CBCK Newsletter

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CBCK Newsletter No.32 (Fall 2000)

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From the Editor:

Another Tragedy of A Divided Nation: SOFA

   On August 24th, 1948, the Status of Force Agreement(SOFA) was concluded between the President of the Republic of Korea and the Commander of the U.S. Army. The agreement was terminated when the U.S. Army withdrew from Korea in 1949. However it was renewed again during the Korean War, and since then there have been two or three revisions; the last one took place in 1991. However,
innumerable brutal crimes by U.S. GI's against the Korean people provoked increasing anti-American sentiment among the Korean people and it led to another negotiation of the SOFA's revision.
   The SOFA revision has been understood as a pending problem of foreign affairs to the point that it became one of "the 100 commitments of the new government" of the President Kim Dae-jung.
   Since the Korean War the question of the criminal jurisdiction over constant crimes of GI's was considered by the Korean people as an infringement over their sovereignty, and unequal, prejudicial or discriminatory compared with similar U.S. agreements with Japan and countries in Europe. Besides, the recent Maehyang-ri bombing accident that caused great damage to villagers and the discharging of large quantities of toxic chemicals into the Han River through a drain at the 8th U.S. Army's camp in central Seoul in February added oil to the fire. The root cause of all these incidents and accidents may be found in the unfair SOFA. At the 8th negotiation held in Seoul from this August 2 to 3, Seoul and Washington agreed to make an overall amendment of the SOFA stipulations to the level of that of Japan and Europe. From this standpoint, the proposed revision needs to be comprehensive and future-oriented and should take into account the question of criminal jurisdiction, rights to claim civil jurisdiction, and land occupation by the U.S. Army and their dependents as well as improvement of working conditions of Korean workers at the U.S. military bases including environment questions. And furthermore it should include environmental provisions such as paying decontamination expenses and making public the U.S. Army's environmental policy and information process, etc.
   The SOFA is another tragedy for the Korean peninsula that is divided by ideologies. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, with its particular concern for human rights and at the same time by recognizing the importance of cooperation with allies for peace in the Korean peninsula, has decided to widely inform the urgency of revision of the current unfair SOFA to various human rights organizations in the U.S. and related bodies by closely monitoring the development of the SOFA revisions and negotiations. The CBCK wants the SOFA revisions to give satisfactory results to both countries.

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

 

 

 

 

 

NK is Still in Need of Our Support

North Korea is Still in Need of Our Support

   The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, Bishop of Cheongju and President of Caritas Coreana, on July 19th, 2000, sent an appeal message to all national Caritas headquarters in the world through Caritas International. He urged their generosity for North Koreans who are in a difficult situation as a result of the severe drought this year, and underlined that fraternal sharing in love is the first step toward national reunification.
   The target amount of relief funds of Caritas International for North Korea in 2000 is US$3,600,000. However, only $610,000 or 17 percent was reached as of early July. According to agriculture experts, out of an expected 500,000 tons of production of corn, 400,000 tons may be damaged due to the unusually severe drought this year. Also the public distribution portion of grains per person was reduced from 200gr to 150gr from May of this year and it completely stopped from June 23th. National and international concern for North Koreans in difficulty started in 1995 when the drought diminished crop production and impoverished the whole nation.

   Dear Friends,

   On behalf of Caritas Coreana-Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, let me thank you most sincerely for the generous support you provided to our suffering brothers and sisters in the orthern part of our peninsula.
   In the Jubilee Year 2000, I am now appealing to you and all members of the Caritas family to ontinue assisting the North Korean people. In the North, people are still hungry. Signs of hronic malnutrition are everywhere. The children, the sick, women and the aged are among he hardest hit. Food aid, health and agricultural relief are desperately needed. The North Korea Authority is appealing to us: We are in need of continuous assistance from international communities including Caritas.
   As His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan of South Korea rightly points out in his letter to Caritas-Hong Kong, Caritas aid is a sign of Christian solidarity and it should be continued. Withholding aid would not only be morally wrong, it would also not solve any problems.
   The summit of the two leaders of both Korea was a historical moment and a sign of hope for the future of all Korean people. However, since the summit, no clear and concrete action in terms of aiding the suffering people in the North has been taken. The hungry, the sick, the weak do not need beautiful words and gestures, but immediate help, right now. Food aid, drugs and medical supplies are saving lives.
   Moreover, we firmly believe that humanitarian aid to North Korea is the first step towards reconciliation, peace and national unification of our divided peninsula. Without concrete action, these words are empty. We all know that working for North Korea is not easy, but we count on the compassion, commitment and competence of Caritas-Hong Kong, who has at our request implemented support programs to the North Korean people since 1995. Caritas Coreana, together with the whole Church in South Korea is most grateful for the assistance provided by the Caritas family. We ourselves are also trying our utmost to support the work of Caritas-Hong Kong and have just made US$200,000 available to the appeal SOS 1999/2000. But, more is needed.
   Over the past five years, you all generously shared with our brothers and sisters in the North, giving in the spirit of Christian love and solidarity. We sincerely hope that you will continue doing so this year also. May I urge you once again to donate generously towards the appeal by Caritas-Hong Kong. We treasure your contribution. We believe that in the long run peace and stability will come to the Korean peninsula.
   May God bless you all !

+ Gabriel Chang
Bishop of Cheongju President
Caritas Coreana of the CBCK

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday and Today: Missionary Institutes in NK before Independence

Yesterday and Today: 
Missionary Institutes in North Korea Before Independence

   The pain of separation of Korean people is not limited to individual families. There were a number of missionary societies and religious congregations in North Korea prior to l945. The Church suffered religious persecution under the communist government and eventually religious societies and communities came to South Korea. In the process, all properties that belonged to the Church and religious institutions were confiscated by the North Korean communist government; priests and religious were deported, sometimes forcibly. Many of them were killed or were missing. At the present juncture of our great turning point of reconciliation of the Korean people, Benedictines and Maryknollers share their experiences, activities and memories of the past and their pastoral perspective for the future.
    The Order of St. Benedict and Benedictine Sisters, the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers and the Maryknoll Sisters, Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres are representative institutes that were in full religious activity in North Korea before National Independence in 1945.
   At the time of Korean Independence, the Church in North Korea was governed by the five dioceses of Yeongil, Pyongyang, Hamheung, Seoul, Chuncheon and Deogwon. The diocese of Pyongyang was under the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers and the dioceses of Yeongil, Hamheung and Deogwon were under the charge of the Order of St. Benedict.
   The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and the Order of St. Benedict came to Korea in the 1920s as pioneers; the Maryknoll Sisters arrived in 1924 and the Benedictine Sisters came in l925. They were all closely involved in establishing the churches starting from preparatory works to pastoral activities in general. They were fully dedicated to the evengelization of North Korea through pastoral and social activities.
   The Maryknoll Sisters had catechetical programs, free medical dispensaries, industrial arts program and did home visiting. Benedictine Sisters established a novitiate in Wonsan. The Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers sent 51 missionaries to Pyongan-do from 1923 to 1945 and made great contributions to the growth of the diocese of Pyongyang. Over time it had 21 parishes, 8 Korean priests, 39 religious, and 26,424 parishioners.
    Besides, Very Rev. Msgr. John Morris, M.M., the second ordinary of Pyongyang, founded in 1932 the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the first native Korean women's religious congregation, in Sangsugu-ri. The Congregation was approved by Pope Pius XI in February 1938 and began evangelization work. The community's novice mistress was Maryknoll Sister Agneta Chang who was killed in October, 1950 by the Communist military.
   Repression and confiscation of Church properties by the local authorities of the communist party started right after Independence in 1945. In 1949 they kidnaped Most Rev. Francis Hong, the Bishop of Pyongyang and most religious women were arrested or disappeared. The convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Benedictine Abbey in Wonsan were confiscated. The Benedictine Abbey in Deogwon experienced a similar tragedy. Most Rev. Boniface Sauer, the Bishop of Hamheung, and German Brothers were taken forcibly and their properties confiscated. The community of the Benedictine Abbey of Deogwon and Yeongil were disbanded, and numerous members were killed or died in prison. In that situation those who were expelled from North Korea came to the South and opened the present Waegwan Abbey of St. Benedict in 1952. The Church almost completely disappeared from North Korea after the Korean War (1950-1953).
   About 17 members of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help also came to the South leaving 11 members behind in North Korea in December 1950, and they located on Maryknoll Sisters' house in Pusan in 1950. Few years later they installed in Seoul.
   Naturally, these Maryknollers, Benedictines and other men and women religious keep a special affection and interest in the evangelization of North Korea. In this context, Maryknoll Fathers and Maryknoll Sisters sent from 1990 to 1995 some members to South China and Jilin, China. In waiting for the day they can reassume mission to North Korea they are teaching English and do some pastoral works with Koreans and Chinese even if it is in a limited way.
   Last April the Maryknoll Fathers sent medicines and farming machines to North Korea through the International Catholic Relief Service. Also, from last February a Maryknoll Father who belongs to the Korea Region stayed in Pyongyang for six months to deliver 700,000 tons of wheat as a part of the UN World Food Program. Also, the Waegwan Abbey of St. Benedict established a Committee for the Evangelization of North Korea and sent priests to Beijing, China to prepare for mission to North Korea.
   According to the Statistics of 1999 published by the CBCK, the Waegwan Abbey of St. Benedict has 115 members; Maryknoll Fathers have 21 members; Sisters of Our Lady of Pepetual Help have 459 members; Maryknoll Sisters have 15 members; Benedictine Sisters have 521 members; Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres have 928 members.

 

 

 

 

 

Joint Declaration Opens New Era for Reunification

Inter-Korean Joint Declaration Opens New Era 
for Reunification of Korean People

   The inter-Korean Summit between the leaders of the two Korea, the President Kim De-jung of South Korea and the Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, held from June 13th-16th in Pyongyang, North Korea, has opened a new era of hope for the reunification of the Korean people divided for five decades. The Summit prompts inter-Korean relations for peaceful coexistence. In accordance with such a reconciliatory mood, the Church in Korea feels called to make her due contributions and prepare for evangelization of North Korea in the future.
   On August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 55th anniversary of National Independence Day, the Korean Bishops issued their message of reconciliation of the Korean people.
   The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, North Korea, in his message entitled "For true liberation of the Korean people" called the faithful to pray to God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary so that South and North Koreans can enjoy true happiness in truth and love. He stressed the role of the Church in Korea for the evangelization of North Korea and Northeast Asian countries: "55 years ago our people were liberated from Japanese colonial rule. However, our society, still tied down by structure of evil, can't enjoy fully true liberation," he pointed out. "In the 21st century of the Asian Pacific era, we have to make Korea a model country by achieving a genuine liberation, unification and prosperity for God has entrusted to us a new mission for a new epoch."
   "We will be able to achieve a peaceful reunification of our people when we live with hope based on solid faith and become instrument of peace," Most Rev. Paul Choi, Bishop of Suwon said. The Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, Bishop of Andong, stressed reliance on the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea Hopes to Invite Religion Leaders of South Korea

   His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul, and the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, are expected to visit North Korea in the near future. Park Jie-won, the former Minister of the Culture and Tourism, in a press conference held on Aug.14th following a 10-day visit of 48 presidents of the South Korea media companies to North Korea at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from Aug. 5th mentioned that the visit of Cardinal Kim and Archbishop Cheong to North Korea may be possible soon, and added that the North Korean leader Kim has hoped to invite the leaders of the seven major religions in South Korea. The seven important religions include Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Won Buddhism, Chondokyo and native Korean religions. It is hoped that the visit of Cardinal Kim and Archbishop Cheong to the North Korea, if realized, can be a preparation of the Holy Father's visit to Pyongyang. "Waiting for that day I try to keep myself calm and pray for the unity of our people," Cardinal Kim said at the news.
   "I hope that the visit of religious leaders to the North is the first step of religious exchanges between the two Korea, and I do believe that this will provide a solid foundation for Korean people's reconciliation," Archbishop Cheong said and went on:"my earnest and deepest desire is to confirm the life and death of clergy and the religious men and women who remained in the North, meet those still alive, and if they died I want to visit their tombs." "Also as pastor, I want to meet North Korean Catholics and to confirm their faith life.
   Regarding the Church's concern about North Korea Cardinal Kim said that his first wish when he became cardinal was to visit North Korea. "In 1987, when I was Archbishop of Seoul, my visit to North Korea was under consideration, but it was not realized. I would like to go there to celebrate Mass if the situation gets better." Cardinal Kim said.
   In the meantime, the Korea Reconciliation Committee of the Seoul Archdiocese celebrated the 284th Mass for the reconciliation of Korean people at the Myongdong Cathedral on Aug. 15 and confirmed the continuance of the Mass for the reconciliation and extension of it to a nationwide prayer movement.

Family Reunions Bridged Korea Divided for 50 Years

   In an epoch-making step toward reconciliation, some 1,200 family members made a historical and touching reunion after 50 years of separation. One hundred South and North Koreans from each side had four days of reunions with their long-lost kin from August 15th-19th at the Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul and Coryo Hotel in Pyongyang. The 100 South Korean visitors to the North were selected from more than 70,000 applicants. Scenes of tearful reunions, unfolding in both capitals left the people of the two Korea in an ocean of tears and captured the eyes of the entire nation onto TV screens creating unforgettable moments by ending 50-years of separation and brought the divided Korea one step closer to reunification. The epoch making event of the reunion of 200 separated families was made possible as a result of the success of the inter-Korean Summit held in Pyongyang. The two Korea agreed that if they delay reunion of separated families, many members in their advanced age may pass away before seeing their loved ones. The number of first-generation separated family members is close to 1.23 million. If only 100 are allowed to meet their North Korean family members every month, it would take more than 1,000 years!
   During the four-day visit of the North Korea's Workers' Party secretary, Kim Yong-sun, to Seoul, September 11th-15th, the two Korea agreed to launch efforts this month to track down the whereabouts of all separated family members with the aim of completing the process as soon as possible, while those who managed to find their relatives will be allowed to exchange correspondence. Additional exchange of separated families and the establishment of a permanent meeting point are under negotiation. The Unification Ministry official said that 110,000 people applied for family reunions as of September 15th. Eight North Korean visitors met their Moms over 90 years old at the first reunion.

   90-year-old Park Maria Po-bae Wanted to Baptize Her Long-Waited
   66-Year-Old Son Kang Yong-won: Upon seeing her son she wept, saying "God heard my prayer of 50 years ... I've survived to see you, my eldest son." A very devoted Catholic, Grandma belong to the Third Order of St. Francis and served the Church as member of the Legion Mariae for 40 years. Kang Young-won, her first son, was an 18-year old boy working at an umbrella factory when he was conscripted into the North Korean army the summer of 1950. His family tried to locate him for 26 years with no success and finally announced his death in 1976.
   However, Grandma Maria has kept hope to see her son and said prayer of the Rosary every day for him for 50 years!
   Grandma Maria said when she first heard news about her son "I will bring my son to the church and ask the pastor to baptize him."

   Grandma Cecilia Prepares Meeting Her Brother With 1000 Rosaries:
   "I recognized my brother at first glance...." Grandma Cecilia So Jong-ae, 72, cried in emotion when she saw her brother, So In-young 69, among the visitors. No words were needed. They are the only sister and brother in this world. They embraced and cried. "I thank God, I thank God for you are alive, for you are healthy. That's enough for me." she cried. "I said 1000 rosaries from the moment that I knew you are alive and were coming to see me. I will keep praying the rosary for you and all separated families." she said.

   Noth Korean Son Hugs 99-Year-Old Mother: "Mother, thank you for living until now."
   Following those words, a 69-year-old son threw himself in a 99-year-old mother's arms like a baby. Cho Won-ho, 99, mother of Lee Chong-pil, a fellow at the Academy of Social Sciences in Pyongyang, caressed the face of her son, exclaiming, "How old you have become!"

   Daughter, Linguist Father Embrace:
   "Father ... oh father," Ryu In-ja, 60, fell into the arms of her father, sobbing and crying. Ryu Yol, is a renown linguist in North Korea, on par with Huh Ung, a senior Korean linguist in the South. "Are you my daughter In-ja? How much pain you must have suffered all these years," the 82-year-old father said. "Father, you told me you would come down at once, but why did it take you 50 years to come back? What about mother? Are my three brothers alive?" Ryu believed she would only be separated temporarily from her family when she first left Seoul to retreat to Chinju on Jan. 1951. Her mother had told her: "Escape to your grandmother's house with your cousins. Your father and I will follow you shortly." At that time, she was 10-year-old girl. That was the last time she saw her family. When her father told her, "Your mother passed away 17 years ago," with his eyes brimming with tears, In-ja couldn't hold back her emotions anymore and began to cry again. "Father, you will have to stay alive and healthy until the day the two Korea become one," she sobbed.

   Husband, Wife Have Emotional Reunion:
   "You come back alive, I thought you were killed during the War," cried Lee Chun-ja, 70, a resident of Andong, South Korea, as she was reunited with her husband for the firs time in half a century. She threw herself to the chest of her husband, Lee Pok-yon, 72, who has been missing since the start of the 1950-1953 Korean War. "I'm so happy to see you again," said Lee, as she was overcome with joy and tears. She and her long-lost husband could not utter any words as they both broke into tears. "This is your first son Chi-gol, second son Ho-gol," she said barely able to choke back her tears. The couple married in 1943, when Lee was only 17. However, she was separated from her husband six years later when the war broke out. The husband said, "People both in the South and North should make utmost efforts to advance the unification of the divided fatherland."

   Cho Chin-yong, a graduate of Kim Il-sung University, wept like a child as soon as he saw his 94-year-old mother Chong Son-hwa, dressed in a traditional Korean hanbok. Chong murmured, "I have no regrets if I die now because I have met you and you look healthy." Chong collapsed from the shock of seeing her beloved son, whom she has been separated from for nearly 50 years.

 

 

 

 

 

News from the Church in Korea

News from the Church in Korea:

● Diocese of Pusan to Set Up Sisterhood-Peace Pact with Dioceses of Japan and Philippines

   Three dioceses of Korea, Japan and the Philippines have entered into a "sisterhood agreement" and pledged to promote peace in Asia and the world. Most Rev. Augustine Cheong Myong-jo of Pusan, South Korea, and Most Rev. Misue Atsumi of Hiroshima, Japan, and Most Rev. Julio Labayen of Infanta, the Philippines, signed the sisterhood-peace pact August 5 in Hiroshima. They signed the document simultaneously at the altar during a Mass at the World Peace Memorial Cathedral attended by some 600 people.
   All three bishops spoke after the Mass; "Our sisterhood relationship means mutual efforts for understanding, reconciliation, forgiveness, peace and new evangelization of Asia." said Most Rev. Cheong of Pusan. Most Rev. Atsumi asked pardon by saying "When we look back at our history, Japan had caused terrible pain and sacrifice to Asian countries and Asian people. We ask them sincerely to forgive us," while Most Rev. Labayen said "The people of Hiroshima put up a monument to serve as a call for peace in the world. Let not such a horrendous event be ever repeated! Never again!"
   "Establishing peace is an important task of the Church. Let us search together for concrete ways to realize the kingdom of God. Let us build the future together," read the peace pact statement. Hiroshima was devastated August 6, 1945, by the first of the world's two atomic bombings. Next meeting will be held in Pusan in September, 2001.

● Concerns for Catholics Disappeared During Korean War Urged

   Along with the positive development of reconciliation of Korean people and reunion of separated families the Church feels urged to be concerned about the destiny of the Catholics found missing under the communist regime during the Korean War (1950-1953). A total of 38 clergy and religious are on the list of the Witnesses to the Faith that the CBCK submitted to the Holy See in 1998 and 1999. "In the past, the Catholic Church in South Korea could not do much about the matter because such work was at risk to be considered by the North Korean side as mission oriented activity intended to restore Church communities in North Korea. But now, the situation has rapidly changed since the inter-Korean Summit in June. I think the time has come to ask the North Korean government to investigate the fate of clergy and religious who were kidnaped or disappeared." said Byon Jin-heung, Professor at the Catholic University of Inchon. "It is the Church's responsibility to confirm life or death of clergy and religious who have no family members in a direct line. This must be done with no delay through various routes," a priest remarked. The South Korean Red Cross official said they will take the case into consideration if the Catholic Church submits the necessary documents.
   Meantime the Lay Apostolate Council of the Myong-dong Cathedral held a memorial celebration on September 16, the 50th anniversary of its five prominent lay personnels who were abducted by North Korea.

● Korean Youth Festival of Great Jubilee Held

   Under the auspices of the archdiocese of Taegu the Korean Catholic Youth Festival of the Great Jubilee was held with a great success with the theme of "With Jesus" at the campus of the Catholic University of Taegu from July 25th to 27th. During the celebration over 4000 youth participants renewed their faith in Jesus Christ, unity and communion in friendship, and contribution in the Church community. A dozen of Bishops including His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim were present at the Jubilee event. Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, read the message of the Holy Father to the Korean youth. The homily was replaced by dialogue of the youth with Cardinal Kim. Spontaneous questions and answers between the Cardinal and the youth created an exciting and cheerful atmosphere. To the Cardinals's questions 4000 young Koreans responded with cheering and clapping and promised to become disciples of Jesus.
   Meantime, 365 Korean youth participated in the 15th World Youth Day in Rome from August 15th to 20th under the leadership of the Most Rev. Paul Ri, President of the Committee on Education, and Rev. Peter Chung, Executive Secretary. Two hundred and fifty Korean youth from the U.S. joined them.

● Catholics Petition for Abolition of Capital Punishment

   A petition for the abolition of capital punishment was submitted to the National Assembly in October.  The Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK (President: Most Rev. Ignatius Pak) on Human Rights Sunday, December 10, 1999, launched the campaign to abolish the capital punishment in solidarity with the members of other religions such as Buddhists and Protestants, and civic organizations in order to create broader public opinion on the issue. Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young, Executive Secretary of the Committee, said that "the Church's involvement in abolition of the capital punishment is part of a Church movement for the culture of life."
   "Petition is not sufficient, but essential is to continue our efforts until the values of human life and dignity are truly respected by all and the 'culture of life' is firmly grounded in our society," Rev. Lee said.

● Archbishop of Seoul Calls for Medical Doctors to Return to Work

   As the doctors' strike shows no sign of abating, the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, issued an appeal letter on August 28, urged the doctors on strike to return to work and called on both the government and the doctors to find a solution by dialogue. "I am deeply concerned and worried about the current situation of the medical crisis and the doctors' strike that is dragging out over two months with no indication of the end," the Archbishop said and went on "If the situation continues further, the whole country will face a total catastrophe in health care service and many will suffer more. Doctors can never justify their collective action and refusal to provide medical care to patients."
   Headed by the Korean Medical Association, an interest group of 45,000 doctors and tens of thousands of medical professionals have been staging protest strike since June against the government-initiated medical reform, which went into effect on July 1st to ban doctors from selling drugs to out-patients.

●"Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch" ...

   A 100-day mission movement brought 600 new catechumens to a country side parish. The Paengsong Parish of the diocese of Suwon with only 900 faithful, who observe the Sunday obligation, welcomed over 600 new catechumens as a result of the "100-day mission movement" started on May 14. Most Rev. Paul Choi, Bishop of Suwon who presided at the welcoming ceremony for 617 new catechumens wished them "to become God's children with spiritual food and drink that God has reserved for them." 
   "Our initial target was to lead 500 people to the Church in two months, but we reached far more thanks to the dynamic mission spirit and dedication of all of us," said Rev. Mathias Kang Jeung-keun, pastor of the parish. "None of the 617 catechumens should fail to receive Baptism, and for this we will journey with each of them." Rev Kang said.
   In the meantime, Rev. Kwon Sang-mook, pastor of the second parish of the military drill unit in Nonsan said that over 400 military men were baptized in the first half of 2000. "Many young men who visit us say they have a good impression of the Catholic Church. If we make a little effort and show a little interest in them they respond well. The military is a golden fishery for mission. 'Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch,' Jesus said to Peter." Rev. Kwak said.

● Korean and Japanese Youth Meet with Open Hearts

   Catholic youth of the diocese of Wonju, Korea and those of Nagoya, Japan met for a 3-day seminar in Seoul from August 14th for a common reflection on the history of the past and exchanged thoughts and friendship. Some 30 middle and high school boys and girls from each country participated in the seminar organized by the two dioceses to promote friendship, solidarity and collaboration to build their future world on a correct understanding of the history of the past. Lectures were given on theme of Peace-building including a special lecture on the Korean patriotic martyr, Thomas An Jung-geun, who killed the Japanese colonial governor, Ito Hirobumi, at the railroad station of Harbin, Manchuria in 1909. Following the seminars the students had time for broader exchange and dialogue. Besides hearing the history programs they visited various Korean martyrs' shrines and the Peace House in Kwangju, Kyongki-do, the community of 'Comfort Women', the former military sexual slaves taken by Japan during the second World War so they could experience traces of Japanese colonialism. The students were received cordially by His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim at his residence in Haewhadong for dialogue and Mass. Relationship of the two dioceses goes back to the 1970s, the time of Korean democratization; when the late bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon and Rev. Choi Ki-shik were imprisoned under the military regime of Park Chung-hee the faithful of the diocese of Nagoya prayed and fought in solidarity for their release.

● Catholics Demand The U.S. Military Pay Back Dues for Water Bills

   Rev. Ko Jong-bae, representative of the Solidarity for Revision of the Unfair Status of Forces Agreement(SOFA), said the U.S. Military has to pay all back dues for water bills. He staged a sit-in rally in front of the U.S. Military base in Wonju on July 3rd demanding payment of back dues for water bills of US$118,182 to Wonju city. The campaign formed by the committee for Justice and Peace of the diocese of Wonju and eight civic groups demanded an immediate and comprehensive revision of the unfair SOFA.
   Meanwhile, the Priests' Association for Justice and the Catholic National Alliance for Justice staged a sit-in at Maehyang-ri asking for the immediate closing of the international bomb range and the complete revision of the unfair SOFA. On July 31st, 700 Catholic priests, religious and lay faithful, including His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim and Most Rev. Victorinus Youn, the Archbishop of Kwangju, urged the U.S. and Korean governments a comprehensive revision of the unfair SOFA. Forty priests of the Priests Association for Justice staged a rally at Myongdong Cathedral with other Catholic and civic organizations. Rev. Moon Jyong-hyon, chairperson of the People's Action for the Reform of the Unjust SOFA with five activists staged a rally in front of the White House in Washington D.C.

● President Kim Thanks Priests for Their Honest Comments

   South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said he appreciates "the most honest, sincere and strong comments" on his reform policy from Catholic priests whom he invited for dinner. On August 10, President Kim invited 22 priests of the Catholic Priests' Association for Justice to mark the halfway point of his 5-year presidential term. The priests expressed their frank disappointment with Kim's lukewarm reforms and asked him to consider a revision of the unfair SOFA, abolition of the National Security Law, elimination of the death penalty, political reforms and eradication of corruption. They asked him also to support religious exchange with North Korea and to push pro-environmental policies. After listening to the priests' comments the President told them he was given most honest and strong opinions over his reform policy and that he deeply appreciated their comments. He told them, "I may not meet your expectations, however, I will do my best to carry out a stable reform."

 

News in Brief

   Pro-life activists and professionals from five religions, including Catholics and Protestants, have proposed forming a pan-religion pro-life movement by warning of human disasters that will be caused by bio-technology in the future. Meanwhile, the Catholic Environment Solidarity of Inchon and the National Priests Meeting for the Environment urged the government to establish a legal device to guarantee the safety of the development of bio-technic science.

   The Pastoral Institute of Korea will hold a 2-day seminar for inculturation with the theme of "Process and Perspective of Inculturation in Asia" from November 17 2000. Theologians from six Asian countries, including India, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Korea will present their respective studies on inculturation.

   Staff members of the Catholic Conference of Korea and the Buddhist Chogye Order, South Korea's largest Buddhist denomination, had a friendship match on August 25 in Seoul. Fr. John Kim Jong-su, Secretary General of the CBCK addressed to 160 participants from both groups; "It was my long dream to have such a wonderful occasion to promote our friendship with Buddhists friends." Six Catholic priests and nuns and seven Buddhist monks shared the joy.

   On September 1, the Committee for Catholic Terminology of the CBCK published Catholic Glossary which is the fruitful result of the Committee's 10 years of laborious toil. "We are happy to publish this precious Catholic glossary which contains important ecclesial terms selected by the General Assemblies and the Permanent Council of the CBCK, and studied and examined by the Committee members throughout 60 meetings," Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the Committee said.

   The Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Korea opened a website to link women Religious in the country and to provide information on their respective charisma and activities. The site at www.nuns.or.kr features news and information on the 63 religious congregations registered with the Association. It has a chat room for youth and religious to exchange views.

 

 

 

 

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea

The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints 7

   Saint Yi Kwang-hon Augustine (1787-1839)

   Yi Kwang-hon Augustine was born in 1787, of the aristocratic Kwangju Yi clan and from which came many of the martyrs in the 1801 persecution. With him, his younger brother, Yi Kwang-ryol John the Baptist, his wife Kwon Hui Barbara, his daughter Yi Agatha gave their witness to the faith. Thus, four members of one family won the crown of martyrdom.
   Yi kwang-hon was extremely intelligent and capable, although in his youth he laked self restraint and fell into a way of loose living. It was around this time that the King Chong-cho, died and was succeeded by the eleven year old Sun-jo. This change in rulers had political implications as power swung from one faction to another. The infant Church got caught up in the disputes and the persecution of 1801 was the result. The Catholic Church was decreed to be an erroneous teaching and was banned from the kingdom with the intention of rooting it out totally. Thus, the persecution began and the martyrs' blood flowed. By the time Yi Kwang-hon was thirty he had already been married to Kwon Hui for several years, although his habit of loose living had not changed. One day he unexpectedly met a Catholic believer and from him heard about the Church. It was the first time he had reflected that there was a Lord of all things in heaven and on earth, that this Lord was all knowing and omnipotent as well as being the Father of all people and that when people die, the body returns to dust, but the soul remains alive. Hearing these and similar stories made Yi kwang-hon think he had been born again into another world. He realized that until then his life had been little better than that of a brute animal. He deeply repented all his past sins and hoped to emulate Saint Augustine who in his youth had led a profligate life. Yi chose the Christian name Augustine and was baptized.
   His whole lifestyle changed. He gave up drinking wine and rarely left the house, spending much time meditating alone. One day he called his wife and younger brother. "Some time ago I heard of the Catholic Church. The government has banned it as a false teaching, but from my understanding it makes everything else seem useless. Just as there is a sun and a moon, so there is a true God. Rather than me believing on my own, it would be better if my wife and brother believed with me. What do you think?"
   Both his wife and his brother had heard of the Catholic Church and agreed to join him. His house was used as a gathering place for Catholics and he became a catechist. With his wife Barbara he was putting all his efforts into bringing unbelievers into the Church, visiting the sick and caring for their Catholic community.
   In the meantime, political pressure was increasing. The storm of persecution broke out on the Sunday after Easter, April 7th, 1839. That evening police suddenly surrounded an inn opposite the house where the missionaries normally stayed. Many Catholics who had been staying at the inn were taken into custody. Among them was a woman whose husband was a catechumen and, as such, knew about many of the Catholics. Hearing of his wife's arrest he rushed to the police station and demanded her release. His wife, however, refused to deny her faith and the husband, in anger, revealed all he knew about the Church, including the names of fifty-three Catholics. With this information the police arranged two raids the following day, April 8th One was to the house of Nam Myong-hyok Damian, and the other was to the house of Yi Kwang-hon Augustine. That night Yi Kwang-hon Augustine, his wife Kwon Hui Barbara, their seventeen year old daughter, Yi Agatha and their two young sons were arrested with others.
   The prison was packed with men in one cell, women in another and the children in a third. When Yi kwang-hon's eight year old son cried that he wanted to be with his parents, one of the guards struck him. At this, the child's mother remonstrated with the guard, "What wrong has the child done that you strike him? Have you no children of your own?"
   But her husband said to her, "Be patient. We are sacrificial lambs for God. Let us not miss this opportunity." From then on Kwon Hui Barbara submitted meekly to all that was done to her, counting it as grace.
   The interrogation began the next day. Yi Kwang-hon Augustine was the first called. "With just one word from you to betray God, you, your wife, children and brother can all go free and your property will be restored to you," the guard told him but he responded: "The most important thing in the world for me is my faith. Even if I lose everything else, I cannot betray God."
   Augustine regarded the pain as walking the road of Calvary of Jesus and sharing His suffering. When his wife Barbara and daughter Agatha were called out their response was the same and the commissioner became very angry. Augustine was beaten and tortured until his whole body was reduced to bloody pulp.
   After three days of debate the judge sentenced nine of the prisoners to death. On May 24th, the nine condemned Catholics were brought to the crossroads outside the Small West Gate in down town Seoul. Yi Kwang-hon was 53 years old.
   On July 20th, Yi Kwang-ryol John the Baptist was taken out with other seven Catholics and beheaded at the West Small Gate. He was 45 years old. On September 3th, Kwon Hui Barbara was beheaded along with five other Catholic women. On January 9th, 1840, her daughter Yi Agatha and Kim Theresa were taken to a special cell by the interrogators and there they were strangled. Thus four members of Yi kwang-hon Augustine's family won the crown of martyrdom. They were beatified on July 5th, 1925, and together they were canonized on May 6th, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
42 CBCK Newsletter No.42 (Spring 2003) Aug 27, 2009
41 CBCK Newsletter No.41 (Winter 2002) Aug 27, 2009
40 CBCK Newsletter No.40 (Fall 2002) Aug 27, 2009
39 CBCK Newsletter No.39 (Summer 2002) Aug 27, 2009
38 CBCK Newsletter No.38 (Spring 2002) Aug 27, 2009
37 CBCK Newsletter No.37 (Winter 2001) Aug 27, 2009
36 CBCK Newsletter No.36 (Fall 2001) Aug 27, 2009
35 CBCK Newsletter No.35 (Summer 2001) Aug 27, 2009
34 CBCK Newsletter No.34 (Spring 2001) Aug 27, 2009
33 CBCK Newsletter No.33 (Winter 2000) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.32 (Fall 2000) Aug 27, 2009
31 CBCK Newsletter No.31 (Summer 2000) Aug 27, 2009
30 CBCK Newsletter No.30 (Spring 2000) Aug 27, 2009
29 CBCK Newsletter No.29 (Winter 1999) Aug 27, 2009
28 CBCK Newsletter No.28 (Fall 1999) Aug 27, 2009

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