09/08/2014, 00.00
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Bishop of Daejeon: Pope Francis, "missionary typhoon " for Korean Church and society

The pastoral visit to South Korea "had a deep impact. 'Lukewarm' Catholics have come back to the churches, and we have many new catechumens. But the most important thing is that the Pope has led us to a great collective examination of conscience: he showed us how a Christian lives and what we need to do to improve ourselves and our community". The Pope’s appeals "become concrete examples of renewal", Evangelii Gaudium a "compass for our mission."

Daejeon (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis "was a missionary typhoon" for Korea and Asia. His words, gestures, and above all his warmth struck society, renewed the commitment of Catholics, bringing many who had drifted away back to the churches. We have many new catechumens, we are planning a journey to the sites of the martyrs, we are engaged in a serious examination of conscience. And all this we owe to the Holy Father's having shaking us up" says Mgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon, who hosted the Pope during his pastoral visit in South Korea.

I am grateful to the Lord and to the Pope, the bishop says, "because Francis' apostolic visit to Korea has led to wonderful fruits. Korean newspapers are writing that still today people are suffering from 'nostalgia for the Pope'. It may be a joke, but up to a certain point, the thing that struck everyone so deeply, not just Christians, was the way Francis was able to be 'everything to everyone', as St. Paul writes, becoming one with us. I believe that this is because of the way the Pope lives and transmits the Gospel, a kind of powerful simplicity that makes him accessible but someone who still pushes us to question ourselves".

One thing that has impressed observers, domestic and foreign, was "to see the Koreans moved: this being moved at a personal level, in our hearts, became a collective emotion. This has never really happened before in the history of our nation. People have seen how nice it is to live with others, and realized that there are other forms of personal relationships: it is as if they have learned that not everything is done for money, indeed that the best things come from the fraternity. The Pope has taught us a lot: he really moved us to see how much he wanted human contact with everyone. I'm convinced that with this visit, the Lord has left a stamp in the heart of the Koreans, and that is something that will remain. It will become a strong undercurrent that will accompany us forever and ever".

The visit also had several practical implications: "While adults have been following the events via traditional media, young people used the Internet. In this way, they had an opportunity to better understand the message of Francis by looking for more information on him and the universal Church. They have begun to understand what is behind this Pope, they have drawn close to the Gospel. We can say here that the Pope had direct contact with hundreds of thousands of people, but this contact became an indirect means of contact with millions of Koreans".

The Pope appeals against an inhuman economy and in favor of greater charity in personal relationships have hit the mark: "Several people contacted me after those speeches. People who 'have everything' in monetary and social terms. Yet they tell me that they have begun to understand their own personal dissatisfaction. One of them even admitted that he is ashamed of the magnificence of his car, because he saw the humility of the Pope and this made him question himself.  It is as if the Pope had encouraged a great collective examination of conscience".

To the Bishops, Francis pointed out the importance of being guardians of memory and hope: "And returning to Rome he spoke of the sense of the witness. I took this invitation very seriously, and I will try to translate it into practical action. The Pope was able to visit many places linked to the martyrdom of Korean Catholics, so together with the Government we have decided to create a new project: a 'path of the martyrs', in the style of Santiago, which can give new life to the message of these great witnesses. I hope it can be launched by the end of 2014, however, we are already working on it".

For Mgr. You, all these results find a kind of "compass" in Evangelii Gaudium, the first apostolic exhortation of Francis: "During lunch in the sanctuary of Haemi, I wanted to thank the Pope for this text. It urges us to go out, to open the door, but at the same time warns of a severe threat, without a personal relationship with Jesus, this commitment becomes activism. And activism can bring division and confusion. The Church, as the Pope reminds us, is not an NGO, we must always hold love of Christ in first place." The pontiff, he concludes, "has left us a very important mission. If  we do not live as he told us to live, and as he showed us himself, then we will fail".



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