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- Message for the 9th "Week for Catholic Education"
- Message for the 2014 Youth Day
- Message for the 2014 Day for the Environment
- Message for 2014 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People
- News from the Church in Korea
- The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the late president of the Republic of South Africa, manifested his greatness in his advocacy of unconditional forgiveness and sincere reconciliation. Serving 27 years in prison, he did not fall into the temptation of political retaliation or reprobation, and, instead, he firmly adhered to impregnable faith in freedom and equality based on the dignity of the human person. While establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to make inquiry into past abuses, he led his wounded and divided nation to unity, promoting peaceful coexistence between the white and black communities through forgiveness and reconciliation. He first asked the perpetrators of crimes to acknowledge and repent of their horrifying and shameful past wrongdoing, before he allowed them to go through the healing process of unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation.
It is very regrettable that such a process has never been properly introduced in Korea even though there still remain many wounds and much pain. Moreover, some ultra-rightist groups and a few conservative textbooks denounce or decline to comment on the Jeju April 3rd Incident and the May 18th Democratic Uprising, designated as national memorial days, making no effort for reconciliation and coexistence through the sublimation of national suffering and tragedy.
People often coerce victims into forgiving offenders, as if the victims are to be blamed when they cannot forgive the offenders their crimes. However, before we ask the forgiveness and reconciliation on the part of the victims, we must justly urge the offenders to beg their pardon, to make an apology for their wrongdoing at once. In this way, authentic forgiveness and reconciliation can be made.
St. John Paul II, who was canonized on April 27, 2014, the Divine Mercy Sunday, confirmed that the "purification of memory" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 6) aimed at liberating personal and communal conscience from all forms of resentment and violence that are the legacy of past faults (cf. Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past, Introduction). On the occasion of the Great Jubilee in 2000, for the first time in the name of the Church, the Saint Pope knelt before God and implored forgiveness for the past and present sins of the Church's sons and daughters (cf. Incarnationis Mysterium, n. 11).
No matter how hard we try to turn our face away from the cruel tragedies in our history, we cannot erase them. If we deny and conceal our pains and wounds, we cannot be cured of them. Can we not do the same miracle as Nelson Mandela did in South Africa?
"Reconciliation and unity derive from the attitude of welcoming and forgiving others. Forgiveness is 'the most beautiful thing' that a victim can do for his or her offender" (quoted from Nonetheless, Love Each Other written by the late Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan).
Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Message for the 9th "Week for Catholic Education"
Culture of Death and Education for Life
─ For the proper sex education of the young ─
Dear brothers and sisters,
This year marks the ninth year since the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) decided to observe annually the "Week for Catholic Education", established in 2006 to enhance the awareness of Catholic education for the young. In the age of visual media, as the young people approach more commercialized video materials than the humanistic classics, they are prone to have an distorted attitude on sexuality. In this regard, although educators are putting forth more efforts for the young, they feel it increasingly difficult to teach young people the right meaning of sexuality and life. How can we accompany them on their way to the world of life in our age?
In his Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II said, "The trivialization of sexuality is among the principal factors which have led to contempt for new life. Only a true love is able to protect life" (n. 97). What does it mean by "the trivialization of sexuality"? It means the sexual culture of our own time is addicted to hedonic pleasure. In other words, it can be summarized as 'Sex is a means of pleasure, so enjoy it. Contraception can prevent us from pregnancy.'
However, teaching youth the contraception methods cannot belong to a genuine education because it does not help them foster responsible awareness of sexuality. St. John Paul II said, "Contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. Abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception" (Ibid, n. 13). This confirms the fact that the relationship between contraception and abortion is inseparable because their fundamental nature is identical.
According to the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the Church rejects all artificial means of contraception-namely chemical methods ('the Pill'), mechanical methods (for example condom)" (n. 421). However, the current sex education teaches the young just how to practice the contraception methods. What can we do to change such a situation?
You need to firmly realize that education about contraception is incomplete and unrealistic, and you need to come up with the educational suggestions to emphasize value and responsibility of life to the young. What must be taught about sex is that it is not for hedonic pleasure, but that it is related to the course of life involving pregnancy, procreation, being parents and being a member of society. Moreover, social behavior also needs to be followed such as taking care of single mothers and their babies and establishing laws related to single fathers' responsibility.
You must play an active role in requiring society and schools to promote more authentic education about sexuality, so that your children can assume their responsibility for their own actions through the education on chastity. Without your active participation, your children will be more easily caught up in the partial sex education, greatly influenced by the contraception industries.
Dear young friends!
You must distinguish right from wrong. Sex and life are inseparably related to each other, belonging to the divine order of creation. The practice of ontraception methods cannot protect life. However, when you positively take responsibility for sex, you can defend life. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22,39). Be the disciples of Christ who loves life.
Today, people talk about sex just in regard to hedonic pleasure. In this age, Catholic educators need to hoist the flag of life and responsibility. Education is the only hope. Calling to mind the courage of Moses who boldly answered the divine call and led the Israelites to the promised land, I pray to God that He may give Catholic educators to courage to hoist the flag of truth.
+ Boniface Choi Ki-san
Bishop of Incheon
CBCK Committee on Education
Message for the 2014 Youth Day (Summary)
Youth! Wake up! The Glory of the Martyrs Shines on You!
Dear young friends,
May is the month of Mary as well as that for the family. We used to celebrate this month in love and joy, but this year we are having hard time because of the Sewol ferry disaster which claimed about 300 precious lives and has caused agony and sorrow, anger and desperation of the bereaved families as well as the whole nation. Pope Francis asked the people of the world to pray with him for the victims and their families and to share in our great pain. I sincerely pray that our Lord Jesus Christ leads the souls of the victims, especially the souls of the highschool students to a peaceful place and grants consolation to their families and our nation.
For some time now, our society has begun to cherish economic profit rather than ethics after it went through hard times. I must reflect on whether the Church has preferred external growth and social success to the practice of love and justice in a humble manner.
Let us change ourselves, so that youth will not suffer from the same tragedy again, when they grow into men and women leading the future society. Let us pray that we have a moment of grace on this occasion, so that we can make our way into a better society with our reflection, resolution, and practice.
The 6th Asian Youth Day (AYD) and the 3rd Korean Youth Day (KYD) will be held in the Diocese of Daejeon this year, giving us great joy. On top of that, it brings us still more joy and honor that Pope Francis, who enjoys the love and respect of all, will participate in the AYD and the KYD in order to meet you all.
I sincerely hope that Catholic youth will have a chance to deepen their faith during Pope Francis' apostolic visit to Korea as well as the AYD and the KYD. In this regard, I would like to make some suggestions to you as the young men and women lining up at the start for a new leap forward on the occasion of the AYD and the KYD.
Firstly, let us remember the preciousness of our inherited faith. Unparalleled in the history of the Catholic Church, the Catholic faith was introduced into Korea by the lay people. Our great ancestors of faith endured many bitter persecutions, and they were even ready to make the journey of martyrs to keep their faith. They died in order to witness to the infinite love of God in the face of the distorted values of the world. According to God's special plan, the faith, originating from the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, has been passed on to us by our ancestors of faith, so that we can cherish it as a precious grace.
On one hand, faith requires courage, and, on the other hand, it even demands determination. You must commit yourself to the fruition of the precious seed sown in your heart. I hope that you exert yourself to make your heart rich soil which will let the ardent dream of our ancestors shed light on the world.
Secondly, let us cultivate a habit of Bible reading and Eucharistic adoration. To keep the precious faith, we must enjoy reading the Bible everyday even little by little. You also must make Eucharistic adoration a habit, entrusting yourselves to God. Prayer is a way to meet and talk with God anytime and everywhere. Reading the Bible and praying, you can cultivate your inherited faith in a beautiful way.
Thirdly, you must have a wider world view and make your way waiting for the Kingdom of God. Everybody has his or her own criterion for the best value. Such a criterion can often be a blind guide misleading you. You must learn to discern the true values hidden behind the superficial things.
Let us live in the light of life, witnessed personally by Jesus Christ as well as our ancestors of faith, who overcame the temptation of untruth and greed. Let us bear witness to the miracle of love and justice, true repentance and forgiveness in the world where the prevailing logic is a grueling infinite competition and the survival of the fittest. Let us become "white martyrs" in our time, inspired by prayer through the intercession of our ancestors of faith. You become "a white martyr" whenever you bear witness to truth and love in the face of wrong practice prevailing in our society, and whenever you confess your identity as a disciple of Jesus while the world advocates atheism.
Dear young friends, your heart cherishes the invaluable treasures inherited from our ancestors of faith. Remembering their precious values, you must be the young people who can cultivate and unfold them courageously in the face of many worldly values. Especially on the occasion of Pope Francis' apostolic visit, the AYD, and the KYD, I hope that you will find a motive to start anew.
May 25, 2014
+ Lazzro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Youth Ministry
Message for the 2014 Day for the Environment (Summary)
We Have to Build a Culture of Life, Renouncing a Culture of Death
"God himself will always be with them, and He will wipe every tear from their eyes" (Re 21,3-4)
Expressing my sincere condolences to the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16, 2014, I would like to ask God to comfort the bereaved families with His grace and to heal their wounds.
For the past few years, we have witnessed great confusion in our society. There have been many social conflicts because of many national projects including the Four Major Rivers Project (FMRP), the construction of more nuclear power plants, and the construction of high tension power transmission towers in Milyang and Cheongdo in Korea. As we have witnessed in the Sewol ferry disaster, mammonism, an idolatry of the times driving us down to the culture of death, plays a pivotal role in the social conflicts and pains, as it bolsters up a modus vivendi clinging to material comfort.
We were anxious about the fatal damage which the FMRP would cause the environment as well as the dangerous situations for the people who live near the affected area. Nevertheless, the regime of Mr. Lee Myeong-bak, the former president of the Republic of Korea, coercively carried out the FMRP in an illegal and willful way even without an appropriate environmental impact assessment. As a result, the FMRP inflicted almost irreparable damage upon the environment and became one of the fatal sources of pollution. On top of that, nobody has been ready to take responsibility for the great mischief of the FMRP, even though it was clearly disclosed in 2013 by the Board of Audit and Inspection that the FMRP was a failure, wasting tax payers' money for improper profit for the Chaebols, i.e. some Korean conglomerates.
The Korean government is now trying to build more nuclear power plants, after enforcing the extension of the operating life of worn-out nuclear power plants including the Gori 1 Nuclear Power Plant and the Wolsong 1 Nuclear Power Plant. In this way the government implements a policy of supply management, instead of demand management in regard to electricity. If we truly want a sustainable society, we must follow the course to a post-nuclear society, by implementing a policy of demand management, instead of the policy to increase the number of nuclear power plants. In this regard, we need to make efforts in line with the global trend for the promotion and diffusion of eco-friendly energy systems, such as photovoltaics and wind power, which do not inflict harm on the divinely created world.
Nuclear power plants are normally built in an area far from cities, especially large metropolitan areas, as they threaten the ecology and human life. Therefore, they inevitably need a long stretch of power transmission towers crossing many local areas. Milyang and Cheongdo are an example. As the saying goes "electricity is transferred through tears", the local villagers suffer greatly: the destruction of the traditional basis of their livelihood; higher vulnerability to many diseases; the infringement upon their property rights. However, the government and the Korea Electric Power Corporation are continuously threatening the livelihood and rights of the poor and the elderly on the pretense of economic principles as well as the Law on the Promotion of Resources of Electricity which is de facto an anti-democratic measure. This Law should be revised immediately, as it coerces the sacrifice of the socially vulnerable. If our society cannot escape from the mammonism which disrespects life and rather prefers capitalism, we will witness the unending recurrence of the disasters costing human life like the Sewol ferry disaster and the FMRP.
Now we must start to banish the sinister culture which drives the members of society into death and promotes contempt for life. We have to cultivate and preserve this beautiful God-given world, remembering our mission as good stewards who must give back this world to the Lord who will come again.
When we sincerely repent of our wrongdoing, the erroneous attitude and policy of death will be reversed. We have to take the initiative in denouncing the culture of death which is a result of the mammonism, preferring capital to life. Moreover, we have to cultivate the culture of life fulfilling our responsibility for neighbours with hospitality. God will wipe away the tears not only of our poor neighbours, but also of all the creatures suffering the agony of death. He will accomplish this through believers and all people of good will as the children of God. More than ever, "now" is the time for the children of God to act with evangelical resolution in this world. To bring about the Kingdom of God and to protect the culture of life, we should not hesitate to denounce evil and live as active children of God. God himself will always be with them, and He will wipe every tear from their eyes(cf. Re 21,3-4).
June 5, 2014
On the World Environment Day
+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
Bishop of Suwon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Message for 2014 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (Summary)
National Reconciliation in the Spirituality of Martyrs
Dear brothers and sisters,
Whenever June comes around, I cannot but recall the sad memory of the Korean War when Koreans fought against each other as if they had been enemies, even though they were and still are in fact brothers and sisters. Though 60 years has passed since the end of the war, Korea still has not achieved reconciliation, remaining as the only separated nation in the world.
Peace is a divine gift for people who respect others, practice the ethics of divine love wherever they live, and embody the importance of living-together. Peace and reunification are not gratuitous gifts, but they can be acquired when we incessantly pray to our Lord, the source of peace, practicing love and justice as Jesus Christ did.
Now the way to renew is to achieve national reconciliation in the spirituality of the martyrs. Martyrdom means an infinite trust in God, namely sacrificing his or her own life for the truth of God. The 103 martyr saints of Korea and the 124 Korean martyrs who are soon-to-be beatified, dedicated their lives to the reconciliation between God and our nation. On the basis of their sacrifice, the Catholic Church in Korea was founded.
Now it is our turn. The spirituality of the martyrs is the impetus for reconciliation. It is because we cannot burn with the desire for the reconciliation of our nation without an infinite trust in God and the commitment to the point of self-sacrifice of the Korean martyrs. The reconciliation of our nation is the way of atonement and salvation in order to reunite our nation, which, at present, is in the situation of antagonism and division because of a different ideology and political system.
We are overwhelmed by the reality of division which intimidates our conviction that we have to accept our North Korean brethren and to reconcile with them. We also have not thought deeply enough how to communicate divine love and blessings to them. Moreover, we neglect our duty to change the political leaders responsible for the division, and to help them understand and share in the divine love and blessings. If we cannot change them, we will gradually drift apart from the way of national reconciliation. We should not stop our incessant prayer for their change.
Even if we cannot sacrifice our lives, we must follow the way of martyrdom in prayer and self-denial to the best of our ability. Following the example of the sacrifice on the Cross, the way of the spirituality of martyrdom is to offer ourselves as a sacrifice for reconciliation in every moment of our lives. This is the way towards national reconciliation.
The way for national reconciliation is the practice of prayer and love. The Church first initiated a prayer movement for national reconciliation. North Korea Mission Aid Association, predecessor of the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, celebrated Mass and recited the Rosary on the field near Imjingak, which is the closest area to North Korea, even in the cold winter. Every month the faithful had gathered together, wearing a ribbon on their chests which said, "Reunification through Prayer".
Most of all, we should not stop practicing love. Even though someone can suggest the wisdom and method for reunification and he or she shows the power to change North Korea, it will end in vain "without love." What North and South Korea desperately need is such a practice of love. This is the way of national reconciliation.
To follow the way of practicing love in the spirituality of martyrdom is the sign of the time. It is our mission as the faithful to write a new history of national reconciliation filled with love, doing away with distrust and hatred.
The Church in Korea initiated "Sharing Love with Noddles", a campaign to "skip a meal [each day] in order to buy noddles for North Koreans for a month". We must continue food aid to North Korea as before. Despite many practical difficulties, political leaders must be open mined enough to promote the continued aid (including food) to North Korea. This must be done by the faithful and all the citizens out of pure motivation in order to keep restoring fraternal love.
I pray to God for peace in this land with the continual practice of prayer and love. I hope that Pope Francis' apostolic visit to Korea will be a great help for true reconciliation and peace on the Korean peninsula.
May the blessing of God be with all brothers and sisters in North and South Korea in abundance.
June, 22, 2014
+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
Bishop of Uijeongbu
CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People
News from the Church in Korea
● A Message for the 124th Labor Day
On the occasion of the 124th Labor Day, the Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, President of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace, issued a message. In this message, he said, "We should pray that the authentic value and dignity of labor be more fruitful in our society, and make more efforts to make it realized."
At the beginning of the message with the theme, "The just man has a care for the rights of the poor" (Prv 29,7), Bishop Ri expressed his condolences to the victims of the Ferry Sewol disaster. He also said, "As such a man-made disaster must not happen again, we have to join forces to restore the morality of our society and country."
Bishop Ri mentioned that the level of employment stability in Korea ranked the lowest among the members of OECD. This resulted from the exorbitant number of non-regular workers and dispatched workers as well as those inappropriately laid off. He also pointed out that disregard for labor and laborers is the result of economic system emphasizing supply and demand as the only important factor, as well as the result of market triumphalism which is an excessive trust and dependence on the market.
Bishop Ri stressed, "Rights of laborers are superior to any other principles of economy or market. The government and political communities have to actively prepare a labor policy which will solve the problems of labor and put it into action, rather than leave them to the market."
Bishop Ri also urged them to reflect on policies of neoliberalism that has been widely spreading out in our society. He asked the enterprises and management to respect laborers as their 'creative partners'.
● Establishment of the "Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches"
The "Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches" was established and held its first General Assembly on May 22, 2014.
11 churches in Korea established this Commission in order to enhance the ecumenical movement and to collaborate together for social evangelization in Korea.
11 churches in Korea have continued to make efforts in the ecumenical movement, with the publication of the Common Translation Bible, the joint organization of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and the Forum for Christian Unity in Korea. In 2002, they organized the Conference of Christian Unity of Korea in order to enhance the ecumenical movement. In answer to the increasing calls for its revitalization, in 2012 the representatives of the Korean churches agreed to reorganize the 'Conference of Christian Unity of Korea' into the 'Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches'. Since then, they have built the foundations for its establishment.
The 11 members of this Commission are: the Catholic Church in Korea, the Orthodox Church in Korea, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), the Presbyterian Church of Korea, General Assembly of Presbyterian Church, the Korean Methodist Church, the Anglican Church of Korea, the Salvation Army of Korea Territory, Korea Evangelical Church, the Korea Assemblies of God, and the Lutheran Church of Korea. Among them, the Catholic Church in Korea and the NCCK will function all the details as the working group.
The Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches will play a pivotal role in sharing the common heritage of faith and discussing missionary tasks. The Commission will contribute to social evangelization in Korea, strengthening the movement of Christian unity by concrete actions, such as 'Getting acquainted with each other', 'Studying together', 'Acting together', and 'Praying together'.
It is very significant for the future history of Christianity in Korea that the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and the Protestants lay together the groundwork for promoting their unity and for enhancing the missionary collaboration by means of this official organization. This is the first cooperation since the Gospel was introduced in Korea.
● Issuing the Statement on the Sewol Ferry Disaster
On July 14, 2014, the Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, President of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace, issued a statement on the Sewol ferry disaster.
In his statement, Bishop Ri said, "we are still at a loss, as no one has come out to bear appropriate responsibility even though it has already passed about 100 days since the Sewol ferry disaster." He also said that the Sewol ferry disaster urged us to make sincere reflection and deliberation, as it has revealed the shameful reality of Korea.
Bishop Ri then said, "the disaster has made us realize the fact that the intangible values which we have neglected or looked away from, including the dignity of human beings and the spirit of community, are the true basis of a secure nation as well as that of the peaceful daily life of every individual." He then asserted that this disaster was a kind of early warning to the severely wounded Korean society, as the multitude are making a meaningless voyage without orientation in the sea of capitalistic frenzy. "However", he affirmed, "our reflection should not be an excuse for neglecting the necessary ex post facto measures including the fact-finding investigation and the punishment of the culprits." He continued, "it is not the citizens, but the government that must first reflect on itself and take a pledge to make a thorough renewal."
Nevertheless, Bishop Ri was very disappointed at the government that tried to patch the matter up as it never swept away the deep-rooted evils of our society, including old conventionalism and bureaucratism. He then asserted that the government must change its basic administrative orientation to rehabilitate the spirit of community as well as to regain the trust of the citizens, instead of insisting on an abstract and radical slogan, "Remodeling of Our Nation." In this regard, he urges the government to enact the legislation, "Special Law on the Inquiry into the Truth of the Sewol Ferry Disaster and the Construction of Safe Society," because the proper investigation of the Sewol ferry disaster is the most basic step towards the healing of our society.
In conclusion, Bishop Ri said that we must do our best to bring about a better future, lest the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster have sacrificed themselves in vain. He concluded his statement with a prayer for the heavenly rest of the victims and healing and peace of the bereaved families and those who remain.
● On-sight Exposure Programs for Bishops
The CBCK prepared exposure programs for bishops in the context of renewal of the Church, jointly proposed by the CBCK Committee for Evangelization, Caritas Committee, and the Committee for Justice & Peace. The programs are meant to help the bishops undergo on-sight exposure in the context of deepening the discussed matters in relation to the lecture with the theme, "Secularization and Renewal of the Church" given in Jeju Island on June 12, 2013.
In all 19 bishops participated in the on-sight programs. These included a visit to "Flower Town of St. Mary", a free hospice center for terminal cancer patients; a visit to Daebangdong parish, an example of the Small Christian Communities (SCCs); and a visit to Saemangeum, the site of the longest sea-embankment in the world which has created social conflicts.
5 bishops visited "Flower Town of St. Mary" on May 29, 2014. The bishops met with the patients and helped them in many ways: serving a meal, washing their hair and feet, taking a walk with them, and making bed for them. Since its establishment in December, 1999, the hospice center has been managed by the Diocese of Cheongju to accompany the terminal cancer patients until their last moment of life, alleviating their pain and symptoms as well as helping them overcome the fear of death.
4 bishops visited Daebangdong parish from June 11 to 12, 2014. The bishops had an opportunity for an on-site exposure at the Daebangdong parish where they could see an example of 'communion and evangelization centering around the Lord's words through integral pastoral ministry.' They listened to a presentation on the parish's activities and paid a visit to several small groups, so-called 'Place of the Word' of the Daebangdong parish, which are types of SCCs.
10 bishops visited the site of Saemangeum on June 12, 2014. The bishops listened to the opinions of the experts as well as the villagers around Saemangeum. Then, they had a time to reflect upon the role of the Church in addressing the challenge of exploitation and destruction of nature through reckless projects of large-scale construction. They also walked on the mud flats to check the quality of the water inside the Saemangeum embankment.
The government carried out the Saemangeum project despite the protest of many civil activists and experts. The project has resulted in the destruction of the environment and the local economy near the Saemangeum site.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Yi Myo˘ng-so˘ Peter (1820-1866)
On December 5, 1866, Peter was captured, but he denied momentarily that he was a Catholic. A moment later he repented and told his captors that he was a Catholic. They searched his house for hidden books. Peter told them that he learned catechism not by reading but by hearing. His captors made him recited the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
Peter begged his captors to release him because he had tuberculosis. One of the older ones let him go. The next morning another group arrested him and asked him who had taught him catechism. Peter said that his father had taught him.
Peter was taken to the governor's office and was asked to deny God. He would not succumb, saying: "I will believe in God, even if I have to die more than 50 times." He was severely tortured for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of his fellow Catholics. His body was twisted.
The Catholics in prison were weakened by tortures and poor food, but they endured all these hardships courageously. They prayed together in prison. On the way to the execution site, they were all happy that they were finally going to Heaven. Peter told the people around him that after martyrdom he would go to Heaven immediately. Even the non-Catholic bystanders admired his happiness and courage. Peter was finally beheaded at Supjo˘ng-i in Cho˘nju on December 13, 1866, at the age of 46.
Han Jae-kwo˘n Joseph (1835-1866)
Catechist Han Jea-kwo˘ n Joseph was born in 1835 in Imch'o˘ n, Ch'ungch'o˘ ng Province, but lived at Taeso˘ ngdong in Cho˘ nju when the persecution broke out.
Before Joseph moved to Taeso˘ ngdong, he had been a catechist, but in Taeso˘ngdong he was not acting as a catechist. He was living there as an ordinary Catholic. His character was so honest and gentle that everybody in the village, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, loved and respected him. He fulfilled all his Christian duties and wanted to die as a martyr.
On December 3, 1866, in the evening Joseph was arrested by a group of police. He was sent to the Cho˘ nju prison together with other Catholics. In Cho˘nju he not only was tortured by the government officials but also was troubled by his own family members, who threatened to commit suicide unless Joseph denied his religion. Joseph, however, endured all these difficulties with courage.
His non-Catholic father begged the governor to release Joseph, and sent Joseph letters urging him to renounce his religion. Joseph gently but strongly refused his father's request. His father even tried to bribe the government officials to have his son released. The government officials tried very hard to get Joseph to deny his religion, but their continued efforts failed. Joseph's father kept bribing the government officials, but Joseph reminded him that he was not his only son. He told his father that he really wanted to die for God.
On December 13, 1866, Joseph achieved his desire at the age of 31. He was finally beheaded at Supjo˘ngi in Cho˘ nju.
Some sources call Han Jea-kwo˘n Peter, but most sources call him Joseph.