Card. Andrea Yeom, Archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, presides over the mass and the coronation ceremony of the statue of the Virgin. An autographed message from Pope Francis.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - With a solemn ceremony in the Myeong-dong cathedral, Card. Andrea Soo-jung Yeom, Archbishop of Seoul, consecrated the diocese of Pyongyang (North Korea) to Our Lady of Fatima. Card. Yeom is Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, as there are no bishops or priests in the north, killed at the time of Kim Il-sung.
The ceremony, on the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, last August 15, included mass, the coronation of the statue of the Virgin and the reading of an autographed message from Pope Francis. Concelebrants included the apostolic nuncio Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, the two auxiliaries of Seoul, Msgr. Timothy Yu and Job Koo, along with numerous Seoul priests.
Msgr. Matteo Hwang, vicar of Pyongyang, Msgr. Thomas Choi, Fr. Gugliermo Kim and Fr. Girolamo Chang, all from Pyongyang, and Maryknoll missionary Fr. Gerard Hammond, a leading expert on North Korea, were also present.
The cathedral was packed with faithful, lay and religious, although limited due to compliance with the health regulations caused by Covid-19. Before entering the cathedral, all participants had to go through temperature control, wear masks, sit one meter a part. No singing, just the sound of the organ.
The date of the event is very significant for the Korean people: August 15 is the day of the Liberation of Korea, the anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule and the Second World War. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Liberation, and the 70th anniversary of the start of the fratricidal Korean war.
In his homily, Card. Yeom recalled how much the life of the Church and Korea itself have experienced persecutions from the beginning. He stressed the importance of a true conversion for the evangelical liberation of the entire Korean people.
The cardinal also recalled the decisive role played by the Holy See in supporting the government of the newly born Republic of Korea, in order to obtain recognition as the only legitimate government in the Korean Peninsula at the UN General Assembly held in December 1948 in Paris. It was thanks to this recognition that the UN, 70 years ago, was able to send troops to help defend freedom and democracy during North Korea’s invasion.
After the homily, Card. Yeom crowned the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, then recited the prayer of consecration, asking the Virgin for her intercession for peace in the Korean Peninsula and for the religious freedom of the faithful in Pyongyang and throughout North Korea.
Marking the occasion, Pope Francis sent Card. Yeom a signed message, accompanied by the apostolic blessing. The message, dated 24 July, underlines the urgency of "a new way of thinking that overcomes division and weaves just and fraternal relationships" and joins Korean Catholics "in prayer for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation, fraternal love and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula”.
"In our rapidly shrinking world - continues Francis - we are challenged not only to respect each other but also to feel responsible for each other, building bridges and promoting sustainable human development, based on respect for authentic human values and inviolable dignity of all ".
In preparation for this dedication, Card. Yeom sent a special letter to all the faithful of Seoul, asking them for prayers, sacrifices, and the practice of charity, begging Our Lady so that peace in the Korean peninsula and religious freedom for the Diocese of Pyongyang and religious freedom can be achieved as soon as possible. the Church in North Korea.