CBCK Newsletter

 CBCK Newsletter







The Family, the First and the Most Important Path

The Family, the First and the Most Important Path

There is a saying: "Ga-hwa-man-sa-seong," which means, "When the family is peaceful, all things go well." At present, however, the family is collapsing. Young people tend to postpone or avoid marriage. The divorce rate is increasing while the birth rate is decreasing. There is another saying: "Su-sin-je-ga-chi-guk-pyeong-cheon-ha," which means, "Cultivate your morals and manage the family well, and then you can govern the nation and establish peace in the whole world." At present, however, the family cannot stand upright. The dignity of fathers has fallen. The generation gap has widened. Individualism and egoism have deepened. If this continues, the nation will be shaken to its very foundation.

Worrying about the low birth rate and the aging of the population, the government, which tried to control births in the past with the motto "One Child, a Son or a Daughter, Is Enough" has now set up a committee to encourage more childbirths. The Catholic Church in Korea has always opposed abortion carried out under the pretence of family planning. This opposition does not arise from a concern over the decrease of population or a weakening of national competitiveness. It comes from a conviction about the dignity of human life.

Recently, the government committee offered some suggestions, including to have the government take responsibility for the third children in any family, and establish daycare centers in every workplace. In this way, they claimed, a national consensus could be reached on the necessity of having more children. However, is childbirth a matter requiring a national consensus? Can parents turn over the responsibility of child-rearing to the government? We cannot call this responsible parenthood. It is no different from having the government adopt their children.

Most young couples want to have just one or two children because of the enormous expenses of private education. Educational expenses are obviously a great burden for parents. Yes. The low birth rate in Korean society originates from various social problems and education policy is one of them.

To strengthen the family, we should approach the family crisis from all aspects, including education. What is most important is respect for human life and integral education of the whole person. This follows because man is created by God to make this world beautiful and man is loved by God.

This love of God starts within the family and is based on the family. The family is the place where God's creation continues. From the beginning, God blessed the family: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" (Gn 1:28). Harmonious families are essential to preserve the world which God created and which was good in His eyes. For this reason, the family can be rightly said to be "the first and the most important" path in the way of the Church (Letter to Families from Pope John Paul II, n. 2).

+ Basil Cho Kyu-man
Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
Outgoing Executive Secretary
of the CBCK




2006 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK Held

2006 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK Held

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held its 2006 Spring General Assembly from March 20 to 23 and made the following decisions:

1. The bishops approved the publication of the Catechism for the Aged (including the Catechists' Book) which was prepared for the aged who have difficulty in receiving regular catechesis.

2. The bishops elected the Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san as the representative of Korea to the 49th International Eucharistic Congress slated for June 15 to 22, 2008 in Quebec, Canada.

3. The bishops approved the revised Statutes of the Catholic Conference of Korea.

4. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the FABC, is to hold a Seminar on Ecumenism for Asian Bishops slated for July 17 to 21, 2006 at Aaron Retreat House in Uiwang-si, Gyeonggi-do.

5. The bishops accepted the proposal of the CBCK Committee on Education to hold the first Korean Youth Congress in 2007.

6. The bishops instituted the Week for Catholic Education, the second last week in May including the Korean Youth Day (last Sunday in May), in order to enhance the awareness of Catholic education and to set up concrete plans for its improvement.

7. The bishops decided to hold the 12th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting in the Archdiocese of Daegu from November 14 to 16, 2006 around the theme of "Priestly Formation."

8. The bishops decided to celebrate in Korea the 15th World Day for the Sick in 2007 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

9. The bishops appointed the Rev. Peter Pai Young-ho (diocesan priest of Suwon, ordained in 1985) as the Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and Secretary General of the Catholic Conference of Korea.



Korean Catholics Rejoice at the Appointment of a New Korean Cardinal, an Archbishop and Two Auxiliary Bishops

Korean Catholics Rejoice at the Appointment of a New Korean Cardinal, an Archbishop and Two Auxiliary Bishops

In the last few months, the Catholic Church in Korea has had the great joy of having a new Korean cardinal, a new archbishop and two auxiliary bishops.

The news on February 22, 2006, that the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, was named a new cardinal by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI brought great joy to Korean society as well as to the Catholic Church in Korea. He is the long-awaited second Korean cardinal after the creation of His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan in 1969. Cardinal Kim has been regarded and respected as a true "elder" of Korean society. After the announcement, the newly appointed cardinal expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father and to the Korean people, "I'd like to attribute today's glory to the help and support of the Korean people and government as well as the Church. I think that the appointment reflects the enhanced status in the world of the Catholic Church in Korea." He added, "I will make every effort to respond to the expectation of the people and contribute to the common good of the whole country."

Prior to that, on February 3 the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea announced that the Pope appointed the Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Auxiliary Bishop of Daegu as the Coadjutor Archbishop of the same archdiocese.

In January, two new bishops were appointed. On January 2, 2006, the Holy Father appointed the Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man as the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul and the titular bishop of Elefantaria di Proconsolare. Ordained a priest in 1982, the new bishop earned a doctor's degree in dogmatic theology at the Pontificia Universita Urbaniana in Rome and from 1991 to 2004 he taught seminarians at the Catholic University of Korea. Since April 2004 he has served as the executive secretary of the CBCK.

Two weeks later on January 17, 2006, the Holy Father appointed the Rev. Paul Hwang Cheol-soo as the Auxiliary Bishop of Pusan and the titular bishop of Vico di Pacato. The newly elected Bishop, ordained a priest in 1983, received a master's degree in fundamental theology at the Katholische Universitat Eichstatt-Ingolstadt in Germany and from 1991 to 1994 he taught seminarians at the Catholic University of Pusan. He served as a parish priest in many parishes and as the director of Maryknoll Hospital in Pusan. He also served as the chancellor of the Pusan Diocese.



Message for the Week for Sanctification of the Family

The Way towards a Holy Family

+ May the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and the Infant Jesus bless you!

On the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Family, I wish you and your family the abundant blessings of the Infant Jesus.

Just as a new life becomes a blessing for a family, so the birth of the infant Jesus for the world paved a new way towards salvation. God has blessed our families on their way towards salvation through the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and the Infant Jesus. For this reason, Christians wish to have a holy family. However, it is not easy to define what a holy family is. Does a holy family mean "a family whose members are all baptized" or "a harmonious family" or "a healthy and pleasant family"? Probably not. A holy family cannot be realized only because all the members are baptized. A harmonious or pleasant family is just an ideal image of family life which non-believers also desire.

The Holy Family cannot be described as a healthy and pleasant family such as all people want and desire. It was rather a family full of suffering and trials. The trials and conflicts imposed on Mary and Joseph were enormous and unbearable. To marry a woman pregnant before their marriage gave Joseph a great sense of shame and confusion and even led him to think of breaking off the engagement. As for Mary, the time of her pregnancy, which should have been a time of joy and blessing, was a time of suffering and embarrassment because she was pregnant before marriage. The conception of Jesus was an incomparable joy and happiness for all humanity, but for Mary and Joseph it might be the cause of great suffering if they had not believed.

Mary and Joseph, however, gave a great example to spouses as they overcame their conflicts and trials with faith, going beyond human limits. As a husband Joseph accepted with love his wife's obedience to God and Mary as wife respected and trusted the faith of her husband. In a family based on this kind of love and respect for each other, the Messiah came to the world as a man. This family became the source of grace where the Providence of God was realized.

God entrusted His Son Jesus Christ to the family created by the obedience and faith of Mary and Joseph. This Providence was a great event to elevate to a supernatural level a human family built upon the love of the spouses.

Through the love of spouses having its origin in Adam and Eve, God made the family a place where He dwells, a domestic church leading to salvation. Thus, the holy family we aspire to is not just a family pursuing human happiness but a family of grace which realizes the will of God by overcoming trials and suffering with obedience and love. The family of Mary and Joseph is the model for Christian families. In this family, husband and wife understood and loved each other, although they were not rich or comfortable all the time. We should aspire to and imitate this kind of family, truly a domestic church.

It is very difficult these days to find husbands like Joseph and wives like Mary. The current mentality of instant love is shaking the institution of marriage itself and our absurd thought that with human power we can separate what God has joined tears down the family. A selfish and self-centered way of thinking has broken up the family and the change of economic structures has undermined the value of the family.

Parents in the past taught children by the example of their lives but now they tend to separate education from family life. Nowadays the center of the family has shifted from spouses to children. In addition, the family itself is not considered as a community of common life and destiny but it is reduced to being a means for satisfying desires or a necessary condition.

In time the family which used to be the origin and ground of human maturity has come to face a crisis of dissolution and even disappearance, losing its role as a sweet home where members find rest for mind and body and recharge and refresh themselves. The selfishness prevailing among family members has destroyed the family environment and the competition in college entrance examinations has separated children and parents. Now we must regain an awareness that the family is a small church where we meet and experience God. We must start anew. We must realize that the family is the nest where children learn culture and customs and with the love and concern of parents mature as members of society. It is time for a return to the proper position of father, mother and children. We must first renew our families, re-establishing the lost role and position of each member in the family.

The Second Vatican Council asserted the importance of the family as the basic community, saying, "Christian spouses … help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special gift among the people of God. From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state"(Lumen Gentium, n.11). Pope John Paul II also called the family a "small church" or a "domestic church."

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea has instituted a week beginning with the Feast of the Holy Family as the Week for Sanctification of the Family. The aim of the week is to enable families to reflect on the past year and to welcome a new year with the love and blessing of the Infant Jesus. On this occasion, we should examine ourselves to see if we have lived and performed properly as spouses, as parents and as children.

I wish your family an abundance of Christ's love and grace. May the model of the Holy Family be realized in your family.

Christian families must be reborn as "the sanctuary of life" and "the center and the heart of the civilization of love" and the "first school" of social virtues and humanity (cf. Letter to Families from Pope John Paul II).

December 30, 2005
On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

+ Jacobus Kim Ji-seok
President Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry of the CBCK




Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (summary)

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20)

"Unity" is the common desire of humanity and also the reason for the existence of the Church in the world. Following last year's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which was the turning point of the Catholic Church in the 20th century, we this year also revive the vocation of the Church, that is, "the restoration of unity among all Christians" (Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 1) since the Church is "a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, n. 1). It is the nature of the Church to proclaim the hope of unity for humankind who have lived a history of division. This duty also belongs to all believers desiring unity and peace and to all people of good will who pursue a life of harmony and reconciliation beyond the history of contradiction and conflicts.

However, to become the sign of unity between God and man for all humankind, the Church should first manifest the sign of its own unity to the world. This does not mean to talk of a great cause or to resolve external conflicts among denominations. Rather, it is only possible through the presence of the risen Jesus Christ who promised to be always with his disciples always until the end of the age. Jesus is present when the words of Jesus are proclaimed and practiced, when the bread and wine are shared in the Eucharist in remembrance of him, and when we encounter Jesus in children, the hungry, the imprisoned, the least of all, our neighbors and those who carry out his mission and ministry. Thus, he keeps his words, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

It is very significant for the Catholic Church to celebrate annually the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18 to January 25, the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, the Apostle. During this octave, she recommends the faithful to pray and work for Christian unity. Compared with the active efforts for Christian unity among the western churches which have deeply experienced the suffering of division, the churches in Korea still have a long way to go to reach Christian unity. Considering this reality, we should invoke the Spirit who guided St. Paul to conversion.

The Catholic Church and the Protestant churches in Korea should first realize that they are together called to be communities of prayer, before struggling with different opinions about doctrines. It is important for ecclesial communities to carry out their own duties by putting their trust in Jesus Christ and entrusting themselves to the work of God and His Spirit. By God's power of reconciliation, they also must forgive each other repeatedly where two or three are gathered together in His name. It is also the common challenge for the Church, who believes in the power of common prayer and ultimately in the presence of Jesus in the communities gathered in His name.

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, therefore, all Christians should be aware that unity is a gift for which they should ask incessantly. They should also be aware that Christian unity can be realized through prayers offered in one voice, being gathered together in the name of Jesus. The annual joint prayer meeting between the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches in Korea since 1986 is the result of our emphasis on common prayer in the efforts for Christian unity.

There is one important point here. True unity does not consist in how many voices are participating in the prayer but in how closely united these voices are. The noticeable progress in Christian unity within and outside the Church in recent decades can be attributed to the one voice of Christians in their enthusiasm to faithfully keep the commandment of Jesus: love one another as I love you (Jn 15:12). "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13:35), Jesus taught. His words that He will be where two or three are gathered together in His name have to do with the mutual love of the "two or three."

This year also the Church is sent to the venue of conflicts and division. In the face of realities where great peace movements and activities are emerging and at the same time are fading away, the Church should listen to the voice from simple movements where two or three Christians gather in love of each other. There is also the challenge to create in the Church the culture of mutual respect and dialogues among the Christian confessions based on humanity, rather than prejudice without dialogue. For this purpose, churches need to renounce the memories of past suffering and wounds. In addition, we, as disciples of Christ, should look for ways to heal the past wounds and give common witness in order to advance reconciliation. For Christian ministers and lay faithful, I suggest such things as personal meetings of ministers, joint prayer meetings, sharing of experiences in faith, common activities on pending issues in the local communities and giving common witness to Christian hope in daily life.

All these efforts cannot be possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully, the witness of life by Christians who entrust everything to the guidance of the Spirit of Truth can promote Christian unity and make the Church become salt and light in the world. May the common efforts of the churches in Korea bear much fruit for Christian unity in this land.

January 18, 2006
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong

President Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK






Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2006

"Whoever Loves God Must Also Love His Brother" (1Jn 4:21)

1. Love is the tie which unites human beings with God, the world and other people. True Christians are those who live in deep unity with God, have communion of love with their neighbors and respect the order of creation. Therefore, love and faith for God must manifest themselves through acts of sharing, accompanied by love for neighbors and all creation. Jesus, who is Love, continues to offer His body and blood to us as food and drink. For us, who are nourished by His body and blood and find the strength to live in Him, sharing of love should be our daily life, not a special occasion or event.

2. What we need most is to share love. If we cannot do this, human life will be extinguished and die. Children cannot grow and mature without sufficient love. Likewise, elders may easily become weak and die if they cannot share love with friends or relatives. Love invites us to open our minds and our hearts to our neighbors. In this light, let us look at the world in which we are living.

The three richest individuals in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 49 least developed countries whose combined population is 600 million people. There are 50 countries where the average income of the people is much lower now than it was ten years ago; in 60 countries, it is lower than it was twenty years ago. The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86 percent of all goods, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. The world now produces enough food to feed everyone living; however, 40 percent of edible grain is used as livestock feed in richer countries, while more than one billion people are in hunger. Every day 24,000 people are dying of hunger and malnutrition in the world. In poor countries, children are born underweight and 6 million children are dying annually before they reach the age of five. Sadly, in addition, many people who live in poor living conditions have no means to escape unpredictable natural disasters, so they are the most victimized by disasters.

3. Even at this moment, many people are crying for our help. There are many neighbors who have lost their place of living and are wandering or dying because of wars, drought, diseases, and other sorts of disasters. As an official relief organization of the Catholic Church, Caritas Internationalis, in collaboration with its 162 member organizations working in 201 countries and territories, has made efforts for about 50 years to carry out initiatives of relief, welfare, and development in underdeveloped countries. Caritas Corea also takes part in this effort; to help the poor and starving people in the world, it has sent a total of 13 billion won (US $13 million) to 382 projects in the last 12 years (1993-2004), amounting to one billion won a year. However, considering the number of Catholics in Korea (about 4 million), this amounts to only 250 won a year per individual Catholic. In poorer countries, one thousand won can keep a family alive for a day, 10 thousand won can provide a child with two meals a day for one month, and 100 thousand won can buy grain for a family of six for six months.

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) makes us sad to know that Lazarus would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table but he could not have even a scrap. Material goods become more worthy when they are used for the Kingdom of God and our neighbors. Those who have goods must not neglect their needy brothers. How can such a neglectful person seek the love of God and expect to reside in that love? "If anyone says, 'I love God,' but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1Jn 4:20).

Last year, thanks to the generous help of the faithful, we were able to give aid to the victims of the tsunami in Asia, to our North Korean brethren, and to those afflicted by the earthquake in Pakistan. I deeply appreciate your help. Caritas Corea, in the name of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, will make every effort to help needy neighbors in other countries, because it is beyond the capacity of any single individual. I call for your generous sharing of love so that we can do our utmost to promote the common good and help our neighbors.

"Whoever Loves God Must Also Love His Brother" (1Jn 4:21).

February 5, 2006

+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
President Committee for "Caritas Corea"  of the CBCK




News from the Church in Korea

Archdiocese of Seoul Appoints Auxiliary Bishops as Regional Episcopal Vicars

The Archdiocese of Seoul strengthened the structure of regional episcopal vicars by appointing the three auxiliary bishops as episcopal vicars for three regions in the archdiocese.

It was made public on February 2 that the archdiocese appointed the three auxiliary bishops as regional episcopal vicars; the Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung for the central area of Seoul; the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe for the eastern area of Seoul; and the Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man for the western area of Seoul. They were also appointed as the vicar general, the episcopal vicar for social ministry apostolate and the episcopal vicar for youth, respectively. Until now, three monsignors have served as the episcopal vicars for the three regions.

The appointment of auxiliary bishops as regional episcopal vicars was one of the practical suggestions from the archdiocesan synod which closed in September 2003. It aims at more autonomous and effective pastoral care on the level of the parish and the region, by establishing closer relationships between priests and bishops, and through this, between the faithful and bishops. "Communion and communication between priests and the Archbishop" is one of the most important responsibilities entrusted to the episcopal vicars.

"Vitae Mysterium" Prize Instituted

On the occasion of the 14th World Day of the Sick, the Life Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul instituted the "Vitae Mysterium" Prize and publicly invited as candidates for the prize those who have contributed remarkably to spreading the culture of life or to research for the treatment of incurable diseases.

This prize will be granted in two categories: the academic field, including life science and the humanities, and the practical field of activities for respecting and defending life. After receiving candidates from March to June, the winner will be announced on December 10, and the awards ceremony will be held on the next World Day of the Sick, February 11, 2007.

The name of the prize comes from the motu proprio of Pope John Paul II Vitae Mysterium published on the 1994 World Day of the Sick.

The Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Chairman of the Prize Committee, said, "We hope that this effort of the Catholic Church can lead our society to the respect of life and give hope and impetus to the life science world which has recently evoked much controversy and concern."

Representative Structure for Social Communications of the Church

At the regular meeting of the CBCK Committee for Social Communications (President: Most Rev. Paul Choi Deok-ki) held on Feb. 15, 2006, the committee members reached a consensus on the need to intensify the social communication function of the Church.

Bishop Choi first raised this question, saying, "We need to examine whether the committee worked effectively to communicate the opinions of the Catholic Church to society when the Church was involved in social issues, like the opposition to human embryonic research."

Mr. Peter Choi Hong-un, a Director of Korea Press Foundation, noted, "In many cases, the voice of the Catholic Church could not permeate into society but just remained within the Church. As there are many important issues requiring the intervention of the Church, we should prepare to communicate our voice to society clearly and explicitly."

In this regard, the Permanent Council of the CBCK at its regular meeting on Feb. 20 approved the plan to establish the Planning Department for Social Communications within the CBCK. As a representative structure of the Church for social communications, the department will focus on spreading the Catholic spirit and ideas through mass media in cooperation with the existing Catholic media and communication organizations.

Catholic Church to Present a Petition for the Abolition of Capital Punishment

Welcoming the government's recent decision to review the question of replacing capital punishment with life imprisonment, the CBCK Committee for the Abolition of Capital Punishment announced that it would present the government with a petition for the abolition of capital punishment, at a press conference in Myeongdong Catholic Center, Seoul, on March 6.

The campaign for the petition was started on the occasion of Human Rights Sunday on Dec. 4, 2005, by the committee, and over 110,000 signatures were collected, including those of H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, all the other Korean bishops, and the faithful in Korea.

In the press release titled "Let's inspire respect for life in this land!" the committee asserted, "It is an individual who commits a crime, but all members of society are responsible for the criminal motives." It continued: "The abolition of capital punishment is the first step towards a world for living together" and proposed that the death penalty should be substituted with the lifetime imprisonment sentence.

Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Disabled

The Pastoral Institute of Korea of the CBCK held a meeting on the pastoral care of the disabled with the theme "The Catholic Church living with the Disabled" at the CBCK building in Seoul on Mar. 3, in order to listen to the voices inside and outside of the Church on this matter.

Among the six presenters were a priest, a religious, and lay people who are in charge of the pastoral care and the welfare of the disabled. The lay presenters were themselves disabled.

The Rev. Michael Jeong Sun-oh, pastor of Beon-dong Parish in Seoul, said, "Above all, pastors should know the realities of the disabled within the parish through pastoral visits to the parishioners."

Several constructive and concrete plans were suggested, such as the formation of pastoral workers, the establishment of a national committee for the disabled and of a Sunday for the Disabled. Convenient facilities for the disabled were also suggested (e.g. removing of doorsills and setting up elevators in new church buildings).

Preparatory Committee for the Diocesan Synod of Cheongju Established

The Diocese of Cheongju will launch a preparatory committee in April for the diocesan synod with the Rev. Bernard Tschang In-san, Vicar General of the diocese as its president. The diocese will also start in earnest to draft bills for the forthcoming synod.

The diocese published a Research Report on the Opinions of the Faithful of Cheongju Diocese on Mar. 19. The research was carried out among 40,000 diocesan faithful from Dec. 6 last year to gather their opinions as a preparatory step for the coming diocesan synod. According to the Research Report which summarizes 18,454 questionnaires, the diocesan faithful regarded six pastoral areas as important issues to be treated in the synod: mission (16.6%), pastoral care for the youth (13.5%), clergy (12.1%), the re-education of the faithful (11,2%), the social apostolate (9.5%), and the liturgy and piety.

Based on the Research Report, the diocese will set up a preparatory stage for the synod. In time a study committee (for drafting the bills of the synod), a focus group and an executive committee will be formed under the Preparatory Committee. The study committee will be composed of 3 subgroups (priestly office, kingly office, prophetic office); the focus group will have 3 subgroups (priest, religious, lay people); and the executive committee will have 4 subgroups (planning, education, research, communication).

Seminar for Development of Martyrs' Mountain Shrine in the Diocese of Jeonju

A seminar for the development of Martyrs' Mountain Shrine (Chimyeongja-san) in the Diocese of Jeonju was held at Jeonju Sungsim Girls' High School on Mar. 18, 2006. This seminar took place under the auspices of Jeonju City, the diocesan Lay Apostolate Council, the Honam Research Institute for Korean Church History and the Jeonju Historical Museum.

Martyrs' Mountain Shrine is the place where Yu Hang-geom, a Servant of God, the Apostle of the Honam region (southwestern Korea), and his six family members were buried after being martyred during the Shinyu Persecution of 1801.

The seminar participants exchanged their opinions about some questions, such as, how to elevate Martyrs' Mountain Shrine to the international level and how to connect it with traditional Korean culture, for instance by creating a Korean-style village around the shrine.

In his welcome speech, the Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho, Bishop of Jeonju, said, "If the martyrs of the Early Church in Korea would be beatified, Martyrs' Mountain Shrine could certainly play an important role as a worldwide popular shrine."

The Rev. Daegeon Andrew Kim Jin-so, Director of the Honam Research Institute for Korean Church History, emphasized that Martyrs' Mountain could be not only a martyrs' shrine but also an historical and cultural place.

The Rev. Jean Michel Cuny (MEP) spoke of the many collaborative projects between the Church and the government or NGOs in the development of European local shrines, especially the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. He hopes that Martyrs' Mountain Shrine will become an international shrine to encourage many foreign Catholics in their faith.





The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea

Saint Kwon Tug-in Peter (1805~1839)

Kwon Tug-in Peter was born in 1805 in Seoul, to a Catholic family. When he was a child, he lost his father. His mother, who had been a devout Catholic, died when he was 16 years old. His mother's good example made him a wonderful Catholic. He used to get up even before the first cock crows and pray until daybreak. He was known to be kind to everybody.

After his mother died, he married. He first worked at his brother's herb shop, but later he had a small business for his livelihood. He was poor, but he did not complain. After he moved to another place, he made crucifixes and holy medals not only for his livelihood but also for church expenses.

When the persecution started in 1839, he was arrested with his family on January 16. Peter showed his rosary to the captors in order to tell them that he and his family were all Catholics. Thus they became the first family to be arrested during the persecution of 1839. Bishop Imbert, who was near Suwon, was informed about the arrest and returned to Seoul to console and encourage the discouraged Catholics.

They were investigated and tortured in various ways. Peter's wife and his brother-in-law, who could not endure the tortures, denied their faith and were released. Peter, who was still in prison, wrote them to change their minds. According to the testimony of his daughter-in-law, Yi Agatha, his wife acknowledged the mistake of her apostasy and repented.

Peter was very severely interrogated by the police chief.

"Why do you believe the Catholic religion?"

"We all must thank God, who is the Creator of angels, men and all things that exist on earth. Everybody must worship Him."

"Reveal the names of your fellow Catholics."

"I cannot do it because my religion teaches not to do any harm to others."

Peter was tortured severely, and the police chief ordered Peter's fellow inmates to beat him. They beat Peter so badly that he was almost dead twice. According to a record of the Criminal Court, one of the reasons for his death sentence was the fact that Peter made and sold religious articles.

Peter was finally beheaded outside the Small West Gate on May 24, 1839, at the age of 35, with eight other Catholics. It is said that his face had a mysterious smile even after his head was cut off.

Saint Chang Song-jip Joseph (1786~1839)

Chang Song-jip Joseph was born to a pagan family in Seoul. He worked at a herb shop. He married twice, but lost his wives early. At the age of 30 he began to study the catechism. But Joseph could not believe the doctrines of the Incarnation and the virgin birth. He could not believe that God humbled Himself to become a man for the love of mankind.

Unable to solve the problem of doubt, Joseph abandoned the study of the Catholic religion, and was interested only in making money. However, one of his friends was a Catholic, and he persuaded Joseph to return to God. Joseph repented his past fault. He indulged himself in prayer, meditation and scripture readings. He abstained from meeting his friends and lived a solitary life. His friends asked him why he did not do business. He used to reply that he would rather suffer hunger and cold for the sake of God and everlasting happiness than have worldly wealth.

Joseph was baptized and confirmed on the same day in April 1838. When he heard about the courageous martyrs, he was moved so deeply that he wanted to give himself up to the government authorities, but his godfather stopped him from surrendering himself.

He was actually arrested on May 18. Many of his neighbors, friends and captors urged him to deny his religion. On the contrary, he taught them the Catholic doctrine. He taught that one had to love God, Who created everything on earth and would send good men to Heaven and bad men to Hell.

The police chief finally sent him to the higher court. Since he was not immediately interrogated, Joseph demanded to know why they left him alone without interrogations and tortures. He was misunderstood as a crazy man and was sent back to prison. Joseph did not obey the police chief, who was demanding that he deny God. He was beaten with a cudgel at least 20 times and sent back to prison. A few days later, on May 26, 1839, he died in prison in Seoul. He was 54 years old at the time.

List of Articles
No. Subject Date
65 CBCK Newsletter No.65 (Winter 2008) Aug 27, 2009
64 CBCK Newsletter No.64 (Fall 2008) Aug 27, 2009
63 CBCK Newsletter No.63 (Summer 2008) Aug 27, 2009
62 CBCK Newsletter No.62 (Spring 2008) Aug 27, 2009
61 CBCK Newsletter No.61 (Winter 2007) Aug 27, 2009
60 CBCK Newsletter No.60 (Fall 2007) Aug 27, 2009
59 CBCK Newsletter No.59 (Summer 2007) Aug 27, 2009
58 CBCK Newsletter No.58 (Spring 2007) Aug 27, 2009
57 CBCK Newsletter No.57 (Winter 2006) Aug 27, 2009
56 CBCK Newsletter No.56 (Fall 2006) Aug 27, 2009
55 CBCK Newsletter No.55 (Summer 2006) Aug 27, 2009
» CBCK Newsletter No.54 (Spring 2006) Aug 27, 2009
53 CBCK Newsletter No.53 (Winter 2005) Aug 27, 2009
52 CBCK Newsletter No.52 (Fall 2005) Aug 27, 2009
51 CBCK Newsletter No.51 (Summer 2005) Aug 27, 2009

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