The Pope Francis effect triggers new conversions in Korea
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The Bishop of Daejeon tells AsiaNews that "His simplicity and charisma have touched the hearts of many people, even non-Christians. But his appeal and Benedict XVI's call for humility ought not to remain sterile. They are the seeds of conversion the Church must let germinate first."

Daejeon (AsiaNews) - "Our Pope is wonderful. His simplicity and charisma have made inroads here in Korea. In the last week, many non-Christians who want to start a journey of conversion have contacted us bishops and priests. I have been saying for a long time that the work of the Holy Spirit is almost tangible. He is the master of the Church; he invented everything. He also reinvents us," Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon, told AsiaNews.

According to the prelate, Pope Francis's election as well as Benedict XVI's renunciation "are the seeds of conversion. All of these events have been understood and well accepted here. Many dioceses have told me about adults asking to start the catechumenate. As we priestly brothers talked, we said that people saw once again the beauty of the Catholic Church. The simplicity and charisma of this pope has made inroads in many hearts."

This is not only about making overtures to non-Christians. "On Palm Sunday, I was invited to say Mass at the Catholic University Professors headquarters. They had asked me to deliver a long sermon to explain events in Rome. For half of the time, I explained the meaning of Holy Week, from Thursday to Easter, as well as that of Christ's will, the witness of His Word and His most difficult moment but also the greatest act of love for man. For the rest, I talked about the new pope, about Benedict XVI, but also about their love for all the people of God. It was a very beautiful moment."

The calls by the two popes for humility and mercy have not gone unheeded in Korea. "Now it is up to us to build a new church and a new humanity. This is what I said. All of these examples, all the work of the Spirit, call us directly into question." This is s why "for the 20th anniversary of the diocese's major seminary we thought of some unusual deed," he added.

Mgr You celebrated Mass with his seminarians on 19 March, feast day of Saint Joseph (to whom are dedicated both the seminary that the diocesan cathedral) and the day of the pontificate's inaugural Mass.

"We had a long moment of reflection together, after the Mass, and we took a nice group photo. In the evening, I decided to send it to the Holy Father with a letter. I hope he will be happy to receive this small show of love from the Far East."