I Have Witnessed Hope and Light of Faith
I visited Pyongyang with a group of South Korean representatives who were invited by North Korean authorities to the celebration of the 55th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers' Party of North Korea from October 10th to 14th, 2000..
On October 13th, I celebrated Mass at Jangchung Church in Pyongyang after meeting
several Catholic leaders, including Samuel Chang Jae-eon, chairman of the North Korean
Roman Catholic Association. It is told that there are about 3000 Catholics in North Korea. Some of them are elderly Catholics who were baptized before the Korean War (1950-1953). Then, there are also those who received infant Baptism to continue their parents' religion. Although they would be become Catholic at the directive of the party, I think it is God's providence for them to become true Catholics since they were baptized according to their parents' faith. When the Catholic Church is to be rebuilt in North Korea, it is certain, in my opinion, that these people will form the nucleus of the Church.
The Catholic Church began to be known widely among North Koreans when Susanna Im Soo-kyong, then a college student, and Rev. Paul Moon Kyu-hyeun visited there in 1989. Each of them was confined in prison for this after returning to Seoul. After their visit, the dictionary definitions for "religion" and "Catholicism" were reportedly changed. Everybody recognized me as a Catholic priest after seeing my Roman collar.
Looking at these Catholics, I am optimistic that a community of faith can be brought to life again there. It is important for the Church in South Korea to actively support the North Korean Catholic community, although the whole North Korean society is called a "functional religious community". For myself, I can say that I found a light of the Catholic faith there.
Now, I have witnessed hope and I saw light of faith. I feel that the Church in North Korea can be reconstructed based on them. We should thank God for them. "The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how" (Mk 4, 26-27).
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Decisions Made at 2000 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK
Important Decisions Made at 2000 Autumn
Assembly General of the CBCK
The Bishops decided during the 2000 Autumn Assembly General held in September to set up two new committees; a bioethic research committee under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith and a subcommittee for women under the Committee for the Lay Apostolate by accepting the request of the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women in Korea and other women's organizations to establish a commission for women under the Bishops' Conference. They agreed also to take concrete steps for joint promotion of the beatification and canonization of Korean martyrs.
The bioethic committee to come will be comprised of seven-to-nine members including priests, bioengineering specialists and lawyers. It will study bioethical problems raised by the development of bioscience and prepare Church guidelines on issues related to human cloning and so forth.
The subcommittee for women is expected to play an important role on diverse issues related to women within and outside of the Church, and to reflect women's opinions to the Church in order to activate their participation in Church life.
All Bishops signed on the campaign petition to abolish Art. 14 of the Mother and Child Health Law that allows permissive abortion and presented it together with 1,231,081 signatures to the National Assembly.
The Bishops agreed to host the 8th FABC Plenary Assembly scheduled for 2004 in Korea by accepting the proposal of the secretariat general of the FABC.
In addition, the Bishops looked for productive ways to help North Korea. As a result, they agreed that each diocese can help North Korea through appropriate ways, but the relief aid sent to the North Korean Roman Catholic Association should be sent through one unified liaison office which is the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK.
Kwangju Welcomes New Archbishop
The Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mu was installed as the 8th Diocesan Archbishop of Kwangju on November 30th. At the ceremony of installation presided by the Most Rev. Victorinus Youn and the Apostolic Nuncio, the Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, along with members of the CBCK at Im-dong Cathedral the Most Rev. Andrew Choi became successor to Archbishop Victorinus Youn who served the Archdiocese of Kwangju for 27 years, and whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father on his having reached the age limit in accordance of CIC can. 401.
A congregation of 2000 attended the Mass and ceremony. The new Archbishop Choi said "I obeyed the call of God with trembling heart. I'm confident that God will grant me his grace and strength to fulfill my office because the episcopate cannot be achieved by human wisdom and knowledge alone." He vowed to the congregation to fulfill his ministry in close collaboration with the clergy, religious and lay faithful and by listening to their opinions.
I am your bishop, but with you I am a Christian. I'm encouraged and consoled by the word of Christian," he said by quoting St. Augustine and asked the congregation to bear together the witness of Good News of Jesus Christ in modern times and to live together for New Day and New Life.
His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim congratulated Archbishop Choi by saying that "Today, our joy is double because Archbishop Choi takes succession of Archbishop Youn who has been the godfather of Kwangju people for 27 years. We want to ask our new Archbishop to be the godmother of Kwangju people with a warm and humble heart and to wipe the tears of the poor and alienated in society.
President Kim Dae-jung sent a congratulatory message and wished Archbishop Choi to give new vision and hope to Kwangju.
Archbishop Choi was ordained a priest in 1963 and served the Seoul Major Seminary as professor and rector for 24 years since 1970. He became auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Seoul in 1994 and was appointed as coadjutor archbishop of Kwangju in 1999.
Kwangju archdiocese has an area of 12,464 square kilometers with a population of 3,515,998. There are 273,552 Catholics, 208 priests, 90 parishes, 12 religious institutes of men with 85 members, 22 religious institutes of women with 578 members, 108 seminarians, 22 lay missionaries and 222 catechists (cf: Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, 1999).
New Coadjutor of Masan Appointed
His Holiness Pope John Paul II appointed on October 23rd, 2000, Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok (55), rector and professor at Pusan Major Seminary, as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Masan (area 8,994 square kilometers, populations 2,517,177, Catholics 136,337, priests 122, parishes 122, religious 360) on October 23rd, 2000. The bishop-elect graduated from Kwangju Major Seminary and ordained a priest in 1975. He studied at the Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck, Austria, and obtained master's degree in theology(moral theology).
The Most Rev. Ignatius Pak Sok-hi, diocesan Bishop of Andong died of a heart attack at the age of 59, on October 9th, 2000. Ordained priest in 1971 in Seoul, he studied at the Pontificia Universita Urbaniana in Rome and obtained doctorate in philosophy, and taught at Catholic University of Taegu. Consecrated as Bishop in 1980, he dedicated his life as pastor of the Church in Andong for 10 years. At the CBCK, he served as President of the Committee for "Caritas Coreana", the Committee fo Catechesis and the Committee for Justice & Peace. His life was marked by great contribution for promotion of human rights and social justice, and the progress of the Catholic Church in Korea.
Renewal and Reconciliation
On December 3rd, 2000, as the Church liturgically enters the new year, the Catholic Church in Korea made an official confession before Korean people for her past faults during 200-year history and asked forgiveness. The CBCK announced the document "Renewal and reconciliation" on the first Sunday of Advent, December 3rd, 2000, and asked to have a time of penance at the cathedrals and parishes across the country. The document is comprised of seven points; the first two points confess Church's negative attitude of counting on foreign powers as way of seeking for freedom of religion during persecutions and condemning fighters for national independence during Japanese colonialism under pretext of separation of Church and State. The 3rd point is a self-examination of the Church for her little efforts regarding unity and reconciliation of Korean people. The last four points are regarding confession and self-examination of the Church for her lack of constructive efforts to promote a society in favor of the poor and marginalized people, and to restore moral values. Following is the full text of the document.
We entered a new millennium with the Great Jubilee. In order that the Church will open a new era in faithfulness to the mission entrusted to her, it is necessary, first of all, to have an attitude to repent her past faults and purify herself. His holiness Pope John Paul II reminded that "acknowledging the weaknesses of the past is an act of honesty and courage which helps us to strengthen our faith," (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, no. 33) and showed us an example of the Church making penance for her faults.
The Church is called to impart to people the grace of salvation that Christ has achieved. However, we confess straightforwardly that we, as disciples of Christ, have not carried out the mission fully. It is just and right that we, brothers and sisters in the mystical Body of Christ, should make penance for our faults in the past. Based on this penance, we want to renew ourselves and reconcile with our people and march together with those who strive to make a new history.
1. We, during the period of persecution against the Catholic Church in Korea when people knew very little of the world situation, sometimes tried to obtain the freedom of religion and protect the Church by depending on foreign powers, and experienced some cultural conflicts in the process of the introduction of the Western culture. As it was shown in the events that caused sufferings and hurts to our people, we sometimes took part in unjust pressures of foreign countries.
2. We regret that there were sometimes misunderstanding, and what is more, restriction imposed on the faithful who took the lead of the independence movement of Korean people during the dark period when Korean people suffered from the invasion of the World Powers and the Japanese colonial rule, even if that was for the purpose of securing peace and stability of the Church, in the name of the separation of Church and State.
3. We express regret for not being positively involved in making efforts to overcome the division of Korean people that was made in the process of reorganization of the world order after the national independence and to make the unity and reconciliation, and feel sorry for sacrifices of many people in that process.
4. We make a self-examination of the insufficient efforts to solve conflicts between regions, classes and generations and to promote the human rights of those who are alienated and discriminated in our society like the disabled and foreign workers.
5. We did not make enough efforts to lead people so that all human beings created in the image of God can live in harmony and cooperation grounded on authentic moral values in a society where collective selfishness, moral hazard, irregularities and corruption are wide spread. Especially, we did not lead enough the youth so that they can grow in love for God and neighbor with upright conscience.
6. We did not follow always the example of Jesus who "came not to be served but to serve"(Mk 10,45). Sometimes, our clergy did not give a moral and ethical exemplar to the society and fell into authoritarianism or ran after secular trends like excessive interest in external growth of the Church.
7. We confess that we did not understand fully spiritual and cultural values, social and moral virtue within the other religions in multi-religious Korean society.
We confess that we did not implement our duties to be the salt and the light to the world as Jesus recommended to us. In this occasion, we ask forgiveness of all people who have been hurt by our indifference and mistakes.
Renewing ourselves in penance, we promise to do our best to build a better world of justice and peace in unity with all people of good will according to the teaching of Christ.
We pray God to grant His abundant grace to all of you.
December 3rd, First Sunday of Advent, 2000
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Let Us Build a Society of Justice
Let Us Build a Society of Justice
The Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK issued the following message on the 19th Human Rights Sunday on December 10th, and said that "Guarantee of the human dignity and human rights are possible only when the State, Society and Church build together a people centered community based on respect for human life and the mystery of human nature."
1. On this first Human Rights Sunday of the new millennium, we are invited to reflect once more about human dignity and human rights, and think how to cultivate and promote them. We believe that human beings are created in the image of God (cf. Gn 1,26). Therefore, the respect for human dignity and human rights is in accordance with love and respect for God. It means to practice the Lord's commandment; "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 19,19).
2. In the Jubilee Year of 2000, a year of special divine grace and reconciliation, Pope John Paul II confessed that the Catholic Church sometimes has harmed human dignity and human rights. The Church in Korea, in the message of the Great Jubilee of the CBCK, made a self-examination as she did not do enough to promote human dignity and human rights, especially to protect the fundamental human rights of the poor and alienated in our society. Thus, we, the people of God, have a duty to show to the world an image of the Church that cares for the poor as Jesus Christ loved the poor and weak. The Church can demand that society and government take care of the poor and alienated only when she practices an "option for poor"(Centesimus Annus, 11).
3. In our society, there are many people who are alienated socially and economically. We have to approach problems of the poor, unemployed, homeless, beggars and children having only one parent not only from the view point of economy but their human dignity and survival. It is time for the State, society and Church to be more concerned for the promotion of human rights of the marginalized neighbors. The human community can enjoy its true meaning of existence only when people's dignity and value as human being are fully recognized.
4. The heart of human dignity lies in not treating a human person as a means to a goal. Especially, human life should not be taken away by anyone for whatever purpose. In this point of view, the capital punishment system that is in force under the pretext of prevention of crime should be abolished as soon as possible. It is an abstract assumption with no certainty that the capital punishment will prevent people from crime. Abortion that is practiced under the name of family planning is an act that paralyzes the very concept of human life and its dignity. Therefore, we urge the government to abolish the Mother and Child Health Law that permits abortion in practice.
Also, in terms of human rights' guarantee, the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) requires a fundamental examination not only because it is an unfair international treaty, but also because it demands sacrifice of individuals (Korean people) for the national interest (of the United States of America). Especially, people who lost their life property because of military operations and facilities, and who suffer from the consequences should not be ignored any more.
5. In today's society that is centered on the development of science and technology, human dignity and human rights are seriously jeopardized. All aspects of human life are ruled by scientific technology. The worst of all is that along with success of partial deciphering of the genetic code of the human body the possibility of human cloning is strongly attempted. However, the heart of human dignity lies in the truth that human life and human nature are mysterious dimensions that cannot be ruled by human power. At the recent celebration of the "Great Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity", the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, encouraged the Church to intervene in social problems that emerge with genetic and economic development. With the progress, the scientific and biological realms of the human body are being disclosed more and more. As a result of it, the mystery of human life and human nature has become greater. To respect the mystery of human life is to love God the Creator and adore Him. Thus, any human cloning and experiments on the human body are diametrically opposed against the order of creation and human dignity. Therefore, it should be banned by all means.
6. "A just social order offers man irreplaceable assistance in realizing his free personality" (Libertatis conscientia, 32). Guarantee of the human dignity and human rights are possible only when the State, Society and Church build together a people centered community based on respect for human life and the mystery of human nature. Therefore, we who live in the new millennium are called to promote respect for human dignity and human rights, and to put all our wisdom and strength together to overcome political, economic and social crisis because the social community exists for human beings.
December 10th, 19th Human Rights Sunday, 2000
Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK
Support for the Military Mission, an Importance Share for the Faithful
Support for the Military Mission,
an Important Share for the Faithful
On the occasion of the 33rd Military Mission Sunday, the Most Rev. Peter Lee, Military Ordinary, appealed to Korean Catholics for continual support for the military mission. "Last year, as many as 5,797 military servicemen and women were baptized while in the military. This number is higher than the total number of youth neophytes of 14 dioceses. This confirms that it is time to pay more attention to the youth in the military," he said. Following is the full text of his message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today is military mission Sunday. It is a day we remember the labor of military soldiers who work hard for the peace and security of our country and pray for them as well as for the military chaplains.
The military men and women are people who work for peace. Our country is still confronted with the threat of war and insecurity. In this context the military men and women are guardians of peace who protect us so that we can live in peace. Since the South and North Summit people cry out the slogan, "Peace beyond war". However, until the day Korean people are reunited, the military remains as strong guardian of the people.
Especially, throughout history, our country, has been surrounded by strong countries, suffered from many invasions, and even now danger is not ended. Therefore, we need a strong military force.
In history, the soldiers are the ones who take the lead to defend the country even at risk of their lives. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15,14).
As Pope John Paul II said, military men are "servants who protect freedom and security of people", and are builders of peace. Military Mission Sunday is a day we pray for soldiers and collaborate in military pastoral activity. It is a day for ourselves, our family, our sons and our brothers. It is a day for the youth of this land who are precious to our Church and society.
All healthy Korean men join the army to fulfill their duty for national defense. They spend their golden age in the military, which is a time they have to plan their future and, thus, a precious time and opportunity.
The military can be a good place of education for many young soldiers who had no adequate education in family, school and society.
For them who had no chance to think of the right outlook of values, life and religion, time in the military is an excellent opportunity to reflect on themselves, life and the world.
Indeed, the military is an excellent training place of life for them and an excellent place where chaplains can accomplish meaningful pastoral ministry for youth.
For a long time it has been said that the military is a golden fishery of mission. In some sense, the youth of today who are accustomed to a life and culture of individualism and materialism, and are used to a comfortable and luxurious life style are weak mentally and physically. Military life leads them to reflect about religion that they never thought of before. They easily approach religion, and the opportunity to choose a religion is given to them.
It is not an outdated story that many Korean youth come to choose religion during their military service.
According to the statistics made by the Catholic Conference of Korea, A total of 13,173 youths between 20 to 29 in Korea were baptized and became Catholics, and 7,376 of them were among the military ordinariate. This confirms that the number exceeds 5,797 which is the total number of youth baptized in 14 dioceses of the country.
We feel again the importance of the role of military chaplains who take care of these young people in the military and return them to their original diocese when they are discharged from the military.
In many dioceses, mission is the heart of their pastoral ministry and they seek for ways to realize it. Thus, it is normal to give attention to the military mission.
Support for the military mission is an important part for the faithful. Other religions and Christian denominations understand the importance of the question and don't spare their support. The Protestants and Buddhists make ten times higher contributions to the military than Catholics do.
Despite its long history, the military mission Sunday gives the impression that it has become a mere "ceremonial" celebration rather than a Sunday deeply rooted in the life of the Church.
Our concerns for youth must increase as our society gets confused and problematic, and becomes more difficult morally and spiritually.
Military Mission Sunday is a day we pray for servicemen and women, and support them financially.
On this occasion, we, the people of the military ordinariate and chaplains, want to thank all of you who have supported our military mission to the present, and we pledge to do our best to fulfill our duty for the kingdom of God.
May God grant abundant blessings of peace and love upon you all and what you do.
October 1st, 2000
+ Peter Lee Ki-heun
Bishop of Military Ordinariate
News from the Church in Korea
● Korean Bishops to Issue Pastoral Letters for Year 2001
All the diocesan Bishops in Korea issued the 2001 pastoral letter on December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent and mapped out their pastoral orientation for 2001.
Mission, inner conversion and social evangelization were presented as key orientation with focus on activation of small community, prayer life, re-education of the faithful and option for the poor. The Bishops thanked the faithful for the fruitful efforts for the mission they have shown during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and called for further dedication for Kingdom of God in 2001. Most Rev. Paul Ri, Archbishop of Taegu who concluded the diocesan synod recently stressed on promotion of more autonomous and organic parish communities centered on prayer life while Most Rev. William McNaughton, bishop of Inch'on, asked the faithful to commit themselves fully to the mission work, re-evangelization of the faithful and social evangelization in accordance with its synod resolution. Pastoral letter of Most Rev. Gabriel Chang of Cheongju and Most Rev. Paul T. Kim of Cheju placed the emphasis on the importance of family that is the foundation of the Church and society while Most Rev. Vincent Ri of Chonju put focus on the biblical apostolate. Rev. Reo Kim, Diocesan Administrator of Andong, of which the majority of the faithful are farmers, stressed environmental issues and activation of farmers' apostolate.
● CBCK Calls for U.S. Bishops' Solidarity Action for SOFA Revision
During the 9-day negotiation meeting of Korea and the Unites States for the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) held from November 29 to December 8th in Seoul the CBCK sent an official letter with a long and detailed document to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States of America and called for an solidarity action upon the U.S. government for a successful result. The Bishops urged their U.S. counterpart for an urgent solidarity action by saying that the SOFA has been one of the constant sources of troubles and frictions between the two allies, and Korean people have raised questions and doubts on the unfair SOFA demanding its revision. The SOFA talks now underway in Seoul treats important issues for Korean people such as environmental issues, criminal jurisdiction, granting and returning of areas and facilities, quarantine procedures for animals and plants and labor conditions for Korean employees of U.S. Forces in Korea. All these issues are important elements closely related to Korean people's life and make a significant impact in keeping good and friendly relationship with the U.S., they said.
Korean people require a thorough revision of SOFA in consideration of Korea's changed international status and the results of earlier revisions made bilaterally between the U.S. and other countries where U.S. troops are stationed. At the present, the two countries are seeking to conclude negotiations before U.S. president William Clinton's term expires in January. However, we, the Korean Bishops, are concerned about differences of views and opinions between the two governments over the major issues. Hereby, we cordially urge the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States and all its related Catholic organizations to have a special concern for the ongoing talks of revision of SOFA and take a direct action over the U.S. government on behalf of Korean people so that the negotiations will bear a fair and future-oriented result in order to maintain and promote further relationship between the two peoples.
● Bishop Chang to Issue Caritas Sunday Message
Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, President of Caritas Coreana, issued a message for the 17th Caritas Sunday on December 17. In the message with theme of "Let's Be Good Samaritan to Suffering People," Bishop Chang said "Advent is time to prepare to meet Jesus who comes to us as a little baby who is weak and vulnerable, therefore the best way to welcome our Savior is to be generous with our neighbors who need our help," and he went on "God has planted merciful heart in human beings. It is Jesus who opens such heart to us. To be a Christian means to be a person of compassion for the poor and who gives hands to those in need and who motivates people to help their neighbors in need."
Bishop Chang reminded the Catholic welfare organizations and all those who are dedicated for the charity work of the importance of charity done with sincere heart and in discretion. "When you give arms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"(Mt 6,4). He pointed out that "The most affected people by the economic development are the poor who live in the shadow of the society of progress and development," and asked to pay attention to them first.
● Bishops of Korea and Japan Agree on Broader Collaboration
November 7th to 9th, 2000, the 6th Exchange Meeting of Bishops of Korea and Japan was held at 'St. Paul Chong Ha-sang Spiritual House' in the diocese of Pusan located in the southeastern part of Korea. Twenty four Bishops participated in the meeting Bishops from Korea and nine Bishops from Japan. Prof. Ji Myong-kwan from Korea gave a lecture with theme of "Cultural relation and exchange between Korea and Japan," and Prof. Tanaka Yuko about the homogeneity and heterogeneity of the Korean and Japanese culture. The professors gave talks about cultural exchange between Korea and Japan. The Bishops of the two countries agreed to reinforce ongoing exchange programs
and to extend it to the ordinary faithful. They visited Tongdosa, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Korea and had friendly time after which they participated to the Buddhist worship.
● National Solidarity for Alcoholics Launched
National solidarity for rehabilitation of alcoholics was opened on November 25 at the Myongdong Catholic Center, Seoul by 15 groups related to alcoholic problem across the country. Participants to the founding meeting elected Joseph Sonwoo Kyong-shik, a medical doctor, to the president and Fr. John Choi Pu-shik to the spiritual director. The Association is expected to give a new vigor to the related organizations and to create a new model of pastoral care for problems created by alcoholism in diverse sectors of human life such as family problems, sexual violence and problems of children etc.
Our major objective is to increase concern and understanding about the victims of alcoholism within and out of the Church in the light of the Gospel," Rev. John Choi said.
"Foundation of the Association will provide a new horizon and opportunity to the development and expansion of the rehabilitation programs for alcoholics. The Church has to promote effective rehabilitation programs for alcoholics and help their family and friends to understand the victims and their problems," Dr.Joseph Sonwoo said.
● 2000 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kim Says to Pursue Peace on Korean Peninsula
President Kim Dae-jung(Thomas) received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to promote human rights and democracy, and peace on Korean peninsula on December 10th. 75-year-old President told the 1,100 audience that he wanted to pass the honor to "the countless people and colleagues in Korea, who have given themselves willingly to democracy and human rights and the dream of national unification.''
He called on the world to join South Korea's effort for peaceful co-existence and unification with its northern neighbor. "This year's Nobel Prize draws worldwide attention to the ongoing peace making efforts on the Korean peninsula, positively affects the people of the two Korea, helping solidify the inter-Korean peace immeasurably,'' he said and stressed above all the ongoing reunions of families most of whom have been separated between the two Korea for half a century is a stepping stone leading to peaceful unification.
"The separated families would surpass 10 million, should the second and third generations be included. The top priority is to allow them to check whether or not their long-separated families are alive or not and make possible exchanges of correspondence and establish a permanent place of reunions." he said.
● Three Religions Join Hands to Help Children with Incurable Diseases
Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists got together for a day of 'Love and mercy'. On Nov. 11, Rev. Raimundo Lee of Suyu-1dong parish, Rev. Park Seung-hwa of Presbyterian Song-am Church and Ven. Songkwang of Hwa-gyae Temple had a joint charity bazaar at Hanshin Protestant Theological Institute, Seoul, aimed at helping children who suffer from incurable diseases. Some 300 volunteers from the three religions served various Korean foods and sold items they prepared themselves the prior three months.
"Doing charity work with friends of other religions is truly a great experience to me, and this seems to take off all my prejudices I had for other religions," said Song Do-sook, a Catholic volunteer.
"Harmony and peace between religious people are more important than any charity work. I want this bazaar to be a first step toward interreligious harmony," Rev. Raimundo Lee said. "Ultimately, all religions have the same goal, thus we have to work together to do good to our neighbors," the Presbyterian Minister Park said. "When many religious people live in conflicts and antagonism this bazaar has a special meaning for us, a little sign of hope for reconciliation between different religions," Ven. Songkwang from Hwa-gyae Temple. All profits of bazaar were donated for 21 children who suffer from incurable disease in Kangbuk area of Seoul.
● Former Comfort Woman to Receive 2000 Women's Human Rights Award
"God preserved my life until today to be living witness of the history so that such terrible tragedy does not happen never again in human history," said Grandma Anna Kim, 80, a former "Comfort Woman"(sex slavery for Japanese soldiers), as she received the 2000 Human Rights Prize for Woman of Dignity and Honor.
Anna Kim was warmly applauded by the audience when she said at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, Sept. 20. "As a Catholic I vowed not to utter anymore dirty words, however, today as a witness of the history, I'm obliged to disclose hurts, humiliation and pains that Korean women had to endure by Japanese," she said. As she shared sufferings and humiliations American audience were deeply shocked. "One day when the WWII was going on, on my way to home with a friend I was taken forcibly by Japanese agents on a truck …. This is how my long and painful life tragedy began. In Nankin, China, I was sexually abused every 10 minutes, and in Singapore, surrounded by Japanese troop who wanted sex, I fall into a swoon and had to stay 3 years in hospital. I tried suicide several times but never succeeded. Coming back to my motherland, I had to live hiding …." she went on.
In 1989, when the Comfort Women's issue was brought out by Korean women activists, Kim began to disclose to the world her pains and hurts she kept secret for over five decades. Five years ago, she met Jesus, the Healer, and became a Catholic.
News in Brief
The Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK made "Reconciliation Rosary" and distributed it to the faithful. The design of the new Rosary with Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Sacred Heart of Jesus expresses the wishes of the Korean people for national reconciliation and peaceful reunification.
Benedictine Sister Caritas (German nationality), known as Mother of deaf and dumb of Korea, celebrated her 88th birthday on October 22nd. Cardinal Kim celebrated Mass for the occasion at Aehwa Sign Language School in Seoul. About 500 attendees, including the deaf and dumb and disabled people, gave witness to her of their gratitude for her love and dedication of 64 years of her life for them. The deaf-mute school in Korea was initiated by Sister Caritas.
Sr. Michaela Park of the Charity Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who was elected as new president of the Korean Catholic Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious stressed option for poor. She said that in the example of Jesus who washed the feet of disciples, so the Korean women religious will dedicate themselves to serve the humble by promoting social justice and protection of the environment in solidarity with civic organizations. Sr. Suzuki Keiko, President of the JCAMSWR participated to the 33rd general assembly of the KCAMSWR.
One hundred youth delegates from the seven major religions in Korea, including Catholics and Buddhists, made a 5-day pilgrimage for peace and reconciliation of Korean people to Baekdu Mountain in North Korea and to Halla Mountain in South Korea from September 29th, organized by the "Hand in Hand" Campaign for Reconciliation and Peace. On October 1st, a simultaneous prayer ceremony was held on the top of the two mountains. On their return they had a peace ceremony of mixing the earth and water of the two mountains as symbols of unity and reconciliation of Korean people. "The pilgrimage of the youth to the two mountains that represent the South and the North has a particular meaning for the unity of Korean people," Rev. John Kim Jong-su said.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Saint Kim Barbara (1805-1839)
Saint Kim Barbara was one of those who died of disease while in prison. According to Hyon Sok-mum Charles in the "Diary of the Persecution of 1839", over sixty people died of torture and disease in prison.
In fact, while the pain of torture was terrible, every day prison life was even worse and unbearable. There were many who bravely witnessed through all forms of torture, but finally gave in because of the hunger and thirst. Given no more than two fistfuls of rice a day the prisoners were often reduced to eating the dirty straw they lay on. Also, with a large number of people crammed into the small cells, it was inevitable that disease would break out and spread very quickly. Bishop Daveluy, who would himself later die as a martyr, wrote of the prison situation: Our Catholics were packed in so tightly that they could not even spread out their legs to sleep. Compared to the suffering of imprisonment the pain of torture was nothing. On top of everything else the stench from their rotting wounds was unbearable and in the heat typhoid would break out killing several in a few days.
People like Kim Barbara suffered the extremes of prison life. Those in prison worried most whether they would live long enough to claim the glory of martyrdom from the executioner's sword.
Kim Barbara was born to very poor family in Kyonggi Province. Her family was Catholic, but not very devout. At the age of thirteen Kim Barbara was sent as a servant to the wealthy Catholic family of Hwang Maria. It was there she spiritually met God and her devotion for Jesus grew. She was forthright and diligent, inscribing in her heart the teachings of the Lord. Very much aware of the Lord's grace in her life, she was determined to remain a virgin.
One day her father came to tell her that a match had been made for her with a young Catholic man.
"It is very good match and we have already agreed to it so you must now prepare for marriage," he told her.
"It is my wish to preserve my chastity for the Lord."
"If husband and wife are both believers there are no obstacles for a faithful life and this match will be advantageous for you, so do not be so obstinate," her father responded and she had no choice but to agree to the marriage.
However, it turned out that her husband was a pagan and all her efforts to convert him were of no use. She had several children of whom she only managed to baptize a daughter. Differences in faith created many difficulties between the couple and these problems were never resolved. After her husband's death she was able to devote herself to prayers and good works.
With the arrival of foreign priests in the country she was able to lead a more fervent and happy spiritual life. Barbara was arrested in March, 1839, and subjected to torture, but she refused to apostatize or reveal the name of other Catholics. During the three months of her prison life she suffered from torture, hunger, thirst and disease. On May 27th, 1839, Kim Barbara died of typhoid fever lying on the dirty mat of her cell at age of thirty-five. She was beatified on July 5th, 1925 and canonized on May 6th, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.
Saint Kim Rosa (1784-1839)
In June 1839, Cho Pyong-ku who had a pathological hatred for Catholics took control of the Korean government. On July 5th, a decree came down to completely eradicate the Church. The first to be martyred after this decree were eight Catholics who were already in prison. Of these Kim Rosa was the first to have been arrested.
Kim Rosa was born in a non-Catholic family in 1784, Hanyang. She was married, but she and her husband subsequently separated. After the separation Kim Rosa went to live with a Catholic relative and this was her first contact with the Church. Although it was late in her life she happily applied herself to learning the doctrine. She was intelligent and could communicate well so she was able to make others understand the value of her belief. She taught her mother and older brother the truths of the faith helping them to repent of their past. Thus the family was able to live in harmony, practicing the teaching of the Church.
Kim Rosa lived according to her faith, examined her conscience frequently, repented her sins and prayed constantly. She had high respect for priests and did all she could to help them. She was a model to other Catholics.
On January 16th, 1838, in the middle of the night, the police surrounded her house but she did not show any concern. Happy that at last her time had come, she went to prison calling on the names of Jesus and Mary. She never betrayed her faith, but testified to all in the prison. Even the guards were impressed by her attitude. However, she could not avoid the fury of the government. When she first appeared before the judge he displayed all the instruments of torture before her and said,
"Criminal Kim Rosa, before we use these instruments to break your leg and lacerate your flesh, give up your God and report the names of other Catholics."
"Judge! I cannot give up my God. He is the Creator and Father to all of us. He loves virtue and punishes sin, so how could I abandon Him? Harming others is also a sin. A long time ago I decided to shed my blood for these truths. Do as you please."
"Listen to me, criminal. Your religion's doctrine has been forbidden by our king, yet you still insist on belnging to that Church?"
"My body is now in the hands of the king but before that it belonged to God. We are all God's sons and daughters. How is it that Your Excellency does not know this simple fact?"
The judge was furious and had her tortured before sentencing her to death. The sentence was carried out on July 20th, 1839. She was fifty-six years old. Kim Rosa was beatified on July 5th, 1925 and canonized on May 6th, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.