2021 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK
Address of the Apostolic Nuncio in Korea (Summary)
It is my great honor and privilege to be given the opportunity once again to deliver an opening message at the CBCK General Assembly.
Please allow me to extend a very warm welcome to the new Bishop of Chunchon, Monsignor Simon Kim Ju-young wishing him a most fruitful ministry and assuring him of the full support of the Apostolic Nunciature. The election of Monsignor Titus Seo Sang-Bum as bishop of the Korean Military Ordinariate is another occasion which elicits a lot of joy. The appointment of Monsignor Stefan Han Jung Hyun, who was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Daejeon this past 25th January, is another source of spiritual joy. On November 22nd, Monsignor Pius Moon, in the presence of many members of the Korean episcopate, began his new ministry as Ordinary of Cheju. I greet each one of you with equal deference and sincerely thank you for collaborating generously with the Apostolic Nunciature in fulfilling its duties. Allow me to reiterate that with such services you are assisting the Holy Father himself in selecting the best Shepherd to lead the People of God in Korea.
During the General Assembly of last October, you have discussed the difficult situations created by the pandemic Covid-19 and the great challenge we must face together to restore our churches to welcome back the faithful after the restrictions that deny their physical presence to participate in the liturgical celebrations. The current problematic circumstances render even more opportune the Holy Father’s frequent appeals that today’s Church needs to become ever more missioner. This requires Her to venture out of Her confines to reach the peripheries where the people thirst to hear the Good News and wish to become members of the People of God to be saved through the mystery of the Resurrection of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
The Korean Catholic Church is working hard to promote a variety of praiseworthy initiatives to spread the Gospel message to our people. Among these, I wish to mention the interesting programs made available through the tv network CPBC, the Catholic newspapers and the religious journals, which report public activities and liturgical celebration. Furthermore, there is also an overflowing appreciation to the high number of diocesan priests being assigned to look after the spiritual needs of Catholic Koreans who have emigrated to other countries, and in particular those priests who are sent as fidei donum for the purpose of evangelizing peoples of different nationalities who live in harsh social disadvantages. It is also worth mentioning the numerous charitable initiatives that the Korean Church, together with other benevolent organizations, is undertaking to help those in need especially during this time of crisis.
It is interesting to note that, after of the pastoral visits to South Korea of Pope St. John Paul II during May of 1984 and October 1989, and that of Pope Francis during August of 2014, there was an impressive increase of Koreans who sought Baptism, as well as a high number of other persons who asked to enter the Seminary or to join a Religious Congregation in this country. This happy phenomenon may lead to conclude that public manifestations carry a very strong message and can produce abundant fruits. While continuing to show our deep respect to the other religions and to the culture of the society we form part of, we should not be too timid to go forth ad gentes. A Church which perseveres in its missionary approach, breathes in new life, and remains an effective instrument in proclaiming the Lord’s salvation.
During one of my private audiences with the Holy Father, Pope Francis instructed me to encourage the beloved Bishops of this Church to continue to cherish and to promote the precious witness that you inherited from the Korean martyrs (Private Audience, 21 January 2019). The first Korean Christians were not concerned to defend themselves from the empire’s opposition and from the social culture of their times, but to proclaim Jesus, even at the cost of their lives. This persecution resulted in their forced exile from their homes and to go to other villages to seek shelter where they were able to disseminate the Gospel among their new neighbors. Taking up the role in society as potters allowed them to move from location to location quietly and to continue to practice their faith secretly. They were also able to communicate with others by signs and messages carved into their clay pots and jars. Through such skillful techniques the number of Christians continued to increase despite all the hardships. Let us pray the Holy Spirit that we may be creative like them and be inspired with new efficient ways to enact our mission notwithstanding the huge difficulties facing our mission of evangelization amongst today’s society.
We turn to St. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, the first Korean priest and to his companion martyrs with confidence and pray, through their intersession, that the Church in Korea will discover new and creative paths to revive the nostalgia for God, to an infinite and true love, and bring the good news to every human person.
While you now commence your discussions on the themes you have chosen, I entrust this assembly’s work to the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Church in Korea. May the Lord bestow upon each one of you His blessings and guide you in your discussions.
+ Alfred Xuereb
Apostolic Nuncio in Korea