Korean bishops urge prayers for national unity and Christian rebirth
by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
Messages to the faithful are issued for the Solemnity of the Assumption and the Day of Liberation from Japanese rule.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary on August 15, which is also the anniversary of the country's liberation from Japanese rule (1910-1945), Mgr Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul, Mgr John Chrysostom Kwon Hyok-ju, Bishop of Andong, and Mgr Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, called on their fellow Koreans to pray for Korean reunification, to commit themselves to the pro-life campaign and to live every day following Mary's example.

In his message "For a New Start for the Korean People – Peace Be Upon You", Bishop Cheong said: "Today, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary and the 60th anniversary of national liberation, we sincerely hope for the genuine liberation of the people and for true peace. We pray to God that, with the His grace, we may overcome the wounds of division and advance towards reconciliation and unification. We must especially use the 60th anniversary of liberation to start anew with Christ and give the country a new history and its people, a new life."

Bishop Cheong went on to say that "no material or spiritual effort must be spared to transform North Korea into a society where everyone can live in true happiness and where human dignity is respected".

In his message, the prelate reminded the faithful that not a single priest survived in the North after 1949 when Mgr Hong Yong-ho, Bishop of Pyŏngyang, and his priests disappeared.

As Apostolic Administrator for Pyŏngyang, he said he was "always worried" about the fate of the faithful in the North and called on the community to offer fervent prayers for the human rights of the people of the North. He also expressed a keen desire to carry out his first pastoral activities in the North as soon as possible.

In his message titled "Most Holy Mary - Woman of Grace", Bishop Kwon thanked God for His grace that protects and guides the Korean people, and expressed the wish that we could be born anew in God.

"If we totally entrust our daily life to God, following the example of Mary, a woman of grace, we can anticipate the joy of blessed salvation even in this world," he said.

Bishop You, too, issued a message that was titled "For the Community of Communion" in which he called on the faithful to pray that our North Korean brethren may enjoy the right to life and religious freedom as well as for the evangelization of Asia.

He also stressed that since the Church explicitly opposes embryonic stem cell research, the faithful should support adult stem cell research as the more appropriate alternative.