03/24/2006, 00.00
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Card. Kim: "Choosing Cheong has brought joy to Catholics, honour to the nation"

Cardinal Su-hwan, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul, gives his reaction to his successor's appointment as cardinal, saying: "I had the impression that the Pontiff may consider the possibility of creating a Korean cardinal".

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Pope "has given great joy to Korean Catholics and has honoured the whole nation. His choice demonstrates how much consideration he has for Korea".

This is how the Cardinal Emeritus of Seoul, Mgr Stephen Kim Su-hwan, views the "historic decision" taken by Benedict XVI to create Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, his successor as head of the archdiocese of Seoul. "I had the impression that the Pontiff may consider the possibility of appointing a Korean cardinal," said the cardinal, in Rome to take part in the Consistory.

"I was very sorry when no Korean cardinals were created in 2001 and 2003," he said. "In Italy, it doesn't matter much if one more cardinal is appointed because there are so many in the present day and history of that country. But in Korea, a new cardinal is a great joy for its 4.5 million Catholics, and an honour for the whole nation."

This joy is "greater still" if one considers that this is the "first Consistory of Benedict XVI: he could have chosen many bishops, including from the former Soviet Union, and the fact that a Korean was included among the 15 new cardinals demonstrates how much consideration he has for Korea.

"My successor has a clear view on missionary work in Asia, including North Korea, and he is on the frontline of the pro-life struggle, so I have little advice to give him."

He added: "I expressed my joy for the appointment of Cardinal Cheong in a personal meeting with the Pontiff, and I sought to explain to him how important the decision was for Koreans, including non-Catholic ones."

This feeling is shared by the Korean community around the world. A Korean journalist told AsiaNews: "I am not a Catholic, but I came to Rome to be able to follow this great event from close at hand. We are proud of the fact that Korea has a new cardinal, and that he is Mgr Cheong, known for his social commitment."

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