2021 Pastoral Letters of Diocesan Bishops
For a Year of Renewing Faith: focusing on the Word and the Eucharist
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the diocesan bishops issued their 2021 pastoral letters on the occasion of the first Sunday of Advent (November 29, 2020). They requested the faithful to form missionary communities while keeping the ‘bond of faith,’ even in the midst of fear and anxiety.
The dioceses of Seoul, Daegu and Busan appealed for cooperation to build a ‘community testifying to the joy of the Gospel.’
H.E. Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, said: “Let us be a missionary diocesan community that enables us go beyond ourselves to spread the joy of the Gospel in families, parishes and society, to the many who are not aware of Christ.”
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, suggested five core values: the Word, communion, liturgy, love of neighbor, and mission work. He asked the faithful to live with these values, focusing on each individually every two years until 2030, in order to build a ‘community living with the joy of the Gospel.’ The theme for 2021-2022 is ‘Following the Word of God’ and in this regard, Archbishop Cho emphasized the requirement of consistently considering how to preserve and enrich the value of life.
The Most Rev. Joseph Son Sam-seok, Bishop of Busan, declared 2021 the ‘Year of Faith and the Word’ and promoted some practices such as ‘living with the word of God,’ ‘following the model of Holy Family’ and ‘caring for our neighbor in need.’
The Most Rev. John Kim Sontae, Bishop of Jeonju, focusing his pastoral concern on the ‘Eucharist,’ declared that the renewal of faith would be promoted. The following are included as concrete suggestions: ‘having an intimate communion with the Lord through Eucharistic adoration’ and ‘living the Eucharist by giving oneself to others.’
The dioceses of Daejeon, Masan, and Cheongju urged the faithful to live in the spirit of ‘The Jubilee of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn’ and to strive to unite both faith and daily life. The Diocese of Cheongju, especially decided to follow the model and example of the Venerable Servant of God Father Thomas Choe Yang-eop, since the diocese has been promoting the cause of his beautification. The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, Bishop of Cheongju, asked the people “to pray fervently for the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God Father Thomas Choe, so that the celebration may be held on the year of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Venerable Servant of God.”
The Most Rev. John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, Bishop of Incheon stressed the importance of recalling the rich history of the diocese as 2021 is its 60th anniversary. Subsequently, he asked the faithful to spend a ‘Year of Memory and Thanksgiving.’
The dioceses of Suwon, Wonju, and Uijeongbu emphasized the centrality of promoting the prophetic vocation of caring for the vulnerable of society. The Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon, announced a pastoral letter that applies to the diocese’s entire pastoral ministry from 2021-2023. The primary emphases of the pastoral letter are ‘preferential option for the poor,’ ‘organic collaboration between ministries,’ and ‘district-focused pastoral ministry.’
The Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man, Bishop of Wonju declared 2021 a ‘Year of Almsgiving’ and requested the faithful to make a commitment towards almsgiving to neighbors in need. The diocese of Uijeongbu also focused on the vulnerable of society. The Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Uijeongbu, stressed that the vulnerable of society, who carry a heavy yoke, should be offered courage and hope, so as that ‘they do not feel alone, but feel included.’
The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, Bishop of the Military Ordinariate said in his pastoral letter entitled, Prudent Servant: “The clergy must be prudent servants who carry out the mission which is entrusted to them with a resolute attitude in all circumstances.” He placed emphasis on encouraging and supporting young soldiers who grew up in a rapidly changing world, as this is also the attitude of the proclaimer of the Gospel.