2020 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) held its 2020 Spring General Assembly at the Conference Hall of the Catholic Conference of Korea from March 16 to 19, 2020. At the assembly the following decisions were made:
1. The bishops decided to issue a message from the bishops of the Catholic Church in Korea to the Korean people and faithful concerning the Cornonavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
2. The resumption of public Masses was discussed because the continued presence of COVID-19 has prolonged their suspension in all dioceses. Although it is necessary, for the spiritual benefit of the faithful, to resume public Masses as soon as possible, the bishops decided that diocesan bishops have discretion in setting specific dates for restarting public Masses. Such decisions should be in accordance with local circumstances, respect the government’s guidelines for quarantine management, and take into consideration the opening dates of kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools nationwide, which have been postponed until April 6, 2020. In addition, it was decided to prepare preventive measures for the resumption of public Masses depending on the spread of COVID-19.
3. The worldwide celebration of Laudato Si’ Week (from May 16 until 24, 2020) was established to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si’. The bishops decided to issue a ‘Statement on the Climate Change Emergency’ in the name of all the Korean bishops on May 8, 2020. They also decided to concelebrate Holy Mass for the 5th anniversary of the promulgation of Laudato Si’ at Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral, Archdiocese of Seoul, on May 16, 2020. The CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment (President: Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il) will distribute to all dioceses related materials for homilies and daily prayers during the Week. They will also publish a Korean version of Nostra Madre Terra: Una lettura Cristiana della sfida dell’ambiente, a compilation of the addresses and messages of Pope Francis on the environment.
4. The bishops listened to a report from the Meeting of Diocesan Directors in Charge of Social Welfare・Social Pastoral Care, held on January 14, 2020. As the authority to coordinate social welfare affairs for this meeting has been transferred to the ‘CBCK Committee for Caritas Coreana,’ the relevant diocesan directors discussed the necessity of changing the name of this meeting into the ‘Meeting of Diocesan Directors in Charge of Social Pastoral Care.’ They also decided to request that each diocese send its diocesan director or a representative priest in charge of social pastoral care (pastoral ministry for prisoners, immigrants, the police, or the environment) to this meeting. After listening to the report, the bishops approved the proposed name change, ‘the Meeting of Diocesan Directors in Charge of Social Pastoral Care.’
5. The bishops unanimously agreed to announce a Jubilee Year in 2021 for the Catholic Church in Korea on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Patron Saint of Korean Priests. This suggestion was originally made by the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization (Chairman: Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik). The Jubilee period will run from November 29, 2020 (the first Sunday of Advent) to November 27, 2021 (the day before the first Sunday of Advent). Accordingly, the bishops decided to request, through an official letter to the Apostolic Penitentiary, a plenary indulgence for the Catholic Church in Korea to celebrate the Jubilee Year.