Rome (AsiaNews) - The Korean Church "sent about 1,000 missionaries to Asia and the world. That is a significant number for us, because it shows that we can finally repay all the love we have received from foreign religious throughout our history," said Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, who last Saturday received his biretta from Pope Francis.
"When we hugged each other to exchange the peace," the new cardinal said, the pope "told me suddenly that he loves Korea. Despite my emotions, I answered him right away, and told him that we too love him and that we hope to see him soon with us."
The new cardinal met with a group of Korean journalists at the Pontifical College in Rome. Tomorrow, he will return home where, he said, "we have many things to do."
Speaking to AsiaNews, he said, "The missionary challenges for the Church in Korea are so many. But I want to emphasise that love is the key element. If you love the land where you work; especially, if you love the Gospel; you will achieve good results for yourself and those close to you. It should be clear that the missionary cannot and must not think about dominating. He must instead offer the fruits of the Gospel, which is our joy and strength."
For Card Yeom, Asia is playing an "increasingly important role in providing such an offer. "We must bring Christ to our continent and to the world. As John Paul II put it, Asia is the new frontier for the mission in the Third Millennium."
"As Koreans, we can always count on the support and the example of our martyrs, who founded and kept the Church alive in spite of persecution and violence during [the time of] the kingdom. In some sense, they ' helped themselves,' which is what we must do as well. After receiving, we must offer."
There are many pastoral challenges at home and abroad, "especially to the family, which, I think, is under attack in its traditional form, in Korea but also in many other countries in East Asia. A low birth rate and the 'empty cradles' are a problem for us, for the Chinese, and for the Japanese."
"We must first of all work in favour of life. In this sense, I think that the extraordinary consistory the pope just convened has incredible timing. Now we must reap its rewards and communicate not only to our faithful, but also to everyone else."
Asked about a possible papal trip to South Korea next August for Asian Youth Day, the cardinal said, "We hope and pray that the pope will visit us. That would be great, very important, a new impetus to our missionary work and a way to talk about peace in the Korean Peninsula."