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Message for the 29th Human Rights Sunday
New Archbishop of Daegu
Message for 2010 Biblical Week
Message for the 27th Caritas Sunday
2011 Pastoral Letters of Diocesan Bishops
The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
"Catholic Church in Korea in 2011: Towards New Evangelization"
At the beginning of the new year each diocesan bishop issued a pastoral letter to present new plans and concrete ways for his priests and the laity to address the particular situation and the status quo within the territory of his competency. A distinctive pastoral keyword for the year 2011 can be found in several pastoral letters: 'New Evangelization.'
'New Evangelization,' used first by the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, refers to the practice and communication of the Gospel with 'new passion' in a 'new way,' and with 'new expression' that proclaims liberation towards a better world. The prefix 'new' expresses a fresh and resolute attitude of the Church to realize God's will as it is manifested in the 'signs of the times.' In this context, the establishment of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization was announced by H.H. Pope Benedict XVI at vespers on 28 June, 2010, the eve of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Pope Paul VI said, "The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself....[The Church] is evangelized by constant conversion and renewal, in order to evangelize the world with credibility" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 15). In this regard, he said that evangelization of the Church means making efforts to change the conscience, activity, life and concrete environment of all individuals and communities through the sacred power of the message she proclaims.
In its 2011 pastoral letter, the Archdiocese of Seoul presented pastoral plans for each ministry (parish, youth, the elderly, society, family) to look for concrete ways and methods for 'new evangelization.' The Diocese of Suwon urged the faithful to live lives as the descendants of martyrs and to focus on evangelization inside and outside the Church. The Archdiocese of Daegu invited the faithful to mobilize all their strength to understand and carry out the leap towards new evangelization which is the raison d'être and purpose of the Church. Other diocesan pastoral letters can be summarized as a pledge to take action and practice new evangelization. H.H. Pope Benedict XVI has chosen 'new evangelization' as the theme of the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2012 and the Church in Korea is already gearing up for this occasion.
In the aftermath of rapid industrialization and democratization over a short period of time, Korea is now challenged by confusion and the subversion of attitudes toward values among all social strata and between generations. What is worse, prevalent individualism and the prioritization of economics bolster the trend toward a 'contempt for life' and give rise to social conflict. Now is the time for the Church to rise up with determination for her renewal. The history of the Church and the spirituality of the Korean martyrs who are the firm foundation of the Church in Korea show that the Gospel must be proclaimed first through the witness of life. Through the 'witness of life' we have to stir up in the hearts of those around us, including the hearts of the faithful, the question "Why do they live in this way?" and thereby create a fresh impetus and 'interest'. We should not forget that "the Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life," because "those whose lives have been transformed enter a community which is itself a sign of transformation, a sign of newness of life: it is the Church" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, nn. 17-24).
Hoping that the strong wind of the Spirit for 'new evangelization' will be stirred up and enlighten the hearts of all believers and non-believers in 2011, I invoke sincerely the intercessions of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the Korean martyrs.
Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Message for the 29th Human Rights Sunday
The Dignity of Human Beings and the Common Good
Dear brothers and sisters,
On the occasion of Human Rights Sunday, I hope that God's peace and blessings may be with all of you.
The human person is an exalted being made in the image and likeness of God. A society cannot enjoy true stability and peace unless it has respect for human dignity and values at its center. No matter how haughtily a society may boast of scientific advances and material affluence, it must take care of the poor and marginalized.
Korea has achieved brilliant industrialization and democratization in the last few decades and now it is one of the world's great economies, even able to host the G20 World Summit in Seoul. However, we also witness an increase in violent crimes like child sexual abuse and serial killing which result primarily from malicious selfishness and the collapse of moral of the society. We also experience the serious side-effects of rapid economic development and social change, such as the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots and the prevalence of mammonism.
Atrocities and violations of human rights by authoritarian leaders which occurred routinely under the military regimes of the past have been greatly reduced as democratization prevailed. However, there are still many cases of anachronical violations of human rights such as the disastrous Youngsan fire which claimed the lives of the socially weak and, more recently, the harsh treatment of alleged suspects, the illegal espionage against innocent citizens by the Office of Prime Minister, and the repression of freedom of expression which includes the 'right to know.' Moreover, we cannot but have an abhorrence of the people who disregard law and conscience for the sake of mere personal interest: for example, the corruption scandal in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which illegally appointed the children of its ranking officers as its regular staff members; the scandal within the Fund Raising Association for Social Welfare which was humiliated by the illegal appropriation of public funds; the personal embezzlement of capital by bank managers; the scandal of slush funds illegally amassed by some large conglomerates.
Our society must address some major challenges with concern and a proper budget for the weak and the marginalized: those who are deprived of a basic livelihood due to the logic of reckless development; irregular laborers who must suffer from discriminatory treatment in their employment; migrant workers who are forced into sweatshop labor; resettlers and Saeteomin (North Korean settlers) who have difficulties because of prejudice and intolerance.
The so-called Four Major Rivers Project being pushed through by the government as a national policy goes against the divine order of creation and aggravates national conflict because it does not pay proper attention to the opinions of academic advisors who are apprehensive about natural disasters and the destruction of the environment. The government is now unilaterally and improperly carrying out the project with a tremendous government budget to change the waterways and to disrupt the eco-system on the pretense of river improvement. However, it is in fact a project lacking legally required procedures, including a preliminary examination of its validity and an evaluation of its impact on the environment. Since the project lacks justification in its substance and procedures and causes many other problems, it must be subjected to reconsideration and an adequate survey of public opinion.
Economic development must be founded on morality (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 331). There have been an increasing number of natural disasters around the world caused by climate change. They are the result of irrational exploitation on the part of nations, industries or individuals who are enslaved by economic logic and thus disregard the divine order of creation. Even cultivated and affluent societies cannot cope with the natural disasters caused by disobedience to the divine order of creation. Nations must first of all respect human dignity, human values, and the common good of all societies and then practice 'a policy of sustainable development' preserving with utmost efforts the natural environment created by God.
Dear brothers and sisters,
We have been in a tense relationship and conflict with North Korea for over 60 years, suffering from the unhealed wounds of national division and the Korean War. Now is the time for the leaders of both Koreas to seek reconciliation and mutual concern. We hope that the people of both Koreas can live in a world where all can respect human rights and enjoy peace and where political leaders exercise their political power in a proper way. With compassion on North Korean people who are suffering from hunger and the violation of human rights, we call upon the North Korean regime to repent.
Human dignity and human values are infringed upon not only by authoritarian governments but also by individuals who abort fetuses, abuse children, and ignore the weak for the sake of personal malicious interests and needs. We cannot escape the catastrophes that result from social disorder, unless we restore a proper social morality through individual repentance (cf. Lk 13,1-5).
The Church also is called to reflect deeply on her role as the salt and light of the world because her mission encompasses the proclamation of the faith, the teaching of social doctrine, the protection of human rights, and the salvation of souls (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 76). Sometimes even believers turn their face away from the spirit of the Gospel to pursue their personal interests. The Church can contribute to respect for human dignity and values and to the stability and peace of society when she first practices the commandments of Jesus: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13,34).; "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you" (Mt 7,12).
Dear brothers and sisters,
Here I would like to call to mind the Chilean miners who were trapped underground in October, 2010, They overcame their ordeal in the spirit of community by praying together everyday and thus they eventually lit the light of hope for the whole world. Let us also overcome all difficulties together with one heart in faith, hope and love. Let us march on to a society where the dignity and value of each person made in the image and likeness of God and the common good are cherished far more than mere material affluence.
December, 5, 2010
+ Matthias Ri Iong-hoon
Bishop of Suwon
CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
New Archbishop of Daegu
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archdiocesan Administrator of Daegu, was appointed as the new Archbishop of Daegu on November 4, 2010.
Previously on March 23, 2007 he had been appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of Daegu and Titular Bishop of Abbir Maius. When his predecessor, the Most Rev. John Choi Young-su, passed away in 2009, the new appointee became the Archdiocesan Administrator. Born in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1981, Archbishop Cho has served the Church as a parish priest as well as an officer at the Archdiocesan Curia of Daegu. In 2004 he was appointed president of Maeil Daily, a local newspaper in the Daegu area.
His installation ceremony was held at the Catholic University of Daegu on December 20, 2010, beginning with the presentation and reading of the apostolic letter of his appointment. The ceremony culminated when the new Archbishop, accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, took possession of his cathedra.
In his homily, Archbishop Cho said, "I will exert utmost efforts to become a good pastor who is faithful to the Lord's will in leading the people of God to holiness." He continued, "Together with my flock I will do my best to meaningfully celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taiku (Daegu) and, dedicating myself to 'new evangelization in a new era,' I will take the first step towards the next 100 years.
Message for 2010 Biblical Week (summary)
Word of Life
"Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6,68)
1. The disciples of Christ conform to the words of eternal life
God created human beings in his image and likeness as the most precious of all creatures, blowing into their nostrils the breath of life. He planted a garden in Eden for them to live in a most comfortable environment (cf. Gn 1-2). This was the primordial state of happiness, the aim of the instinctive search of all living creatures.
However, human beings destroyed the primordial happiness of all creatures as they committed sin (cf. Gn 3). Because of sin human beings gradually estranged themselves from God as well as from themselves, their neighbours and nature. The destruction and crisis caused by sin totally threatened humanity.
God made His covenant with human beings to have them willingly listen to His words. The divine history of the salvation of humanity is a marvelous history in which God first stretched out His hand to unfaithful human beings to make a new covenant with them, and thus to give a new life to them who were actually destined to death.
God loved the created world so much that he gave his only Son (cf. Jn 3,16), the living bread come down from heaven, so that whoever eats his body and drinks his blood in faith will be saved. However, many disciples left Christ, murmuring at His amazing words. They said, "They are too hard for us". Simon Peter, on the contrary, confessed his faith in Him saying, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
2. The disciples of the Christ practice the office of prophecy
The Lord came to us in exactly the same nature as ours to give us eternal life. The disciples of Jesus followed Him as they were called to be fishers of men (cf. Mt 4,18-22). Jesus cultivated his disciples most of all with his words (cf. Mt 5,2-7,27).
Jesus told his disciples as He sent them out, "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Mt 10,7). He encouraged them not to be afraid of being persecuted and handed over, because the Holy Spirit would tell them what they must say (cf. Mt 10,17-19). He then urged them, "What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops" (Mt 10,27).
In this regard, the risen Jesus told his disciples on the mountain of Galilee, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19-20).
3. The disciples of Christ proclaim the words of eternal life to all creatures
The word of life causes us to find our identity, to reconcile us with God, and to normalize relationships with our neighbors. In God we love our neighbour together with nature and share divine life with them that looks to eternal life. Christians love this world where human beings and nature exist, because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (cf. Jn 3,16).
God saw how good it was when He looked at all of the creatures of the universe which He had just created. The author of the Psalms listened to the chorus of all creatures praising God the Creator and invited all of us to look around at our environment and praise and worship God. The universe is beautiful and in harmony because it was created by God. Human beings must cherish and preserve this beauty and harmony, proclaiming this truth to all creatures.
4. All creatures are our companions on the journey to eternal life
In his Encyclical Mater et Magistra Pope John XXIII said, "Nothing is said in the second of these commandments [Fill the earth, and subdue it] about destroying nature. On the contrary, it must be brought into the service of human life" (n. 197). In the same context, the Second Vatican Council asserted that 'God's creatures are not instrumental things just for the needs of human beings' (cf. Lumen Gentium, nn. 36.41.48).
In his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II raised "moral demands" for the preservation of the environment.
H.H. Pope Benedict XVI expressed his concern for the environment, especially in his messages for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2010. He expressed his concern for all the activities that have no respect for human beings, activities that will eventually result in natural disasters and the growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees' (cf. nn. 1-4).
The disciples of Christ should share in God's love for all creatures, listening to, obeying and proclaiming the 'words of life.' They must fulfill their responsibility towards creatures entrusted to the Church by proclaiming the words of life.
On the occasion of the 2010 Biblical Week, let us practice love for God, our neighbours and nature on the basis of the divine love for us. First of all, we have to draw full vitality from the words of life. Let us make our way to eternal life in solidarity with many small souls based on the living power of the words, recovering the primordial state of human beings and nature created by God.
May the blessing and power of the words of God the Creator be with you and your community in abundance.
November 21, 2010
of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
Rt. Rev. Abbot Simon Petro Ri Hyong-u, O.S.B.
of the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon
CBCK Biblical Committee
Message for the 27th Caritas Sunday
"Almsgiving expiates every sin" (Tb 12,9)
"Almsgiving is remembered before God" (Acts 10,31)
Dear brothers and sisters in the love of God,
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Cor 1,3). Twenty seven years have passed since the CBCK designated Caritas Sunday. I would like to express my deep and sincere appreciation to all the people who have lived faithfully in divine love for the salvation and evagelization of the world through the love of God.
There are many people who are economically pinched because of the global financial crisis. An increasing number of people have difficulties living a decent life with the dignity of a human person, even though they do their best to exist. People are too busy to have time for inner reflection, as they are filled with all kinds of desires and needs as if they are going to live forever. In a word, many people are puzzled and have no idea what to do in the midst of a broken and wrecked world. This broken and wrecked world probably results from a life "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2,12). We are doomed to a life without God, if we turn our face from faith in God.
However, all people would choose a life with God, if they could come to know who He is in whom we have faith. God came into this world to love and save human beings. God always abides with us, remembers us, and never leaves us alone. The most important thing in our age is to know God the Father and to know Jesus Christ whom God sent to us (cf. Jn 17,3).
To know Christ means to participate as much as we can in his life and death and also in his salvific work 'for all.' Though Jesus Christ continuously invites us to love our neighbours, we still practice just 'a life for me.' However, now we have to let go of such a way of life and take up 'a life for you.' We have to devote ourselves to the salvation of our neighbours' life sharing what we have with them. This will be realized as we sacrifice ourselves in full awareness of the fact that a 'life for you' is the only way for coexistence and mutual benefit for all parties. We have to restore the sociality of love welcoming 'you', our neighbours, as well as the order of love disrupted by our greed.
Every year on the occasion of the Caritas Sunday the Church reminds the Catholics in Korea of the need to love our neighbours so that they can know and love God more deeply. The word 'almsgiving' implies motherly love with the highest moral value. Since the Church is the mother of us all, each of us has to be a mother in the name of the Church for all our poor neighbours. Our God tells us to practice generous almsgiving according to what we have. It doesn't matter whether we have an abundance or not. He tells us to provide the hungry with food and the naked with clothes. He also tells us that almsgiving expiates every sin and those who practice almsgiving shall enjoy a full life (cf. Tb 4,7-16; 12,9). He also tells us that He will remember (cf. Act 10,31) our almsgiving forever (cf. Sir 40,17).
God calls us to live a life of mutual love. God can do nothing but love because in His very essence He is love. The main activity of God is also love. We are born into this world just to share in the love of God. That is why each of us is a seed of love sown by God to bear fruit. Our principal mission is to share in God's love. All time and goods not spent in sharing this love are empty and squandered. Giving my words to pave the way of love and sharing in the suffering of our neighbours, especially during this Advent season when we wait for the Child Jesus who will come as a poor man, I pray that all of you may find happiness because of God who is love.
December 12, 2010
On the 27th Caritas Sunday
+ Francis Xavier Ahn Myeong-ok
Bishop of Masan
CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana"
2011 Pastoral Letters of Diocesan Bishops
On the occasion of the first Sunday of Advent, each diocesan bishop issued his 2011 pastoral letter and invited the faithful to remember their calling to practice new evangelization in a new era.
H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, put emphasis on "self-evangelization" on the part of both the Church and the faithful. He also said that the 'new evangelization in a new era' should be the pastoral goal of each ten-year plan in the next 30 years as a part of the preparation for the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Corea which is to be celebrated in 2031.
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-gil, Archbishop of Daegu, said that all the faithful of his Archdiocese should recognize the 'new evangelization in a new era' as the raison d'릘re and purpose of the presence of the Church and as the divine mission entrusted to us. In this regard, he suggested three concrete ways to practice new evangelization: promoting the charismatic renewal movement; giving impetus to the three Archdiocesan projects for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Apostolic Vicariate of Taiku (Daegu); facilitating the life sharing movement.
In his pastoral letter entitled 'New Start with Revitalization of the Liturgy', the Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Kwangju, said that the time has come to accomplish inner growth with the revitalization of the liturgy, because the importance of the liturgy cannot be overemphasized as we try to understand the spirituality of the Gospel and Church teaching and be faithful to their basis and essence. In this regard, he stressed that the liturgy must be celebrated so as to manifest holiness, beauty and joy.
Other diocesan bishops also echoed with one voice the intentions of the three archbishops. Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju and President of the CBCK, wrote that Small Christian Communities in harmony with the local society are one of the key factors for the proclamation of the Gospel.
The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting
The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting was held in Korea at Ramada Plaza Hotel, Cheongju, from November 16 to 18, 2010.
Thirty bishops in all attended the meeting, including the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and Bishop of Cheju, and the Most Rev. Peter Okada Takeo, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) and Archbishop of Tokyo. The theme of the meeting was 'Suicide Prevention'.
Dr. Michael Hong Kang-eui, Professor emeritus of Seoul National University and Chairman of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention, gave a report on the current situation and countermeasures against suicide in Korea. Dr. Hong said that there have been many complicated incidents or reasons for suicide. He said that religious circles may play a role in the prevention of suicide with their spiritual teachings on the dignity of life and the meaning of death.
The Most Rev. James Koda Kazuo, Auxiliary Bishop of Tokyo and Vice President of Caritas Japan, gave a report on the situation in Japan with the theme 'Pastoral Action of CBCJ on Suicide.' According to Bishop Koda Kazuo, the main reason for middle-aged men to commit suicide is economic problems. So, Japanese people use the word, "driven-to-death", instead of "suicide", because they are driven to death by external reasons such as violence, abuse, and poverty in society.
In the afternoon of the second day, the bishops in two groups visited Yang Eob High School, the first Catholic school in Korea for alternative education, and Baithi Martyrs' Shrine in Cheongju Diocese. After the visits, all the bishops celebrated Mass with the faithful at Naedeokdong Cathedral in Cheongju.
On the last day, the bishops had a meeting in the morning and visited Beopjusa, a Buddist temple. The next meeting is scheduled for November 8 to 10, 2011, in Japan.
● News from the Church in Korea
● A Documentary Film on the Life of a Korean Missionary Priest is Good Box Office
'Don't Cry for Me, Sudan', a documentary film on the dedicated life of the late Rev. John Lee Tae-suk, S.D.B., (1962-2010) has attracted more than 120,000 movie-goers since its release in September 2010. It is quite a surprising box-office record for a documentary film in Korea, all the more because, unlike other commercial movies, there was no dazzling promotion for this film. Irrespective of religious affiliation, age and sex, many people who watched the movie shared their deeply touched hearts with others on-line as well as off-line. In November 2010 the film was put on the screen in Los Angeles, USA, and it has already been sent to Germany to be shown at the 61. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (the 61st Berlin International Film Festival) which is to be held from February 10 to 20, 2011.
The late Father Lee had been a medical practitioner before he was called to be a member of the Society of St. Francis de Sales. After his ordination as a priest in 2001, he soon started to practice missionary work in Tonj, a small town in war-trodden South Sudan, where the least brothers of the Lord greeted him warmly. He was the first Korean missionary priest in South Sudan. He was a priest, a doctor, a teacher, a technician, a musician and even a handyman, becoming everything for everyone because he cared so much. He established a hospital and a school and also organized a youth brass band in Tonj. However, Father Lee died suddenly of colon cancer on January 14, 2010. It was said that he invoked St. John Bosco and uttered his last words, 'Don't worry. Everything is good.'
Through the film many people even including non-Catholics learned about the life of the late Father Lee who humbly followed in the Lord's footsteps. The Sudan Youth Education Foundation, which supported Father Lee, witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of its regular donors from 3,000 to more than 10,000 after the release of the film. Moreover, many people, including doctors, expressed their intention to volunteer to help the Sudanese in Tonj. Such a flood of concern and donations are blooming now into hope and life. In the town of Tonj, the desperate need for medical supplies is being satisfied, new hospital and school buildings are now under construction, the youth brass band is playing music again, and a warehouse to store medical supplies and equipment has been set up. Many people are entertaining the vision that the seeds of hope and life sown by the late Father Lee on the field of Tonj will bear fruits in abundance.
● Forum on the Cooperation between the Government and the Church in the Management of Social Welfare Facilities
The CBCK Committee for "Caritas Coreana" (President: Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, Bishop of Masan) held a forum on the theme of 'Cooperation between the government and the Church in the management of social welfare facilities' at the Catholic Center in Myeongdong, Seoul on October 22, 2010. The participants discussed the problems caused by misunderstanding on the part of the government, especially the local government which does not pay much attention to the religious identity of church entities when the government entrusts the management of social welfare facilities to the church. They also discussed proper measures on the part of the church. As it is impossible for the government to manage the social welfare facilities single-handedly, it usually entrusts the facilities either partially or wholly to private entities.
In his paper entitled 'Cooperation between the government and the Church in the area of social welfare - the ecclesiastical standpoint and a case study', Dr. Francis Park Mun-su, Vice-Director of the Korean Catholic Culture Institute, said, "Now we have to ponder upon concrete methods to realize the common good and the best ways to manifest it in the process of mutual contracts between the government and the Church, putting aside discussion of the justification of such cooperation."
In his paper entitled 'A treatise on the government entrusting private entities with social welfare facilities', Mr. Francis Cheong Jin-mo, Director of Hanuri Information Culture Center, said, "Now we also have to ponder upon the rational management of the entrusted governmental facilities, as well as the formation and training of their staffs." He also said, "We have to study the unique characteristics of the Catholic Church in comparison with other religious entities, when we manage social welfare facilities entrusted by the government."
In the panel discussion, the participants, five staff members from diocesan Caritas of five major cities and a member of the Seoul city council, expressed their concern about the problems of irregularities and improper practices in the carrying out of contracts between the government and the private entities. They also shared their financial difficulties in managing entrusted social welfare facilities.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Han Yŏng-i (Magdalene)
Han Yŏng-i Magdalene was the mother of Kwŏn Chin-i Agatha. When Magdalene was young, she married Kwŏn Chin, a scholarly government official belonging to a noble family. Kwŏn became a Catholic when he reached middle age, and he also had his wife Magdalene become a Catholic. He was baptized on his deathbed and asked his wife Magdalene to live as a Catholic for ever. After that, Magdalene lived a very poor but very devout life. Although she was very poor, she didn't complain but thanked God for her poor life.
Magdalene's daughter, Kwŏn Chin-i Agatha, came with her friend, Yi Agatha, to live with her mother. The three women lived together fervently, practicing their faith and doing many acts of mortifications.
Magdalene was accused by an apostate and was arrested on July 17, 1839, together with her daughter Agatha and the daughter's friend. Magdalene was put in one prison, but her daughter Agatha and two other women were put in a neighboring prison under guard. The traitor, Kim Yo?sang, tempted Kwŏn Agatha to be his mistress, but she wouldn't listen to him. She was released by the police who had pity on her youth and beauty. The policemen who helped Kim Yŏ-sang were punished by the government. Later Agatha and two other women were arrested again.
Meanwhile, Magdalene was being severely tortured. She was twisted and beaten, but her faith and courage persevered. She was calmly and peacefully waiting for the glorious crown of martyrdom.
She was finally beheaded on December 29, 1839, outside the Small West Gate with six other Catholics. She was 56 years old.
Hyŏn Kyŏng-nyŏn (Benedicta)
Hyŏn Kyŏng-nyŏn Benedicta was a daughter of Hyŏn Kye-hŭm, martyred in 1801, a daughter-in-law of Ch'oe Ch'ang-hyŏn, martyred in 1801, and a sister of Hyŏn Sŏng-mun Charles, martyred in 1846.
Benedicta married a son of the glorious martyr Ch'oe Ch'ang-hyŏn in 1811, but her husband died three years later. Since she had no children, she returned to her mother and made her living by sewing, thanking God for her peaceful life.
The people around her admired her for her pious and peaceful life, dedicated to prayer, meditation and spiritual reading. Benedicta made some money from sewing, but she gave the money away. She also made great efforts for other people's sanctification, teaching illiterate catechumens, encouraging lukewarm Catholics, consoling sad people, taking care of the sick and baptizing pagan children in danger of death. During visits of the missionaries, she gathered the Catholics in her home to prepare them for the sacraments.
At an early stage of the persecution, Benedicta, who had become a catechist, was in hiding, but she was arrested in June or July. As the government officials knew that Benedicta was a sister of Hyŏn Sŏng-mun Charles, who played an important role for the missionaries, they tortured her more severely in order to find out where her brother was hiding. She was interrogated eight times. The police tortured her very severely to get information about missionaries, because they wanted to get the reward set for arresting the missionaries. But their greedy efforts were in vain due to the strong will of Benedicta. After she was moved to a higher court, she was beaten so severely that she could hardly move her legs. The wounds on her body were so deep that blood and pus oozed out ceaselessly. She also suffered from cholera in prison.
Benedicta sent a letter to her brother Charles. The letter is not preserved today, but many Catholics who read the letter were deeply impressed. A few hours before her execution she had a sound sleep. She was happy to be taken outside the Small West Gate to be beheaded with six other Catholics on December 29, 1839. Benedicta was 46 years old when she was martyred.