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_ 2013 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
_ Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013
_ Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2013
_ Homily at the Congratulatory Mass for Pope Francis
_ Messages on Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
_ News from the Church in Korea
_ The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
St. Francis of Assisi the Apostle of Peace,
Pope Francis the Servant of Peace
Pope Francis is a precious gift from God not just to the Catholic Church but also to the whole world in our time. I have already watched many other conclaves in my sincere prayer for a good result, but the latest one served as a truly touching moment for me. On the other hand, all the daily prognoses of the global mass media turned out to be just wild guess. As we have witnessed, the Holy Spirit presented us a choice surpassing all the human capacities of logic and speculation.
It was said that during the conclave in the Sistine Chapel the cardinal electors stepped up to a plate, used as a sort of ballot box put under the fresco "The Last Judgment" by Michelangelo, to cast their vote in sincere awareness of their heavy responsibility. I guess they were in full anticipation of God's inevitable question on their vote on the Judgement Day, at that very moment of their choice of the Successor of St. Peter who will represent the Universal Church on the whole.
St. Francis of Assisi
who cherished a simple and humble spirituality
was a friend of the poor,
and as a saint in search for peace and good
he became a master
who loved and took care of all the creatures of God!
His Eminence Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio
who is a simple, open-hearted, humble, and evangelically poor man,
as much as an ardent lover of peace
dedicating his whole life for the poor and the weak,
chose Francis as his papal name in no time,
as he accepted his canonical election as the Supreme Pontiff!
I once read a phrase
which was embroidered on the table cloth
in the parlor of a small house
for Srs. Marianne and Margarita
of the Anciliae Christi Regis (ACR, a secular institute),
who came to Korea in their early youth
to take angelic care of the lepers in Sorokdo,
practiced a frugal and humble life,
and returned to their home in Austria,
as they reached the age of 60:
"If you empty yourself,
you look beautiful to others
and you can keep your inner serenity."
(quoted from One Sound by Mr. Chul-su Lee)
Invoking the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi,
I pray to our gracious Lord
that He would pour His abundant blessing
into the vessel of the noble Pope Francis
who holds the spirituality of kenosis!
May he become a good guardian of all life,
just like St. Joseph!
Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
2013 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) held its 2013 Spring General Assembly at the Conference Hall of the Catholic Conference of Korea (CCK) from March 4 to 7, 2013 and made the following decisions:
1. The bishops reviewed the draft "Catholic Teachings on the Four Last Things - Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven" and approved its publication.
2. The bishops approved the Korean version of the liturgical texts of the 'Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest' (on the Thursday after Pentecost).
3. The bishops examined and approved the 3rd revised draft "Ordinance on Catholic Universities and Other Institutes of Higher Studies in Korea".
4. After discussion, the bishops decided to name the cause for the beatification of '133 martyrs and confessors under the Joseon Dynasty' as 'John Baptist Yi Byeok and 132 Companions' and to submit it to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. The bishops also decided to name the cause for the beatification of 'the witnesses to the faith of the Catholic Church in Modern Korea' as the cause of 'Bishop Francis Borgia Hong Yong-ho and 80 Companions' and submit it to the same dicastery.
5. The bishops reviewed and approved a plan for the 'Month of Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People' organized by the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People (President: Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon) for the purpose of changing people's rigid perceptions towards North Korea on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. The bishops also approved the tentative plan of the 'South-North Joint Congress of Faith for Peace'.
6. Regarding the request of Fr. Raymond Ambroise, Executive Secretary of the Office of Social Communication of the FABC, after deliberation on measures to support the broadcast production of the Myanmar language programs of Radio Veritas Asia, the bishops decided to spend 104,642 US Dollars as requested for every year over the next five years.
7. Regarding the construction of the 'Ongoing Formation Center for Priests' (tentative name), the bishops decided to name it 'Emmaus Center', followed by 'of the CBCK', if needed. The bishops also agreed that all dioceses are to share the operating expenses of the Emmaus Center, except for the participation fees of the formation programs.
8. The bishops approved the establishment of the 'Korean Catholic Hospice Association' (a corporate body) as a national organization and the draft 'Statutes of the Korean Catholic Hospice Association'.
9. The bishops discussed the effective use of the Overseas Aid Sunday Mass collection and they decided to give Caritas Korea International 80% of the collection and to use the remaining 20% for foreign aid of the CBCK.
10. The bishops decided to submit to the Apostolic See the following three proposals for the agenda of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in 2015: secularization and the renewal of the Church; let us rearm ourselves and throw away unnecessary factors, reflecting on ourselves in the light of the words in Matthew 23, to face the serious challenges to the Church today; the value of the family.
11. The Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the CBCK, told the bishops about a message from the Most Rev. Francis Daw Tang, Bishop of Myitkyina, Myanmar (Burma), appealing to all concerned parties to end the conflict in the area of Kachin. Bishop Kang asked the bishops to show their concern for this matter in their prayer. He also asked them to tell their faithful about this matter.
12. The bishops were told that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked the CBCK to submit a revised 'Guidelines for Dealing with Cases of Sexual Abuse of Minors Perpetrated by Clerics' reflecting the observations and suggestions of the same dicastery, which were articulated in its letter to the CBCK as of February 13, 2013 (Prot. No. 191/2010-41608). The guidelines were first submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for its recognition on May 9, 2012. The bishops decided that the General Secretariate of the CBCK would prepare the revised guidelines.
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013
What does the Lord require of us? (cf. Mi 6,6-8)
Dear brothers and sisters who are called to be a Church united in the Lord,
2013 is a very meaningful year for Korean people, especially all Christians who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord. As we have the first female president in our history, we are looking for a political renewal in a drastic change of times. We need a political change into integration and mutual benefits overcoming generational conflict and regionalism, as we are suffering from social unrest, polarization in the economic system, unemployment among youth, and insufficient educational policies in our society. On her part, the Catholic Church also needs a spiritual renewal of the faithful to overcome secularism and relativism, in accordance with the tenor of the Year of Faith (from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013) announced by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2011.
In the face of the challenges of the times, what should be the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2013? It must be none other than what the Prophet Micah told us: "What does the Lord require of us?" (cf. Mi 6,6-8) We are deeply touched, more than ever, by Micah's strong appeal to the people of Israel to practice justice and to seek the peace of God, as we witness the division of our nation, the preferential choice of the multitude for secular values instead of spiritual ones, and, last but not least, the individualized life of faith degenerating into a rampant idolatry of egoism, greed, and self-gratification. Micah urges the people of Israel to remember that God brought them from the land of Egypt where they lived as slaves, and called them to live in a world based on dignity, equality, and justice according to His covenant with them. Therefore, Micah's appeal makes us realize the fact that a true faith in God can never be separated from personal sanctification and the search for social justice. He asserts that God asks us not for worship, sacrifices, or holocausts (cf. Mi 6,7), but He asks us "to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God" (cf. Mi 6,8), as He saved us from slavery in Egypt as well as from humiliation in everyday life.
A Christian is never meant to be just a kind of believer who practices faith at his or her convenience. Such believers go to Church every Sunday and do their duty as faithful churchgoers, but they just pray for their personal happiness. A true Christian must follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ and share in His passion as He was crucified on the Cross. He or she must also communicate with people of other religious convictions. A true Christian is meant to be in solidarity with others to overcome unjust social systems as well as all kinds of obstacles to the dignity of God's children, practicing the true freedom of Jesus Christ who proclaimed liberation to all those who are bound by many kinds of systematical irregularities. Christians are now facing a challenge of "Christian unity" in their experiences of division as if they belong to respective religious communities, even though they are all members of a single Christianity. "Unity" does not mean that we all go to the same Church, nor does it imply a uniformity of faith belonging to just one religious body. We need rather to come together to do many things: to express a common confession of faith and a common prayer within the many religious communities which have developed into diverse forms throughout their different historical and cultural traditions; to dialogue for life as Christians; to stand up to the social evils which we experience as obstacles to our evangelical life; to practice a confession of faith in solidarity with others for the common good.
We cannot but witness frustrating controversy over heresy even among the Protestant churches in our society. Therefore, we should feel that we are still far away from Christian unity, mostly because of the disruptive voices from some Protestant denominations adhering to an exclusive evangelicalism. Most Protestant churches in Korea, however, are trying their best to manifest their proud development to the world, as they hold the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea from October 30 to November 8, 2013. The theme of the assembly, "God of Life, lead us to justice and peace!" reflects the dearest desire of Christians who hope that justice and peace may blossom fully in this land, as they contemplate the coming of Jesus into this world, shunning useless dogmatic controversy in the spirit of true Christian unity.
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Archbishop of Gwangju
CBCK Committee for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2013 (Summary)
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have! (Heb 13,16)
Dear brothers and sisters in God's will,
Today as we are celebrating the 21st anniversary of Overseas Aid Sunday, we practice love all the more to make 'a world where there is neither scarcity nor superfluousness.' On this day we participate in the communication of hope through the good deed of sharing what we have with others according to the Church teaching.
1. "the love of Christ impels us" (2Cor 5,14)
The love of Christ impels us to practice good deeds and to share with the poor countries in the world. It is said that about 870 million people are starving nowadays, and more than 1.2 billion people barely maintain their daily livelihood with less than a dollar. Most of them live in under-developed countries.
For all that, what are we doing now? Though the Bible and Church teachings impel us to practice the love of Christ through good deeds and sharing, we have made it a habit to live a life just for ourselves, haven't we? In one part of the world the number of starving people is increasing at an alarming pace, while in another part of the world the social cost increases at an exponential rate because of the problem of obesity and the waste of food. That is why we need to practice sharing in the sprit of good will.
2. "Give me a drink" (Jn 4,7)
Caritas Korea International has 'water' as the theme of this year, as it has witnessed the situation where water is a matter of life itself. It is reported that annually about 884 million people cannot have access to safe drinking water, and about 1.35 million children under 5 years of age in under-developed countries die from diarrhea every year because of unclean water.
Tired from His journey, Jesus asked a woman of Samaria to give Him a drink at Jacob's well. As a matter of fact, Jews used nothing in common with Samaritans at that time. Therefore, the Samaritan woman answered Jesus in amazement (cf. Jn 4,1-42). From this pericope we can learn the precious value of love for foreigners: A spring water welling up to eternal life is rewarded for a drink for a foreigner.
It is said that there are still those people in many countries who have to walk a long way to find drinking water. Sometimes they even have to take a very long walk in vain. At the same time, there are many people who cannot secure safe drinking water because of tropical cyclones or droughts. We have to work together to solve such a crisis of drinking water. It is estimated that about 3 billion people around the world will experience 'water stress' by the year 2025. Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the supply of water mostly because of climate change and population growth.
We have to recover the beautiful world which God created with his words: "Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear" (Gn 1,9). He then let the earth bring forth every kind of plant and tree. Water is an indispensable resource for all kinds of organisms to survive. It is our responsibility to protect and preserve this resource as it is given by God.
3. "I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works" (Jas 2,18)
Announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council never lost their value of splendor. Then he also said that "Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy" (Porta Fidei, n.7). We garnered help from many churches in other countries right after the Korean War. Just as they practiced good deeds and shared with us gratuitously, just because we were in dire need of their help, our turn has come around to practice the same good deeds and to share what we have with others.
In this regard, the Catholic Church in Korea has exerted every effort to extend foreign aid since 1993. Thanks to the help of many people who are always with us through all their difficulties, we have shared what we have with other people in every corner of the world. I would like to express my deepest appreciation for those who have personally practiced generous love. I pray to God that He may reward them all with fruitful blessings and graces all the time. I also pray to God that He may fill your family with His blessings in abundance.
January 27, 2013
On Overseas Aid Sunday
+ Lucas Kim Woon-hoe
Bishop of Chunchon
Caritas Committee of the CBCK
Caritas Korea International
Homily at the Congratulatory Mass for Pope Francis
Today we, the bishops and the faithful of the Catholic Church in Korea, have come here together to celebrate a congratulatory Mass for "Gyojong" (敎宗, meaing Pope in Korean) Francis who inaugurated his pontificate as the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church on March 19, 2013, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. Most of all, we are celebrating this Mass to thank God for giving us a new good leader.
Since February 28, 2013 as Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned from his ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the whole Church throughout the world was very eager to hear the news from Rome, waiting day by day for her new leader in prayer. At last, on March 13, 2013, in the second week of the Vacant Apostolic See, the cardinal electors chose Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the 266th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. According to media reports, as Cardinal Bergoglio accepted his canonical election as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, he took Francis as his papal name recalling two words "poverty and peace" which inspired his heart at that very moment. Though only eight days have passed since the election of the new Pope, it seems that he suggests through his words and various gestures the way which our Church communities should follow in the future.
When I watched the new Pope appearing for the first time in public on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and imparting his apostolic blessing "Urbi et Orbi" to the faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square, I was gratefully amazed at his humbleness. Before he imparted his apostolic blessing, he asked the faithful to pray that the Lord would bless him. Then he bowed low in silence as a gesture of waiting for their prayer over him. From that time on we have seen many more signs of Pope Francis manifesting his intention to be the Servant of God who refrains from boasting of his personal authority. I think that we are truly blessed because we have a leader who wants to humble himself from his innermost heart.
Whenever I have gone to the Vatican to attend meetings, some terminology used in the Vatican has not been quite familiar to me personally. Of course, I can guess that it has stemmed from the long history of the Church in the Occident, but there are very distinguished honorific titles for bishops, archbishops, and cardinals respectively. For example, "Your Eminence", "Your Excellency", and "Your Highness" are used as usual language in the Vatican, though they are hardly used in everyday life in Korea. That is why I was not quite at ease when I saw that such titles were frequently used in the Vatican. In addition to that, when they call the Pope "Holy Father", frankly speaking, it also sounds to me a little bit awkward and uncomfortable. It might be a very familiar expression to the people in the Occident, as it has been used over the centuries, but not so much to our ears in the Orient. In the Gospel, Jesus said to His disciples that they are all brothers with one another, and nobody should be called "Rabbi" or their "father" (cf. Mt 23,8.9). In this regard, I thought the title "Holy Father" was a little bit far-fetched, because it adds even an adjective "Holy" to the noun "Father".
However, I could find a new hope as I read the homily of the newly elected Pope at the Mass for the inauguration of his Petrine Ministry on March 19, 2013. He called his ministry simply as that of the Bishop of Rome, and, furthermore, he called himself a successor of St. Peter. We can find eight different official titles for the Pope in the Annuario Pontificio: Bishop of Rome; Vicar of Jesus Christ; Successor of the Prince of the Apostles; Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church; Primate of Italy; Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province; Sovereign of the State of Vatican City; Servant of the Servants of God. Nevertheless, Pope Francis simply said that he would talk to people just as the Bishop of Rome. My impression is that he wanted to put aside all those authoritative and honorary ornaments which have been artificially appended to the Pope's title in the long history of the Church. He may have the intention to follow the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in his evangelical poverty and simplicity.
I think that he already practiced the poverty and humble demeanor of St. Francis of Assisi to approach the poor and the weak in the society, when he moved into a humble flat, after he had given up the pompous episcopal residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After his papal election, the Pope manifested many signs of such poverty and humbleness with his various gestures. In his homily at the inauguration Mass, he said, "the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome …… also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it?" He then continued as if he were giving advice to himself. "Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest,"
The Catholic Church in Korea also must try her best to practice the evangelical spirituality of Pope Francis in our everyday life, cherishing his resolution and willpower in our intimate heart.
Some of you may be a little bit confused and embarrassed as I have used the title "Gyojong" (敎宗) from the beginning of my homily. I use the title with good intentions because the title "Holy Father", which can be translated into "Gyohwang" (敎皇) in Korean suggesting a king or an emperor, seems to be very awkward to manifest the evangelical soul and life of a man who has chosen Francis as his papal name. Furthermore, I just want to recall the title "Gyojong" (敎宗) which we as the Catholic faithful in Korea had used in the past.
Nowadays, the Catholic Church in Korea has a very big influence on our society, both with her external figure as well as with her inner spirit. However, I am afraid that quite a few temptations and dangers lurk in us which can estrange us from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while we have witnessed a remarkable improvement in social status and authority of the Catholic priests. Today, I think that we have to work in close cooperation with the new Pope and follow his leadership and teachings, reading the new signs of the times in every single word and gesture of the newly elected Bishop of Rome.
In Seoul, Korea
On March 21, 2013
+ Peter Kang U-il
Bishop of Cheju
President of the CBCK
Messages on Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Summary)
In appreciation of Pope Benedict XVI
On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI declared that he is resigning his ministry as the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, as he recognizes his incapacity to properly fulfill his holy ministry because of his deteriorating health due to advanced age. Though we are taken aback at his unexpected decision, we can feel his love and care for the Church filling his heart to the full. Therefore, we accept his enlightened spiritual discernment and courageous decision with our highest regard.
As the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle as well as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict XVI has devotedly served the Universal Church and the whole world for the last eight years, paying no attention to the repeated admonition of his close medical advisors against the strains of overexertion. We are saddened by the fact that he is not as healthy as before to carry out his ministry and we can sometimes recognize this even by his walk.
We cannot but express our deep gratitude for his prayers and encouragement for the Church in Korea and for the Republic of Korea on every possible occasion. Especially, he has shown a deep concern for the North Korean people in their extreme destitution and he has spared no effort to provide financial aid for them.
We firmly believe that Pope Benedict XVI as a true pastor of the Catholic Church will continue his service for the faithful after laying down the heavy office of the Supreme Pontiff. I hope that all the faithful in Korea will strengthen their spiritual bonds with him through constant prayer, remembering him in our hearts as a loving pastor for good.
In Seoul, Korea
On February 12, 2013
+Peter Kang U-il
Bishop of Cheju
President of the CBCK
In honor of Pope Francis
We rejoice on the election of Pope Francis as the 266th Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.
On behalf of all the Korean bishops and the faithful who thank God for giving us the new Pope, I express our great joy and heartfelt congratulations to him.
Now God has entrusted His flock around the world to Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The name Francis that the new Pope has chosen evokes simplicity and evangelical poverty, something he desires. We believe that the Pope as the Vicar of Jesus Christ will lead the Church on earth and will be an apostle of peace to proclaim good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed. We sincerely hope that the Catholic Church, with the new Pope Francis as her center, will become a Church that is ever reborn with fresh passion, a Church that will communicate with the world in a humble manner, and a Church that will work for peace.
We, Korean bishops and the faithful, pray for Pope Francis with all our heart that God may grant him the wisdom, courage, and health needed to implement the Petrine ministry.
In Seoul, Korea
On March 14, 2013
+ Peter Kang U-il
Bishop of Cheju
President of the CBCK
● News from the Church in Korea
● Signature Collection Campaign for the Abolition of Capital Punishment
From December 9, 2012 to January 13, 2013, the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon) conducted a signature collection campaign in support of the abolition of capital punishment. At the same time, it aimed at the legalization of a life sentence without parole instead of the existing capital punishment.
The committee deployed the same campaign again from February 13, to March 24, 2013, especially on the occasion of the Lenten season. This campaign also aimed at the promotion of the passage of a special bill for the abolition of capital punishment.
● Statement Urging the Solution of Acute Labour Issues
The CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace (President: Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon) addressed a statement as of February 19, 2013, to President-elect Park Geun-hye and her Presidential Transition Committee urging the solution of acute labour issues in our society.
In the statement, Bishop Ri asked President-elect Park to find a way to solve acute labour issues including the "Ssangyong Motors Affairs", being true to her promises which were made during her presidential election campaign. He also said that she needs to sit together with the members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, when she wants to build a sound society during her five-year presidency.
Bishop Ri reaffirmed that the Church will also spare no effort to build a society where secure employment and just rewards are guaranteed. He also said that the Church will hold on-going campaigns for those labourers in their destitution, including fund-raising initiatives especially on an inter-diocesan level.
In conclusion, Bishop Ri urged all the members of our society to share the pain and agony of the labourers who were involuntarily dismissed from their work places. He also said that only men and women of good will who love justice and peace will be able to heal the wounds of our society and change des
● Episcopal Messages for Easter 2013
On the occasion of Easter, March 31, 2013, each diocesan bishop in Korea issued a message.
The Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, said that "the risen Lord presented us with life over death, and eternal life as the hope and future of humanity and the world. Therefore, the good news of the risen Lord is the essence of Christian faith and the most joyous one for us living here today." Mentioning the new Pope Francis, he also said, "I think that the new Pope will lead our Church to be the 'instrument of peace' for love and unity, truth and hope, light and joy, as he becomes a spiritual leader of the world for all people regardless of their religion and nationality, in accordance with the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi who was a model of evangelical poverty and humility." Then he asked the faithful to be the 'instrument of peace' believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and practicing the spirit of resurrection in their faith.
The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju, said that "the natural environment has been irrecoverably destroyed because of conflict and violence, exploitation and alienation, and unsatiable greed and consumerism on the part of human beings." He also pointed out the social and political problems of our nation. Then he said, "What is the root of the pain in our society? It is none other than our egoistic greed itself which takes material affluence as the absolute value to put it at the center of our life. Therefore, we can find true abundance and peace only when we are liberated from greed in the midst of the cult of materialism." In conclusion, he urged the faithful to live in a humble and unselfish manner, just like St. Paul, Pope Francis, and many other Popes in the history of the Church.
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, said that all faithful must pray in one accord to the Lord that He may help Pope Francis to be a sign of peace and unity in this world which is exhausted by conflict and division. He also said that the world seemed to be in a very precarious situation. That is why "we have to exert ourselves all the more to share the gift of faith with our neighbours, while we, as those who are sent by God to such a world, ask the Holy Spirit to invite all national and international leaders on our journey towards peace." In conclusion, he said, "As we believe in the Resurrection of the Lord entertaining hope for eternal life in accordance with the Lord's promise, we have to be the witnesses of the Resurrection in the very midst of this world of turbulence, rather than to be searchers for vain holiness while renouncing this world."
Other diocesan bishops also issued their message on the occasion of Easter and urged the faithful to share the joy and hope of the Resurrection of the Lord.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
Yu Chŏng-nyul Peter (1836-1866)
Catechist Yu Chŏng -nyul was born in 1836 at Nonje in Pyŏngyang. He became an orphan when he was a small boy. He was very poor, and he made his living by selling straw shoes. He had a very quick temper and treated his wife harshly. He was fond of gambling.
Between 1863 and 1864 he learned of the Catholic religion. In 1864, when he was 28 years old, he went to Seoul and was baptized by Bishop Berneux and received the name Peter. After Baptism his life changed completely. He treated his wife kindly and gently. As a penance for his past harshness to his wife, he used to beat himself. He also stopped gambling. He led many people to the Catholic faith by his gentle and faithful life.
In 1866, there was a rumor that there would be a persecution soon, but he lived and acted peacefully. On Lunar New Year's Day of 1866 he might have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, because he went around bidding farewell to his relatives. When he was visiting Kodunni mission station in the evening of the same day and praying with Catechist Chŏng Vincent and many other people, several policemen rushed into the mission building. Many Catholics escaped, but Yu Peter and Catechist Chŏng Vincent's nephew U Se-yong Alexius were arrested. Peter was happy for the chance to become a martyr. They were taken to Pyŏngyang and put in prison.
The governor of Pyŏngyang let some apostates beat Peter with clubs. Those apostates who refused to beat Peter were beaten by the governor's men. Yu Peter was finally beaten to death on February 17, 1866 at the age of about 30. In order to make sure that he was dead, the governor had his men burn Peter's body. Five apostates then threw the body into the Taedong River. That night Peter's wife took his body out of the water and buried him in the family cemetery.
Ten years later, in 1876, the governor ordered a stone monument to be erected by the river. Actually, this monument was to praise the governor for killing the Catholics but it became a proof of Peter's martyrdom. The monument is thought to be still standing in Pyŏngyang.
Chŏn Chang-un John Baptist (1811-1866)
Chŏn Chang-un John was born in Seoul in 1811 and was baptized by his devout mother. Shortly after he was born, his father died. At an early age John had to support his family by farming and making leather bags.
In 1839, he was arrested. However, since the roots of his faith were not deep enough yet, severe tortures and persecutions caused him to deny his faith and he was released from prison. After the persecution of 1839, he was sorry for his apostasy, but there was no priest he could talk to. John did not give up hope.
In 1845, when the first Korean priest Kim Tae-Gon Andrew returned to Korea, John received the sacrament of penance and lived a very good Christian life, earning the respect and admiration of his fellow Catholics.
John married and had three children. Bishop Berneux saw that he was a very faithful Christian, gave him authority to baptize, and made him a publisher of Catholic books together with Ch'oe Peter.
When the persecution started anew, the owner of the printing house Im Joseph escaped, but John remained at the house, trying to save the wooden printing blocks. He would not listen to those who urged him to escape, saying: "I have to follow God's will. I have to save these wooden printing blocks."
On March 1, 1866, the police rushed into the printing house, arrested John and confiscated the wooden printing blocks. He was severely tortured, but endured all the pain, calling out the names of Jesus and Mary. After torture for three days he was sentenced to death on March 8, 1866. The next day he was to be beheaded outside the Small West Gate. When he reached the site of execution, he found out that the man who was supposed to cut his neck was an ex-Catholic and an old acquaintance. The executioner hesitated to cut John's neck. John told him: "You obey the king, and I obey God. Why do you hesitate?" So, John was beheaded and was buried three days later. John was 56 years old when he died for his faith.