Seoul (AsiaNews) Cardinal Nicholas Chung Jin-suk, archbishop of Seoul, has selected five seminarians from the diocese of Pyongyang to attend the Catholic University of Incheon and become priests. The evangelization of North Korea was always the unfulfilled dream of former Korean primate Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, who died on February 16.
During his life, Cardinal Kim, who was also the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, tried in every way possible to increase ties with the Church and population of North Korea, and to send priests there. Now it is hoped that these seminarians (including Kim Yong-chan and Yi sang-hui), once they have become priests, will be able to return to their country. The Mass and ceremony of admission were presided over by Choe Ki-san, bishop of Incheon.
Meanwhile, a few weeks after the death of Cardinal Kim, the wave of emotion and devotion prompted by his death is not subsiding. Bishop Peter Kang U-il, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, tells AsiaNews that "it seems that the Holy Spirit is doing surprising things through the late Cardinal Kim. Catholics, non-Catholics, and believers of other religions feel the same love and thanksgiving for him deep in their heart. Husbands who maltreated their wives because they go to church, those who were indifferent toward God and who stopped going to church have changed their mind by watching the life of the late Cardinal Kim and what he has done. They began to go to church and knock on its door. Many people say, 'we want to live like him and do what he has done for the poor and the rejected in society'. The late Cardinal Kim is smiling warmly from heaven on our dark society suffering from all kinds of difficulties, especially the financial crisis. This is like the rays of the sun amid dark clouds."
Many have also been struck by his last gesture, his donation of his eyes for transplant. According to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, there is a long wait in the country for those who need transplants: an average of 41 months to find a heart donor, 52 for lungs, 62 for corneas. The number of patients on the waiting list for transplants is growing: from 2,840 in 2000 to 10,717 in 2008.
But Cardinal Kim's gesture has also led to an eightfold increase in the number of people who say they are willing to donate their organs. Famous figures like the singers Park Jung-ah and Seo In-young of the pop band Jewelry have said they will do this.
The archbishop of Seoul, Cardinal Nicholas Chung Jin-suk, recalls that "organ donation is an act that express the supreme love for suffering neighbors, and it has a deep meaning to prolong one's life."