2010-11-29 11:25
The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting

The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting


The 16th Korean-Japanese Bishops' Exchange Meeting was held at Ramada Plaza Hotel, Cheongju in Korea from November 16 to 18, 2010.

Along with the Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) and Bishop of Cheju, and the Most Rev. Peter Okada Takeo, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) and Archbishop of Tokyo, 30 Bishops in all attended the meeting. The theme of this meeting was "Suicide Prevention".

On the second day, Dr. Michael Hong Kang-eui, the professor emeritus of Seoul National University and the chairman of Korean Association for Suicide Prevention, made a report on the current situation and countermeasures against suicide in Korea. Dr. Hong said that there were many complicated incidents or reasons to commit suicide. He added that the rate of committing suicide in Korea seemed to go down shortly after recovering the economic situation from IMF crisis, but it has resurged lately. This current situation aroused the questions of when and how the rate will fall and how long it will last. He suggested that reasons must to be figured out in psychological, sociological, and spiritual ways. He also added that the religious circle can play roles to prevent people from committing suicides by preaching about the dignity of life, the meaning of death, prohibition of suicide, and other issues related to life and suicide.

The Most Rev. James Koda Kazuo, Auxiliary Bishop of Tokyo and Vice President of Caritas Japan made a report on the situation in Japan with the theme, 'Pastoral Action of CBCJ on Suicide.' According to Bishop Koda Kazuo, the first reason for the middle-aged men to commit suicide is the economic problem. So, Japanese use the word, "driven-to-death" instead of "suicide", i.e. killing oneself because they are driven to death by external reasons such as violence, abuse, and poverty in society. However, Bishop Koda said that committing suicide could not be justified by any reasons or any cases because killing oneself means committing sin against God who is the protector of life. Caritas Japan has raised money for the people driven to death to protect their lives, and has had a chance to pray for them and their family members. These kinds of actions can help other people to change their thoughts about suicide.

In the afternoon of the same day, the bishops were divided into two groups to visit Yang Eob High School, the first Catholic School in Korea for alternative education and Baithi Martyrs' Shrine in Cheongju Diocese. After the visit, all the bishops celebrated Mass with the faithful at Naedeok-dong Cathedral.

On the last day, the bishops had a meeting in the morning and visited Beopjusa, a Buddist temple. The next meeting is scheduled for November 8 to 10, 2011, in Japan.