CBCK Newsletter No. 62 (Spring 2008)
From the Editor
2008 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
Message for the Week for Sanctification of the Family
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday
News from the Church in Korea
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea
From the Editor:
Congratulations on the Publication
of the Hymnal and Prayer Book in Braille!
On February 20, 2008, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) held a ceremony to mark the publication of the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille. Two hundred guests were present, including members of the Catholic Blind Missions of Korea and many volunteers. This is one of the follow-up measures of the publication of The Bible in Braille in 2006, initiated by the CBCK, in consideration of the difficulties of the visually handicapped in their faith life. On this occasion, there was also a public demonstration of the special software for the Bible, Hymnal and Prayer Book in Braille. The Hymnal and Prayer Book in Braille will be distributed to the blind faithful free of charge.
St. Bonaventure, one of the great scholars in the Middle Ages, left us a precious teaching about three kinds of eyes: the eyes of the body, the eyes of reason, and the eyes of serene contemplation, i.e., physical eyes, mental eyes, and spiritual eyes. On the level of our physical eyes, we can sensually 'see' the outer world of spatial-temporal objects. There is no reason to be surprised that St. Thomas, one of the Apostles, who was still on this physical level at that time, could not believe in the risen Christ. On the level of our mental eyes we can acquire scientific knowledge. Through scientific inquiry, we can experience the great joy of this acquisition through mental eyes. A scholar usually tries to look through the fundamentals of things and observe not just how they look separately but how they intermesh with other things. Here we seek after a fundamental and comprehensive way of thought. We try to see things with deep, wide and far-reaching vision. Only after we have established a solid rational basis can we arrive at the use of our spiritual eyes. On the level of our spiritual eyes, we can experience the truth of ascending to the wisdom of transcendent reality, i.e., communion with the truth. Jesus once said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (Jn 20,29). This does not mean that we all have to be blind. On the contrary, we must go beyond the level of sensual seeing. God is far away from us when we think of Him superficially, but He is very near to us in our hearts. At last, St. Thomas, who once harbored doubt, became aware of the fact that Jesus Christ had already seen him before he could recognize Him and made an heroic confession of his faith.
In his homily at the thanksgiving Mass for the new publications, the Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, Bishop of Uijeongbu and President of the Committee for Liturgy of the CBCK, encouraged the blind and offered his congratulations saying, "There is no guarantee or certainty that the so-called 'normal man and woman' can see the reality clearly. He see the reality incompletely, as any other man. On the contrary, I see sometimes that the visually handicapped are there first where we all want to come."
The CBCK celebrates this joyous occasion together and hopes and prays that the visually handicapped can come closer to God through the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille.
Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
2008 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held its 2008 Spring General Assembly from February 25 to 28 and made the following decisions:
1. The bishops approved the publication of the draft Catechism for Youth, vol. 1. 'Faith is the First Step of Life' which was prepared by the CBCK Committee for Catechesis (President: Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun). For this, the Committee made a first draft catechism for youth according to a compilation planning on the basis of examples of other Episcopal Conferences and a related survey, and then revised it collecting opinions of the Catholic youth.
2. 'The Bioethics Subcommittee' which until now was under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith is established as an independent National Committee, called the 'Committee on Bioethics', so that the Committee can work more actively to make people recognize the seriousness of the widespread trend of devaluing life and the anti-life culture in our society and to promote a culture of life in Korea,
3. Regarding Julia Youn in Naju and all related phenomena, the bishops decided to notify the Decree of the Archbishop of Kwangju in each diocese so that all the Korean faithful can clearly understand this matter.
4. Following upon the abolition of "hojuje" (the patriarchal family registry system of Korea), a family certificate and a marriage certificate are to be substituted for a copy of one's family register which has been documentary evidence to prevent bigamy. The CBCK Committee for Canonical Affairs is to issue a notification about the matter.
5. To be in accord with the amended Korean civil law (Civil Law, n. 809 §1), the norm forbidding marriage between people with the same surname and belonging to the same family line, now prescribed in the Pastoral Directory of the Catholic Church in Korea (Dir. 109 §8 ), is to be removed.
6. Concerning the request that the Church in Korea had made to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature for the suppression of the three interdiocesan tribunals - Seoul, Daegu and Kwangju - and also for approval of its suggestion that the archdiocesan tribunal in each province be the tribunal of second instance and transfer its second trials to another archdiocesan tribunal (Seoul to Kwangju, Kwangju to Daegu, and Daegu to Seoul), the bishops listened to a report about the decree issued by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature on January 23, 2008 suppressing the interdiocesan tribunals and approving the tribunals of second instance in the Church in Korea.
7. The bishops listened to a report that Living the Real Faith, a guidebook for the faith experience program for catechumens, which was prepared by the Korean Conferences of Major Superiors of Men and Women Religious Institutes with the support of the Episcopal Conference, will soon be published and distributed to all parishes throughout the country. This guidebook aims at offering programs for catechumens to visit religious houses and to have contact with a proper liturgical and pious life of the Catholic Church by praying together with the religious, experiencing the spiritual life of the religious, and receiving faith formation.
8. On the occasion of a celebration (June 8, 2008, in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) to mark the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the bishops decided that the Catholic Church in Korea would express wholehearted and sincere gratitude to the Society.
Farewell to the Apostolic Nuncio,
the Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig
On February 27, 2008, during the Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul marking the third anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Korean bishops had an opportunity to bid farewell to the Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig, Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, who was going to leave Korea on February 29, 2008 to take up the new mission entrusted to him by the Holy Father in the Scandinavian Countries.
All Korean bishops including His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, the Most Rev. John Chang Yik, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, priests, religious and the laity gave thanks to the outgoing Apostolic Nuncio for his efforts for the Church in Korea.
In his homily, Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig said, "I thank you all for the warm hospitality that you have extended to me in your beautiful country and for the many signs of friendship I have received during my stay in your midst."
At the ceremony following the Mass, His Eminence Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, said, "I clearly remember that you have made great efforts for the Church in Korea for last four years. …… I believe that you will be a solid bridge between the Universal Church and the Local Churches wherever you go in this world."
Sister Savina Oh Sae-hyang, President of the Association of Major Superiors of Religious Women, expressed thanks to Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, saying "We, Korean religious have been encouraged by your affection and prayer for all of us. We always remember you in our prayers."
Mr. Thomas Han Hong-soon, President of Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, made these farewell remarks, "We know you have a special affection for Korea and the Catholic Church in Korea, which you have held since your early priesthood and diplomatic commitment. Thanks to your affection, the Church in Korea has strengthened her unity with the Holy Father and has achieved the growth it has today. …… We always remember you in our prayers and remain united with you spiritually."
The Most Rev. Emil Paul Tscherrig, from Switzerland, was ordained a priest in April 1974. He began working in the Vatican's foreign service in 1978. From 1981 to 1984, he served as a counselor of the Apostolic Nuncio in Korea. Ordained Archbishop in 1996, he has served as Apostolic Nuncio in Korea and Mongolia from 2004. On January 26, 2008, the Holy Father nominated him as Apostolic Nuncio in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway.
Message for the 7th Annual Week for Sanctification of the Family
For True Communication within the Family
+ The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Dear brothers and sisters,
On this feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph during this joyful Christmas season when we celebrate the nativity of the Child Jesus I wish that God's abundant grace may be poured out upon all your families.
Today on this Feast of the Holy Family we start the Week for Sanctification of the Family and together we recall the meaning of family. In this week we are meant to greet the New Year in a community of unity and love, renewing the sublime meaning of family and restoring family relationships with forgiveness and reconciliation. In this gracious moment, we have to think anew about family life and renew our resolution to follow the example of the Holy Family of our Savior.
"The family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons: of husband and wife, of parents and children, of relatives. Its first task is to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons" (Familiaris consortio, 18). The family is also where we find the mystery of salvation as our Savior who "so loved the world" (Jn 3,16) took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. During his thirty years in the Holy Family before he began His public life Our Savior showed personally that an ordinary and simple life is the 'holiest life.' For this reason we should try to sanctify our families and daily routines with deep reflection on the importance of the 'Holy Family' and everyday life, following the example of our Savior.
Koreans have long cherished a cultural tradition stressing the importance of the family, and we still recognize the family as the basic element and center of life. But in recent years, we have worried about our society where the divorce rate scarcely drops and where many families have runaway children and where broken communication among family members has increased sharply. There is a trend for couples to have no children after marriage, mainly because of high educational expenses. There is also an increasing number of older people who live alone because no family member wants to live with them. Such phenomena disturb us very much. On the other hand, in recent times we have been asked to have a tolerant attitude to accommodate social diversity as the number of multicultural families increases with the advance of globalization. Because of all these phenomena connected with the family, the Church is called to take urgent action.
The faithful must recognize anew that the family is "the first and vital cell of society" (Familiaris consortio, 42) and try to prevent the weakening and disintegration of the family. At the same time, we should have an open mind to accommodate the reality of new kinds of families in a multiethnic and multicultural society.
The Christian family must especially try to prevent the generation gap, the disparity between husbands and wives and, most of all, the materialism that has penetrated deeply into families. As the logic of success at all cost and unlimited competition become elements threatening holy family life, all Christian families should be more keenly aware than ever of this danger. For no one in the family will have peace of mind if 'money and success' should be the main theme of communication in the family.
Both the lack of mutual trust and insufficient conversation are the main problems which families face today. "Thus the fostering of authentic and mature communion between persons within the family is the first and irreplaceable school of social life, and example and stimulus for the broader community relationships marked by respect, justice, dialogue and love" (Familiaris consortio, 43). This unity is also "the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family" (Familiaris consortio, 18). Therefore, we may say that communion is the essential orientation needed to answer the problems which the family faces and that we must achieve the unity of the family with conversation.
Blessed Mother Theresa pointed out that there is a problem of spiritual poverty as much as of material poverty. She meant that it is very important to build a family with an abundance of faith and love, not just material abundance. A husband and a wife can learn to keep their composure as they watch their children grow, when they respect each other with grateful hearts even when they lack material goods. But it is hard to keep such a composure in the family in the midst of our rapidly changing times. Therefore, the Church must first help all the faithful to realize the essential value of the family. It means that the Church must be able to introduce principles, methods and ways to develop mutual communication in families which carry on their family life with barely any conversation, in interest-conflict relationships where ways are entangled. To achieve this goal, the Church must be able to support the activities of family consultation and development, responding to the various needs of the family. The Church must also increase the activities of family support, so that single men and women, multicultural families and the youth can comfortably cooperate with her. The Church must be able to promote her role faithfully with flexible and concrete family pastoral care which can keep the essence of the Holy Family while accommodating itself to many different situations.
The Christian family is a part of the priestly people and must be continuously vivified by the Lord Jesus (Cf. Familiaris consortio, 55). Communion in prayer is both a consequence of and a requirement for the communion bestowed by the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony (Cf. Familiaris consortio, 59). Therefore, the Christian family must be united in prayer which is offered together by parents and children. This family prayer can enable true conversation among the members of the family. The Christian family must pray without ceasing to "the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3,15), lest this domestic church where the salvific plan of God is realized become defective. The Christian family also should carry out sincerely the mission of family apostolate, caring especially for the members of the family who are wandering in a swamp of agony and desperation.
The will of God will be done in the family as it is in heaven when the members of the family plan a harmonious family with concern for the unity and love of the family and willingly go on the way to the greater sanctification of the family. "Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation" (Familiaris consortio, 21). In the New Year, all our families must build 'a family full of loving conversation' recognizing "the grace and the responsibility of moving towards the fullness of communion willed by God" (Familiaris consortio, 21).
December 30, 2007,
On the Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
+ Paul Hwang Cheol-soo,
Bishop of Pusan,
Committee for family Pastoral Ministry
of the CBCK
Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2008
"Pray without ceasing" (1Thess 5,17)
'Prayer' is both the essence of Christian life and the fundamental principle enabling the communal life of the Church which Christ established. In union with Christ, Christians get the power through prayer to practice peace and unity in the Church, devoting themselves to fraternal love with other Christians and sharing responsibility for each other.
From January 18 to January 25, the feast of St. Paul's conversion, we observe the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in commemoration of the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle who dedicated his whole life to the evangelization of gentiles and the unity and peace of divided ecclesiastical communities. This year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has more meaning than in other years for the following two reasons. First, we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the ecumenical movement and the intention of the prayer of all Christians of the world united in one heart is that we may overcome the situation of a divided Church, in accordance with the admonition of Jesus Christ who prayed, "they may all be one" (Jn 17, 13). Second, Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed the 'Pauline Year', from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009, to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul the Apostle, and he has urged all the Christians to pray with one heart for Christian unity and world peace.
Reflecting the faith and life of St. Paul, 'pray without ceasing' (1Thess 5,17), the theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, prepared jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, has a true meaning of its own, because the most important thing for unity is prayer without ceasing. The life of St. Paul itself was a life of prayer, responding to the divine love for all men and women without ceasing. Therefore, the Christian community in prayer must be a community which can visibly manifest this inner cohesion and unity. The following actions which St. Paul outlined for us to attain the peace of the community in union with Christ are important for us to meditate on together during this week: "We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good (both) for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks" (1Thess 5,14-18).
The Second Vatican Council in reference to the ecumenical movement admonished us to "gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 4). In fact, Christian unity begins with prayer to the Holy Spirit for his support as we confess together "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph 4,5), minimizing controversy about the responsibility for division.
The common prayer for unity with Jesus in the Holy Spirit can be the starting point for true spiritual ecumenism. When we pray together, sincerely thinking of our separated brethren, surprisingly, we will find out that the prayer has its first effect within ourselves. When we try to put into practice what we have prayed for and not just recite the words of the prayer, we will recognize that the prayer is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can change our own mind and spirit. This prayer leads us to heal past wounds which have hindered unity, i.e., the prayer for unity leads all Christians, who are called to the glory of God, to understand how far the present situation of separation is from His will. It also makes us listen to the admonition of St. Paul who said, "Be at peace among yourselves" (1Thess 5,13), recognizing and helping each other with what our partner needs, opening our minds first of all to recover the unity already received as a gift.
I have seen the visible fruits of this prayer without ceasing for the unity of the churches in Korea. With intensive cooperation, the Catholic Church in Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea reached a common agreement to present the theme and prayer for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2009 and to distribute them all over the world. This is not just the result of the efforts and concerns of some theologians and ministers, but it is a sign of fruits born from small seeds in the efforts for unity made by the churches, notwithstanding the short history of the churches in Korea. As we hope for the reunification of the two Koreas, which are still divided, we may say that Christian unity has already begun 'here and now'. We Christians in Korea are praying without ceasing for unity to confess a common faith and to embrace one other, though it seems as if we each serve a different God.
Especially during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year, I would like to ask all the faithful and pastoral ministers to use the prayers and Biblical texts which have been prepared and published jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. If possible, you may have many opportunities to meet and pray together with families, brothers and sisters, and neighbors who all confess Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior. We hope we will see the day when all human beings can praise the glory of God in one voice through the Church which is the sign of the deep unity between God and man. We look for the day when we can pray to Jesus Christ who has come as the light of the world and praise him together without misunderstanding and prejudice. Unity in Christ is certainly a gift of the Holy Spirit; but at the same time, this gift is a mission which we all have to carry on.
January 18, 2008,
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong,
Auxiliary Bishop of Kwangju,
Committee for Promoting Christian Unity
& Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK
Message for Overseas Aid Sunday 2008
"While we have the opportunity, let us do good to all" (Gal 6,10)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord,
1. In the last century we rushed to maximize economic efficiency, believing that it would make everyone happy. As expected, many people came to enjoy a better life and well-being. However, despite a showy slogan of unlimited competition, development and progress, a thick dark shadow has been cast over us.
According to the statistics of the United Nations (UN), about a billion people in the world today live in absolute poverty existing on less than one US dollar a day. Annually more than eight million people die in poverty. About 104 million children cannot go to school and many women have to suffer from birth because of gender inequality. Throughout the world, 1.04 billion people have no access to safe drinking water. People living in poverty have been more affected by unprecedented environmental damage caused by indiscreet exploitation of resources, destruction of forests, extinction of animals and plants, increasing pollution, and so on.
In order to solve these structural problems, world leaders from 189 states unanimously adopted 'the Millennium Declaration' at the UN General Assembly in September 2000. At the same time, they presented the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the number of people in absolute poverty by half by 2015. To this end, the international societies agreed to give 0.7% of their gross national income for aid to developing countries by 2015.
2. Korea has transformed itself from one of the poorest nations after the Korean war into almost one of the ten richest countries in the world. I remember that our economic growth was made possible thanks to overseas aid. Lamentably, however, nowadays Korea contributes very little to the eradication of global poverty. It is not too much to say that our precious tradition of 'helping others in spite of my difficulty' has been buried under the egoistic and perverted materialistic attitude that says 'all I need is my well-being'.
Last year the Ministry of Health and Welfare collected 217.7 billion won in charitable contributions, 84% of which came from enterprises and organizations. The remaining 16% came from individuals, which marks Korea with the lowest rate in the world, lower than the People's Republic of China with 20%. Among 45 member countries of the United Way International (UWI), charitable contributions from individual donors make up on an average 69.5% of its total amount. 70% of charitable contributions came from individuals in Japan and 83.2% in the USA. According to statistics, 72% of the USA population makes a donation, and in proportion to their income the poor donate more than the rich. This can be said to result from differences between individualistic cultures in the Occident and our communal culture in the Orient. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid assuming that Korean people are stingy when it comes to donations. Now it is time for us, the Catholic faithful, as citizens of the world, inhabitants of the global village, and members of one ecosystem, to actively fulfill our responsibility to our neighbours. This is why the Catholic Church in Korea celebrates today 'Overseas Aid Sunday' in order to practice sharing with the world.
3. Pope Benedict XVI in his first Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est said, "Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison" (n. 15). In the least of our neighbours we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God. Therefore, to say that we love God becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbour or hate him altogether. "The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but it is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (n. 25).
During the recent visit of the Korean bishops ad Limina Apostolorum, I met the Holy Father and had an opportunity to speak with him about the activities of humanitarian aid to North Korea which the Church in Korea engages in with great energy. Pope Benedict XVI was pleased with the report on three visits to Pyongyang and the present situation of aid to North Korea on the part of the Church in Korea. He did not forget to ask me "as President of the CBCK Committee for 'Caritas Corea' to continue to care for North Koreans and help them more efficiently." In this regard, the Holy Father was calling to mind the vocation of the Church with its ancient tradition of relieving the misery of the suffering, both far and near, not only out of its 'abundance' but also out of its 'necessities' (John Paul II, encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 31). Today the suffering include "the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and, above all, those without hope of a better future" (Ibid., n. 42). To ignore them would mean becoming like the rich man who pretended not to know the beggar Lazarus lying at his gate (Cf. Lk 16,19-31), because as St. Paul the Apostle exhorts, members of the Church community have a concrete duty to bear one another's heavy burdens.
"If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth" (1Jn 3,17-18).
January 27, 2008
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik
Bishop of Daejon
Committee for "Caritas Corea"
of the CBCK
● News from the Church in Korea
* Action Plans for the Poor during the Lenten Season
On January 23, 2008, the Most Rev. Lazzaro You heung-sik, President of the CBCK Committee for "Caritas Corea" issued a letter urging the faithful to share what they have with others, especially those who are poor, in accordance with the Message of Lent 2008 of Pope Benedict XVI.
In this letter, Bishop You proposed four action plans as follows:
1) Teaching the faithful to awaken their concern for the poor in dioceses and parishes.
2) Posting the translated 2008 Lenten Message of our Holy Father Benedict XVI and related poster on the parish bulletin board before Ash Wednesday, February 6, 2008.
3) Inviting the faithful to observe the Day of Fast for Charity on Friday, March 14, 2008.
4) Promoting the Collection for Charity on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.
* A Statement for the Cause of Non-regular Workers
The Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, President of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace, issued a statement on February 11, 2008 calling for the revision of the so-called "law on the protection of non-regular worker."
In the statement Bishop Choi said, "Following the example of Jesus Christ who took sides with the poor, the Committee for Justice & Peace of the CBCK urges all members of our society to listen to the cry of non-regular workers and to make a common effort to solve their problems." He indicated four points to be realized as follows:
1) to make efforts for the enhancement of the human dignity and the value of labor.
2) to have sympathy with non-regular workers and concern for them in a spirit of solidarity. In this regard, the following four parties have special responsibilities.
- the government must protect workers with institutional expansion of job training and a safety net of employment security.
- employers must recognize non-regular workers as their partners and guarantee them proper wage and employment security.
- labor unions must not discriminate against non-regular workers in favor of regular workers.
- Christian employers must take the initiative to promote non-regular workers to regular workers.
3) The Catholic Church in Korea must make a special effort to promote her non-regular workers in dioceses, parishes and ecclesiastical institutions to regular workers.
4) Wages for non-regular workers must be such that "man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own …… life and that of his dependents, in view of …… the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good" (Gaudium et spes, 67). Excessive disparity in wages between regular workers and non-regular workers must be addressed to minimize non-regular workers' sense of comparative deprivation.
In conclusion, Bishop Choi said, "I pray that our society may have positive concern for the socially weak and practice sharing what we have with them in the spirit of the common good, solidarity and human dignity, not just pursuing efficiency and economic growth."
* The Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille
A ceremony marking the publication of the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille was held at the grand hall of the CBCK on February 20, 2008.
The Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, President of the CBCK Committee for Liturgy, presided over the thanksgiving Mass. In his homily, Bishop Lee said, "I hope that the faithful who happen to be visually disabled may come closer to our Father with the help of the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille."
In his words of encouragement, the Rev. Joseph Kim Yong-tae, Priest Chaplain of the Catholic Missions for People with Visual Disability, said, "As we now have the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille, along with the Bible in Braille already published in 2006, we have no excuse for not singing and praying to God on the pretext of visual problems." Then he asked the faithful to proclaim the love and peace of God for the visually handicapped faithful.
In his words of greetings, Mr. Simon Yoon Jae-song, President of the Catholic Blind Missions of Korea, said, "I am very happy to be able to pray and sing correctly with the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille." He added, "Now it is our mission to proclaim the love of God and to plant hope in the hearts of the faithful who are visually handicapped."
The CBCK will distribute the Catholic Hymnal in Braille and the Catholic Prayer Book in Braille to all the blind faithful in Korea free of charge. In addition to that, before the end of this May the CBCK will complete the development of soft-ware for a machine which can decode and encode information in Braille. With this soft-ware the blind faithful will be able to practice singing with ease.
* The First Annual Report on Religious Freedom in North Korea 2007
The Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the CBCK held its 34th national meeting at the conference hall of the CBCK on February 20, 2008. At this meeting the committee announced the publication of an Annual Report on Religious Freedom in North Korea 2007 which was made in cooperation with the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. This is the first report of its kind ever published in Korea. In the report, all information related to religious issues of North Korea can be found, e.g., North Korea religious statistics, the conditions of religious freedom and also the facts of religious persecution.
Especially, the report included the results of the opinion survey conducted among 755 'Saetormin' (North Korean escapees settled in South Korea) during a six-month period in 2007. On the basis of the results, the report was able to enhance its credibility. The majority of the respondents to the survey (85.7%) said that there is no de facto religious freedom in North Korea. Almost all of them (98.7%) had never gone to a church or temple with legal permission of the regime.
The analysis about the facts of religious persecution in North Korea was based on hitherto accumulated data of the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. According to the data, cases of religious persecution increased drastically after 1990 (more than 99.3% of the reported cases). More than half of the persecuted were detained by the authorities. There has been almost negligible religious activity In North Korea after the severe religious persecution between 1945 and 1960, but somehow a religious fever awakes from an overdue hibernation according to this analysis. Nevertheless, the North Korean regime still rigorously denies true religious freedom, including missionary activity and religious education, even though its constitution nominally allows the citizen to practice his or her faith.
In conclusion, Dr. Yoon proposed the following action plans for the promotion of religious freedom in North Korea:
- to monitor continuously affairs related to religious freedom and religious persecution in North Korea.
- to establish measures for the aid of the persecuted and for the prevention of religious persecution.
- to study the possibility of linking religious exchange and support to religious freedom in North Korea.
- to intensify the activities for the official and unofficial religious approach to the North Korean people.
- to establish an interreligious federation for the promotion of religious freedom in North Korea.
- to educate and train experts in religious affairs in North Korea.
- to intensify religious activity in the area frequented by North Korean people, e.g., mainland China.
- to increase support for the settlement of the North Korean escapees.
The committee also announced that a web-site named "Newsletter for the Reconciliation of the Korean People" (http://hwahai.cbck.or.kr) was opened on February 28, 2008. The committee will send a monthly or biweekly email to clergy, religious, and the lay faithful in Korea. With this email the recipients can acquaint themselves with ample information about the activities of the committee along with news about North Korea.
* Statistics of Overseas Korean Catholics 2007
The Statistics of Overseas Korean Catholics 2007 was published by the CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (President: Most Rev. Vincent Ri Pyung-ho) on February 1, 2008.
According to the statistics, as of December 31, 2007, the number of Korean Catholics practicing their faith in overseas Catholic churches and missions totaled 149,966. About two-thirds of the total overseas Korean Catholic population, 108,263 Korean Catholics, are living in North America.
Most overseas Korean Catholics are concentrated in the United States (87,138), followed by Canada (20,510), and Australia (12,318). Korean Catholics living in Asia are concentrated mainly in three countries: China (1,700), Indonesia (1,295) and Japan (1,291).
There are 165 parishes and 170 mission stations for overseas Korean Catholics in 61 countries. 203 priests, 39 brothers and 131 sisters have been sent to those countries to provide pastoral care for them.
The dioceses and the religious communities sending the largest number of Korean pastoral workers abroad were the Diocese of Pusan (27 priests to 7 countries) and the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyrs (30 sisters to 4 countries).
According to the biennial statistics published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea, as of May 1, 2007, overseas Koreans are calculated as 7,044,716.
The Seoul Archdiocesan Committee for Life held the second Mystery of Life Award Ceremony at Coste Hall of Myeongdong Cathedral of Seoul on January 17, 2008. H.E. Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, was awarded the Grand Prix, in recognition of his efforts to establish the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for studies on marriage and family. The award in the Life Science category went to Prof. Sung Young-chul in recognition of his research in curing patients with incurable diseases and improving the quality of their lives. In the category of humanistics, the Research Institute for Life and Culture was given an award because of its distinguished service to the pro-life movement on an interreligious and interdisciplinary level.
* The 14th Korean-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting
The 14th Korean-Japan Youth Exchange Meeting took place with the theme "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Jn 15,13) in the Archdiocese of Nagasaki, Japan, from February 22 to 27, 2008.
Some 40 Korean and Japanese youths participated in this meeting, under the guidance of Rev. Paul Lee Deuk-gyu (diocesan priest of Daejeon in Korea), Rev. Joseph Yang Jae-sik (diocesan priest of Jeonju in Korea) and Rev. Yamamura Kenichi (diocesan priest of Nagasaki in Japan)
During this meeting, the Korean and Japanese young participants had an opportunity to study the history of both countries and share each other's culture and life through various programs such as home-staying in Catholic families, visiting the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, making pilgrimages to the Catholic martyrs' shrines of Unzen and Shimabara, sightseeing in the city, preparing for a cultural festival.
Though at first the youth of two nations had difficulties in communication because of their different languages, they gradually came to understand each other and confirm that they are all brothers and sisters in one faith.
● News in Brief
On December 11, 2007, H.E. Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, Archbishop of Seoul, appointed the Rev. Theophilus Choi Seung-ryong as the Episcopal Vicar of the Vicariate Forane of Hwanghae-do in North Korea. 2008 will mark the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Vicariate Forane.
Rev. John Choi Ki-sub was appointed as the 21st rector of the Archdiocesan Major Seminary of Seoul on February 14, 2008, succeeding Rev. Damasus Jeong Ui-chul. Father Choi, ordained a priest in 1981, has already held major posts at the seminary, e.g., the director of theological library and the director of the computer center. He studied philosophy at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan from 1989 to 1993.
The CBCK published the bilingual English-Korean New Testament. The bilingual edition juxtaposes the text in Korean from Seonggyeong, the new Korean translation of the Bible for Catholics, and the text in English from the New American Bible, the official Bible for the Liturgy in the Catholic Church in the United States. Permission to use the English text was granted by the copyright owner, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of One-Body One-Spirit Movement, the Most Rev. Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, Chairperson of the One-Body One-Spirit Movement, issued a message on February 17, 2008, in which he proposed a campaign for the "world for life" and asked the faithful through this campaign to discover anew the life given in the Body and Blood of Christ.
The web-site of the CBCK (www.cbck. or.kr) has been renewed as of February 18, 2008. The renewed web-site added a section of documents which supplies in free e-book form many Church documents translated into Korean or published by the CBCK, There is also an easy search function for the Bible in various Korean versions.
The CBCK Committee for Culture held a ceremony for the 13th Catholic Arts Award at the Catholic Publishing House in downtown Seoul on February 18, 2008. The prize for sculpture was awarded to the late Mr. Francis Jang Dong-ho who throughout his whole life contributed to Korean religious art. The deceased Fr. Alwin Schmid, OSB (1904-1978) also won the special prize for his contribution to church architecture in Korea by designing 185 Catholic buildings in Korea during 20 years from 1958 to 1978.
The Lives of the 103 Martyr Saints of Korea 54, 55
Saint Son So-byok Magdalene (1802-1840)
Son So-byok Magdalene was the wife of the martyr Choe Chang-hub Peter. She was born in Seoul. Since her father was exiled for his faith and her mother died early, Magdalene lived with her grandmother. The unfortunate situation of her family made her shy and she kept away from other Catholics, so she learned the Catholic religion late.
When she was 17 years old, she married Choe Peter who was martyred before her. She gave birth to eleven children, but nine died in infancy. She had a genial character and soft-spoken manner, and she was famous for her excellent talent in sewing and embroidery.
During the persecution of 1839, she was hiding with her relatives, but finally she was arrested. The police chief interrogated her.
"Reveal where your fellow Catholics are, and deny your God."
"I don't want to do any harm to my fellow Catholics by revealing where they are. I can never deny my God."
"If you say just a word, you will be freed and live with your husband and your children, but if you are stubborn, you will be killed."
"My life is not mine. I cannot deny my God in order to save my life."
Magdalene was interrogated seven times, her body was twisted three times, and she was beaten with a club 260 times. Her flesh was torn apart and she was bleeding profusely, but she thanked God for giving her strength to endure all the pains.
Magdalene brought her two-year old youngest daughter into prison, which was dark with no fresh air. There was not enough food, so Magdalene sent her child to one of her relatives, because she thought the child might weaken her will for martyrdom.
According to the government record (Seungjeongwon Diary), Magdalene was finally taken out to Tangkogae near Seoul and with five other Catholics she was beheaded there on January 31, 1840, at the age of 39.
Saint Choe Yong-i Barbara (1819-1840)
Choe Yong-i Barbara was a daughter of Son So-beok Magdalene, one of the 103 Saints. Barbara was very devout from the time she was a young girl. When her parents tried to arrange her marriage, she said that the spouse she wanted must be a very devout Catholic. She said that she did not particularly care for a noble or rich husband. So she married a much older man, 44-year old Cho Charles. Barbara was 20 years old at that time. The next year she gave birth to a son. The couple encouraged each other in virtue and practiced their religion faithfully.
When Barbara was arrested, she took her son with her to prison. It was very hard for the infant to stay in prison. It was dirty with neither fresh air, sufficient light nor enough food. So Barbara sent her son to one of her relatives. She was afraid that she might be discouraged from being steadfast to her faith because of her son.
The interrogator asked her to give up her faith and to reveal the names of her fellow Catholics and of the owner of the religious articles found in her house. Barbara would not deny God and said that she was too young to know her fellow Catholics, so she was severely tortured. She was beaten 250 times and her body was twisted.
She wrote a letter in which she said: "How sad I am to lose my parents in martyrdom! But when I think of Heaven, I am consoled and thank God for the special privilege of martyrdom. I am full of happiness in my heart!"
On February 1, 1840, Barbara was taken to Tangkogae near Seoul and was beheaded there with Yi John and Hong Paul. Barbara was 22 years old when she was martyred. On the previous day Barbara's mother had been martyred. According to the Korean law of those days, relatives were not supposed to be killed on the same day.