- 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 a more systematic and continual practice of a prayer campaign as well as humanitarian exchange and cooperation for the cause of national reconciliation. The ANKC also expressed its positive opinion on its meeting with the bishops of South Korea, saying that this visit might open an important door to more dynamic exchange and cooperation between the faithful in North and South Korea. In consultation with the bishops of South Korea, Rev. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul invited the ANKC to visit the CBCK, expressing his hope that the exchange between North and South Korean Catholics will be more invigorating.
Message for 2015 Biblical Week (Nov. 22-28, 2015)
"God Looked at Everything He Had Made,
and He Found It Very Good" (Gn 1,31)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Living in the words of God during the year of 2015, we have exerted ourselves to take care of people and nature and to beautifully cultivate the world that God created. Let us look back on our last year and start a new year in praise of God, who gives the water of life to the thirsty and illuminates those in darkness.
Today, the earth where we all live is suffering from the destruction of the environment and drastic climate change, caused by senseless development and excessive consumption. In this regard, Pope Francis issued the encyclical letter, Laudato Si', named after the refrain in the hymn of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Canticle of the Sun. Its subtitle is "on care for our common home". It is the most urgent teaching these days that we, as creatures of God, must live in harmony with all other creatures on earth and strengthen solidarity.
Mentioning the words from the Chapter 1 of Genesis, "fill the earth and subdue it"(Gn 1,28), Pope Francis stressed that it means we need to "'till and keep' the garden of the world" (Laudato Si', n.67). Yes! The world is the garden created by God as well as our common home where we, all humanity, share our lives with Mother Nature. God has entrusted men and women with taking care of all the creatures to live in wonderful harmony. It is our responsibility to fully restore our polluted and damaged environment and to preserve nature as it was.
It is time for us to be called to an ecological conversion, as the Holy Father underlined in his encyclical. The world is the divine place which manifested God's love and mercy and was saved by the Cross of Jesus Christ. As Jesus saved the world by emptying himself, we are able to make God's garden, our common home, as much as we bear the good likeness to God, forsaking self-centered desires and selfishness. Jesus Christ and his words are the way to carry out our ecological conversion and to restore nature.
Let us see the big world where numerous kinds of creatures live together, as attentively listening to the Lord's voice resonating in the Bible, recognizing the wisdom about coexistence, and going beyond our boundaries. The more we read the Bible, the more it becomes the spring of life, so that our hearts are filled with God's love, which at last flows into the world. When we can hold hands with our neighbors and devote ourselves to others, we will be able to unite with the universe and accompany Mother Nature.
Because God created the world with His words in the beginning, it can be restored by the His words. Inspired by His words, let us restore our relationship between ourselves and our neighbors, and make evangelical reconciliation and communion with nature greatly torn by us. Living the wisdom of coexistence imparted by the Bible is the only way for all of us to live together, which is the future of God's blessings.
Studying the Bible and engaging in the biblical apostolate should not be just seeking knowledge, but truly proclaiming the Gospel and a way of protecting 'the integral ecology'. Let us exert ourselves to restore the original and proper feature of all creatures including human beings and nature on earth, which 'God found very good', as well as to make the world a paradise for all. Thus, we can hope that our descendants will be able to inherit a sound common home created by God. "Praised be you, my Lord."
Bless in your families.
November 22, 2015
of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
+ Joseph Son Sam-seok
CBCK Biblical Committee
Statement of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Against the Reintroduction of Government-Authored History Textbooks
for Secondary Schools
We oppose the plan to reintroduce government-authored history textbooks for secondary schools.
On November 3, 2015, the government issued a firm notice on the reintroduction of government-authored history textbooks for secondary schools. The critical controversy over this issue has been continuously aroused in the academic circle of history and civic movements. Even surveys showed that the majority of Korean people oppose the government plan. Turning a deaf ear to all these opposing voices, the government and the ruling party have said publicly that they will rush to carry out the plan, ignoring rational public opinions.
In accordance with "the social concern of the Church, directed towards an authentic development of man and society which would respect and promote all the dimensions of the human person" (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n.1), the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) states its stance as follows, expressing its grave concern for the current situation.
1. The government must not publish the government-authored history textbooks.
The Catholic Church in Korea respects the government and its officials who were legally elected in a proper way and according to proper procedures. However, this does not mean that every act that this government undertakes is justifiable. A democratic government must exercise its authority fully respecting the dignity of human persons, the common good, and the principles of solidarity (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Part 1, Chapter 4).
The principle of subsidiarity implies that the range and limitation of the government authority should be justly established for the authentic development of democracy. It is reaffirmed in 'priority of civil society' that "the political community is essentially at the service of civil society and, in the final analysis, the persons and groups of which civil society is composed" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.418). Therefore, the government may intervene in the spirit of the principle of subsidiarity not only in the academic fields where independent authority should be preserved in the pursuit of truth, but also in civil society where each member has a right to think freely as an individual.
Now that the government tries to monopolize the interpretation of history by pushing ahead with its exclusive authorship on history textbooks, it seriously violates the principles of subsidiarity and democracy, the basis of a society according to the social doctrine of the Church. The government must be clearly aware of the fact that its plan to write and distribute history textbooks reminds us of the Zeitgeist under the authoritarian rule that disappeared into history long ago. The government also must not mistake contemporary Korean society as culturally and intellectually incompetent and unable to author a history textbook according to its own account, as it plays a leading role in the era of globalization. Therefore, the government should not take the initiative in writing the history textbook.
2. History textbooks should be independently written by historians according to their scholarly conscience
The government and the ruling party are insisting on the government-authored history textbooks on the pretence of alleged ideological biases and a self-denouncing and defeatist view of history supposedly found in the current history textbooks. However, such an argument is quite contrary to the opinion of the majority of Korean people, not to mention the scholars of national history. Moreover, the alleged problems can be easily solved through the use of the existing authorization system for textbooks. However, paying no attention to such a measure, the government and the ruling party have tried to support and spread an unfair view of Korean history. That is why we cannot but express our grave concern for the government-authored history textbooks as they can be tainted with certain political purposes.
The government is now trying to carry out its plan behind closed doors with only government-appointed writers, turning a deaf ear to many historians who raise their voices against such a plan and refuse to cooperate. This will result in public distrust of the government-authored history textbooks, based on an apprehension of a biased view of history asserted by unqualified writers. Most of all, the government must be aware that the government-authored history textbooks will have a negative influence on the younger generation who should enjoy liberty of thought as well as proper understanding. The Catholic Church respects "the autonomy of earthly affairs" (Gaudium et Spes, n.36). In other words, any external factors including religion and politics must not "work against the independence of men, of societies, or of the sciences" (Ibid., n.36). Such an autonomy is the fundament of scientific progress, which, in turn, become the basis of social development. Therefore, the history textbooks should be written by independent historians who seek academic truth with their scholarly conscience based on the legitimate autonomy of the sciences of history (cf. Ibid., n.59). In this regard, historians, not the government, must be entrusted with the writing of history textbooks, so that they can interpret our national history in diverse ways based on open mindedness.
3. The government must encourage the legitimate participation of the citizens and observe the democratic process
Paying due respect to public opinion and civic movements, we would like to express our grave concern for the lack of public discourse and proper procedure in regard to the writing of new history textbooks. Even before the issuance of the firm notice on the reintroduction of government-authored history textbooks, the government had already carried out its one-sided plan without asking proper public opinions. In such a manner, the government has not listened to or paid respect to any opposing opinions of civic movements and citizens. To make matters worse, the government has not hesitated to stigmatize those critical citizens as a so-called "pro-North Korea faction" or "leftists."
In blind ignorance of its responsibility for national integration, the government now provokes social division causing great damage to democracy based on social pluralism which must be one of the cherished values of our civic society (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.417). Not only authentic national development but also social integration can be achieved only through free and rational communication among citizens. In pursuit of social integration, the government and the ruling party must carefully listen to public opinions, paying special attention to the voices from historians and civic movements.
The Catholic Church hopes that "a reasonable sharing in responsibility and in decisions must be established and strengthened" (Octogesima Adveniens, n.47) on every level of our society. The issue of government-authored history textbooks has a great significance, because it could result in grave side-effects: infringement upon the academic autonomy of the historical science; suppression of sound public opinions of civil society; collapse of the foundation of democracy.
Therefore, we would like to sincerely ask the government to withdraw its plan for the government-authored history textbook and to discuss the matter from the first step again, in full awareness of its possible side-effects.
November 19, 2015
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Message for the 32nd Caritas Sunday (Summary)
"If Someone Sees a Brother in Need and Refuses Him Compassion,
How Can the Love of God Remain in Him?" (cf. 1Jn 3,17)
Looking back on the year of 2015, we cannot forget the emergency situation caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. Before the wounds deeply inflicted on our hearts by the Sewol Ferry disaster in 2014 were even healed, we had to face 38 deaths in the serious national health emergency situation brought about by MERS. We were once again deeply hurt and grieved. Some people even expressed their distrust and anger to the government. To make matters worse, the prospect of the Korean economic situation is not even bright, which makes people carry a much heavier burden.
While the Nepali are suffering from losing their homes because of the earthquake, and the refugees are willingly taking the risk of losing their lives to search for a new and better life, the appalling terrorist attack in Paris drove all the people around the world into dreadful shock and great grief. I ask in prayer that God welcome the innocent victims of the Paris attack in peace, bring fast recovery to the injured, and offer consolation to their families. Also, I join in prayer with the mourning of the French people, asking God's mercy, consolation and justice for the people in the world, especially the French people, who are in despair, wrath, and suffering, so that they may have the courage to overcome the tragedy.
In such a painful and difficult time at home and abroad, Pope Francis proclaimed on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which opened on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It brought all of us new hope.
Coincidentally, the Church celebrates the 32nd Caritas Sunday on the first Sunday after the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy started and the Holy Door was opened. In other words, we can say that the mercy of God begins with the work of charity in our lives.
When the mercy proper to God is exercised in our works of charity, not as an abstract idea, but as His love concretely demonstrated in reality, we can become an explicit and concrete sign of a merciful God (cf. Misericordiae Vultus, n.6).
During his public life on earth, Jesus always first approached the poor and the marginalized and made them feel the joy of salvation in advance. The Nativity, which we are waiting for now, reminds us that Jesus himself came to the world as a humble human being.
Our works of charity should be very concrete and real. We should try to act according to what we think in order to "love not in word or speech but in deed and truth" (1Jn 3,18). There are still many people around us whom we should take care of. Therefore, we need to have new eyes, ears and new attitudes towards our neighbours so that we can see what has not been seen before, listen to what has not been heard before, and show the way of life that others cannot have. As the apostle Paul says, we should "put away the old self of our former way of life and put on the new self, created in God" (cf. Eph 4,22.24).
I pray that you all have a warm and happy Christmas and if you think that you have missed something this year, may you fill others around you with mercy, joy, and love during the Advent season.
December 13, 2015
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung
Caritas Committee of the CBCK
Statement of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Opposing the Settlement between Korea and Japan
on 'Korean Comfort Women'
Peace is the Fruit of Justice (cf. Is 32,17)
The CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik) clarifies its stance against the recent settlement between Korea and Japan as of December 28, 2015 on so-called "comfort women" who had been coerced into sexual servitude in Japanese military-run brothels during World War II.
1. The settlement trampled on human rights with the logic of economy and diplomacy
In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Catholic Church reminds the faithful that "anyone who makes a mistake must pay the price. However, this is just the beginning of conversion, not its end" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.21). Wrongdoers cannot experience authentic justice and love until they sincerely atone for their mistake, making compensation for the inflicted harm. In this way, the victims also can in divine mercy be ready to forgive them. This is the beginning of the full process of forgiveness and reconciliation.
In this regard, the settlement between Korea and Japan cannot but be accepted as the result of economic and diplomatic logic under the pretext of resolving a current issue between two countries, because it trampled down fundamental human rights, one of the most important and universal values surpassing all other things. The settlement said that Japan promised to spend 1 billion JPY (ca. 8 million USD) for a project to restore the honor and dignity of the surviving victims of the forced sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II as well as to relieve their emotional scars. However, many clauses of the settlement, in fact, brutally trampled on the human rights of the so-called "comfort women", the personal victims of the wartime atrocity, exempting Japan from true efforts for thorough investigation of the atrocity and proper compensation.
Although the settlement mentioned an "official apology" on the side of the Japanese government, it cannot be a true apology or act of contrition, as it did not articulate concrete legal liability. On top of that, the settlement cannot be a beginning of a new relationship between the two countries, because it is inappropriately issued simply as a result of diplomatic agreement, not a resolution with the legislative consent of both countries. In fact, both true forgiveness and reconciliation are based on a deep reflection on a committed crime and conversion, and this is the beginning of the concrete practice of justice and mercy (cf. Misericordiae Vultus, n.21).
In principle, national politics and international diplomacy must strive for building peace by promoting the culture of reconciliation and solidarity, breaking down the wall of distrust and hatred. Peace is the fruit of justice, and justice can be achieved through efforts to overcome injustice with forgiveness and cooperation, though the past acts of injustice should never be forgotten. Therefore, the attitude of the Japanese government cannot bear any fruits of peace, justice or mercy in a proper manner, as it shows no intention of admitting its responsibility for the criminal acts committed by Japan as a nation during World War II. Without full acknowledgement of the crime committed by Japan itself in its imperialistic era, Japan cannot claim 'new justice', nor achieve authentic reconciliation and peace.
2. Nothing can be final and irrevocable with the matter on history and human rights.
In the settlement, both Korean and Japanese governments confirmed that the problem of the so-called "comfort women" has been solved "in a final and irrevocable manner", and both parties "will refrain from mutual accusation regarding the issue at the level of the international community including the United Nations." However, the Catholic Church as well as the conscience of humanity has explicitly manifested that there is no statute of limitations on the issue of human rights and war crimes. The forced sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, a systematical infringement upon human rights committed by Japan as a nation, is a grave crime against humanity. Therefore, the issuance of a settlement on the so-called final and irrevocable pardon for the war crime of Japan, obtaining no consent from the victims themselves, is a great challenge to the conscience of humanity and historical experience.
History should not be hidden or forgotten, but rather remembered. When it is revealed, it will be healthier. In this regard, Germany still keeps apologizing and atoning for its war crimes as it tries to offer new consolation and legal reparations for the victims of the Nazi policy to annihilate human rights. This is because Germany believes that it can go towards the realization of love for humanity and common good in doing so. However, unlike Germany, Japan has evaded the investigation of the truth and responsibility for the system of sexual slavery for a long time under the pretext of the negotiation of the right of claim. Such an attitude cannot help being reiterated as a regression of human history and conscience.
The historical choice of Korea, the only divided country in the world and the victim of colonization and war, can be regarded as a rudder for the peace and realization of human rights in Asia and the world. In this regard, it is clearly affirmed that the decision of the Korean government to assent to the settlement, which scaled the issue related to human rights and war crimes down to a Korea-Japan diplomatic one, is tantamount to the government exceeding its competence, and is null. The true development that Korea and Japan should pursue is to seek forgiveness and reconciliation for peace and justice by remembering and reflecting on the crime. However, this accord ruthlessly trampled on the dignity and the value of human rights for the surviving comfort women.
The cry for justice and the defence of human rights are the fundamental mission of the Church. The preferential care and choice of the poor and marginalized brothers and sisters are the special mission of the Church. We urge the government to consider again the issue of Japanese military sexual slavery, the case of the definite violation of human rights, on the basis of the human dignity of all including the women victims, and fundamentally to re-examine the matter. Authentic peace is not opposed to justice because peace is given us as a result of the realization of justice. Therefore, the Catholic Church in Korea has expressed her deep concern over the Korea-Japan settlement on Japanese military sexual slavery. She also strongly urges government officials from both countries to reconsider the issue from the beginning.
January 4, 2016
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Message for the 34th Human Rights Sunday and the 5th Social Doctrine Week (Summary)
God Made Man in His Image, after His Likeness (cf. Gen 1,26)
The Catholic Church in Korea invites the faithful to recognize and practice the true meaning of the incarnation, as she designated the second week of Advent as Human Rights Sunday and Social Doctrine Week. Let us cherish the authentic meaning of the incarnation deep in our hearts and reflect on how we have been living.
The Catholic Church wants the love of Christians to contribute to mankind by helping numerous poor people and opening the door of justice for the oppressed. Catholic Social Doctrine invites us to discover ourselves as transcendent beings in every dimension of our lives including those related to social, economic, and political contexts, placing the human person and society within the light of the Gospel as the basis of her hope (cf. Letter of President of Secretariat of State in Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.2). It also suggests "the principles for reflection, the criteria for judgment and the directives for action which are the starting point for the promotion of an integral and solidary humanism" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.7). Not social ethics or philosophy, but "Christian love leads to denunciation, proposals and commitment to cultural and social projects; it prompts positive activity that inspires all who sincerely have the good of man at heart to make their contribution" (Ibid., n.6).
Today in the world, the supreme value of human life is being threatened by wars, terrorism, and an increase in refugees. We have witnessed how innocent people lost their precious lives at the scenes where the appalling terror attack took place in Paris on November 13, 2015.
The violation of human rights in Korea is not the only serious issue. Young people have a hard time finding jobs, and the right to work is thwarted. Besides, a bill was even introduced in the National Assembly which will allow employers not only to lay off their employees easily but also to increase the number of temporary workers. The request of the fact-finding investigation of the bereaved families and families of missing people of the Sewol Ferry disaster is misunderstood and denigrated by contorted reports and incorrect information.
I express my deep regret for the many who have been injured, especially for one farmer in critical condition as the result of excessive force used by government authority in the process of suppressing the civil protesters on November 14, 2015. I hope that the injured policemen will make a fast and full recovery. Not only violent protests but also excessive suppression and biased investigation cannot be accepted for the trust and communication between the people and the government.
I desperately appeal to the government not to bring about such incidents again. I ask the government to make more efforts to truly understand why so many civic protesters gathered and to listen to what they cried for. I also ask the mass media to report fair and square.
At this point, we should remember that we cannot defend human rights only through the reinforcement of the system and the eradication of social evils. At the moment when individualism, egoism, materialism and consumerism dominate our values, and when success and victory replace sharing and solicitude, we should reflect on ourselves whether our lives have trampled on the human rights of others. At the precise moments of our lives, when we open ourselves to the mystery of God and rely on the love of God, only this love leads us to have the courage to respect the human rights of others, denounce social corruption, and make proposals for reform.
This is the reason for the Church to proclaim the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The conversion itself may lead each of the faithful to the mercy of God, for only His mercy can bring us authentic transformation. It urges us to cut off the chain of inequity, poverty, and injustice with Christian brotherhood and to accept the weaknesses and difficulties of our brothers and sisters, back to the basics. The Jubilee of Mercy encourages us to forgive with a joy that gives us new life and hope for the future.
I hope that our new life reveals authentic and full trust in salvation, desire for complete justice, and the love of Christ that makes all men and women to be genuine brothers and sisters so that the Church and the entire world will be guided to true justice and love.
December 6, 2015
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejeon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
Paul Yun Yu-il (1760-1795)
Paul Yun Yu-il, also called 'Inbak', was born in 1760 in Jeomdeul, Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do (now, Geumsa-ri, Geumsa-myeon, Yeoju-gun). He lived in Yanggeun, Hangamgae (now Daeseok-ri, Gangsang-myeon, Yangpyeong-gun). James Yun Yu-o who was martyred in 1801 was his younger brother and Agatha Yun Jeom-hye and Lucy Yun Un-hye were his cousins.
Paul Yun came to understand the Catholic faith gradually through books while he studied under Ambrose Kwon Chel-sin in Yanggeun. Then he learned the catechism from Francis Xavier Kwon Il-sin, younger brother of his teacher Ambrose Kwon, and became a Catholic. From then on, he devoted himself to teaching his family the catechism.
In 1789, the leaders of the Catholics decided to send a secret envoy to Bishop A. Gouvea in Beijing to report on the current situation and discuss the future of the Catholic Church in Korea. Paul Yun was sent because he was a trustworthy person and well versed in knowledge and Christian doctrine. Furthermore, he had a gentle manner.
Paul Yun hid the letter of the faithful to the Bishop of Beijing in his clothing and disguised himself as a Korean merchant. He left for Beijing in October 1789. In 1790, he met the Bishop of Beijing in Namdang and Lazarist missionaries in Bukdang. While in Beijing Father N.J. Raux, a Lazarist, gave him conditional Baptism and Confirmation. He also received instruction on 'the preparation necessary to send a priest to Korea.'
When Paul Yun returned to Korea in the spring of 1790, the leaders of the Korean Catholics made concrete preparations to invite a priest. In this regard, he made another short trip to Beijing that year.
Bishop A. Gouvea sent Father Juan dos Remedios to Korea as he had promised the Korean Catholics. But Father Dos Remedios was unable to cross the border because he missed the Korean secret envoys. Instead of being discouraged, Paul Yun tried indefatigably to invite another priest in collaboration with Saba Ji Hwang and Matthias Choe In-gil. He finally succeeded in secretly bringing in Father James Zhou Wen-mo, a Chinese priest, at the end of the 1794.
After the arrival of Father James Zhou in Korea, Paul Yun was in charge of communicating with the Catholic Church in Beijing. The arrival of Father James Zhou soon became known to the royal court. Consequently, all Catholics were in danger. Father James Zhou succeeded in escaping quickly with the help of the Catholics. Matthias Choe, who sheltered him in his house, decided to disguise himself as Father James Zhou and allowed himself to be arrested as Father James Zhou.
Eventually the persecutors came to know the full details of how Father James Zhou entered Korea, as well as the names of Paul Yun and Saba Ji who had helped him.
Both Paul Yun and Saba Ji were arrested immediately and were severely punished, together with Matthias Choe. They did not reveal the activities of Father James Zhou and professed their faith in God to the end. On realizing that it was beyond their capacity to make them betray, the persecutors beat them to death and threw their bodies into the Han River. This was on June 28, 1795 (May 12, by the Lunar calendar) when Paul Yun was 35 years old.
Bishop A Gouvea, on hearing the full story of their martyrdom through a secret envoy, wrote as follows about the courage that Paul Yun and his companions had shown at the moment of their martyrdom:
"To the question of the persecutor; 'Do you worship Jesus who died on the cross?' they replied courageously, 'Yes, we do.' When they were asked to renounce their faith in Christ, they declared; 'We are ready to die a thousand times rather than to renounce our faith in our true Savior Jesus Christ'."