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» 05/25/2007
KOREA
North Korean Martyrs, the first process for beatification gets underway
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The announcement was made yesterday by the Order of St. Benedict from Waegwan Abbey south Korea, which has ecclesial jurisdiction over the abbey Tokwon, in the North. There are 36 Martyrs, who died in the communist death camps during the persecution of Kim Il-sung.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The process for the beatification of 36 North Korean Servants of God, who accepted martyrdom in the face of demands they renounce their faith during the Stalinist regime of Kim Il-sung, between 1949 and 1952 has opened.

The announcement was made by the Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey in South Korea which exercises ecclesial jurisdiction over the North Korean Abbacy of Tokwon.

According to Abbot Simon Petro Ri Hyeong-u, Apostolic Administrator of Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon, “At the moment, the community of Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey is full of aspiration to honour the witness of faith shown by our predecessors. Hereby, this abbey announces that it will play the role of 'actor' in the case for promoting the beatification and canonization”.

The initiative also has to some extent a “political” value.  Upon till now, in fact the Seoul government has always exerted its influence to avoid the commemoration of these martyrs in order not to provoke a “diplomatic incident” with the present regime, led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung’s son.

The process is entitled “beatification Abbot Bishop Boniface Sauer (O.S.B.), Fr. Benedict Kim (O.S.B.) and companions”. These men underlines Sabas Lee Seong-geun (vice-postulator for the cause), “all died in the North Korean communist death camps during that terrible wave of anti-Catholic persecution after the communists came to power.  We remember them together because in some way they are all linked to the Tokwon Abbey”.

At present, the Catholic Church in North Korea is in appalling conditions. Since the end of the civil war in 1953, the three local ecclesiastical jurisdictions and the whole Catholic community have been brutally wiped out by the Stalinist regime. Not a single local priest has been left alive and all foreign clergymen have been expelled. In the early years of persecution by Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s first dictator, an estimated 300,000 Catholics have vanished.

There are neither resident priests nor ecclesial structures.  Thus following the erection of the first Orthodox Church in the capital last August, the Catholic Community is the only one not to have a minister for the faith.  

 According to Vatican sources, actual Catholics number 800, far fewer than the 3,000 recently acknowledged by the government. The so-called North Korean Catholic Association, an organisation created and run by the regime, claims to represent local Catholics. The Holy See has always discouraged visits by its leaders to Rome since there are still serious doubts about their legal and canonical status. There are strong suggestions that they are Communist Party officials, not Catholics.


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See also
12/09/2004 SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA
Both North and South consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin, says Bishop of Seoul
by Thomas Han
03/21/2008 DAY OF THE MARTYRS
The Easter of the Martyrs
by Bernardo Cervellera
03/21/2008 DAY OF THE MARTYRS
". . .for you and for all ", the Christian martyrs killed in 2007
02/13/2004 north korea - china
North Korean refugees convert to Christianity
09/22/2006 SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
Card. Cheong: "Pray that Eucharist may return to North Korea"

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Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
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Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
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Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

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pp. 176
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