- From the Editor:
- Message for the 12th Week for Catholic Education (May 22-28,2017) (Summary)
- The Church in Korea Welcomes - Message for the 7th Sunday for Life (Summary)
- Message for 2017 Labour Day
- Message for the 2017 Day for the Environment
- Message for the 2017 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (Summary)
- News From the Church in Korea
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
The Prophetic Mission of Catholics in Korea (Cf. Lk 4:21-30)
The faithful usually live in an ambivalent state of mind: they look for God so as to receive blessings, but start complaining if they feel that God fails to response to their prayers. The human mind is in a constant state of conflict.
Many believers wish to prosper through God’s abundant grace, no matter what they do. However, God’s blessings are not always avaliable. Frequently God leads us into hardships rather than responding to our prayers for miracles. Sometimes God’s mysterious presence is revealed through miracles given to those who do not believe in Him. This is why we, the faithful, often experience internal conflict.
A miracle is not a blessing given to us unquestionably in our life of faith. Rather, a miracle is a sign that the Lord reveals to us, so that we can learn and understand what God’s will is. A miracle is not a reward for our practice of faith. In this way, although the Lord allows those with deep faith to undergo painful trials, he also grants miracles to non-believers.
Nonetheless, many of the faithful look forward to tangible rewards for their faith. They assume that if they are faithful to God with all their heart and soul, they will be granted ever greater blessings.
However, Jesus puts emphasis on a prophetic life, lived according to the will of God: a life in pursuit of justice and peace, and focused on eliminating social evils, protecting the environment and liberating men and women from inhuman situations. Our task is to awaken the human conscience so as to turn towards an authentic human life.
Asking for God’s blessing is a natural human activity. This desire in itself is blameless. It is, however, also important for us to seek the will of God even in times of suffering which defy this desire for God’s blessing.
God is not far from us: on the contrary He accompanies us in our anguish and sorrow. As long as we pray for blessings, as believers, but fail to fulfil our duty to God and the Church community our faith is nothing but a religion wishing for blessings. Such a superstitious belief is based on one’s selfishness in pursuit of his or her own prosperity.
One of the greatest problems with such a selfish mind-set is its lack of any sense of community responsibility: who cares for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and who cares about sustainability? It is certain that such indifference will lead to the loss of moral sensibility. Unfortunately, today’s society seems to be moving in such a direction.
As a result, more than anything, the faithful in Korean society are called to fulfil their role as living prophets. At this time, all of us are called to be prophets. We should live prophetic lives as Jesus emphasized (Cf. Lk 4,21-30).
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Message for the 12th Week for Catholic Education (May 22-28, 2017) (Summary)
Restoration of Relationship through Mutual Respect
“Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1,3)
We are going through challenging times both politically and economically. According to the Better Life Index, which indicates life satisfaction and general happiness levels, our children ranked bottom among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). They also ranked highest in suicide rates among those countries. Adolescence is a period when young people develop their characters. Unfortunately, the youth of South Korea
spend this critical time in a society based on results rather than love and care. Many young people, overwhelmed by fear of disappointment and failure, get lost, fall into despair, and even reach the decision to end their own lives.
Young people are able to discover a right and universal sense of values through relationships with others at home, school, and in society. Through relationships based on trust, they can understand that we should love one another just as God loves us. When they feel loved, respected, and understood, they, in turn, can love, respect and understand others. In this way, they nurture hope for the future and overcome the difficulties of the present moment.
On this Week for Catholic Education, in order to help young people build better relationships, I appeal to all of you to make the following efforts:
1. More than anything, families should strive to establish deeper bonds among their members. It is important for families to love, understand and help each member because family relationships affect wider social relationships.
2. It is also crucial to create a culture of reconciliation in schools by developing sincere respect between students and teachers, and among students. In this way, problems like bullying and violence in schools can be eliminated. When students are respected as individuals, they can learn the wisdom of respecting others.
3. It is important to promote a culture of respect within society. The world does not revolve around just one person. Mutual respect, therefore, is a prerequisite for receiving respect from others. Such a culture can lead our children to a brighter future.
On this Week for Catholic Eduction, may God bless all students, educators, and parents.
+ John Baptist Jung Shin-Chul
President CBCK Committee on Education
The Church in Korea Welcomes
New Coadjutor Bishop of Cheju and Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
On June 28, 2017, the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea announced that Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Pius Moon Chang-woo as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Cheju.
The bishop-elect Pius Moon, born on 15 March 1963 was ordained a priest of Cheju on February 10, 1996. He studied at the major seminary of Gwangju, receiving a master’s degree in theology in 1996 and completing a doctorate course in 2014.
Since priestly ordination he has served as vicar of Seomun Parish from 1996 to 1997; vicar of Chungang Parish from 1997 to 1998; pastor of Jungmun Parish from 1998 to 1999; director of the Diocesan Office for Youth and Education and of the Diocesan Students’ Association, director of the Office for Catechesis and Migrants from 2000 to 2006; he also lectured in
and was spiritual director to the Catholic University of Gwangju from 2006 to 2016; head of the Shinseong Girls’ Middle School since 2016.
The Holy Father also has appointed Rev. Job Koo Yobi as Titular Bishop of Sfasferia and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul on June 28, 2017.
The bishop-elect Job Koo, born on 25 January 1951 in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do, was ordained a priest of Seoul on February 24, 1981. He studied at the major seminary in Seoul from 1972 to 1981.
After priestly ordination, he served as vicar of Imun-dong Parish from 1981 to 1982; vicar of Sindang-dong Parish and Director of the northern district of Seoul Archdiocese’s Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne (JOC) from 1982 to 1983. He next studied at the Association of Priests of the Prado, Lyon, France, majoring in pastoral theology relating to labor, from
1983 to 1986. He served as pastor of Guro-dong Parish from 1986 to 1991; pastor of Sanggye-dong Parish from 1991 to 1993 and
Director of the Christian Workers Movement (CWM) from 1991 to 1992; National Director of the Association of Young Catholics Workers (YCW), member of the Pastoral Committee for Work, head of the Association of Priests of the Prado in Korea from
1993 to 1998. Since receiving his licentiate in spirituality from the Institut Catholique in Paris in 2000, he has served as pastor of Jongno Parish from 2000 to 2002; spiritual director to Seoul’s major seminary from 2002 to 2009; head of the Association of Priests of the Prado in Korea from 2006 to 2012; member of the International Board of the International Association of Priests of the Prado from 2007 to 2013; pastor of Poi-dong Parish since February, 2013.
The installation ceremony of the bishop-elect Pius Moon will be held at the Jeju Holy Trinity Church on coming August 15, and the installation ceremony of the bishop-elect Job Koo will be held at the Myeongdong Cathedral on August 17.
Message for the 7th Sunday for Life (Summary)
Christians are Called to be Witnesses to the Gospel of life
We celebrate the 7th Sunday for Life which was established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) to protect the dignity of human life and to create a culture of life. May each and every one of you be filled with the life-giving power of God. God gave Himself for us so as we might “have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10,10). Christians consider life as a gift from God and proclaim the Gospel of life through their lives in this world. I hope and pray that the Sunday for Life will offer us an opportunity to reflect the true meaning of life and make our own life a testimony to the Gospel of life.
At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis signed his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et misera. In this letter, he expressed: “death must be... charged with immense meaning”(n.15). As Christians who live life in the light of Christ who opened to us the way of new life, we, the disciples of Christ, are called to remain faithful even at the moment of death. This is because death is “the ultimate act of love towards those we leave behind and towards God whom we go forth to meet” (n.15). At the point of death, an event of returning our lives to God, by reflecting our relationship with God we come to understand the meaning of life with clarity. In other words, death exhibits our faith in life: as Saint John Paul II said in his Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae: “In life and in death, he [humanity] has to entrust himself completely to the ‘good pleasure of the Most High,’ to his loving plan” (n.46).
Death for human beings can be painful but it is inevitable. Still, the moment of death has special meaning. All deception fades away and one’s priorities in life become clear on one’s deathbed. Death has the power to reveal the meaning of life to each individual. To have a meaningful encounter with death, one needs to be prepared for his or her final hour.
It is important for Christians to make a commitment to maintain their and others’ dignity at the time of death. The Law on the Hospice and Palliative Care and the Determination of Life Sustaining Treatment for Terminally Ill Patients will soon come into effect in South Korea. In regard to this, the Ministry of Heath and Welfare encourages those involved in hospice and palliative care with terminally ill patients to encourage them to express their requests through The Advance Health Care Directive Form (available only for those over 19 years old). However, the Catholic Church in Korea has reservations about The Advance Health Care Directive Form promoted by the government. Instead of this option, the Catholic Church in Korea recommends The Health Care Directive Plan, which is based on patients’ consultations with doctors of the medical institution when deciding about future medical treatment.
The CBCK has thus arranged the Guidelines and Explanation for Filling out the Advance Health Care Directive Form to help the faithful to make decisions in light of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Death for Christians is a special event which manifests their faith in ‘life’. On this occasion of the Sunday for Life, we should strive to proclaim the true meaning of both death and life, which is a gift of Jesus, by “commemorating and praising life in the face of one’s own approaching death and at the moment of death” (Saint John Paul II). I pray that God, the Master of life, may enrich each of you with the power of life.
May 7, 2017
+ Matthias RI Iong-hoon
President CBCK Committee for Bioethics
Message for 2017 Labour Day
The Family is a Community formed through Work (Cf. Laborem Exercens, n.10)
On the occasion of the 127th Labour Day, I would like to pray that all workers may be filled with God’s mercy. Despite the prayer of the Church and her solidarity, there are many labourers whose valuable work is still undervalued in society. Their sufferings at work affect not only themselves but their families also, especially their children who may be labourers in the future. Since family is “the first and vital cell of society”(Apostolicam Actuositatem, n.11), its crisis is extended to a crisis of society, the nation and humanity. However, God created the family to stand “at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order”(Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n.211). For this reason, the Church teaches: “society and the state exist for the family” (Ibid, n.214).
1. In today’s world many families are facing a crisis of work. Work is essential for the establishment and maintenance of family life (Cf. Ibid, n.249). For the ‘maximum profit of capital’, the number of temporary workers is exponentially increasing in both public and private sectors. Indirect employment is also widespread among various kinds of affiliated services and subcontractors run by management agencies. Due to frequent restructuring and dismissal, workers face the challenge of ‘uncertainty of family economy’, which, in turn, can lead to a ‘crisis of family’. By indicating “unemployment as a ‘real social disaster’” (Ibid, n.287), the Church, affirms “full employment” as a “mandatory objective” (Ibid, n.288). ‘Wage’ level is also an issue as significant as unemployment. The Bank of Korea has predicted that the number of workers who earn less than the minimum wage will reach 3.13 million: in other words, one sixth of workers in Korea by the end of 2017 will earn less than the minimum wage. If this situation continues, the ‘integral human development’ of family members, at the center of the Church’s social doctrine, will be out of reach.
2. There are ‘other families forgotten by us’: migrant labourers working in Korea and their families. Migrant
labourers are ‘indispensable members’ in the industrial structure of Korea, but they suffer various forms of discrimination. Discrimination such as abuse of human rights, poor medical care, lack of protection against industrial accidents and delays in payment of their salaries. This continues to be the case, even though migrant workers have the “same rights enjoyed by nationals” and the rights to be “helped to become a part of societal life” (Ibid, n.298). We have to recall the fact that Jesus’ family lived in Egypt as a family of migrant labourers. Therefore, we should welcome migrant labourers and their families as if they were Jesus’ family.
At the same time, we must not forget female and young workers who experience discrimination. The Church asserts that “the quality of society” can be measured by the degree of protection afforded to the rights of women to labor (Cf. Ibid, n.295). In reality, however, there are also other issues in the workplace such as gender discrimination in relation to promotion, wages, and career interruption due to childbirth and parenting. Such discrimination can cause distress to women workers who may have become the ‘head of a family’ as a result of a husband’s death or divorce. There is also an urgent need for society to reflect on problems regarding young workers whose human rights are often violated. Increasing numbers of young people suffer as a result of injuries received in the workplace and they often become victims of the blind greed of materialism and drive towards better productivity. Despair caused by discrimination can drive young workers to commit
suicide. Therefore, young workers ought to be formed as ‘workers for the future’ in respect of human rights.
3. The Church highlights how each worker is a participant in the ownership, management and profits of undertakings
(Cf. Ibid, n.281). Profits are gained not only from capital but also through labour. In this regard, the Church teaches:
“it is altogether false to ascribe either to capital alone or to labour alone what is achieved by the joint work of both;
and it is utterly unjust that the one should arrogate unto itself what is being done, denying the effectiveness of the
other” (Ibid, n.277).
It is also the duty of business owners to improve working conditions for their employees as well as respecting their
human dignity and rights. Owners should consider their companies as a “society of persons” not a “society of capital goods” (Ibid, n.338). Each worker should be considered as ‘a true member of the family, a true living human being’. Let us also remember that each worker has his and her own family to be cared for.
Today our society faces a crisis of family which is ultimately rooted in a crisis of labour. This crisis of labour also brings about other crises, beyond that of family, in society, the nation, and on occasion in the Church. The ever expanding nature of the crisis compels the Church to reflect on ‘the labour question’and to take a more active role in inviting all Christians, along with men and women of good will to commit themselves to showing ‘solidarity in love.’
May the blessings of God be bestowed on all workers in abundance. They partake in building the Kingdom of God in spite of the many challenges they face. I hope that our new government may reform the laws and establish labour policies in favor of those suffering in the midst of the family crisis.
May 1, 2017
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
President CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Message for the 2017 Day for the Environment
Let Us Work for the Restoration of the Ecosystem!
God granted us the gift of beautiful mountains and rivers as well as four distinctive seasons. However, we have exploited and destroyed these precious gifts of God by considering them merely as means to make profit. The vitality of all creatures living in the soil, in water and the air is exhausted and is on the brink of irrevocable crisis.
The nationwide Four Major Rivers’project, which was carried out despite the strong protestations of the majority of citizens, has had deadly consequences for the rivers, which provide a major source of drinking water for the people. The sharp increase of green algae in the four rivers can also cause acute liver disease and death for a variety of the wildlife found in these natural habitats.
Air pollution is so severe that it is difficult to breath properly without a mask or air purifier. The industrial area situated in the eastern region of China along with China’s many coal-fired power plants is having a devastating effect on the quality of air in Korea. Our beautiful mountains and rivers, once compared with an intricate embroidery in golden thread, have been irreversibly damaged.
As a result of the 2011 explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, thousands of people were evicted from the region and the operation of all nuclear power plants was suspended. In contrast, when strong earthquakes hit the city of Gyeongju, southeastern South Korea, damage included cracks in walls and collapsed roofs. Although here are fourteen nuclear power plants close to the quake-hit city, the Korean government took no meaningful measures to eradicate potential dangers from the nuclear power plants. The Korean government appears to rely on the groundless and dangerous assertion that ‘Korea is an earthquake safe zone’.
In February this year, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission uncovered illegal disposal of radioactive waste from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute based in Daejeon. According to the report on the inspection conducted by the Commission in March, corrosion was discovered, which, in turn, causes thinning of and holes in a part of the linerplate
in reactors’ containment buildings at many nuclear power plants. In the case of the Kori nuclear power plant, the installed containment linerplate was initially thinner than regular ones. Such a disregard for safety, when added to the existing operational faults, makes it difficult to predict the scale of any potential catastrophe in Korea if an accident like the Fukushima one were to occur here.
Highlighting the possible tragic effects on both society and the wider ecosystem, the Catholic Church in Korea, in solidarity with all men and women of good will, calls for a conversion to sustainable and integral development through the re-naturalization of the country’s four major rivers, denuclearization, and a shutdown of all coal-fired power plants. In this way we can carry out God’s will for humanity “to cultivate and care for it [God’s creation]”(Gn 2,15)(Cf. Laudato Si', n.67); “God looked at everything he had made, and He found it very good” (Gn 1,31).
The newly organized government has put forward plans which involve the restoration of the country’s four major rivers; controlling the operation of coal-fired power plants to help curb the fine dust problem; introduction of a prohibition on the construction of new nuclear power plants; the taking of gradual steps towards the denuclearization of South Korea. These projects ought to be carried out promptly and with precision so as to save the nation from the current crises. The new government should also recognize that any growth-oriented indiscriminate economic policy of a nation runs the risk of destroying the health and safety of its people and the entire ecosystem. Growth does not simply mean a rise in national GDP, increasing per capita national income, limitless construction of cities, the development of high-tech products.
Only when we live together in harmony with a sense of respect and sharing, will we be truly happy. Growth ought to signify happiness for everyone. In other words, true growth has a duel meaning: first, to guarantee the dignity and rights of humanity, especially those of the poor and the weak; second, to protect the ecosystem so that fragile creatures can enjoy their abundant lives, free from destruction and threat of extinction. This is the only way that makes our prolonged existence on this planet possible.
I aim this appeal both to the faithful and to all citizens. Over the last few years we have witnessed just how easily our ecosystem and society can be endangered. In order to break out of this vicious circle, we should reject any policy which threatens life. And instead we should demand a plan which respects life and places the weak first among our concerns. In this way, we can restore the ecosystem and save the planet from destruction. It is high time for the faithful and the public of good will to move forward in righteous action.
June 5, 2017 World Environment Day
+ Peter Kang U-il
President CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment
Message for the 2017 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (Summary)
“Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Is 65,17)
Having lived in the long and painful shadow of national division for over seventy-two years, we once again celebrate the Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People. Having overcome the wounds and pain of the past, Germany, as a unified nation, is standing firm at the heart of the European Union. However, we are still stuck in the mire of inter-Korean confrontation and conflict, and, to make matters worse, our influence grows weaker as a result of the escalating tensions among the related superpowers around the Korean Peninsula.
As a nation we have experienced a turbulent time over the past few months: a series of large-scale candlelight demonstrations was led by citizens angry at the unprecedented monopoly of national affairs; for the first time in the history of the Constitution the president was impeached and detained; a new president was elected to replace the impeached president.
All countries have their various problems. However, on top of other problems, South Korea and North Korea have the issue of national division to contend with. Having been in a state of cease-fire for 64 years, Cold War logic is still deeply rooted in both the South and North. Sadly, by putting Cold War logic above faith, some of our believers stigmatize North Koreans as those who do not deserve to be loved and as objects to be curse and hatred. They denounce those who speak the practice of “love”, the core of our faith. Moreover, they also brand priests as ‘followers of North Korea’ without hesitation. The long lasted Cold War has made our communities and our individual lives ill, and, as a result, our future is becoming ever more unclear.
In order to build a better future, a shift to a peace system on the Korean peninsula is urgently needed. In this current unstable cease-fire situation, the Korean Peninsula is always exposed to tensions and dangers. Peace on our peninsula is required for the betterment of our lives, but even more so for the lives of future generations.
Therefore, I urge the new government to make efforts to transform the cease-fire into a more stable system of peace. When the war is finally declared over and the South and North open a new era of peace through active exchange and cooperation, the day of unification, with mutual economic growth, will follow. To this end, I urge the government to take active steps to ensure that the South and North grow as brothers and sisters through active encounters on both religious and civil levels.
People have power to change the world as we have already witnessed. When our aspiration for peace comes true in reality, we may sing a song in praise of the Lord: “one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again” (Is 2,4).
Dear brothers and sisters who are called peacemakers! (Mt 5,9) Please join us in prayer with patience, courage and eagerness for peace. Every evening at 9 o’clock, take a moment to pray an ‘Our Father’ and a ‘Hail Mary’ for true peace in and for the unification of this land where we live. On the occasion of the 2016 Spring General Assembly, the Bishops recommended the establishment of a ‘National Reconciliation Department’ in each parish. We must initiate this peace movement at the parish level. In order to transform our stony hearts, soaked in Cold War logic, into soft hearts of flesh (Cf. Ez 36,26), we should strive to raise funds to support various educational and experiential programs and to facilitate inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady in Fatima. At the apparition the Holy Mother said “Repent and pray the rosary for the peace and salvation of the world.” This message is also addressed to us today who are living a life of division and conflict. Let us make the Korean Peninsula a place where, through the intercession of Mother Mary, peace will once again flow like a river.
June 25, 2017
+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
President CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People
News from the Church in Korea
● Special Envoy for the President’s Audience with the Holy Father
The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Heejoong, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, delivered a congratulatory message to President Moon Jae-in who won the 19th presidential election with 41.08% of the vote. After the impeachment of the former president by the Constitutional Court of Korea, an early presidential election was held on May 9, 2017.
In his message the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim said,“ Now Korea is in urgent need of a credible leader who is faithful to his principles and moves towards true peace and justice beyond today’s conflicts and confrontations.”He asked the new president that while leading the nation he “be the one that, in the spirit of the Constitution, ensures that the vulnerable and disadvantaged in society be treated with dignity and respect, protects everyone so that they have the right to express
themselves freely according to their own thoughts and conscience without restriction.”He also asked the new president “to promote a balanced development of the nation, and to appoint his staff in a fair and impartial manner so that all selected and competent persons may take part in the new government administration.”He went onto request that the new president
“propose a clear vision and philosophy of governance for the future, which makes it possible for all Korean people,
both North and South, to reconcile and coexist in peace.”
After President Moon’s inauguration, the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim visited Rome as his Special Envoy from May 20 to 27, 2017. The delegation led by Archbishop Kim and made up of Prof. Bosco Seong Youm, former Ambassador of Korea to the Vatican,
met with Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State, and subsequently met with the Holy Father on two occasions, May 24 and May 26. Archbishop Kim asked the Holy Father to pray for peace and the reconciliation of the Korean people, expressing gratitude for the Holy Father’s special affection and care for Korea.
The Archbishop also stated that he conveyed President Moon’s wish to receive Pope Francis’ support and blessing as he embarks on his new task to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. According to the Archbishop, the Holy Father showed a deep understanding of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, putting emphasis on the importance of dialogue without resort to armed force in dealing with the current difficulties.
● Anti-Nuclear Efforts of the Catholic Church in Korea
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) has already expressed concerns about nuclear power plants by publishing a booklet in 2013, titled Nuclear Technology and Teachings of the Church - Episcopal Reflections on Nuclear Power Generation. Church movements continue to participate in a campaign for denuclearization. They also try to help people understand the necessity of eliminating nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable energy. At the sametime, they urge each person to change their consumptive lifestyles into more energy-efficient ones.
In April this year, the CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment sent to each presidential candidate a Q&A letter requesting them to express their policies regarding the nuclear issue. In addition to collating their replies, the Committee also informed the faithful of Church teachings concerning this issue, better enabling them to make a sensible decision in the presidential election.
The Catholic Solidarity Against Nuclear Energy in association with the above Committee organized the One Million Signatures Campaign titled, Farewell, Nuclear Power Plants!: “Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live”(Dt 30:19). With the approval of the bishops, each diocese in Korea participated in this campaign by collecting signatures in their territorial parishes. To make known the results of this campaign and express the Catholic demand for denuclearization, a press conference was held in Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul on April 10, 2017.
Every month, people from five different religious traditions take part in a Religious Pilgrimage in Seoul for Denuclearization, when they pray together for the cause. The represented traditions are: Protestantism, Buddhism, Won Buddhism, Cheondoism, and Catholicism. The Jesuit Research Center for Advocacy and Solidarity also participates in pilgrimages for denuclearization in Seoul and around the country.
The CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment and the Catholic Solidarity Against Nuclear Energy organize a campaign aimed at promoting a nuclear free world for our children. They have already published a guide explaining the transition to a nuclear free civil society.
At last, the newly elected Korean president Moon Jae-in is beginning to fulfill one of his electoral pledges. He has ordered a permanent stop to the problematic Kori nuclear power plant. The new government continues to take steps towards the denuclearization of Korea.
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
James Won Si-bo (1730-1799)
James Won Si-bo was born in Eungjeong-ri, Hongju, Chung cheong-do (now, Seongdong-ri, Hapdeok-eup, Dangjin-gun, Chung
nam) into a commoner class family. Between 1788-1789, a few years after the Catholic Church was established in Korea, James Won, who was almost 60 years old, became a Catholic along with his cousin Peter Won Si-jang. ‘Si-bo’ was his adult name.
By nature James Won was kind, honest and cheerful. As soon as he became a Catholic he began faithfully to observe the teachings of the Church and he devoted himself to practicing the virtues, donated his wealth to the poor, and fasted every
Friday. He tried to spread the Gospel traveling from place to place, and as a result his name was well known to many people.
When the Sinhae Persecution broke out in 1791, many Catholics were arrested. At that time the magistrate of Hongju ordered the police to arrest James Won and his cousin Peter Won. On the advice of his friends, James Won escaped, but Peter was arrested and martyred after being severely tortured. When James Won heard the news, he deeply regretted missing the opportunity of martyrdom and, as a result, practiced his faith all the more fervently. Around 1795, James Won met Father
James Zhou Wen-mo who refused to baptize him because he had a concubine. When he returned home he immediately sent the woman away.
Two years later the Jeongsa Persecution broke out and swept through the entire region of Chungcheong-do. It was during this turmoil that James Won, then sixty-eight years old, was arrested in 1798 and subsequently punished and tortured at the Deoksan government office. Despite suffering severe torture he never yielded and professed his faith in God saying, “I will practice my Catholic religion to serve the Lord and save my soul.” Next, he was transferred to Hongju for a time only to be brought back again to Deoksan where he was repeatedly beaten and interrogated. During this period of torture both his legs were broken.
In 1799 the governor ordered that James Won be taken to the military headquarters in Cheongju. The day he left Deoksan, his wife, children and friends all followed him crying. He responded by telling them:
“To serve the Lord and save souls, we should not follow human instincts. If we endure all the pains, we will be recompensed by the bliss of meeting our Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Mother Mary. If you stay here, my heart will become weak. I may not be able to persevere in my faith, and commit a great folly against God. So please go back home.”
On arriving in Cheongju, James Won was taken to the chief official to be punished. The chief official tried his best to make James Won betray God, but it was in vain because James Won’s heart was filled with an ardent desire to die a martyr.
The beatings James Won suffered in Deoksan severely damaged and broke his legs. He had to endure many forms of torture and punishment which eventually came to an end with his death. He died on April 17, 1799 (March 13, by the Lunar calendar). at sixty-nine years of age.
When he died as a martyr, his body was surrounded with mysterious splendor. It is said that about fifty families who witnessed this scene later became Catholics.