- Korean Bishops' Visit to Pyong-yang for the Cause of National Reconciliation and Promotion of Exchange and Cooperation of North and South Korea
- Message for 2015 Biblical Week
- Statement of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
- Message for the 32nd Caritas Sunday
- Statement of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
- Message for the 34th Human Rights Sunday and the 5th Social Doctrine Week
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
Hangeul and Inculturation
Practicing the proclamation of the Gospel in a particular area, the Catholic Church has committed herself to understand, learn, and live the value of the local culture, helping the local residents grow in their internalization of Christian teachings.
In such a manner, the Church dedicated herself to the missionary work in Korea, paying due attention to the local situation even through the time of severe persecutions. For example, in the face of the heavy shortage of priests, she introduced and promoted the establishment of secondary stations as well as the obligatory reception of the Sacrament of Penance during the Lenten and Advent Seasons to help the faithful practice their faith. In addition, the president of a secondary station fulfilled his duty as the leader of a faith community.
When it comes to the social contribution of the Church in her early stage in Korea, we can witness two merits: the respect of human rights; the promotion of Hangeul, Korean in its own alphabet. In those days, the lowly people mostly used Hangeul, disdained by the ruling class who proudly knew how to use Chinese characters. However, even many early Korean Catholic intellectuals translated Catholic documents from Chinese into Hangeul. Moreover, they wrote and used a Catholic catechism, adapting the messages of the Gospel to the situation and sensibility of their contemporaries. Thanks to such efforts, even the illiterate could learn the difficult Catholic catechism and sacrifice themselves for the cause of their faith.
Special attention should be given to the fact that the Catholic Church in Korea contributed to the systematic categorization and improvement of Hangeul through the compilation of a Hangeul dictionary going back to 1854, a first in Korean history. Even though all the manuscript was confiscated and burnt by the authorities during Byeong-In Persecution in 1866, such efforts were succeeded by French missionaries from the Paris Foreign Missions Society who went on to publish Dictionnarie Coréen-Français (Korean-French Dictionary) and Grammaire Coréenne (Korean Grammar) in 1880 and 1881 respectively. These books became the seed of the scientific study of Hangeul, enjoying a good reputation of great influence on other Korean dictionaries and grammar books that followed.
In 1864, Bishop Siméon-François Berneux, a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, wrote a letter to the lay presidents of the secondary stations, asking them to teach the faithful Hangeul. From her very beginning, the Catholic Church in Korea has made various efforts for the promotion of Hangeul. That is why the Church now receives high appreciation for her contribution to Hangeul at the service of the Korean people, especially during the persecution era.
Nowadays, we are witnessing a sort of crisis in regard to Hangeul in Korean society, as many Koreans with no hesitation use their mother tongue infiltrated with foreign words. The Church is not immune from this trend.
Now more than ever is the time for us to pay more attention to Hangeul as our own unique language. We have inherited the tradition of our ancestors in faith who promoted Hangeul. Now, it is our turn to continue the same efforts, so that the Church in Korea can be the Church of fuller inculturation.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Korean Bishops' Visit to Pyong-yang
for the Cause of National Reconciliation
and Promotion of Exchange and Cooperation of North and South Korea
1. Member bishops of the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People (Chairman: Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe) and their entourage returned to South Korea after a successful visit to Pyong-yang from December 1 to 4, 2015, at the official invitation of the Association of North Korean Catholics (ANKC) led by Mr. Paul Kang Ji-young, the new president of its Central Committee. Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju and President of the CBCK, was the leader of 17 members of the delegation to North Korea. Archbishop Kim was accompanied by the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Bishop of Chunchon and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung, the Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Whan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, the Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Uijeongbu, and Rt. Rev. Abbot Blasio Park Hyun-dong, O.S.B., Apostolic Administrator of Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon. Besides, Rev. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul, Executive Secretary of the CBCK, served as the working-level leader. There were also three more priests from the CBCK as well as other priests from dioceses as part of the official entourage of their bishops.
2. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation and Division of Korea, the member bishops of the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People have exerted more efforts for its proper cause and eventually made an opportunity to have an open-minded dialogue with their counterparts from the ANKC in a renewed atmosphere of Pyong-yang, discussing various ways for mutual exchange and cooperation between North and South Korea.
3. On the first day of its visit, the delegation from South Korea enjoyed the warm hospitality of Mr. Kang Ji-young who hosted a welcoming banquet for his special guests. On the next day, the delegation had time for a city tour around Pyong-yang which had undergone an urban improvement recently after Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, rose to power. It included visits to the Ulmil Pavilion, a historic structure located on Moran Hill in Pyong-yang, and the recently opened Munsu Water Park, an amusement facility. Especially, the bishops and priests from South Korea had a chance for a pleasant talk with the elderly and the children at Pyong-yang Nursing Home and Pyong-yang Orphanage respectively, delivering a message of encouragement to the staff members of the facilities.
4. On the third day of their visit to North Korea, the bishops paid a meaningful visit to the Jangchung Church in Pyong-yang. They were warmly welcomed by the North Korean Catholic community led by its president, Mr. Francis Kim Cheol-woong. South Korean pastors celebrated Mass with North Korean faithful and then presented them with an icon as a symbol for the cause of the reconciliation of North and South Korea. Taking advantage of this occasion, the bishops encouraged and blessed the North Korean faithful, reciting the Credo to confess the same faith and distributing Holy Communion to them during the Eucharistic celebration. They showed their sympathy for the North Korean faithful who have experienced many difficulties in their life of faith. In his homily, Archbishop Kim urged the congregation to join in ardent prayer and more efforts for the national reconciliation and peaceful reunification of Korea, stressing the practical significance of missionary works. He did not forget to express his sincere appreciation for the welcome of the North Korean Catholic community. The North Korean faithful had a joyful moment, singing Catholic hymns and sharing the sign of peace together with the South Korea delegation.
5. The bishops mandated the priests from the CBCK to have an in-depth discussion with their counterparts from the ANKC on the exchange and cooperation between the lay Catholics in North and South Korea. As a result, both parties agreed upon mutual cooperation, so that at least Mass for Solemnities can be celebrated on a regular basis when the Archdiocese of Seoul sends priests to North Korea annually. They also affirmatively discussed the suggestion for the CBCK to take the role of sole channel for humanitarian exchange and cooperation between the Catholic Church in Korea and the ANKC as well as the exchange between Catholic lay persons in North and South Korea, as this visit was made at the level of the CBCK.
6. As North Korean authorities also took a keen interest in this visit to North Korea, Mr. Kim Yeong-dae, Vice-President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, invited the bishops and the priests of the CBCK to the Mansudae Assembly Hall and they had time for a talkfest. Mr. Kim expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Catholic Church in Korea in full recognition of her special role in the reconciliation and peace of North and South Korea. Mentioning the bishops' visit, he also expressed his hope that North and South Korea will inherit and promote the spirit of the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration and the October 4th Joint Declaration, overcoming long-lasting conflicts even though the tension between the two Koreas still continues. Then he asserted that the resumption of the tour to Mt. Keumgang will promote private exchanges between North and South Korea. In response, Archbishop Kim expressed his opinion that war on the Korean Peninsula should be avoided by all means. He also said that it is important to cherish the spirit of mutual respect and care, accepting mutual differences in a fruitful way for the promotion of inter-Korean exchanges. Other bishops also expressed their sympathy with the opinion that North and South Korea must exert more efforts for the reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
7. As the leader of the delegation, Archbishop Kim gave a positive appraisal of the visit, saying that the visit could serve as a foundation for the exchange and cooperation between North and South Korea, which the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People has continued to carry out until now. He also said that this visit was an occasion to express sympathy for the necessity of