04/20/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA - VATICAN
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Korean Catholics, Buddhists and Protestants greet new Pope

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Seoul (AsiaNews) – "Benedict XVI shall lead us towards truth, justice and love," said Card Stephen Kim Sou-hwan after the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the throne of Saint Peter.

"My heartfelt gratitude goes to God and the Holy Spirit for the new vicar of Christ. I pray that the new Pope, Benedict XVI, may lead the Church with universal love and show the world what its true needs are," he added, further reiterating how the Pontiff "shall lead us towards truth, justice and love for all, for the poor and the outcast. May he be our pastor and the Vicar of Christ, and lead us towards unity. For this, he needs our prayers and support".

Representatives of other religions joined Catholics in greeting the new Pope.

Rev Kang Won-ryong, a Protestant, said: "I express my heartfelt congratulations and respect to the new Pope! I ask him to transcend the walls of religion and of the Catholic Church so that the world may overcome unprecedented dangers."

Venerable Song Wolju, former chief executive of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order, also offered his congratulations to Benedict XVI, calling on the Pope "to work for peace in the world with wisdom and love."

South Korean TV networks splashed the news of Benedict XVI's election at one 1 am (local time).

Mgr Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk, Archbishop of Seoul, went to PBC TV station, a national broadcaster, to make the official announcement of Joseph Ratzinger's election to the nation.

He then thanked God and gave the official welcome of the South Korean Church to Saint Peter's 264th successor.

"The new Pope is the spiritual father of 1.1 billion Catholics and of the whole humanity," he said. "To fulfill his mission he needs our collaboration. This means that every Christian faithful must show respect for life and be the 'light and salt of the earth' as the late John Paul II taught us".

Mgr Peter Park, director of the communication department of the Bishops' Conference of Korea, spoke instead of the accusations made against the new Pope.

"As the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, he might have had to take some hard-line positions but only to defend the integrity of Catholic moral teachings in their integrity," he said.

"As cardinal, he was open to other religions but was above all an unwavering defender of the truth," Mgr Park added.

More importantly, "he played an active role in building and upholding the changes adopted at the Second Vatican Council."

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