03/24/2006, 00.00
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Card. Cheong: "Pope's vision for Asia re-launches evangelization there"

In an interview with AsiaNews, the Archbishop of Seoul, who received his Cardinal's red hat today, stressed the commitment of the Korean Church against embryo experimentation and for North Korea.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The appointment of three new Asian cardinals "is a sign of the benevolence felt by the Pope for this continent: by this gesture, Benedict XVI is reinforcing the call of John Paul II, who had indicated Asia as our shared task for the third millennium". This was the view shared with AsiaNews by Mgr Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, about the "Pontiff's Asiatic vision".

The neo-Cardinal said: "The task that John Paul II reminded us about is evangelization: everyone is aware of the size of the Asian population and they know Asia is the future of the world, because it is destined to make its mark thus, as Europe marked the first millennium and the Americas the second."

"I think," added the cardinal, "that by including me and the Hong Kong and Manila bishops in the College of Cardinals, our Pope intended to give a signal to the world, even the non-Catholic one. We are a team and we will work together. Ideally, the appointments could be seen as a wedge penetrating Asia: Hong Kong represents the point, the Korean Church has the middle role of reconciliation and cooperation, while the Philippines is the solid base."

Once the Consistory is over, the Archbishop of Seoul will return to his daily commitments. He said: "One of my main tasks, even after this event, remains that of supporting the ethical battle against embryo experimentation. The fall of Hwang [the "cloning pioneer" disgraced by the discovery that he had falsified results of his research] marked a high point in this battle, but we should not be too concerned about this, and we should not rejoice in the disgrace of our enemies.

"People in Korea have understood my position in defence of the embryo and I believe that many are coming closer to my views on the matter. I will continue our pro-life campaign, not to give in to the rationalization of a divine gift as important as human life."

The situation in North Korea and the plight of Catholics there is also "a pressing commitment" for the bishop: "The Church does not exist in North Korea, except that of silence. There are no churches, but I believe that in the future, with the help of providence, there will be an improvement in the religious situation of that country." He continued: "Our commitment for Catholics and for all the population, for our brothers in the north, is humanitarian: our archdiocese of Seoul helps out with several aid projects and through the allocation of funds for our brothers in the north, and we will continue to do this."

He added: "I have suffered much because of this appointment and its burden, but I am content. All the Koreans are happy about the news and I am happy because of the honour the Pope has bestowed upon Korea."

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