10/13/2006, 00.00
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Card. Cheong: "Let's wait patiently, nuclear crisis should be resolved peacefully"

by Joseph Yun Li-sun

The cardinal, archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, told AsiaNews the test had been announced but no one could confirm it. The chairman of the South Korean Caritas, Mgr Lazarus You, said blocking aid should not be an option. A Caritas Internationalis meeting will be held in Rome next week to decide how to proceed with the North.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The North Korean nuclear test "was announced but there has been no sure confirmation as yet" and in this situation "the Korean Church cannot do anything except wait patiently. We will decide later about humanitarian aid projects for the people in the North." This was what Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, had to say to AsiaNews about the situation in the Korean peninsula.

The cardinal today closed deliberations of the General Assembly of Korean Bishops. He said: "We bishops must seek to keep the population calm and patient and to do all we can to push dialogue ahead. News of the test was given but there is no sure confirmation as yet. What we do know is that Pyongyang has tested us, but we are not sure of the result."

The solution to this crisis "must be found in a peaceful way. Precisely because of this, we have not yet taken any factual decisions. First, we must wait to understand what happened in reality and then proceed with caution."

As for the status of aid projects run by Caritas and the archdiocese of Seoul, "we will decide later. We have not yet taken any decisions, we are watching and waiting. For now, we have told the faithful to pray as much as possible. We will guide them in what must be done to resolve this issue in the best possible way."

The bishop of Daejon and chairman of the South Korea Caritas, Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, said: "Completely stopping humanitarian aid delivery should not be an option because the Church and the Pope teach us that one of our first tasks and duties is to help the poor, the sick and those who suffer."

The bishop is leading what since June has become the official channel of humanitarian aid allotted by Caritas Internationalis for the people on the northern part of the border.

He told AsiaNews: "This is a very delicate time. For my part, as chairman of the Korean Caritas, I want to emphasize that the nuclear test should not stop aid. As Benedict XVI says in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, our duty is to help the poor, the sick and those who suffer."

The bishop continued: "These days, despite the crisis, we had several contacts with North Korea. Our representative, Fr Paul Jeremiah Hwang Yong-yeon, director of the South Korean Caritas, went to that country with a six-member delegation to discern the most practical ways of helping the population. I met him this morning and he told me they were welcomed, beyond politics, with open arms. Our commitment is recognized there too."

Mgr Yu said: "Next week there will be a Caritas Internationalis meeting in Rome to decide how to manage aid to North Korea. We are waiting for that time to have a clearer position."

The bishop closed by saying that "the message of the Church and its faithful, this time, must be directed towards Heaven. Every day I ask myself how I can help one of the peoples who suffer most in the world. I was there at the end of May and I know the situation well. They really suffer too much. Let us pray for an end to their suffering. For the rest, let us do everything possible to help them."

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