CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

From the Editor:

Meaning of the New Committee for Women and Its Vision

   In the closing message of the Second Vatican Council, 35 years ago, the Church declared that "time is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect, and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the gospel can do much to aid humankind in not falling." Also, Pope John Paul II, has emphasized the dignity of women and equality of men and women in the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem(1988) and Letter to Women (1995) and asked all to make enable the active participation of women in church administration at all levels.
However, we have to recognize that the Church in Korea has not made much efforts in the area of pastoral care for women in order to restore their dignity and to promote their active participation in Church life. However, fortunately, the CBCK decided at its 2000 Autumn General Assembly to establish the committee for women aimed at studying women's issues internal and external to the Church and promoting women's active participation in the Church mission. The Committee for Women began fully functioning last April by opening its bureau in the CBCK Building and held its congratulatory celebration on June 14 at Myongdong Cultural Center (see p.6).
The primary goals of the newly established Committee are; promoting an active co-participation and cooperation of men and women in Church life at all levels; creating a culture of gender equality and mutual respect between men and women; restoring the image of women and their status both in the Church and in the society; promoting the just role and value of women, and so on.
To start, the Committee will focus its efforts to promote the status of women and their role in the Church, to help them to make a full contribution to the Church apostolate with a sense of mission that they are sent in the name of Christ, and to build up a culture of gender equality and cooperation within the Church.
It is time for Korean Catholic women, who remained in the shade' so far, to confirm their identity and achieve their own vocation fully.
In the light of the new understanding of women the Committee for Women of the CBCK envisions the development of research and studies related to the pastoral care for women so that women's charisma and talents are fully recognized and used for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

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

 

 

 

 

The 2001 CBCK Spring G.A. Held in Rome

The 2001 CBCK Spring General Assembly Held in Rome

    From March 19 to 24, the Korean Bishops were in Rome for their Ad Limina Visit (see p. 4-5), the 2001 Spring General Assembly and the blessing of the Pontifical Korean College in Rome. The following are the major acts of the 2001 Spring General Assembly of the Bishops: establishment and partial amendment of the complementary norms of the Code of Canon Law for the Church in Korea were made to be presented to the Apostolic See for recognition; agreement to establishing the week of the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the "Holy Family Week"; further discussion about the question of joint promotion of Causes for the Beatification or Declaration of Martyrdom of Servants of God of Korea and election of the Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the CBCK as the Bishop in charge of the joint promotion; appointment of Rev.
Anthony Jon Tal-su, Rector of the Pontifical Korean College in Rome, as the Procurator Generalis in the Roman Office of the CBCK and academic director; appointment of Rev. Ignatius Yoon from the diocese of Pusan as Treasurer of the College and Rev. Luc Van Looy, Vicar General of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, as the spiritual director of the College.
On March 23, Pope John Paul II presided over the blessing ceremony of the Pontifical Korean College in Rome. Around 500 people participated in the ceremony. Among the participants were all Bishops of the CBCK including H.E. Stephen Cardinal Kim, Most Rev. Giovanni B. Morandini, Apostolic Nuncio in Seoul, H.E. Jozef Tomko, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples and a number of prelates, priests, religious and Korean Catholics in Rome. Pope John Paul II said in his congratulatory address that the Pontifical Korean College in Rome is a great gift of God for the Church in Korea and the blessing ceremony is a new opportunity to give Him thanks for His special grace. He congratulated also the Church in Korea celebrating the 200th anniversary of Shinyu persecution in 1801 during which over 300 Korean Catholic witnessed their faith in God through death. He recommended Korean Catholics to follow the examples of their faith ancestors whose total gift to God has become a fecund fertilizer for continual growth and development of the Church in Korea. He wished that the new College to serve priests and seminarians who will come to study in Rome as an ideal place to learn and cultivate necessary knowledge for their priestly mission and to grow in loving disciples of Jesus.

 

 

 

Let's Abolish the Death Penalty with Our Power!

Let's Abolish the Death Penalty with Our Power!

   On June 2, the Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK launched a pan-religious coalition to abolish the death penalty with the five main religions in Korea including Buddhism and Confucianism at the National Assembly Building in Yoido and issued a joint statement.
Around 500 people from all walks of society participated in the event and vowed to carry out a nation wide campaign until the inhumane system of capital punishment would be abolished for good. during the past two decades people of good will from all over the world have struggled to abolish death penalty. Over 100 countries have already abolished the system. Our campaign aims protecting the sacredness of human life and the dignity of human person. Since the right to life is the most fundamental right of a human beings nobody can abuse it. Even for the cruelest criminal the right to life has to be respected. There is no evidence that the capital punishment can be prevention against grave crimes. Despite executions, crimes have been occurring continuously.
The execution serves as neither healing nor solution, but it increases violence. It deprives the criminals of the opportunity to repent and the possibility to rectify misjudgements. It is not seldom that one is executed due to lack of means such as possibility to afford a right lawyer. Execution by misjudgement occurs often. Opportunity to start anew one's life through healing and forgiveness should be offered to all including the cruelest criminals,” the joint statement read.

 

 

 

 

We ask NK Authority to Allow Permanent Presence of Priests

"We Ask the NK Authority 
to Allow Permanent
Presence of Priests"

The Most Rev. Peter Kang, President of the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People, issued a message on the occasion of the 2001 Prayer Day for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People, June 24. In the message, he appealed to Korean Catholics for active participation in relief activities for North Koreans whose right to survival is under threat due to the continuing food shortage. At the same time he asked the North Korean authority to allow North Koreans their basic human rights so that they can freely believe in God and worship Him. Following is an excerpt of his message.

   The entire Korean people were excited with the historical encounter of the leaders of South and North on June 15 of 2000 hoping it would be a sign of opening a new era on the Korean peninsula. However, since the South-North summit, we have realized that the reunification of our divided country would not depend solely on the decisions and efforts of Korean people.
Now, we have to pray God to grant us grace of genuine peace and unity and seek for the justice of the Kingdom of God. Jesus pardoned Romans and Jews who, for their political interest, accused Him as criminal. Jesus offered himself as a sacrificial offering instead of responding to them in a humanly way. Following his example, we have also to forgive our offenders instead of denouncing them or calling them to account.
Under the communist regime, about 60 Catholic priests lost their lives because of their faith in God and a number of religious and lay faithful died martyr for the same reason. In North Korea where religious freedom is not allowed there is no priest who can confer the sacraments and celebrate the liturgy with the Church community. Therefore, North Korean Catholics have no opportunity to praise God and experience spiritual joy in the liturgy.
However, fortunately, the North Korean authority allows priests in travel, both Korean and non-Korean, to celebrate Mass at Jangchung church that is located in Pyongyang. In fact, Jangchung church is the only place in North Korea where Catholics can gather together and pray.
For six years, the Catholic Church in South Korea has tried through Jangchung church to help North Koreans who suffer from food shortage and financial crisis. Our concern and assistance should continue until they experience relief from this condition.
   Even if we have a different ideology and political system we cannot ignore and stay indifferent to North Koreans whose right for survival is under threat. We are disciples of Jesus who taught that "Just you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me"(Mt 25,40).
South Korea has not overcome it's own economic crisis yet. Many people suffer from unemployment and low income. However, the degree of North Koreans' misery cannot be compared to ours. The majority of people suffer from chronic malnutrition, and with collapse of the medical system the sick have no access to medical care.
Let us do first what have to do. Only then, let's pray God and ask Him to come to our help. Let's do it with one heart and one spirit.
Now we want to ask the North Korean authority for the sake of unity and reconciliation to allow North Koreans the basic human right to believe freely in God and worship Him. For this purpose, we urge them to permit the permanent presence of Catholic priests in North Korea.
We urge the North Korean authority to take a radical measure so that the Bishops who are the local pastors can visit their North Korean Catholics and confer the sacraments on them.
Such measure and determination will offer North Korea a good opportunity to be welcomed as a mature member of the international community.
Let us achieve genuine peace on this land by curing wounds of division and by making our utmost efforts for unity and reconciliation.
 


Representatives of Religions from South and North Agree to 
Promote Mutual Support and Exchange for Reunification

   The representatives of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace of the both Korea held a peace meeting at Geumgangsan Hotel at Mt. Geumgang in North Korea from March 27 to 28, 2001 and issued Joint Agreement and Joint Statement. The representatives of seven religions from South Korea included the Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Won Buddhists, Confucianists, Chondogyo and Association of Ethnic Religions, and representatives of four religions from North Korea included Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and Chondogyo. The Catholic Church was represented by Rev. Peter Chung Byung-jo, Undersecretary of the CBCK, from South Korea and Mr. Samuel Chang Jae-eun, President of the North Korean Catholics’ Association, from North Korea. The participants discussed common task and role of the religions in realizing the reunification of Korea and agreed to work on it in an independent and peaceful way between Korean people according to the spirit of The Agreement of June 15 made by the leaders of the South and North Korea in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000. In the Joint Statement the participants denounced in one voice Japan's distortion of history textbook. In solidarity all believers and religious organizations in the world, who value love, justice and peace, will support our efforts to prevent Japan from distorting history and the rebirth of militarism.”

June 25, 2001
+ Peter Kang Woo-il
President Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People

 

 

 

 

We ask NK Authority to Allow Permanent Presence of Priests

"We Ask the NK Authority 
to Allow Permanent
Presence of Priests"

The Most Rev. Peter Kang, President of the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People, issued a message on the occasion of the 2001 Prayer Day for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People, June 24. In the message, he appealed to Korean Catholics for active participation in relief activities for North Koreans whose right to survival is under threat due to the continuing food shortage. At the same time he asked the North Korean authority to allow North Koreans their basic human rights so that they can freely believe in God and worship Him. Following is an excerpt of his message.

   The entire Korean people were excited with the historical encounter of the leaders of South and North on June 15 of 2000 hoping it would be a sign of opening a new era on the Korean peninsula. However, since the South-North summit, we have realized that the reunification of our divided country would not depend solely on the decisions and efforts of Korean people.
Now, we have to pray God to grant us grace of genuine peace and unity and seek for the justice of the Kingdom of God. Jesus pardoned Romans and Jews who, for their political interest, accused Him as criminal. Jesus offered himself as a sacrificial offering instead of responding to them in a humanly way. Following his example, we have also to forgive our offenders instead of denouncing them or calling them to account.
Under the communist regime, about 60 Catholic priests lost their lives because of their faith in God and a number of religious and lay faithful died martyr for the same reason. In North Korea where religious freedom is not allowed there is no priest who can confer the sacraments and celebrate the liturgy with the Church community. Therefore, North Korean Catholics have no opportunity to praise God and experience spiritual joy in the liturgy.
However, fortunately, the North Korean authority allows priests in travel, both Korean and non-Korean, to celebrate Mass at Jangchung church that is located in Pyongyang. In fact, Jangchung church is the only place in North Korea where Catholics can gather together and pray.
For six years, the Catholic Church in South Korea has tried through Jangchung church to help North Koreans who suffer from food shortage and financial crisis. Our concern and assistance should continue until they experience relief from this condition.
   Even if we have a different ideology and political system we cannot ignore and stay indifferent to North Koreans whose right for survival is under threat. We are disciples of Jesus who taught that "Just you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me"(Mt 25,40).
South Korea has not overcome it's own economic crisis yet. Many people suffer from unemployment and low income. However, the degree of North Koreans' misery cannot be compared to ours. The majority of people suffer from chronic malnutrition, and with collapse of the medical system the sick have no access to medical care.
Let us do first what have to do. Only then, let's pray God and ask Him to come to our help. Let's do it with one heart and one spirit.
Now we want to ask the North Korean authority for the sake of unity and reconciliation to allow North Koreans the basic human right to believe freely in God and worship Him. For this purpose, we urge them to permit the permanent presence of Catholic priests in North Korea.
We urge the North Korean authority to take a radical measure so that the Bishops who are the local pastors can visit their North Korean Catholics and confer the sacraments on them.
Such measure and determination will offer North Korea a good opportunity to be welcomed as a mature member of the international community.
Let us achieve genuine peace on this land by curing wounds of division and by making our utmost efforts for unity and reconciliation.
 


Representatives of Religions from South and North Agree to 
Promote Mutual Support and Exchange for Reunification

   The representatives of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace of the both Korea held a peace meeting at Geumgangsan Hotel at Mt. Geumgang in North Korea from March 27 to 28, 2001 and issued Joint Agreement and Joint Statement. The representatives of seven religions from South Korea included the Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Won Buddhists, Confucianists, Chondogyo and Association of Ethnic Religions, and representatives of four religions from North Korea included Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and Chondogyo. The Catholic Church was represented by Rev. Peter Chung Byung-jo, Undersecretary of the CBCK, from South Korea and Mr. Samuel Chang Jae-eun, President of the North Korean Catholics’ Association, from North Korea. The participants discussed common task and role of the religions in realizing the reunification of Korea and agreed to work on it in an independent and peaceful way between Korean people according to the spirit of The Agreement of June 15 made by the leaders of the South and North Korea in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000. In the Joint Statement the participants denounced in one voice Japan's distortion of history textbook. In solidarity all believers and religious organizations in the world, who value love, justice and peace, will support our efforts to prevent Japan from distorting history and the rebirth of militarism.”

June 25, 2001
+ Peter Kang Woo-il
President Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People

 

 

 

 

Ad Limina Apostolorum: Bishops' ...

'Ad Limina Apostolorum': Bishops' Conference of Korea

"To provide material and spiritual solidarity 
with the Catholic community 
and the whole population of North Korea,
in appropriate ways and with pastoral charity"

   On Saturday, 24 March, the Holy Father received the Bishops of Korea in audience on the occasion of their ad limina visit to Rome. He told them that "in your homeland you face the challenge of an increasingly materialistic mentality which is undermining many of the authentic human values upon which Korean society is traditionally based,” and called for renewed efforts to address the widely-felt crisis of values and to strengthen the sense of the transcendent in the lives of the faithful.” The Pope encouraged Bishops’ initiatives to promote the Gospel of life through the setting up of a special subcommittee under the Conference's Committee for the Doctrines of the Faith to deal with questions relating to bioethics is commendable and stressed ?he role of the lay faithful’ in this area. He recommended to keep a special concern for North Korea. Here is the text of his address to the Korean prelates.

   Dear Brother Bishops,
   1. It is with great affection in the Lord that I welcome you, the Bishops of Korea, on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. You have come once more on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul to confess the apostolic faith and to pray for your own episcopal ministry and for the needs of the Church in your country. In this meeting we celebrate together the bonds of truth and communion which unite your local Churches with the See of Peter. As you contemplate the witness given by the Apostles usque ad effusionem sanguinis, you are able to reflect on your ministry in the light of their teaching and example, and draw fresh inspiration for your work in the service of the Gospel and in the building up of Christ's body, the Church. My mind goes back to my two visits to your country, when I saw for myself how the Church has grown and flourished since the time when the Gospel seed was first sown there over two centuries ago. This year, in fact, you are commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the first major wave of persecution in Korea, which led to the martyrdom of over three hundred of the faithful. These holy men and women took to heart the words of the Apostle of the Nations: "I count everything as loss because of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3,8). Korea's first native priest, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, whom I had the joy of canonizing in 1984, urged the faithful to accept persecution since the Church in Korea could be no stranger to the sufferings of Christ and the Apostles. The sacrifice of your martyrs, willingly undergone for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who had made them his own, as he had Saint Paul (cf: Phil 3,12), has indeed borne a rich harvest, and we must pray that it will continue to be a source of pride, hope, strength and inspiration for all Christians throughout the peninsula.
   2. There are two important events from the background to your present ad Limina visit: the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops and the grace-filled experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. (...) At the close of the "year of favor" which the Jubilee has been for the entire Church, in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (NMI) I offered some thoughts on how we might profit from its many blessings and put the graces received into practice in resolutions and guidelines for action (cf: No.23). The success of all our initiatives will depend ultimately on their being founded on Christ himself, who continues to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey "to the close of the age" (Mt. 28,20). In a sense, the program to be implemented already exists: it is to be found in the Gospel and the Church's living tradition. It has its center in Christ himself "who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem” (NMI, 29). (...)
   3. In this regard I am especially pleased to learn of efforts to promote the Biblical apostolate. The availability of a modern Korean translation of the Bible, a project which you undertook for the Bicentenary of the arrival of the faith in your land, makes it possible for all the faithful to have direct access to God's saving word. Specifically to be recommended is the ancient practice of lectio divina as a powerful tool of evangelization since this prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture brings us into contact with "the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives: (NMI, 39). In particular, young people should be introduced to the Scriptures the "school of faith" - from an early age so as to discover the genuine figure of Jesus who loves them, answers their deepest longings, and calls them to follow him with a generous and undivided heart.
   By the mandate of Christ, the bishop is appointed to teach - "in season and out of season" (2 Tim 4,2) - the unchanging faith of the Church, as it is to be applied and lived today. In his Diocese, the Bishop teaches the faith with the authority that comes from episcopal ordination and communion with the College of Bishops as its head (cf: Lumen Gentium, 22). He teaches in a pastoral way, seeking to shed the light of the Gospel on today's problems and helping the faithful to live fully Christian lives amid the challenges of contemporary society. In this regard, it is important for you to support and encourage the work of theologians as they reflect within the faith on ways of communicating the Christian message ever more effectively and appropriately in the local situation. At the same time you must be concerned to safeguard the authentic interpretation of the Church's teaching and thus ensure that the local Church abides in the truth which alone saves and liberates. Supernatural discernment is required in order to defend "the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within" (2 Tim, 1,14).
   4. In your homeland you face the challenge of an increasingly materialistic mentality which is undermining many of the authentic human values upon which Korean society is traditionally based. This calls for renewed efforts to address the widely-felt crisis of values and to strengthen the sense of the transcendent in the lives of the faithful. Your recent initiatives to promote the Gospel of life through the setting up of a special subcommittee under your Conference's Committee for the Doctrines of the Faith to deal with questions relating to bioethics is commendable as is your steadfast position on abortion, not only because it is a terrible offence against God's gift of life but also because it introduces into society a relativistic attitude to all fundamental moral and ethical principles.
   In this as in many other areas of Church life the role of the lay faithful is indispensable. It is highly significant that the faith was brought to your homeland at the end of the eighteenth century by the persistent efforts of committed lay people. Among those who died in the 1801 persecution was Korea's first women catechist, Columba Kang Wan-suk, who fearlessly promoted the Gospel in Seoul and throughout the country before being executed with four companions who had been converted under her influence. Of the 103 martyrs canonized in 1984, mainly victims of the persecutions of 1839 and 1856, 92 were lay people. What better inspiration for the lay faithful of Korea in their generous commitment to evangelization, catechesis, the promotion of Catholic social doctrine and the work of charity than this witness and heritage! Yours is the take of discerning the gifts of the laity, of promoting among them a deeper awareness of the mission they share in the communion of the Church, and of encouraging them to put their talents to use for the renewal of society and the spreading of a culture based on respect for every human person.
   5. Your closest collaborators in the work of evangelization are your priests, called upon at ordination to be true shepherds of the flock, preachers of the Gospel of salvation and worthy ministers of the sacraments. Korea is blessed with a high number of priestly vocations, with pastors whose lives are deeply marked by fidelity to Christ and generous dedication to their brothers and sisters. It is important that the faithful see their priests as men whose minds and hearts are set on the deep things of the spirit (cf: Rm 8,5), that they be men of prayer, committed to their priestly ministry and outstanding in moral uprightness. The new Pontifical Korean College here in Rome is a sign of your resolve to ensure that your priests receive a continuing solid formation, which will help them to bear convincing witness to Christ and to carry out the duties of their ministry with dedication and joy. (...)
   6. The documents of the Second Vatican Council contain numerous references to the importance for the universal Church and for each particular Church of the witness and apostolate of consecrated men and women. Throughout the observance of the evangelical counsels, they make visible in the Church the form that the Incarnate Word took upon himself during his earthly life (cf: Vita Consecrata, 14). They are a sign of the new creation inaugurated by Christ and made possible in us by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, testifying to the supremacy of God and the unsurpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ (cf: Phil 3,8). (...)
   7. Dear Brother Bishops, your native land is often in my prayers. I rejoice whenever I hear of progress in advancing reconciliation, mutual understanding and cooperation among all the members of the Korean family. This is a field of action and service which the Church over which you preside should resolutely pursue day after day, discerning and following the signs which Providence offers. To provide material and spiritual solidarity with the Catholic community and the whole population of North Korea, in appropriate ways and with pastoral charity, will undoubtedly prove a positive step toward reconciliation.

March 24, 2001
Pope John Paul II
From the Vatican

 

 

 

 

 

News from the Church in Korea

News from the Church in Korea

   ●Archbishop of Kwangju Reconfirms the Position Concerning So-Called ' Naju Julia's Affair'
  
On May 24, the Most Rev. Andrew Choi Chang-mou, Archbishop of Kwangju, issued a memorandum concerning the so-called Naju Julia's Affairs and reconfirmed the position of the Archbishop Victorinus Youn who declared in January of 1998 about the phenomena which allegedly happened to Julia Youn of Naju and her statue of Our Lady, and the messages which she claims to receive. Archbishop Choi asked his faithful to accept it in the spirit of obedience to the magisterium. Archbishop Choi's memorandum said that the declaration of the Archbishop Youn was made out of his deep pastoral concern and to offer an authoritative interpretation regarding the 'Naju Julia's affairs' and banned publication of any communication materials related to Naju’as well as the production of videos or cassette tapes. He strictly banned also all kind of prayer meetings, visits and propaganda including celebration of Mass or liturgy in Naju and asked people gathered around Julia to return to their ordinary faith life.

  
●CBCK to Send Second Appeal Letter of Solidarity to the NCCB for a Fair Revision of the SOFA
  
On April 23, the CBCK sent a second appeal letter to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States (NCCB) with a 36-page long document entitled "General Assessment of the Amendment of the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement)". The first appeal letter to the NCCB was sent last Dec. 7, while the negotiation meeting on SOFA revision was going on in Seoul between the two governments of Seoul and Washington. In the second appeal letter addressed to the Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the NCCB, the Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the CBCK, said that "even though the second revision of the SOFA made some improvements, it has provoked a furious reaction and disappointment of the Korean people," and went on "indeed, we can notice in the revised SOFA how much the U.S. side tried to evade its responsibility for the damages caused to Korean people by the U.S. troops and demanded excessive concessions from its Korean counterpart. Such unfairness makes Korean people to feel humiliated in their national pride and sovereignty. Now, demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul has become a daily event.” The appeal letter urged the NCCB to intervene with related authorities, government bodies and organizations so that a fair treaty can be made between the two countries on an equal level for the sake of a better world of justice, peace and sharing based on mutual respect."

  
●Korean Christians to Celebrate Easter Sunday Together
  
Korean Christians of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Church celebrated an ecumenical Easter Sunday liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Orthodox Church located in Mapo-gu, Seoul and prayed for the unity of all Christians and peace on the Korean peninsula. The ecumenical worship ceremony, the first in its kind, was opened by proclamation of the Gospel according to St. John telling about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Jn 20, 19-25) in eight languages of Korean, Greek, Russian, English, French, Rumanian, Chinese and Japanese, The Gospel proclamation was followed by an Easter message of peace and unity of Christians by each denomination. In their messages the representatives of the three Christian denominations wished unanimously to take the lead in Christian unity and the peaceful reunification of the Korean people in the light of Our Risen Lord. Rev. Joseph Kim Seung-tae, Executive Secretary of the Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK, said "The mutual respect and understanding among Christians we have experienced today will serve as a shortcut to achieve Christian unity."

  
●CBCK Demands Japan for Revision of 'History Textbook'
  
On May 22, the CBCK took an official position toward the Jananese government regarding its controversial approval of a junior high-school history textbook. In the letter signed by all member Bishops of the CBCK including H.E. Cardinal Stephen Kim, and addressed to Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi the Bishops pointed out that "part of the junior high-school history textbook edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and approved by the Education Ministry Screening Panel of Japan on April 3rd, 2001 contains a number of important references which distort and justify Japan's past history of invasion and colonial rule over Korea. The Catholic Church in Korea feels that the confidence of our two countries for peace of humanity is jeopardized by the approval of your government for such a textbook."
The Most Rev. John Choi Yong-soo, President of the Committee for Justice and Peace, sent a letter to the Most Rev. Paul Yoshinao Otsuka, President of the Catholic Council for J&P of Japan, and asked support and solidarity for the Textbook issue.

  
●CBCK's New Committee for Women Celebrated
  
A congratulatory celebration for establishment of the Committee for Women of the CBCK was held at the Myondong Cultural Center on June l4. Some 400 women delegates and friends came across the country welcomed the long-waited birth of the committee for pastoral care for women. The Most Rev. Paul O. Kim, President of the Committee for Women, said in his homily that "today is a great day for our Church. Today is the Pentecost for women, We are convinced that the charisma and genius of Catholic women will serve as a matrix of a great potential both in the Church and society."
Sr. Clara Lee Young-ja, A.S.C., Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Committee for Women, said that "The traditional Church mentality toward women as passive observers in the mission of the Church has to be changed. Promotion of women and their active participation in Church life is directly related to Church development when we consider that over 60 percent of the total number of Korean Catholics are women. We will try to focus our efforts on systematic realization of our goal by organizing women's committee in dioceses and extending participation of women in the decision making process of the Church. Education of women and study on women's issues are important tasks too. In solidarity with other Catholic and non-Catholic women's groups we will work for social justice including justice for women and national causes such as peaceful reunification and conservation of creation order."

  
●Christians Join their Voices for Human Cloning Ban
  
On May 23, the Bioethics Committee of the CBCK and its Protestant counterpart issued a joint statement regarding human cloning and experiment of human embryo urging the government to enact a law to ban human cloning and all related experiments. The joint statement came out right after the Korean Bioethics Advisory Commission announced a draft of the Life Ethics Bill. The joint statement declared: "The embryo buds, the lump of cells formed less than 14 days before a fertilized egg develops internal organs are human life too. Therefore, any act of cloning and experiment of human embryo, artificially creating embryos for experimental purposes are against the dignity of human life, for it makes human being means of biotechnology." Regarding the alleged research aimed at overcoming incurable diseases such as various cancers and AIDS, the statement signers urged development of an alternative way for medical treatment. "Human cloning is a grave challenge against God's supremacy and healthy family relationship. We, the Christians, believe that human life starts from the very moment of conception; a human being is a sacred being created in the image of God; God is the master of life from its beginning to death."

  
●"Era of Ideological Conflict is Over, and People and Love are the Universal Values" 
    - Says Rev. Kim

  
On the first anniversary of the South-North historical summit in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000 hundreds of civilian representatives from South and North joined their hands and pledged further efforts toward exchanges and collaborations for reunification of the Korean people. Six hundred and twenty representatives (200 from NK and 420 from SK including 24 Catholics) from 240 organizations ranging from extreme conservatives to radical progressives participated in the Grand Forum on Reunification. The Grand Forum was opened on June 15 in front of Geumgangsan Hotel at Mt. Geumgang in North Korea by the introductory speeches of Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Executive Chairperson of the Grand Forum from South Korea who is also the Secretary General of the CBCK, and of Heo Hyeok-pil from North Korea. During the discussion, the six representatives from each side gave presentations on unification-related themes.
   "We shall unite strongly, transcending differences in thoughts, ideologies and systems," they vowed in the joint statement. The both sides also denounced Japan's distortion of history textbooks calling for Tokyo's sincere recognition of historical truth and an official apology.
   Rev. John Kim who led the Grand Forum pointed out that the era of ideological conflict is over, and people and love are the universal values. South and North have one common goal that is reunification of the Korean people: people means here human beings. Thus, religious interpretation of 'reunification' is a human-centered one and it has to do with humanitarian love, i.e., love for human beings. Reunification of Korea is not a matter of my neighbors. It is 'mine' and it is 'ours'. We are not 'observers' but 'protagonists," he stressed.

 

 

 

The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints(19)

The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints - 19

Saint Yu Chin-gil Augustine (1791-1839)
 - 1

   St. Yu Chin-gil Augustine came from a family of government officials. Among the Korean martyrs, he was one of three who held government posts and the father of the 13-year-old martyr, St. Yu Tae-ch'ol Peter, the youngest of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints.
   He was known as a man of deep contemplation. Curious about the origin and meaning of natural phenomena, especially philosophical and religious truths on the origin of man he spent much of the night examining the texts of Neo-Confucianism looking for answers. However, the more he studied the classics the more dissatisfied he became with the Tae-geuk-eum-yang (traditional Korean explanation of reality). His search led him on to investigate the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism. What is the origin of the universe? Is it the Li (basic principle) that Neo-Confucianists talked about or is it the Kong (emptiness) of Buddhism or the Mu (nothingness) of Taoism?
   In his youth he heard of the Catholics who had been arrested and killed. He began to wonder if the books they had studied could be of any help to him. One day he came upon an old chest hidden away in a corner of the house. Inside it was lined with sheets of paper on which words like "spirit of life", "spirit of understanding"”and "soul" were written. Such terms had not appeared in any of the books he had read. On tearing off the sheets and putting them together he found the parts of the book called the Cheon-ju-sil-ui (True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven).
   The first Catholic writings had been brought into Korea by envoys or interpreters who had gone on official business to Beijing. Since Yu Chin-gil's family members had visited China as interpreters they were among those who brought back such books. However, during the persecution of 1801, when people were ordered to destroy all books on Western Learning, Yu's family used the book to repair a tattered storage chest.
   Yu Chin-gil went over the torn pages a number of times. They touched on the questions that had bothered him. But the few torn pages were not enough to satisfy him. So in the hope of finding a complete copy he began to inquire as to where he could meet Catholics. One day he met Yi Kyong-on Paul who was the younger brother of Yi Kyong-do Charles and Yi Soon-I Lutgardis who had been martyred in 1801. They had a long conversation and found that they were of the same mind. Yu borrowed True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven and other books on Western Learning. He discovered the one who created and supervised the world. It was not the basic principle that Neo-Confucianists talked about nor was it the Kong of Buddhism or the Mu of Taosim. It is the Lord who resides in Heaven. Humans have not only bodies but also souls, so when people die their bodies are disintegrated but their souls are immortal and subject to the final judgement of God.
   He got down on his knees and marveled.
   "The true nature of humans is not to grow and get fat but to burnish their soul till it becomes bright and beautiful. This indeed is the correct truth." He felt as if the eyes of his soul opened and he began to see the sun shining through dark clouds.
   He went back to Yi Paul from whom he learnt Our Father and Hail Mary as well as the Ten Commandments. Soon he was ready to enter the Church. Through a meeting of Western and Eastern thought, Yu Chin-gil solved the question that had troubled him most. He was introduced to Chung Ha-sang Paul and other Catholics.
   At that time, following the persecution of 1801 when Father Chu Mun-mo, Chinese priest sent from Beijing, was martyred, there was not a priest in Korea. The Catholics who had survived were struggling to re-establish the Church and to have another priest sent in from China. Even though he had not yet received baptism, on the instructions of Chung Ha-sang Paul, he recited morning prayer and evening prayer each day and faithfully followed the Ten Commandments.
   In October of 1824 the winter diplomatic delegation was preparing to go to China. Yu Chin-gil did not want to miss this opportunity, so he made every efforts to be included as an interpreter and to have the noble-born Chung Ha-sang Paul to accompany him disguised as a servant.
   The delegation safely arrived in Beijing. Avoiding their companions, the two Catholics slipped off to meet the Bishop of Beijing. In Chinese, Yu asked him for baptism. The Bishop was delighted to receive visitors from so far away but felt he should question Yu Chin-gil to find out how much he knew about the teachings of the Church. Yu Chin-gil replied with the answers exactly as they were in the catechism. Why are humans born into the world? To know and honor God and to save their souls...” The Bishop was amazed that such zealous and well-instructed believer could come out of a Church that was being persecuted and had no clergy. "This is indeed a miracle of God,"” he exclaimed.
   Yu Chin-gil was baptized during a special Mass. When the priest recited, "Receive and eat this. It is my body which will be offered up for you,"” he felt as if the blood of Jesus was flowing through his own veins.
He returned to his lodgings but was unable to sleep. He felt as though his heart was shining brightly in the dark room. He was moved by a deep religious experience. He knelt down and prayed.
   "God, I thank you for the wonderful way in which You have led me to baptism. Send priests to our land so that the people there who live in darkness might have the joy of receiving the Eucharist. May this foolish servant, no matter what suffering or persecution is to come, give witness to You by offering my life in Lord's work of opening the eyes of our nation. Give me the deep faith, strength and courage that I need. Amen."
(To be continued on CBCK Newsletter No.36)

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
» 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
32 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

CBCK Newsletter



XE Login