An Embryo is 'Human Life'
Recently, the U.S. President G.W. Bush announced his policy to support research on human embryonic stem cells. Saying that it is for therapeutic reasons only, the supporters claim that thanks to it, fatal and incurable diseases will be overcome in 20 or 30 years and the quality of human life will be promoted. However, Bush's decision on human embryos is obviously a brutality against human lives, for it runs the risk to sacrifice even more human lives for research purposes. Removing the right to life from a defenseless human being is undeniable killing no matter what its purpose would be.
The position of the U.S. Catholic Church in this regard is firm and clear. She defined Bush's policy as a 'trade-off'. Reaffirming the principle of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life and she criticized it is morally wrong and unacceptable.
In such move, the Korean people have shown high interest in the content of the Life Ethics Bill and timing of its enactment. In fact, the life ethics policy and the related Bill are emerged as object of hot debates. The bio-scientists assert that enactment of the Life Ethics Law has to be postponed while the religion and civic organizations demand a prompt enactment. For this, 48 religion organizations from different religions, including the CBCK's Bioethics Research Committee, formed a coalition on Aug. 20 and issued a statement demanding the government to accelerate necessary steps to enact the Life Ethics Law.
The position of the Church is that every intervention which is not in favor of the embryo is an act of killing human life (cf: Declaration of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the production and the scientific and therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells, Aug. 25, 2001). In other words, no compromise can be made with human lives, because an embryo is a human life regardless of the amount of time it has been in existence.
Even if the result of the human embryonic stem cell research is of great use, how can we say that it contributes to the well being and happiness of humanity if it is made at the cost of human lives?
One thing we have to keep in mind is that the research relying on the destruction of defenseless human beings for possible benefit to others will provoke disrespect for human life and lead to massive destruction of human lives.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Of One Heart and Soul
Message on the Sixth Farmers' Sunday
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The third Sunday of July is a day that the Church in Korea dedicated to the farmers. The Farmers' Sunday is a day to remember the sweat on the land of life and to give them heartfelt thanks. Also, it is a day we take a sincere look at the reality of the farm villages and agricultural industry, and to reflect in the light of faith what we have to do all together.
Today's agricultural industry is not a mere means of livelihood, but it is directly related to the fundamental question of maintaining and conserving the creation order. For this reason, the Catholic Church in Korea launched "Save-Our-Farm Movement" in 1994 and established the Farmers' Sunday in 1995 in order to awaken a sense of importance and value of agriculture. By such a movement the Church has encouraged organic farming and a sound consumer movement. Since then, a great number of Urban-Farm communities have been formed thanks to the unreserved dedication and collaborations of many organizations and individuals. Many stores and places for circulation of farm products were created in parishes or elsewhere throughout the country.
However, the reality and future of agriculture and farm villages are still obscure. Last year also, several farmers committed suicides because they could not bear the heavy burden of debts; farmers were depressed and angry with imported farm products and livestock that rushed into the country like a flood; farmers lost hope by unprecedented drought and the impoverished field. Furthermore, notification to open rice markets menaced the Korean agricultural basis as a whole and shook farmers' lives from its root. Genetically Modified Organism(GMO) farm products that are sweeping the world in recent days are jeopardizing the creation order of God from its ground. It is because the GMO contains the danger to provoke unpredictable disasters to the harmonious life order between nature and mankind by destroying the natural circulation structure of the agricultural production. The GMO farm products now produced indiscriminately by giant agricultural industries of the developed countries cause not only extermination of species or deformation of species, but also it would cause complete subjection of the general diet of people and destroy the agricultural foundation of the underdeveloped countries.
Agriculture is an important matter on which people's lives and its future depend. Therefore, we urge the government and the National Assembly to make a sincere effort to establish appropriate countermeasures with regard to imported farm products and livestock products, and to improve agricultural production and its circulation system. We need to complete and develop future-oriented agricultural policy rather than pursue an immediate and short-sighted interest. In order to protect people's lives, we have to animate farm villages and agriculture by creating a solid circulation system and promotion to cultivate harmless farm products. We need it so that the farmers get back what they deserve. The second industrial development policy set by the government forced farmers to bear burdens of economic inequality. But, now, it is time to improve it.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Bible tells us; "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all (Act. 4,32-33).
"Save-Our-Farm Movement" is an alternative that the Church in Korea presented as a witness of the new life granted to us by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and as a way of solution for general problems of farmers and agriculture. The "Save-Our-Farm Movement" is a life community movement through which urban people and farmers meet each other and exchange what they have in "one heart and soul". It is a movement through which we have to take a collective lead in protecting and conserving the creation order. It is a movement through which we realize that the farmers' problem is the problem of each of us and reestablish an outlook of life-centered values. We Christians are invited to demonstrate a "surprising miracle" of life by sharing food with each other. Through the Movement we are called to convert farming work into a blessing of God for everybody and commit ourselves to protect the creation order of God by active participation in it.
Dear Farmer Brothers and Sisters,
Thanks to your sweat and hard toil foods are produced to nourish mankind. With food, life is maintained and people get energy to do other things. In this sense, a farmer resembles Jesus Christ who shed his blood so that all mankind will be saved for eternal life. Your farming work is a unique witness of those who offer themselves for the good of others.
You love and care for farm land,
You are committed to the Life-Community Movement,
You toil today in fields,
I pray for you all so that God grants abundant grace upon you and your families.
July 15, 2001
Sixth Farmers' Sunday
+ Gabriel Chang
President Caritas Coreana
"I kill and I make alive"
On the occasion of the seventh Day for Life, on May 27, the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heun, President of the Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry, said in his message that "Human life is a gift from God, thus it has to be respected from the moment of conception to death." Following is the summary of his message.
Human life is a gift from God and the living breath of God. Therefore, we believe that God is the only Master of human life.
Abortion: The abortion is one of the images representing the widespread culture of death. We cannot accept the allegation that socioeconomic theory comes prior to human life. The Church reconfirms her principle about abortion: the Church recognizes only indirect abortion in the case of grave danger of the mother's life due to medical reasons. Throughout centuries the Church has shown her love and concern for people without power of self-defense, including concepti.
Artificial Birth in Vitro Fertilization: Techniques of artificial birth by means of 'in vitro fertilization' has emerged, in fact, as a new threat to life in modern times. The process of production of a fertilized egg and implantation of the ovum by a medical doctor, not by parents, contradicts the dignity and characteristics of human genesis. Also, since loss of embryos that can be occurred in the process of artificial procreation means the very loss of human life, the Church rejects artificial birth. It is said that the suffering of sterile parents can justify motivations of artificial birth. However, the desire to have a child does not offer the right to have a child.
Birth by Surrogate Mother: Birth by surrogate mothers contradicts the union of matrimony, dignity of human genesis and dignity of women. Therefore, the birth by a surrogate mother can not be justified. An act of transplanting an embryo that isgenetically different in woman's uterus or, an act of pregnancy under conditions to return the child to the person who paid for it are acts that separate maternity and pregnancy, acts of denying the right and dignity of child who has a right to be born, grown and educated by parents. Furthermore, these acts degrade the human genesis to the level of an incubator. We can not find any element of dignity of human life in birth by a surrogate mother. Finally, surrogate pregnancy will bring critical results such as confusion of family and social order, and division of family relations.
Euthanasia: Church's teachings declare that euthanasia is an act of homicide. Nobody, whether it is for oneself or for another person, has right to ask for nor tolerate it. For such homicide is an insult against human life, a crime, an attack and an offense against the humanness of people. Human life has to be respected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death under any circumstances. Life is precious to all. Jesus who cares for the weak tells us today; "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me"(Mt 25,40).
Korean Catholics Laud Cardinal Kim
On Sep. 14, in Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul, Korean Catholics expressed their heartfelt love and gratitude to His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim who celebrated golden jubilee of his ordination to priesthood and 80th birthday for his half century of ministry for the Church.
Among 1,500 participants to the Jubilee Mass found 15 Bishops, 100 priests, Religious, the lay people and people from all walks of the society.
A commemorative Picture Book and the 18 volumes of Cardinal Kim's Complete Works were presented to the Cardinal.
In a congratulatory message, Pope John II lauded the Cardinal for developing the Church in Korea into a most energetic Church in Asia, and hoped that he would continue to provide pastoral leadership. The message was read at the jubilee Mass.
The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, expressed a special gratitude to the Cardinal.
"Cardinal Kim has dedicated 30 years of his 50 years of ministry as the Archbishop of Seoul. His great contributions for the progress of the Archdiocese as well as for the nation's democratization and promotion of human rights, especially for the poor and the oppressed in the past decades will be long remembered by all Korean people.”
Cardinal Kim responded to congratulatory addresses by saying that he had no word to say but 'Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner,’
'As a Catholic priest, I wanted to live with and among the poor like Mother Teresa and my brother Father Kim Dong-hwan did, but I couldn't, mainly because of my lack of courage. I feel I have to beg God's pardon,” the Cardinal said and asked the participants to pray for him so that he would live like a candle shedding its light until the end of his life.
In a press interview for the occasion the Cardinal said that the Church would be renewed only when each of her members is reborn. He pointed out that the culture for life is the most important question that the Church has to be concerned with. And regarding the question of reconciliation of Korean people, he said it is time for both the South and North Korea to seek concession and reconciliation.
Cardinal Kim was born in 1922 in Daegu and ordained to a priest in 1951 in the same city. He worked as pastor in Gimcheon and director of the Catholic Times until he was consecrated to the bishop and became the ordinary of the Diocese of Masan in 1966. Pope Paul VI named him Archdiocese of Seoul in 1968 and one year after, in 1969, he was created a Cardinal by the same Pope at age 46. Cardinal Kim resigned Archbishop of Seoul in May 1998.
Campaign for Prompt Enactment of Life Ethics Law Progress of Bio-Technology Challenges God, While the government is showing a lukewarm attitude regarding the enactment of the Life Ethics Law, the religion circles and civic groups urged the government to take quick measures as it has promised. Forty eight civic and religion groups, including 23 Catholic organizations, formed a coalition on July 19 to work in solidarity until their demand is met. "Progress of the bio-science and technology is jeopardizing fundamental human rights and dignity of human person as well as animal rights which deserve proper protection. It is a serious challenge against God, the Creator of life," the statement read. Following is the summary of the statement. July 19, 2001 An Appeal Letter to Prime Minister of Japan Regarding to the controversial junior high school history textbook of Japan, the CBCK sent an appeal letter to Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan on June 8, 2001. The textbook was edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and approved by the Education Ministry screening panel. The Korean government and other Asian countries that suffered under the Japanese colonial rule in the past asked the Japanese government to correct historical distortions in the textbook. Following is the text of the Appeal Letter. Korean Catholics Welcome Ancient Documents Signed by all Bishops of South Korea beginning with His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim. Ancient documents of Korean martyrs were returned to Seoul from Vatican, August 10, to be displayed at the exhibition of "Perfume of Martyrs" held in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Sinyu Persecution of 1801 from August 15 to October 15 at the Jeoldusan Martyrs'’Shrine in Seoul. The documents include the original script of Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo and Letters sent to the Pope by Korean faithful in 1811, 1824 and 1835. News from the Church in Korea ● New Korean Bible Versions Published News in Brief The number of priests of Seoul Archdiocese exceeded 700 with the 24 newly ordained priest on July 5, the feast day of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest and the patron of Koran clergy. Seoul Archdiocese had 686 priests in 2000. ● Auxiliary Bishop Peter Kang of Seoul Archdiocese protested a move to introduce 'morning after pill' (Norlevo), an emergency contraceptive pill, and warned that it would foster a culture of death in the society. On July 9, he lodged his protest with the Korean Food and Drug Administration which applied for import of the pill. ● The Pope's visit to North Korea before the two states establish diplomatic ties was hinted at by the ROK Ambassador to the Holy See, Bae Yang-il, in an interview with the Pyonghwa Radio. "The Pope holds a strong desire to visit the NK as one of his last missionary trips," Bae said. ● The Catholic International Medical Team had 2-week medical activity in Mongolia from Aug. 20- Sep.3. The team offered medical treatment to a total of 2,592 people: 1,055 with internal diseases; 337 with external diseases; 530 gynecology cases; 670 with children's diseases. ● A Sub-Committee for the Environment was established, Aug.17, under the Committee for J&P aimed at expanding the Church's social teachings on the environment and coordinating related organizations within the Church on a national level. ● The revised Maternity Protection Law was welcomed by Catholic women. "It shows the government's will to shoulder the social burden of child care," Susanna Youn from the Catholic Women's Solidarity said. According to the revised law the maternity leave will be expanded to 90 days from the current 60 days, starting from November 1. The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints - 20 The Korean envoys learned from the priests in Beijing about practical sciences and Western inventions. In their discussions with the Western priests they became familiar with many aspects of Western learning. They were particularly surprised to learn that China was not the center of the world nor the most enlightened nation in the world. They were surprised to hear that humans were not created as nobles or commoners, but the division was a social system by which the nobles oppressed the commoners. Humans were all equal before God and all brothers and sisters in Christ, the Son of God. With words like equality, universal love and freedom ringing in his ears, Yu Chin-gil Augustine felt as if the teachings of the Chinese sages had come crashing down around him. It was as if he had heard the roar of thunder and seen Jesus rise from Golgotha. It was a sign of faith and a discovery of God. Even before he had set out for Beijing he had a faith that did not fear death, but after meeting the Western priests his understanding had deepened and his eyes had grown brighter. Holy Father,
the Creator of Life
We Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and members of civic groups are seriously concerned about the fact that the rapid progress of the biotechnology in the whole world including Korea threatens seriously the fundamental human rights, dignity of human person and animal rights which deserve proper protection. It is a serious challenge against God, the Creator of life. All living things including human beings have an irrevocable right to life and this right has to be protected and promoted under any circumstances. Therefore, we need a life ethics law to protect human life and control human cloning experiments. Korean scientists have reached a high level of progress in research of bio-science and technology including human cloning. However, the research and its success have caused serious concerns about the fundamental rights of human race and dignity of human person and provoked worldwide criticisms. In 1998, a medical team of the Kyonghee University's Infertility Clinic in Seoul made human cloning experiment by using stem cells taken from a human embryo and the same research and experiment were attempted by medical doctors' team of Seoul National University. These experiments raised strong criticism in the religion world and many civic organizations that believe that a human embryo is a human life. The bio-scientists claim the need and legitimacy of their research, saying that it is for therapeutic reasons for incurable diseases. However, killing a living human being that possesses a right to life but has no power for self-defense is an act of murder. They cannot justify the researches arbitrarily conducted with no sense of responsibility toward the society and its members. The challenge of life ethics' question that our society is faced with is not limited to advanced bio-technology only, but it has appeared in research and activity of bio-technology in general. In the field of medical research and development, little efforts have been made to protect human rights and dignity of patients, especially of women and concepti. Also, animal rights were fully abused for the purpose of medical research and experiment.
Without moral support, the progress of bio-science as well as the treatment of sterilization will end up to be a science not for humanity but for selfish human interest. We, members of religion and civic organizations urge the government in one voice to establish a law to control human embryonic research and protect life ethics. Our demand is not from anti-scientism which refuses all scientific progress, but it is from a sincere desire to see that bio-technology understands its social responsibility and is guided to the right ethical direction.
By accepting our demand the government started to work in 2000 for legislation of Life Ethics Law and promised to enact the Law within 2001. However, it is keeping lukewarm measures because of pressure of certain bio-scientists and bio-engineering industries who say it is 'premature' to talk about it. Such an irresponsible attitude of the government worries us.
We the 48 religion and civic organizations urge the government to take positive step to enact the Life Ethics Law and pass it at the Fall session of the National Assembly.
Coalition for Prompt Enactment of a Life Ethics Law
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
May God bless you and your important task of Prime Minister with peace! The Catholic Church in Korea expects much from you as we believe that your position of Prime Minister of Japan might play an important role for peace and prosperity of Asia in the first century of the new millennium. With this in mind, we would like to make a sincere appeal. We notice that some parts of the junior high school history textbook approved by the Education Ministry screening panel of Japan on April 3, 2001 contain references which distort the history and justify Japanese invasion and colonial rule over Korea in the past. The Catholic Church in Korea feels that the ideal of our two countries for peace of humanity is shaken by the approval of your government for such a textbook.
In the past, Korea and many Asian countries suffered much from Japanese invasion. Their wounds can be healed only through correct understanding of history. Therefore, if a historical outlook of a minority of the Japanese society where diversity is respected is materialized in a form of distorted history textbook and transmitted to the next generations, it would be difficult to consider the matter to be limited to a minority of society. Therefore we are concerned for the fact that the Japanese government authorized the writing of such distorted stories in the textbook.
Peace must be born from mutual trust between nations. Peace would be impossible as long as feelings of hostility, contempt, and distrust continue to divide people and place them in opposing camps (cf: Gaudium et Spes, 82). Should not those acts destroying mutual trust between nations be controlled if we want to contribute to build a society of coexistence and co-prosperity? The Catholic Church in Korea will work to create a society of mutual respect based on trust and to promote peace and reconciliation between our two countries by overcoming a historical outlook of confrontation. The Catholic Church in Korea strongly urges you to revise the controversial history textbook. If it is difficult to do so, your government should announce that these textbooks are not officially approved and prevent schools from adopting the textbook at issue.
We pray that divine grace be always with you and with your people.
The letters explain the hard situation of the Church in Korea in persecutions and ask the Pope to send a bishop and priests so that they can receive the Sacraments and spiritual directions.
"We are about 10,000 Catholics here, however, we have neither bishop nor priests. Counting on the great merit of martyrs the Korean faithful pray for spiritual salvation with tears. We want you to send us priests who will nourish our souls with the sacraments,"”the Letter of 1824 read.
Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo (a long letter of appeal), which St. Alexander Hwang Sa-yeong (1774-1801) wrote with a small brush on a piece of white silk(62cm x 38cm) with 13,384 words and addressed to the bishop of Beijing, is divided into three parts: 1) the history of Father James Zhou Mun-mo and more than 30 other martyrs, who were killed during the persecution of 1801, 2) a political conflict as the cause of the persecution and its development, 3) five personal suggestions for rebuilding the Church and freedom of religion in Korea. In this appeal letter, he begged the bishop of Beijing to send foreign powers to intervene in order to save the Church and the country, and this caused a great turmoil among the government authorities who considered Hwang Sa-yeong to be a betrayer of the father land and an agent of foreign power.
The original script of Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo had been kept in the warehouse of the Korean government for about 100 years until it was discovered and handed over to Archbishop Mutel (French) of Seoul in 1894. Archbishop Mutel sent it to Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a gift on the occasion of the Beatification of the 79 Korean Martyrs. Since then, it was housed at the archive of the Vatican.
During the Sinyu Persecution of 1801 over 300 faithful died to witness their faith in God. Father James Zhou Mun-mo, a Chinese priest of the diocese of Beijing and the first foreign missionary to Korea, was among the martyrs of Sinyu Persecution.
The first persecution in Korea began in 1785, one year after the Catholic Church was established in Korea, and was followed by persecutions in 1791, 1801, 1839, 1846 and 1866. In 1899, the Korean government and Bishop Mutel concluded the Treaty of Church and State and with this Treaty the religious freedom became legal in Korea. The 79 martyrs were beatified by Pope Pius XI in Rome, July 5, 1925 and 24 martyrs in 1968 by Pope Paul VI. These 103 martyrs were canonized together by Pope John Paul II at Yoido, Seoul on May 6, 1984.
Following the publication of the revised and annotated Korean version of the New Testament by Benedict Press, the Biblical Committee of the CBCK presented a new Korean translation of the Gospel of St. Matthew from Greek on July 2. The annotated Korean version of the New Testament came out after 27 years of work by prominent Korean Catholic biblical scholars and in cooperation with the Benedict Press, Waegwan. The project was initially made in 1974 as a 10-year project to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the introduction of the Catholic faith into Korea (1784-1984), but it took time to be completed. Following the two publications of the New Testament, the Hannim Bible Research Institute announced the Korean version of Genesis which will be the first translation of the Bible from Aramaic into Korean. To the present, the Catholic Church in Korea has used the Holy Bible, a common translation by the Korean Bible Society (an ecumenical body) that was undertaken in 1968 after the Vatican Council II. The New Testament of it was completed in 1971 and the Old Testament in 1977.
●Pentagon Responded to U.S.C.C.B. Regarding Amendment of SOFA in Korea
The U.S. Department of Defense answered Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law, Chairman of the Committee on International Policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) regarding the amendment of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Korea for which the CBCK has requested collaboration.
Rev. Msgr William P. Fay, General Secretary of the USCCB forwarded the letter of Frank R. Stone, Director of the Foreign Military Rights Affairs of the U.S. Department of Defense to the Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea on August 21.
Saying the SOFA "serves as the starting point for cooperation, not the end", F. R. Stone pointed out that "with regard to comparison of the Amendment to the SOFA in other countries, the SOFA in Korea was not considered to be more favorable to the United States than those in other countries,"”and he went on to say that "as a good neighbor, the U.S.A. was consciously aware of its responsibilities to our allies and their citizens while it sought to protect the rights of our service men and women serving overseas, they must also be concerned about providing the operating rights necessary to carry out mutual defense interests of both countries which was the purpose for deployment and stationing of U.S. forces overseas."”
In this regard, the Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, President of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs decided to prepare comparative documents between the SOFA in Korea and the SOFA of other countries such as the Japanese SOFA and the NATO SOFA.
● Research on Human Embryo Stem Cell is an Illegal Act which Violates Human Life
Regarding U.S. President G.W. Bush's policy to support embryonic stem cell research, the Committee for Justice and Peace made a clear position of the Catholic Church in Korea and reconfirmed that the research on human embryo is an illegal act which violates human life and morally unacceptable. "The U.S. government justifies President Bush's decision by saying that it is for therapeutic reason for incurable diseases. However, killing a living human being that has a right to life, but has no power to defend itself, obviously is a murdering act. Also destroying defenseless human beings for the possible benefit of others provokes disrespect for human life. "Regarding the production and the scientific and therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells, the Pontifical Academy for Life(PAL) declared, August 2000, on the basis of a complete biological analysis, that the living human embryo is - from the moment of the union of the gametes - a human subject with a well-defined identity, which from that point begins its own coordinated, continuous and gradual development, such that at no later stage can it be considered as a simple mass of cells. From this it follows that as a human individual it has the right of its own life. Therefore, every intervention which is not in favor of the embryo is an act which violates that right," Rev. Paul Lee Chang-young, Exe. Sec. of the Committee for Justice and Peace quoted the PAL as saying.
● Pan-Religion Eco-Society Meeting Held
Some 100 members of the Pan-Religion Eco-Society Dialogue had a 3-day meeting at the One Heart Retreat House in mid-July with the theme of "Spirituality of Life and Awakening". Many Catholic priests, religious, Buddhist monks and Protestant ministers and believers showed their interest in environment issues. The participants shared common concerns of life and reflections, and discussed the role of religion in promoting an eco-friendly-society. They asked questions what does the poverty of religious people mean in consumer society of today and how should it be lived out in daily life? During the meeting, each religion prepared a common prayer of the day which was very much appreciated by the participants. "Such place of sharing and common reflection will help us, not only for common causes, but also for mutual understanding and interreligious friendship building," they said.
●Interreligious Youth Made Peace Pilgrimage
Eighty youths from the seven major religions in Korea including Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists made a 6-day peace pilgrimage 'From Halla to Baekdu' from Aug. 6 to 11. The interreligious youth pilgrimage was first launched last year by the Hand in Hand Campaign for Peace and Reconciliation of the Korean People (Exec. Chair: Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Sec. Gen. of the CBCK) to inculcate national spirit and consciousness of reunification to young people. The goal of the second interreligious youth peace pilgrimage was to tear down walls among religions and to promote the national spirit of youth, the leading protagonists for the 21st century. They had a simultaneous prayer ceremony for peace and reconciliation of Korean people on the top of the two mountains. On their return they had a Hapsu-hapto ceremony, a peace ceremony of mixing the earth and the water from the two mountains as a symbol of unity and reconciliation of Korean people. The youth of seven religions included Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Won Buddhists, Confucianists, Chondogyo and Association of Ethnic Religions. The two mountains each represents the South and the North for Korean people, thus encounter of the two mountains means 'One Korea'.
● Korean Catholic Women Support Disclosure of Sex Offenders
The Committee for Women of the CBCK welcomed the government's measure to eradicate sex crimes against minors from Korean society. With regard to the disclosure of sex offenders by the Commission on Youth Protection, Ms. Theodora Lee Sang-hwa, Secretary of the Committee, said that "For Catholics, no compromise can be made with whatever act that affects human life for it is against the Bible and Christian morals. Sex traffic is blasphemy against God, the Creator of life. Thus, we fully support the government's move aimed at eradicating sex crimes that are widespread in our society. Strong medicine is needed to heal a long-practiced social evil affecting the dignity of human life."
The government, in a bid to eradicate sex crimes against minors, posted on August 30, the names of 169 sex offenders on the Internet homepage and government bulletin boards nationwide. The record contained offenders' names, ages, dates of birth, addresses, jobs and brief story of the offenses.
● South-North Korean Catholics Pray Together for Unity
On the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the Independence of Korea liberation from Japanese colonial rule on August 15 the Catholics from South and North Korea met and prayed together for peace and unity of their divided country in Pyeongyang, North Korea. About 80 Catholics from the North and 23 from the South including 3 priests and 3 sisters attended Mass at Jangchung church in Pyongyang celebrated by Rev. John Kim Jong-su, Secretary General of the CBCK and the Executive Chairman of the Organizing Committee for 2001 Inter-Korean Joint Events. In the homily, Rev. Kim stressed on the need to put an end to the bitter sufferings and feelings caused by the national division and to seek true reconciliation and unity in forgiveness. "This occasion may deserve to be mentioned in the history of the Church since it is the first time that the clergy, religious and the laity of South and North Korea are together to pray and attend Mass since the division of the country," Rev. Kim said.
● CBCK to Express Condolences Over the Tragic Calamity in U.S.A.
The Most Rev. Michael J. Pak, President of the CBCK, sent heartfelt condolences to the Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop over the Tuesday's tragic attacks in the U.S.A and assured sincere prayers for the victims, the bereaved and all the U.S. citizens.
"Today will remain as the most sorrowful day in the memory of all the citizens of the world who love peace" the Most Rev. Michael said and assured sincere prayers of all Korean Catholics for the victims and their families.
Meantime, His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim expressed his deepest concern and sorrow for the victims on the occasion of his 80th birthday celebration. "Such a tragedy should never happen again and this should not call another bigger misfortune for the humanity. For this, all together we have to make efforts," the Cardinal said.
Korean Catholics, because of their faith, were to lead a profound change in the consciousness of the Korean people. In a nation which did not know such a God, they were to sow seeds which would alter lives. This was due to their own love of truth and the providence of God. Yu Chin-gil, Augustine and Chong Ha-sang Paul asked the priests to see the bishop who welcomed them and asked about the need of the Church in Korea. Yu Chin-gil Augustine told him of the difficulties they had to overcome in order to meet the bishop. Their Church was in a pitiful state. For almost 20 years it was without a priest. Yu Chin-gil Augustine was fortunate in being able to come to China and receive baptism, but there were many catechumens in Korea who were unable to receive baptism and many Catholics who could not receive Confirmation, Confession, the Eucharist or the other sacraments. The bishop was moved by what they said. He replied regretfully that, because of the persecutions in China, priests could not go into that country freely either and so he had no one to send to Korea. However, if they wrote directly to the Pope explaining the situation the bishop would do all he could to support their request. Yu Chin-gil Augustine and Chong Ha-sang Paul took courage from the bishop's promise to help them. They returned to their lodging and composed the following letter requesting priests. Knowing that if this letter was discovered by the Korean authorities it would lead to another persecution, they signed it with the name "Ambrose".
With troubled heart we greet Your Holiness and seek your help. Since Fr. Zhou Mun-mo was martyred, the spread of the Gospel has been blocked by persecutions. About one thousand believers remain in hiding and can do little by way of witness or evangelization.
No matter how much truth the teaching of the Korean Church contains, if the Church continues in its present form that truth will be wasted. Because our brains are dull the teaching of the Church do not bear fruit and the grace of God is being blocked. Those dying from old age or sickness cannot receive the Last Rites and go to their graves in sorrow. Those they leave behind endure in grief and are tired of life. Sorrow and pain are gradually eating into our hearts. Therefore, despite the dangers involved, we have on a number of occasions asked the Bishop of Beijing to help us. The bishop sympathizes with us in our concern and would like to send priests to give new life to souls that have fallen into sin, but he has no one available.
Progress of Bio-Technology Challenges God,
While the government is showing a lukewarm attitude regarding the enactment of the Life Ethics Law, the religion circles and civic groups urged the government to take quick measures as it has promised. Forty eight civic and religion groups, including 23 Catholic organizations, formed a coalition on July 19 to work in solidarity until their demand is met. "Progress of the bio-science and technology is jeopardizing fundamental human rights and dignity of human person as well as animal rights which deserve proper protection. It is a serious challenge against God, the Creator of life," the statement read. Following is the summary of the statement.
July 19, 2001
An Appeal Letter to Prime Minister of Japan
Regarding to the controversial junior high school history textbook of Japan, the CBCK sent an appeal letter to Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan on June 8, 2001. The textbook was edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and approved by the Education Ministry screening panel. The Korean government and other Asian countries that suffered under the Japanese colonial rule in the past asked the Japanese government to correct historical distortions in the textbook. Following is the text of the Appeal Letter.
Korean Catholics Welcome Ancient Documents
Signed by all Bishops of South Korea beginning with His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim.
Ancient documents of Korean martyrs were returned to Seoul from Vatican, August 10, to be displayed at the exhibition of "Perfume of Martyrs" held in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Sinyu Persecution of 1801 from August 15 to October 15 at the Jeoldusan Martyrs'’Shrine in Seoul. The documents include the original script of Hwang Sa-yeong Baekseo and Letters sent to the Pope by Korean faithful in 1811, 1824 and 1835.
News from the Church in Korea
● New Korean Bible Versions Published
News in Brief
The number of priests of Seoul Archdiocese exceeded 700 with the 24 newly ordained priest on July 5, the feast day of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest and the patron of Koran clergy. Seoul Archdiocese had 686 priests in 2000.
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Kang of Seoul Archdiocese protested a move to introduce 'morning after pill' (Norlevo), an emergency contraceptive pill, and warned that it would foster a culture of death in the society. On July 9, he lodged his protest with the Korean Food and Drug Administration which applied for import of the pill.
The Pope's visit to North Korea before the two states establish diplomatic ties was hinted at by the ROK Ambassador to the Holy See, Bae Yang-il, in an interview with the Pyonghwa Radio. "The Pope holds a strong desire to visit the NK as one of his last missionary trips," Bae said.
The Catholic International Medical Team had 2-week medical activity in Mongolia from Aug. 20- Sep.3. The team offered medical treatment to a total of 2,592 people: 1,055 with internal diseases; 337 with external diseases; 530 gynecology cases; 670 with children's diseases.
A Sub-Committee for the Environment was established, Aug.17, under the Committee for J&P aimed at expanding the Church's social teachings on the environment and coordinating related organizations within the Church on a national level.
The revised Maternity Protection Law was welcomed by Catholic women. "It shows the government's will to shoulder the social burden of child care," Susanna Youn from the Catholic Women's Solidarity said. According to the revised law the maternity leave will be expanded to 90 days from the current 60 days, starting from November 1.
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints - 20
The Korean envoys learned from the priests in Beijing about practical sciences and Western inventions. In their discussions with the Western priests they became familiar with many aspects of Western learning. They were particularly surprised to learn that China was not the center of the world nor the most enlightened nation in the world. They were surprised to hear that humans were not created as nobles or commoners, but the division was a social system by which the nobles oppressed the commoners. Humans were all equal before God and all brothers and sisters in Christ, the Son of God. With words like equality, universal love and freedom ringing in his ears, Yu Chin-gil Augustine felt as if the teachings of the Chinese sages had come crashing down around him. It was as if he had heard the roar of thunder and seen Jesus rise from Golgotha. It was a sign of faith and a discovery of God. Even before he had set out for Beijing he had a faith that did not fear death, but after meeting the Western priests his understanding had deepened and his eyes had grown brighter.
Having explained the situation in Korea in this way, they suggested that there might be missionaries in Macao who could come to their assistance. They went on to state the way that the priests should come, if they came by boat, how many sailors they would need, what dangers to avoid, the best places to land and how to handle any officials they might encounter.
When they had finished the letter to the Pope they gave it to the bishop. The bishop, in turn, sent it to the representative of the Congregation for Evangelization in Macao, Fr. Umpierres, who translated it into Latin and sent it on to the Pope on December 3, 1826. On their return to Korea, Yu Chin-gil Augustine and Chong Ha-sang Paul gave a full report to Nam Myong-hyok and the other leaders. News of the letter they had sent to the Pope gave new hope and courage to the fragile Church. When Yu Chin-gil Augustine returned home good news awaited him. He now had a son whom he named Tae-ch'ol Peter. (To be continued on CBCK Newsletter No. 37)