Korean Catholic church leader renews call for peace, unity

The Catholic church leader of Korea has renewed calls for the people in the peninsula to restore the “spirit of community” and to allow genuine peace to reign.

Cardinal Andrew Soo-jung Yeom, archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, made the call ahead of the celebration of the dedication of the Diocese of Pyongyang in North Korea to the Our Lady of Fatima on Aug. 15.

In his message, the prelate expressed hopes that the two countries “will open their hearts and start to talk for real peace” after decades of conflict.

Cardinal Yeom also urged the two countries to engage in a “dialogue based on mutual trust, not force.”

“I believe the urgent task of our time is to restore the spirit of community through which everyone can peacefully join in union and coexist,” he said.

The prelate stressed that true peace can only be achieved if people look at one another as creations of God.

The Catholic Church in Korea has been advancing efforts to promote unity and peace in the peninsula amidst tension between the two nations.

The prelate said the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the “ideological division, the prevalence of life-threatening trends, and polarization of wealth” between the two Koreas.

“We have been called by the Lord to serve as ‘apostles of peace’ through prayer, repentance, sacrifice, and service,” the cardinal was quoted as saying by Vatican News.

He invited Korean leaders and the public to help “establish true peace on this land by overcoming the anxiety and distrust that have permeated every aspect of our society.”

The prelate also urged the faithful to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary “to bring true peace in our society.”

“I hope the day will come soon when the North Korean Church will be able to praise the Lord again in joy and peace through the protection and intercession of the Holy Mother,” he said.

The cardinal said that even now “there is not a single clergyman in North Korea who can perform his ministry.”

He said the country needs the “special grace of God to correct this sad reality.”

The dedication of the Diocese of Pyongyang to Our Lady of Fatima comes as Koreans mark the 75th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from colonial rule and the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule on Aug.15, 1945.

The prelate said these conflicts have caused “unspeakable pain” and suffering to all Koreans.

He said that religious people suffered even more as churches and monasteries were closed during the war, and church people, including the faithful, were detained, tortured, and killed.

Cardinal Yeom cited the sacrifices of “Servant of God” Bishop Francis Borgia Hong Yong-ho and his 80 companions “who professed their faith to the end.

Bishop Yong-ho and his companions became “martyrs of the persecution carried out by the Stalinist regime of Kim Il-Sung” in 1949.

Since its establishment in 1927, it is the first time the Pyongyang Diocese would be dedicated. The dedication ceremony will be held at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul.

The prelate said it is “significant given the spiritual unity between the Pyongyang Diocese and the Seoul Archdiocese.”

Cardinal Yeom said Pope Francis “promised to offer a special prayer for the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary” for the Diocese of Pyongyang on the day of the dedication.

The prelate expressed his desire that someday the people of the two nations will be able to share the joy of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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