as the future may bring an even deeper gap between the rich and the poor. We have to create a community of life where we can live together, breaking ourselves of bad habits of selfishness and indifference toward life, people and nature. In this regard, the Save-Our-Farm Movement will be an excellent guide and teacher.
On this occasion of the seventh Farmers' Sunday we have to remember the toil of farmers and their worthiness, expressing our heartfelt gratitude to them. At the same time our efforts should be actualized through the Save-Our-Farm Movement. We believe this way of life based on faith is the way to partake in the work of salvation of "God who sends forth His Spirit and renews the face of the earth"(Ps 104,30).
July 22, 2002
Seventh Farmers' Sunday
+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun
Bishop of Cheongju President
Caritas Coreana Save-Our-Farm Movement
The Most Rev.Peter Kang U-il Nominated as Bishop of Cheju
On July 20, the Holy Father nominated the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul, as the third Bishop of Cheju (area 1,846km? population 547,964, Catholics 54,550, priests 35, parish 23, men religious 9, women religious 103, seminarians 17). He will succeed the Most Rev. Paul Kim Chang-ryol, who retires on reaching the age of 75 in accordance with Can. 403, §3 and Can. 409,§1.
The nomination of the new Bishop was welcomed with enthusiasm by the Diocese of Cheju that is developing dynamically following the celebration of its 100th anniversary of mission in 1999. The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, congratulated him, saying, "A man of high virtue and knowledge, his varied experiences will serve greatly toward the progress of the Diocese of Cheju."
The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il was born in Seoul in 1945 and ordained to the priesthood in 1974 in Seoul after having graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo(master's degree in philosophy) and Pontificia Universita Urbaniana in Rome(master's degree in theology) in 1973. Then he served as parochial vicar at Chungnim-dong parish and Myongdong Cathedral of Seoul; as secretary to the Archbishop of Seoul; as director of Education and Social Communication Department of the Archdiocese of Seoul; as consulter of the Archdiocese of Seoul; member of the presbyterial council; as pastor of Nangok-dong parish, Seoul.
On December 21, 1985 he was nominated as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul and the Titular See of Balecio and was consecrated as Bishop on February 14, 1986 by H.E. Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan. Since then he has served as President of the Committee for Liturgy of the CBCK from 1987-1996 and as the first President of the Catholic University of Seoul from February 1995-1998. From October 1999 he has been a member of the Permanent Council of the CBCK and President of the Episcopal Commission for Mission & Pastoral and the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK. From December 2001 to the present he has served as the General Vicar of the Archdiocese of Seoul and the Director of the Diocesan Office.
His canonical possession will take place at Cheju Jungang Cathedral on October 8.
'Basic Ecclesial Community',the future of the Church in Korea
The Basic Ecclesial Community Movement (BEC) of the Church in Korea is developing with ever increasing speed.
The BEC in Korea had a 3-day national convention from July 1 at Chong Ha-sang Paul Educational Center in Daejeon with the theme of 'Basic Ecclesial Community, the Future of the Church in Korea'. Over 250 representatives participated from across the country.
The participants included five Bishops: the Most Rev. Joseph Kyeong Kap-ryong, President of the Committee for Evangelization, the Most Rev. Augustine Cheong Myong-jo, the Most Rev. Vicent Ri Pyung-ho, the Most Rev. Paul Choi Duk-ki and the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, as well as directors of the pastoral department of dioceses, priests, religious and lay leaders.
The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il stressed the nature and significance of the BEC for the Church in Korea, saying, "the BEC is not a sub-organization of the parish but it is at the heart of the teachings of the Vatican Council II. Forty years have passed since the Vatican Council II ended, however, we cannot say that its teachings have taken roots in the Church in Korea. The Council says that the BEC is the most suitable way to realize the Gospel of Jesus. The BEC is a new fruit that is produced in the course of evolution of the Church, and it can be a driving force to improve Church structure and transform society. The primary goal of the BEC Movement is to plant in our society the movement of the Kingdom of God that Jesus first began. The BEC is the future of the Church in Korea." Following is excerpt of the final statement:
"Man created in the image of God is called to live in community of which the Holy Trinity is the origin. So, building up the community is an extension of the creation of God. In order to realize the image of the Church in our society as a community we want to build the BEC in small groups. The heart of the BEC consists of transforming our life according to the spirit of the Gospel. In the BEC the faithful are nourished by the word of God, the source of the strength to transform and renew their life. By Gospel sharing, the faithful get closer to the Word of God. Active participation of the laity in the BEC Movement is important for the Church so that she can perform properly her mission of being a sacrament of salvation. Experiences of each diocese and parish witness that the laity can be the leading part in the apostolate through the BEC. The BEC is the place to educate the faithful to help themselves to live up to the Word of God and an open place for the clergy, religious and lay people to learn new roles and new leadership.
Nowadays, the Church in Korea is faced with various challenges of the times. The problems we are confronted with are how to overcome the secularization of the Church in its tendency to follow the trends of the world and how to evangelize the world. In such a context, the BEC can be a concrete response to these challenges and the leaven of evangelization of the world.
In order to achieve evangelization through the BEC, fraternal collaboration and exchanges between dioceses and parishes are required as well as an exchange of pastoral information with Asian churches. The Church in Korea will try to keep promoting pastoral and theological studies for further development of the BEC. 'Rise, let us be on our way(Jn 14,31)' and go to the vineyard of the Father and put in practice His teachings."
"The Church in Korea, Young but Mature." Says Cardinal Sepe
His Eminence Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made his 4-day pastoral visit to the Church in Korea from July 3 to 6. His visit intended also to convey the congratulation of the Apostolic See for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Catholic hierarchy in South Korea.
Activities during his visit included; meeting with the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea; conferring the Sacrament of Holy Orders on 43 deacons of the Archdiocese of Seoul; bestowment of pallium upon the Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju; meeting with representatives of the Church in Korea, Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women, Missionaries, committed laity; pilgrimage to Jeoldusan, the shrine of the Korean Martyrs; visit to Bugok parish in the Diocese of Suwon and the Catholic University of Suwon; holding press conference; visit to President Kim Dae-jung etc.
On July 4, during dinner with representatives of the local Church, clergy, religious and laity, Cardinal Sepe expressed his enthusiasm for the Church in Korea in full dynamism, saying, "I see a wonderful country with sincere, unconditioned faith born of martyrdom", and praised the origin of the Church in Korea "born of lay people, a unique experience in the whole world.” He encouraged the laity to continue their activity with passion for the Kingdom of God, especially in the field of evangelization.
On July 5, the feast day of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean martyr priest and patron of the Korean clergy, the Cardinal conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on 43 deacons of the Archdiocese of Seoul at Jamshil Gymnasium, Seoul, during the concelebration of the Eucharist. In his homily the Cardinal spoke to the new priests of the grace of the priesthood, a gift and mystery which will radically change their person and stressed apostolic mission and friendship between Jesus and the apostles expressed in his priestly prayer: "You did not choose me, but I chose you"(Jn 15,16); “As you sent me into the world so I send them into the world"(Jn 17.18). He reminded the new priests that the duties connected with Holy Orders, besides the duty of consecrating the bread and wine, include reconciliation, saying; "The priest represents the love of God, who is the Father ‘rich in mercy’(Eph 2,4). The ministry of reconciliation is first of all, for the forgiveness of sins. This comes about through the sacrament of confession, but also through reconciliation in a general sense. That is, harmony among brothers and sisters, reciprocal forgiveness, human collaboration and social peace."
On July 5, after ordination, during the fraternal encounter with the members of the Bishops’ Conference at CBCK's building, the Cardinal expressed deep confidence in the Church in Korea is in full dynamism showing its continuous growth in numbers and an increase in vocations to both the priesthood and the consecrated life, and said the seven Major Seminaries with more than 1,700 seminarians are evident sign of it. He also encouraged the Korean Bishops to be bold and to 'think big' in planning for the future, especially with missionary undertakings and look with new confidence to the future, saying, "As the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity and we can already see its first sign."(RM 86)
On the last day of his visit the Cardinal met President Kim Dae-jung(Thomas) at the Blue House and exchanged views on the situation of the Korean Peninsula and the interchange between the South Korea and the Holy See. On that occasion, the Cardinal Sepe conveyed to the President a particular affection of Holy Father for Korean people and his deep concern for the unity and reconciliation of the two Koreas."
News from the Church in Korea
* The Apostolic See Recognizes the Complementary Norms to the Code of Canon Law of the Church in Korea
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples recognized the Complementary Norms to the Code of Canon Law of the Church in Korea by promulgation of the following Decree signed by His Eminence Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation on June 25, 2002.
"Exe.mus ac Rev.mus Dominus Michael J.Pak, Episcopus Masanensis et Conferentiae Episcoporum Coreae praeses, ab Apostolic Sede postulavit ut Mormae Complementares pro Corea, quae ad Codicis Iuris Canonici praescripta exsequenda a coetu plenario, ad norman iuris, adprobatae sunt, rite recognoscerentur.
Quapropter haec Congregatio pro Gentium Evanglizatione, auditis Dicasteriis competentibus, et vi facultatum sibi a Sanctissimo Domino Nostro Ioanne Paulo, Divina Providentia Pp.II, tributarum, praefata dectreta prout in adnexo exemplari continentur, recongnovit et praesens Recognitionis Decretum promulgari iussit."
The Complementary Norms were prepared by the CBCK following the recommendation of the Apostolic See after the promulgation of the revised Canon Law in 1983 that local churches should set up respective, proper, particular ecclesiastical laws in consideration of the civil laws and customs of the area. The Complementary Norms which cover 29 clauses including Norms on Presbyterial Council (Can. 496), Norms on Retirement of Priests (Can. 538 § 3) and Regulation on Transmitting the Christian Doctrine through the Electronic Communication Media (Can. 772 § 2) were finalized at the 2001 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK and presented to the Apostolic See on May 22, 2001.
* Holy Father Sent a Special Message of Solidarity and Pastoral Concern for the Victims of Typhoon Rusa
On September 5, the Holy Father, through Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, sent the Most Rev. Michael Pak Jeong-il, President of the CBCK, a special message to express his solidarity and pastoral concern for the victims of Typhoon Rusa and those engaged in the work of relief and rebuilding. Following is the full text of the message.
"Deeply saddened by reports of the tragic consequences of Typhoon Rusa, His Holiness Pope John Paul II asks you to express his profound solidarity and pastoral concern to the Korean religious and civil authorities and to all those engaged in the massive work of relief and rebuilding. With fervent prayers that almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died and consolation and strength to the homeless, injured and suffering, the Holy Father expresses the hope that the international community will respond with prompt and effective assistance."
Meantime, entire Church in Korea engaged in every possible effort for the flood-relief work. Donations and Sunday collections are encouraged as well as fund raising through organizations. Volunteer groups are sent to flooded districts.
According to the report, property damage caused by Typhoon Rusa, which battered the nation over the weekend of August 30 to 31, was estimated at 4.3 trillion won(US$ 3.4 billion). A total of 119 people have been confirmed dead, 70 missing. More than 2,000 buildings were flooded across the country, and 2002 bridges and roads were washed away. Roughly 41,000 hectares of farmland were also swamped.
The entire nation has showed its support to the victims of the worst natural disaster in half a century by donating an unprecedented amount of funds. As of September 10, a total of 72.1 billion won(US$60 million) has been raised. Internet portal sites such as Daum and Freechal have also made it possible to contribute cyber money and small sums of 1,000 to 2,000 won by a click of a mouse.
Before Typhoon Rusa, the Korean people were severely affected by the heavy rainfall and strong wind that battered the Korean peninsula for 10 days from August 4, causing a great number of casualties and property damage across the country. According to the National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters, at least 28 people were killed or remain missing, 11,666 houses were flooded and 30,400 hectares of farmland were inundated across the country.
* "You Are Called to Build New Civilization of Peace, Justice and Freedom"
"We could confirm in the youth an infinite dynamism and potentiality for the future of the Church," said the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il who lectured on the doctrine to the Korean participants at the 17th World Youth Day that had taken place from July 23 to 28 in Toronto, Canada with the theme of "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world".
Over 800 Korean youth from South Korea, United States, Brazil and Canada participated in the doctrine lectures. In speaking of the doctrine, Bishop Kang focused on fraternal love, saying, "In order to bring light to the world and give flavor to the world, we first have to accept our neighbors as brothers and sisters. You are called to become light and salt in order to drive out darkness and injustice from our society by committing yourselves to new values and new visions, and not compromising with the world."
By reminding them of the Holy Father's trust and hope in the youth for the future of the Church, Bishop Kang said that an event such as the World Youth Day is a unique opportunity to encounter the youth from all over the world and experience brotherhood, friendship and solidarity among the youth. He invited the youth to open wide their hearts to accept the different cultures of different people and different countries in order to build together a more fraternal and human world, a new civilization of peace, justice and freedom of the world.
* KCRP Appointed to Serve as the Secretariat of ACRP for Five Years
The Asian Conference on Religion and Peace(ACRP), at its Sixth General Assembly held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from June 24 to 28, 2002, appointed the KCRP(Korean Conference on Religion and Peace) to serve as its Secretariat for five years and adopted the inter-Korean Joint Declaration of June 15 as a model of reconciliation and peace among Asian nations in conflicts. At the Assembly some 300 religion leaders and delegates from 20 countries dealt with issues under the theme of "Asia, the Reconciler" and five sub-themes of Disarmament and Security, Economy and Ecology, Human Dignity and Human Rights, Women/ Children and Partnership, Education and Service for Peace. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat and a Korean Won Buddhist leader Mr. Kim Seong-gon were elected as President and Secretary General respectively.
The Korean Catholic delegation participated in the Assembly for the first time in compliance with the decision of the Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue (Pres.: Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san) of the CBCK. The Sixth Assembly offered meaningful opportunities to South and North Korean delegates to share time together, exchange matters of mutual concern, and attend common prayer meetings.
* Korean Theologians to Seek Breaking from 'Elite-Centered Theology''
The Catholic Theological Association of Korea held its first academic conference on June 25 at the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Daegu and paved new pathways toward promotion of the quality of Korean theology. Some 110 priest-professors from the seven Catholic Universities in Korea participated in the conference and presented treaties and critiques on various subjects such as "Can we still talk on moral theology?", "Problems of priestly formation process and its alternative," "Theology of social welfare." etc. Study on theology of social welfare attracted most attention from the audience as it was the first academic study based on a theological and ecclesiastical view.
The Association opened its door to the laity by introducing an associate membership system designed to break away from elite-centered theology and to bring it into widespread use. The actual membership of the Association is granted only to priest-professors with a master's degree or higher, faculty of theological college or professors of related sciences. "By breaking from 'elite-centered theology' the Association wants to play a catalytic role in promoting the generalization of Catholic theology so that it effectively serves the evangelization of the Korean people," said Rev. Sye Kyeong-don, chairman of the Association.
* XXI World Congress of the FIAMC Held in Seoul
The 21st World Congress of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC, President: Prof. Gian Luigi Gigli) was held in Seoul from September 1 to 4 with the theme of "Identity and Mission of Catholic Doctors in Health Care". Some 450 Catholic health care workers, clergy and religious participated in the congress.
The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul, in his homily at the opening Mass said, "It is very meaningful for the Catholic Church in Korea to host the 21st World Congress of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, which is the first one held since the third millennium began," and emphasized, "Catholic health care workers should serve life, especially that of the marginalized and the sick and suffering."
At the opening ceremony, Archbishop Javier Lozano, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, read the message of Pope John Paul II. "Through this congress, the Catholic medical professionals should confirm their identity as health care workers who clearly understand the value of life and respect its dignity," said the Pope and noted, "I hope each participant, after returning to their homeland, may follow Christian ethics, try to foster the culture of life and practice it in their every day life and medical field."
Prof. Gian Luigi Gigli, President of the FIAMC, said, "Following the good example of the Korean martyrs, we, the Catholic health care workers, should recognize the face of Christ in those of the alienated and the sick and convey the love of God to them."
News in Brief
The Episcopal Special Commission for the Beatification and Canonization printed 400,000 copies of 'Prayer for Beatification and Canonization.' In Korea September is celebrated as the month of Korean martyrs.
2,200 Catholic public officials had their 19th annual retreat at the Indoor Gymnasium of Suwon, Sept. 1 and pledged to be the 'salt' and 'leaven' in their respective environment to change the society from inside in the light of Gospel.
Priests in Gwangju are opposed to the operation of the 5th generator of Yeonggwang nuclear power plant. "Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. ignored the legal process and started commercial operation." they claimed.
Inchon Diocese's Committee for a Fair Solution of the Case of Two Girls' Death by the U.S. Military Vehicle and Overall Revision of the SOFA sent a Protest Letter to the U.S. Embassy. Shin Hyo-sun and Shim Mi-son, middle school girls, were killed June 13 when they were run over by a military vehicle on a rural road in Yangju, north of Seoul. The Dioceses of Kwangju and Andong including several tens of Catholic organizations joined the campaign.
The Committee for Abolishing the Death Penalty of the CBCK announced a public assembly in November by inviting Sr. Helen Prejean, the real person of the movie character in "Dead Man Walking", to raise the awareness of people toward the abolition of the death penalty.
On July 21, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis had a ground-breaking ceremony of the hospital in Ntambu, Tanzania, thanks to a contribution of 50 million won (US$43,000) by Korean Catholics.
During the joint Independence Day's festivities in Seoul from Aug. 14-17, Korean Bishops, priest''s, religious and the laity met North Korean Catholics including Mr. Samuel Jang Jae-eon, the Chairperson of Association of North Korean Catholics, and exchanged opinions on inter-Korean issues, relief aid for the North and visit of South Korean Catholics to the North.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr of Korea
Ch'oe Kyong-hwan Francis(1805-1839)
Ch'oe Kyong-hwan Francis was of the Kyongju Ch'oe clan, born in 1805 to a prosperous family in Taraekkol, Hongjugun, Ch'ungch'ong Province. His grandfather, Ch'oe Han-il, was the first member of the family to be baptized in 1787 after he had received instructions from the renowned Yi Chon-ch'ang.
After being without a priest for a long time, many of the Catholics in the area were Catholic in name only. They regularly engaged in superstitious acts and false worship, so there were many obstacles to obeying the Commandments and practicing their faith. Francis could not tolerate this situation, so he left home one day and settled in the village on Mount Suri near Kwach'on in Kyonggi Province.
At this new-found site Francis was able to live a life of faith. Clearing the hillside of trees, he planted tobacco and helped newly arriving Catholics to build homes for themselves. With all their heart and soul they obeyed the Commandments and at night they studied the doctrine, meditated and prayed.
At first only three or four families lived in the village but slowly this number grew into over twenty. At night Francis would gather them all in his house and teach doctrine. His explanation of Church's teaching was earnest, concise and persuasive. His speech ability spread and Catholics came from far and wide to hear him.
He was not all that well educated but frequent meditation and studying of spiritual books gave rise to a burning love of God in his heart and he had an amazing knowledge of the Church's profound truth. Whether working or at home, in the fields or walking along the road, his heart was always in union with God. He never spoke of any other matter except what concerned love of God and devotion.
In 1839, he was appointed catechist. The persecution of 1839 was beginning and around Hanyang many Catholics were being apprehended and subjected to hunger and suffering. Francis collected money and traveled about using it to help the imprisoned Catholics and poor unbelievers as well. He also helped in burying the bodies of the martyrs.
Returning home, he instructed his family to prepare themselves for martyrdom. He collected all their religious artifacts and buried them in the ground, except for the catechetical books. He said, "We hide our religious articles so that they will not be profaned but books are not blessed. A soldier going to war needs his battle instructions. At a time like this we must study all the books more earnestly."
In 1836, when Ch'oe Kyong-hwan Francis was thirty-one, Father Maubant, a missionary priest from the Paris Foreign Mission Society arrived in Korea. Knowing the difficulty that foreign priests had in getting into and staying in Korea, Father Maubant decided to send young Koreans overseas to study for the priesthood.
Ch'oe Kyong-hwan Francis' oldest son, Yang-up, was reported to him as being exceptionally intelligent, so Father Maubant decided to call on his parents. He sat down opposite the husband and wife and carefully talked to them.
"Francis and Maria, I have come to consult you about a very important matter today. I have heard that your son, Thomas, is very intelligent. I would like to send him to Macao to study for the priesthood. Will you give your consent?"
"Thank you, Father. This is not our will but the call of God, a vocation. We had no idea that such a blessing and happiness would come to our house. Thank you again." The couple willingly gave their consent.
At that time the influence of Confucianism was such that Koreans did not readily send their sons to live even with their older or younger brothers. However, this couple realized that sending their son off to a far away foreign land was the will of God.
On the night of July 31, 1839, police came from Hanyang to the village at Mount Suri where they surrounded Francis' house and with shouts and insults broke down the gate. However, Francis greeted them like welcomed guests.
"Welcome to our house. Why has it taken you so long? We have been expecting you for a long time. We are all ready for you. Come in and rest until daybreak. Let us leave together at dawn."
And he provided them with rice wine. The police were amazed at this attitude and said to one another,
"These people are indeed true believers. There is no danger of them escaping, so let us rest before leaving."
While they rested Francis toured the village and told the residents,
"This persecution is countrywide and it seems to be the government's intention to root out the Church totally. At dawn let us go with the police, give witness to our faith and seek martyrdom.”
The Catholics all agreed to his proposal. To his own children he said,
"Even if you stay here you will not escape death. Rather then starving to death at home it would be better to die in prison in Hanyang. Dying while giving witness in prison is true martyrdom."”
At dawn he rose and served breakfast to the police. To one shabby policeman he gave a clean suit of clothes. The village people were rounded up and one by one, asked if they were Catholics. The ones who apostatized were allowed to go free. (To be continued on CBCK Newsletter No 41)