- From the Editor:
- 2017 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
- Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017
- Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2017
- Message for the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
- Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2016
- News From the Church in Korea
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
Towards Socially Engaged Catholic Church in Korea
The Catholic Church in Korea has produced abundant fruits from her various missionary activities. Instead of settling for this success however, she ought to continue in her efforts to grow closer to Korean people by diversifying her missionary methods. In addition to direct evangelization, we need to be more actively involved in social services in order to enhance the image of the Catholic Church in Korea. In such a self-effacing manner, we can attract more people to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we should offer hope to Koreans who find themselves in various difficulties, placing before them an ideal type of human existence.
Reinforcing the Positive Image of the Catholic Church in Korea
Many people today, unlike those in the times of persecution, tend to look for religion without making any serious commitment or resolve. They, in the midst of their everyday struggles, expect to find consolation and peace of mind in religion. In Korea such people may be attracted towards the Catholic Church instead of any other religion. The Catholic Church in Korea should, therefore, pay more attention to those who show interest in the Church. A variety of missionary work is needed in order to attract people to the Catholic Church, and introduce them to the Church doctrine. It is also advisable for parish churches to keep their doors open as an inviting gesture to people who may want to pray in peace and quiet. In this way, the Catholic Church can witness her openness to everyone.
Active Engagement in Society
Taking into account the current situation, the Church in Korea ought to reflect on how much attention she has paid to her neighbors who may be suffering and in pain. By offering concrete help to those in need, regardless of their religious and ethnic backgrounds, the Church must reach out to those beyond her confines on both national and international levels. Such a task entails sacrifices and a serious commitment to missio ad extra. In this way, the Catholic Church in Korea can follow a true path towards evangelization which welcomes all.
Suggesting an Ideal Type of Human Being
Within contemporary Korean society, a culture of life and peace is challenged by a rapidly spreading culture of death and destruction. The Catholic Church has a responsibility to discern these cultural phenomena and lead society in a more healthy direction. As for this discernment, its reference point should be Christ: the Incarnation of the Son of God who exemplified the perfection of humanity. Following this example, the Church ought to suggest an ideal type of human being and life, one firmly rooted in Christ.
In a secular and pluralistic society, where the values of life are unstable, many are on the verge of loosing hope, but they still have an underlying desire to find an example of what it is to be truly human. Today, there is increasing criticism of the Church. Perhaps this criticism reflects both a thirst for and a failure to live out our authentic human and Christian vocations. Therefore, it is necessary for the Catholic Church in Korea to display a genuine Christian identity in society, and to inspire people to follow such a example in the light of Christ's teachings.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
2017 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
2017 Spring General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) took place at the Conference Hall of the Catholic Conference of Korea (CCK) from March 20 to 22, 2017. The bishops made the following decisions:
1. The bishops listened to a plan for the publication of the Korean versions of the Missale Romanum (editio typica tertia, emendata 2008) and the Lectionarium. These ought to be in use from December 3, 2017, the First Sunday of Advent, onwards. They received confirmaion the Apostolic See with decrees issued on February 21, 2017 and November 18, 2016 respectively. The bishops also listened to a report that the CBCK Committee for Liturgy is preparing to issue introductory material for the above liturgical books on the occasion of their publication; this material aims to promote a better understanding of the liturgical texts for the faithful.
The bishops also decided to revise the Hymns for Children although they decided not to publish the Order of the Mass for Children. Regarding the celebration of ‘Sunday Mass for Children’, it was decided to leave it to the discretion of each diocesan bishop.
2. The bishops confirmed the lists of hymns in both the Catholic Hymnal (revised and supplemented edition) and the Compilation of the New Catholic Hymns (test version), submitted by the CBCK Subcommittee for the New Catholic Hymnal. After having resolved copyright issues related to the Catholic Hymnal (revised and supplemented edition) it is scheduled to be published by the end of 2017.
The Compilation of the New Catholic Hymns (test version) - which consists of hymns of the Catholic Community Hymnal, new liturgical hymns, hymns recommended for Holy Mass, newly created hymns, hymns in Korean traditional melody and hymns in the Order of the Mass, etc. - will be used for a period of three years ad experimentum. An initial 5,000 copies will be printed and distributed to the Cathedrals of 16 dioceses, seven major seminaries and the various religious institutes in early 2018.
3. The bishops approved the revised draft of the Directives for Sacred Music of the Catholic Church in Korea, submitted by the Section for Sacred Music under the CBCK Committee for Liturgy. This revised draft reflects the opinions of dioceses and religious institutes, based on the Korean version of the Missale Romanum, which was recently confirmed by the Apostolic See.
4. After due deliberation, the bishops approved the Catholic Terminology in Korean (revised and enlarged edition) which the CBCK Committee for Catholic Terminology prepared by adding some additional terms with respective explanations to the revised Catholic Terminology in Korean published in 2014.
5. The bishops deliberated and approved the Online Talk: Life with the Lord, an educational book dealing with pro-life issues for middle school students (in both teacher and student versions). This material was drawn up by the Pro-Life Activities under the CBCK Committee for Bioethics.
6. The bishops approved the ‘Guidelines and Explanation for Filling out the Advance Healthcare Directive Form’ prepared by the CBCK Committee for Bioethics. This will assist the faithful, in light of Church teachings, to complete their Advance Healthcare Directive legislated by the The Law on the Hospice and Palliative Care and the Determination of Life Sustaining Treatment for Terminally Ill Patients (which will take effect on February 4, 2018).
7. The bishops listened to a report on the ‘Standardized Criterion for Parish Pastoral Ministry of the Catholic Church in Korea.’ This report was produced by the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea to provide pastors and parishioners with help in acquiring knowledge about their situation and subsequently making good pastoral decisions. The bishops decided to introduce this 'Standardized Criterion' to all the dioceses for proper adaptation. In addition, the bishops were supplied with details of two other publications produced by the same Catholic Pastoral Institute. First, Leadership of Pastor was produced to assist priests to share their experiences of various pastoral fields and to find ways to practice in concrete situations. Second, Guidance for Bishop’s Pastoral Visit to Parishes is intended to assist bishops, pastors and the faithful to deepen their understanding of the significance of a bishop’s pastoral visit to a parish.
8. From the 2017 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK onwards, the President of the CBCK will serve ex officio as President of the CBCK Committee for Catholic Terminology, Director of the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea and Bishop in Charge of the CBCK Emmaus Center.
9. The bishops elected the Most Rev. Constantine Bae Ki Hyen, Bishop of Masan, as President of the CBCK Committee for Evangelization. He will succeed the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho, now Bishop Emeritus of Jeonju.
* Concerning social problems in Korean society, the bishops discussed what efforts they can make so as to renew Korean society and improve relations between North Korea and South Korea when a new Korean government is established in the near future. As a result, the Permanent Council, at its meeting on March 24, 2017, decided to ask all the presidential candidates to answer the ‘Questionnaire on policies.’ This questionnaire will be jointly drawn up, in accordance with Catholic social teachings, by the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, the Committee for Bioethics, the Committee for Ecology & Environment, and the Committee for Justice & Peace.
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017
Reconciliation The Love of Christ Compels Us (cf. 2Co 5,14-20)
Peace Be With You!
On this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017, I would like to share the gift of peace with my Christian brothers and sisters and all people of good will. May God fill you with His abundant grace; God takes care of us, dwelling among us. I would also like to express my gratitude to the German Christians who prepared the draft resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and throughout the Year of 2017.
In 1517 Martin Luther published his 95 theses in order to correct abuses in the Church of his day. Contrary to his initial intention to reform the Church, what happened was that the Western Church was split into two: the Roman Catholic and the Protestant. Since then, Protestants and Catholics, over the subsequent 500 years have often lived in discord as if they were strangers, failing to see each other as brothers and sisters. However, Christians in Germany have decided to commemorate this year as a Celebration of Christ (Christusfest) rather than as a feast of the Lutheran Church. This reflects their commitment to restore communion in Christ through overcoming the hostility and conflict of the past.
The cry for reformation of the Church did not resonate only in Europe 500 years ago. Such a cry continues to echo from every part of the world, both before and after the Reformation. The Catholic Church in Korea is keenly aware of the need and demand for reformation. Reformation of the Church does not necessarily pursue something completely new. But instead, it aims at restoring the original face of the Church as Jesus Christ had desired it, without the distortions of the Gospel due to human weakness. Therefore, the true meaning of Church reformation is to fully accept the will of Jesus Christ, who prayed: “they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn. 17,21).
“The love of Christ compels us, be reconciled to God” (2Co 5,14.20) is the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christianity in 2017. Just as the good is supposed to prevail all over the world, the Gospel of love, which is a gift of Christ, touches our hearts and urges us to change. The Holy Spirit, which leads to reconciliation,invites all Christians to move beyond conflict and hostility, so as to be reconciled with one another and with God. Although division in the Church has left deep scars, the diversity found in different churches also manifests the richness of the Gospel. Therefore, ecumenical work seeks unity and reconciliation, and togetherness in diversity; it does not deny the diversity of particular churches’, but respects the unique gifts of the Holy Spirit granted to each person.
Christians and Christian communities in this country are Spirit-lead ambassadors for the reconciliation of God. Hence, we should learn to turn our eyes towards our neighbors and not fixate on our own needs. First and foremost, we should be reconciled to one another before proclaiming the Good News to our neighbors. We ought to be concerned about the young whose dreams are frustrated, the old who live in poverty, the temporary workers living in anxiety, and North Koreans looking forward to freedom.
We avail of this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to all our Christian brothers and sisters who move beyond hatred, contempt, unjust accusations, prejudice and discrimination, and move towards reconciliation by recognizing and respecting each other. We hope and pray that, at the grassroots level, this ecumenical movement may lead to the mutual recognition of Baptism. In this way, it will support Christian families that experience difficulties in practicing their faith due to a disparity of Christian identity among the various denominations.
We are God-sent ambassadors of reconciliation. May God fill all of you with His grace and bless you on this celebration of the love of Christ.
January 18, 2017
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Archbishop of Gwangju
President CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2017
Let Us Care for Our Common Home and Human Family
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we are celebrating the 25th Overseas Aid Sunday. In 1993, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea designated Overseas Aid Sunday as a time when we endeavor better to understand our poor neighbors in the world and to promote the spirit of sharing. Since then, all the faithful in Korea have celebrated this occasion annually remembering and practicing God’s mercy and love.
“What is happening to our common home?” (Laudato Si’)
We are living in the most industrialized and highly advanced scientific era in human history. Thanks to such developments, we enjoy a comfortable and prosperous lifestyle. We now have an extended life expectancy and are able to travel to places which were previously inaccessible due to the limitations of time and distance. We can now easily communicate with those on the opposite side of the world and receive knowledge and information on an unprecedented scale. Also there is plenty of food and clothes avaliable in all kinds of markets both day and night.
At the same time, we are living in an era of inequality and contradiction. On account of selfish human desires, often scientific progress and the social systems fail to serve the common good. Consequently, the global community suffers from polarization. It is still the case that more than one billion out of roughly the seven billion of the world's population continues to live in extreme poverty, barely able to make ends meet with less than one US dollar a day. This inequality undermines the stability of all our lives and calls for justice, fairness and deep reflection. In the current situation where conflicts among individuals, groups and social classes erupt frequently, it is necessary to reconsider the comforts we live with and the peace we enjoy.
Nature also suffers as a result of human selfishness. Over the ages, humanity has maintained its anthropocentric and patriarchal lifestyle. Such an outlook on life encourages us to view creation merely as property to be used solely for the benefit of human beings. This contradicts God’s view of creation which saw all as good (cf. Gen 1). As a result, the earth, which is our God-given unique residence and our common home (Laudato Si’, n.1), is being destroyed and “is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Rom 8,22).
We ought to recognize that the present imbalances and conflicts which exist in the world are a manifestation of our attitudes towards life. Because all individual lives are connected, we need to acknowledge our responsibility for many of the problems we are currently facing. To overcome those problems, a fundamental change in our lifestyle is required.
“You are all brothers” (Mt 23,8)
All of us, without exception, should try to be like the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10,29-37) and strive to be a good neighbor who has resolved to help even a stranger lying stripped, beaten and left to die. In this way, we can truly be witnesses to Jesus who said: “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3,25).
Pope Francis invited us “to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”(n.49) in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, which was inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of those engaged in ecology. The Pope pointed out that the present crisis is global, affecting the whole human family and so it can be solved only when together we take responsibility for the poor and for the earth.
Our daily lives as consumers cannot be separated from the lives of our neighbors and the natural environment. The lifestyles of our neighbors also affects our lives both directly and indirectly. In this regard, we need to reflect and ask whether the comforts that we enjoy come as a result of the sacrifices of others' rights and proper shares. We should also recollect in silence how the advantages we take from nature might well be at the cost of our descendents right to enjoy nature. We should realize that “Mother Earth” (St. Francis of Assisi, The Canticle of the Sun), that is, our common home, which God entrusted to us is being destroyed due to our mistreatment of nature. Our rights and goods, as gifts of God, belong to all and are meant to be shared with all. With this spirit of sharing, we can be true brothers and sisters of our Lord.
Our sharing with our neighbours and commitment to the common good shall, in the end, reap the reward of love. On this occasion of Overseas Aid Sunday, we should recognize the call to a spirit of poverty and sharing; we, as children of God, are invited to the feast of the Kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
January 29, 2017
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Bishop of Chunchon
President Caritas Korea International
*Since 1993, the Catholic Church in Korea has celebrated Overseas Aid Sunday on the last Sunday of January every year. This occasion provides the Korean faithful with an opportunity to pray for, show love for and make charitable offerings towards our poorer overseas neighbours. These offerings provide support for a specific ministry supplying critical resources for people in need.
Message for the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless
On April 30, 2017 we celebrate the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The number of migrants scattered around the world is estimated to be nearly three hundred million. According to official 2016 statistics, there are around two million migrants in South Korea. Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, urges Christians to reflect on the phenomenon of migration as a part of salvation history. In this regard, he reminds us of one of God’s commandments: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”(Ex 22:21).
Pope Francis, in his message, highlights the words a sign of the times: “This phenomenon constitutes a sign of the times, a sign which speaks of the providential work of God in history and in human community, with a view to universal communion.” He continues, “while appreciating the issues, and often the suffering and tragedy of migration, as too the difficulties connected with the demands of offering a dignified welcome to these persons, the Church nevertheless encourages us to recognize God’s plan.” In recognition of the degrees of individual, social, political and economic complexities caused by migration, the Holy Father wishes the faithful to view them in the light of faith.
Despite these difficulties, Pope Francis makes it clear that the dignity of human beings should be given priority: “Each person is precious: persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.” Indeed, each life is precious. Most of all, Pope Francis calls special attention to the reality of child migrants. It is because they are defenceless in a threefold manner, as the Pope explains: “they are children, foreigners and have no means to protect themselves.” In fact, through the news we witness the reality that it is mostly children who have to pay the heaviest price for conflicts and violence when they erupt anywhere in the world.
As a result, Pope Francis addresses a heartfelt appeal to ensure the rights of child migrants. They include the right to a healthy and secure family environment, the right to receive adequate education, and the right to play and recreate. In addition to his emphasis on protection, integration and long-term solutions for child migrants, Pope Francis stresses the need for both emergency aid and long-term policies. He gives encouragement to those who walk alongside child migrants, saying: “We are deeply grateful to organizations and institutions, both ecclesial and civil, that commit time and resources to protect minors from various forms of abuse.” Likewise, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to priests, religious, staff and volunteers, who, in the spirit of the Gospel, stand in solidarity with and share the pains and challenges facing child migrants.
I would now like to examine our country, Korea, in-line with the pastoral view of Pope Francis. Child migrants exist in Korea also. They, in a broad sense, constitute those born into multiculture families, the families of migrant workers and refugees, and those who were not born in their country of residence, so-called ‘foreign-born adolescents.’ They are designated as ‘children or youth with migrant-backgrounds.’ These children and young people are already living here in Korea, many even having Korean nationality. However, many children suffer from various types of worry and pain due to their migrant backgrounds. They have to endure inhospitality and bullying from their peers and, at times, even from adults. And on top of this, as a result of financial hardship at times they suffer from family neglect and indifference. As a consequence of such hardships, these children can end up living lives of despair rather than lives of hope.
If children with migrant-backgrounds are unwell or unhappy, our country cannot be healthy or happy. As Pope Francis insists, to remedy this situation it is necessary for us to work towards “protection, integration and long-term solutions.” While individuals endeavor to respect and accept national, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, the government ought urgently to adopt all possible legal measures to protect child migrants from prejudice and discrimination. Therefore, I feel disappointed that the legislation of the Basic Bill for Guaranteeing the Rights of Children of Migrants has not been implemented by our government. This is the case even though our country has already ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Ensuring proper access to medical care and education for child migrants is a basic human right which ought to be available even to non-citizens. If one believes in the intrinsic value of human beings, it follows that the Basic Bill for Guaranteeing the Rights of Children of Migrants should be adopted.
Furthermore, our nation cannot achieve authentic development unless legislation prohibiting racial discrimination is enforced to protect not only children but all migrants regardless of race or nationality. Despite the long history of migration in Korea, the Catholic Church only recently, in collaboration with priests working with migrants, issued Prayer for Migrants. By uniting in prayer and solidarity with migrants, and by having a correct outlook on society and the world, we can contribute to making a better world where people can live together in peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, I think of God the Creator who gazes with affection on all kinds of flowers, trees, birds and animals. However, human beings too, as the most precious creation of God, ought to, in union with the Divine gaze, look upon the world and strive to build a society where everyone looks after and loves each other.
April 30, 2017
+ Simon Ok Hyun-jin
Auxiliary Bishop of Gwangju
President CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants
Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2016
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (President: Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong) published Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2016 on April 5th, 2017.
On the basis of data collected from 15 dioceses and the Military Ordinariate in Korea, 7 Catholic universities, 169 male and female religious institutes in Korea, the Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2016 reports the annual statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea as of December 31, 2016. These statistics are helpful both in providing a better understanding of the Catholic Church in Korea and as a useful point of reference for planning pastoral ministries.
The following is a summary of the most important statistical results:
According to the Statistics, as of December 31, 2016, the number of Catholics in Korea was 5,741,949, an increase of 1.5% (86,445) over the previous year. This amounted to 10.9% of the total population of Korea, 52,857,893. The number of Catholics in Korea has steadily increased since 2005. Since 2009, the percentage of Catholics in Korea has consistently hovered between 10% and 11%.
Of the 15 dioceses and the Military Ordinariate in Korea, the Archdiocese of Seoul was the most populous with the number of faithful standing at 1,521,241 or 26.5% of the total number of Catholics in Korea. The Archdiocese of Seoul was followed by the Diocese of Suwon (885,184: 15,4%), the Diocese of Incheon (504,065: 8.8%), the Archdiocese of Daegu (498,178: 8.7%), the Diocese of Busan (451,508: 7.9%), the Archdiocese of Gwangju (359,895: 6.3%), the Diocese of Daejeon (318,108: 5.5%), and the Diocese of Uijeongbu (297,502: 5.2%). The number of faithful living in national capital areas, i.e. Seoul, Suwon, Uijeongbu, and Incheon, amounts to 3,207,992 or 55.9% of the total number of Catholics in Korea.
In terms of the percentage of Catholics in comparison with the local population, the Archdiocese of Seoul was ahead of all others with a rate of 15.3%, followed by the Dioceses of Cheju and Cheongju (11.7%), the Diocese of Incheon (11.6%), the Archdiocese of Daegu (11.0%), and the Diocese of Suwon (10.9%). The statistics for each diocese shows similar trends with only slight increases and decreases when compared with the previous year.
By gender, the number of male faithful was 2,429,195 and that of female faithful was 3,312,754: 42.3% and 57.7% respectively of Catholics in Korea.
By age 50.6% of the faithful were in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. The number of people under 20 years of age accounted for 10.2% and those over 65 represented 17.4%. The Statistics indicate that the number of faithful under 20 decreased by 3.3% from the previous year. In contrast, the number of faithful over 65 increased by 3.8%. This reflects a rapidly aging society.
The number of parishes in 2016 was 1,719, an increase of 13. And the number of secondary stations was 740, demonstrating a decrease of 21 from the previous year.
The Statistics also indicate that the number of clergy in Korea in 2016 amounted to 5,162 priests and 39 bishops, including 2 Cardinals. In comparison with the previous year, there were 4,998 Korean priests and 164 foreign missionary priests, showing a respective increase of 1.8% and a decrease of 9.9%. Among them, 4,264 were diocesan priests, 748 religious priests, and 150 missionary priests. The number of newly ordained priests was 109, marking a decrease of 12 from the previous year. The number of seminarians was 1,421, a decrease of 3.3% from the previous year.
There were 1,564 men religious, excluding novices, and 10,170 women religious. The number of novices totaled 391 demonstrating a decrease of 0.8% from the previous year.
According to the Statistics, the number of newly baptized in 2016 was 111,139. This indicates a decrease of 4.3% from the previous year. By gender, newly baptized men and women respectively were 60,937 and 50,202, an increase of 1.3% for men and a decrease of 10.3% for women over the previous year. The number of children baptized amounted to 23,528: a decrease of 4.6% from the previous year. The number of newly baptized men aged between 20 and 24 was 21,406, and this accounted for the largest group (35.1%) among newly baptized men. This significant group reflects the active religious participation of soldiers in military service.
The number of celebrations of the Sacrament of Matrimony amounted to 17,331 in 2016, a decrease of 8.8% over the previous year. Of this number, 10,713 cases were marriages between a baptized and a non-baptized person.
The number of faithful who received the Sacrament of Confession was 4,483,072, an increase of 4.7% over the previous year. The number of faithful who received first communion was 20,504, an increase of 4.9% over the previous year. There was also an increase of 1.9% over the previous year with regard to the number of those who received the Sacrament of Confirmation. The number of Sunday Mass attendees was 1,121,020, a decrease of 4.3% from the previous year. Among the total Catholic population of Korea, there was an average rate of Sunday Mass attendance of 19.5%, a decrease of 1.2 percentage from the previous year.
News from the Church in Korea
● Opening of the Tribunal Sessions towards the Beatification of 214 Korean Martyrs
On February 22, 2017, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively, the Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization (Chairman: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heungsik) held its opening tribunal sessions towards the Beatification of the Servants of God “John the Baptist Yi Byeok and 132 Companions” and the Servants of God “Bishop Francis Borgia Hong Yong-ho and 80 Companions” in the CBCK auditorium.
The former Cause includes 91 martyrs who died during the Byeongin Persecution in 1866; 22 martyrs around the time of the Sinyu Persecution in 1801; 10 martyrs during the Gihae Persecution in 1839; 6 martyrs during the Eulhae Persecution in 1815; 6 martyrs during the Jeonghae Persecution in 1833; 4 martyrs during the Muin Persecution and 4 martyrs during the Gimyo Persecution during the late Joseon Dynasty. The latter Cause includes those who were martyred at the hands of the Kim Il-sung regime in North Korea at the time of the Korean War: 2 bishops, 1 monsignor, 47 priests, 3 seminarians, 7 sisters and 21 lay people. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the decree Nihil Obstat on July 3, 2015 for the former and on October 5, 2016 for the latter. The Most Rev. Lazzaro You, Chairman of the said Commission, issued Decrees opening of the Causes on February 9, 2017.
The Most Rev. Lazzaro You said, “Beatification of these martyrs will provide us with opportunities to remember God’s abundant grace towards this land and to show thanks for it.” He emphasized that the most important aspects in the tribunal's process is to venerate these martyrs and follow their examples. To these ends, he invited all the Korean faithful to keep praying for the beatification of these martyrs and to be truthful witnesses to the Gospel by living in the light of faith.
● New Bishop of the Diocese of Jeonju
On March 14, 2017, the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea announced that Pope Francis had appointed Rev. Fr. John Kim Son-Tae as bishop of the diocese of Jeonju.
The bishop-elect, Rev. John Kim Son-Tae was born on September 15, 1961 in Yeosan-myeon, diocese of Jeonju. He studied philosophy and theology in the major seminary in Gwangju, where he also obtained a Master’s degree, 1988-89. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 20, 1989 in the diocese of Jeonju. After ordination, he continued his studies and held the following offices: priest of the parish of Jeon-dong (1989-1990) and of the parish of Dunyul- dong (1992-1997); studies for a licentiate and doctorate in fundamental theology from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland (1997-2003); director of the diocesan Catechetic Institute (2003-2006); priest of Solnae parish (2006-2009); pastor of Hwasan parish (2009-2013); pastor of Yunjy-dong parish; pastor of Samcheon-dong parish (since 2016).
● Publication of the Korean Translation of the Enchiridion Symbolorum
The CBCK held a ceremony, on March 23, 2017 in the auditorium of the CBCK, to mark the publication of the Korean translation of the Heinrich Denzinger: Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum (hereafter the Enchiridion Symbolorum). This publication is a Korean translation of the Enchiridion Symbolorum, a compendium of all the basic texts of Catholic faith and morals from the second century A.D. to the year 2009, included are the Creeds and the Church’s Magisterium. In particular, the book provides readers with a 180 page index of topics, facilitating easier access to and a more complete understanding of Catholic dogma. The valuable efforts of some professors of Suwon Catholic University have borne fruit in this fine translation, which was first proposed in 2003.
Those who took responsibility for the translation process were: the Most Rev. Linus Lee Seong Hyo, Auxilary Bishop and Vicar General of Suwon, the Very Rev. Msgr. John the Baptist Shim Sang Tae, Director of the Korean Christian Though Institute, and professors of Suwon Catholic University: Rev. Jermanus Kwak Jin Sang, Rev. Joseph Hwang Chi Hon, Rev. Petrus Park Hyun Chang and Rev. Philip Park Chan Ho. Many other Korean theologians also took part in the production of this text. All the included texts along with their explanations are in accordance with the original German edition (44th). They were edited by the Editorial Team of the CBCK after being proofread by the CBCK Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Very Rev. Msgr. John the Baptist Shim said “On hearing the proposal by some young professors to translate the Enchiridion Symbolorum, I thought that they were being too ambitious in proposing this challenging task. Now I am truly pleased with its publication and proud of the priests who worked day and night on it.” The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, President of the CBCK, offered congratulations on publication, saying “The Korean translation of the Enchiridion Symbolorum is an outstanding achievement which is expected to further the development of theological studies in Korea. I hope that it will be of great help to theologians, professors and students in their theological studies.”
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
Lawrence Pak Chwi-deuk (1769?-1799)
Lawrence Pak Chwi-deuk was born in Myeoncheon, Hongju, Chungcheong-do, and heard about Catholicism for the first time in his hometown. He studied the catechism with Saba Ji Hwang when he went to Seoul and then became a Catholic. On returning home he prayed fervently and tried to proclaim the Gospel to his family and neighbors.
When the Sinhae Persecution broke out in 1791, many Catholics in his hometown were arrested and imprisoned. Lawrence Pak visited the persecuted Catholics often and encouraged them in their faith. He was arrested one day when he went to the chief official and protested saying, “Isn’t it a terrible crime to beat innocent people and imprison them for several months?”
He was transferred to Haemi and Hongju to be punished. However, during this time he never lost his faith in God or became discouraged. Less than one month after he was imprisoned an order was given to set him free. As a result, he lost the opportunity to die a martyr's death.
Following his release, while keeping in contact with James Won Si-bo and Francis Bang, Lawrence Pak again practiced his religion and proclaimed the Gospel to his neighbors. When the Jeongsa Persecution broke out in 1797 once again the order was given to arrest Lawrence. Upon hearing the news he escaped to another area, but he gave himself up when he heard that his father had been arrested in his place.
When the interrogation started, Lawrence Pak explained all about the Catholic doctrine point by point. The angry chief official ordered that he be tortured, but to no avail. After being interrogated and tortured regularly, he was put in prison for many months. In the meantime, a new chief official was appointed. Lawrence Pak was again interrogated by him, but he professed his faith in God just as before and as a result he was transferred to Hongju.
In Hongju, Lawrence Pak answered the same questions in the same way and endured all kinds of punishment with great faith. On becoming very angry at Lawrence the chief commander of Hongju gave the order ‘to put him in prison, break his legs and put him to death.’ The chief officer reported the fact to the governor, who sent an order ‘to beat his legs and to kill him unless he surrendered after being beaten fourteen times.’ Afterwards, Lawrence Pak had to stay in prison for months and during this time he was punished in the presence of the chief commander. Once he was stripped of his clothes, abandoned for the night and left in a muddy hole in the cold and rain. He wrote to his mother as follow:
“Two months after I was imprisoned, I reflected on how I could win God’s grace. Then in my dream, I saw the cross of Jesus saying, ‘Follow the cross.’ This revelation is a little bit dim now, but I will never forget it.”
Lawrecne Pak was beaten more than one thousand four hundred times and, on one occasion, was not allowed to drink water for eight days. Prison guards, thinking that he was dead, stripped him and left him abandoned outside. But he was not dead. When Lawrence Pak was imprisoned again, he told the prison guards; “I will not die from hunger or beatings, but I will die if you hang me.”
When the faithful visited him the following night, all his wounds were miraculously healed. The prison guards thought it was magic, and they hanged him by a rope. He died a martyr on April 3, 1799 (February 29, by the lunar calendar). Lawrence Pak was about 30 years old.