04/26/2018, 11.21
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Card. Yeom: We Christians, instruments of peace on the Korean peninsula

by Card. Andrea Yeom Soo-jung

The archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang celebrated a Mass for Reconciliation, praying for a successful outcome of the inter-Korean summit tomorrow. The commitment of the Korean Church and of Pope Francis. The protection of the Immaculate, Patron of the diocese.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – In anticipation of the inter-Korean Summit, which will see the historic meeting between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, Card. Andrea Yeom, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang stresses the tenacity of Christians in wanting the unity of the Korean people and the reconciliation of the peninsula. It is an example, in addition to the charitable work of the Southern Church towards the people of the North, the commitment to prayer, with a Mass of Reconciliation that for 23 years is celebrated every week in the Cathedral of the Immaculate in Seoul. Two days ago, Card. Yeom presided over the 1163th celebration, in the presence of Msgr. Marco Sprizzi, in charge d’affairs of the nunciature, the 3 auxiliary bishops, Msgr. Benedetto Son, Timoteo Yu, and Job Koo, and Fr. Achille Chung, head of the National Reconciliation Committee of the archdiocese. Here we publish the full text of the cardinal's homily.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This evening we are celebrating the Holy Mass for the reconciliation of our people divided between the South and the North. The faithful of our Diocese have never failed to gather together at this Cathedral of Myeong-dong to celebrate this Holy Mass regularly at 7 o’clock every Tuesday evening over the past 23 years. Especially in recent years we used to celebrate this Holy Mass also with the additional intention to keep in our heart and pray for those 57 parishes which had been active in the North before the country was divided.

In our Gospel reading today Jesus declares: “The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30) These words make us clearly aware of the reason why we have celebrated so ardently the Holy Mass for the national reconciliation. It intends to carry out the mission of the Church to work so that all of us may be one (Cf. Jn 17:21), just as the Father and the Son, our Lord, are one, that is to say, the mission of the Church to realize the reconciliation and unity of our people and their reconciliation and union with God (Cf. Lumen Gentium 1), just as the Father and the Son are one. This becomes clearer in the light of the Lord’s words pronounced at the Holy Mass of yesterday: “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)

Yes, indeed, my dear Brothers and Sisters, the purpose to celebrate the Holy Mass for the national reconciliation is thus none other than to accomplish with ardent zeal the mission we have inherited from the Lord as His faithful disciples to work hard so that each and every one of our people in the Korean Peninsula might “have life and have it abundantly”.

In observing the wind of peace blowing recently upon the Korean Peninsula, I, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyong-yang, cannot but express deep gratitude to God for such Providence that has made it possible, while reflecting upon the fact that God always remembers the fervent petitions we have offered Him though the Holy Masses, Rosaries and other prayers.

Particularly in view of the recent fact that dark clouds of tension and unrest are hanging over the Korean Peninsula even with the risk of war due to the threat of nuclear arms, I believe that the South-North summit to be held in three days is a very precious opportunity of grace which God provides our people who are yearning so deeply for the true peace. I believe it is also owed 0to the intercession of Holy Mary who takes care of our people with a particular love. I sincerely thank her. And I sincerely thank the recent Popes for having urged the Authorities responsible for building peace in the Korean Peninsula to properly solve the current issues through dialogue, asking all people of good will in the world to pray for this intention, whenever the occasion arose. In particular, Pope Francis said during the homily of the Holy Mass for peace and reconciliation he presided over at this Cathedral of Myeong-dong to conclude his visit to Korea in 2014:

“Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people. They speak the same language.” (18 August 2014)

These were indeed prophetic words which still resound in my heart.

At the beginning of this year, too, on the occasion of the exchange of new year greetings with ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis emphasized:

“It is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes.” (8 January 2018)

I heartily thank our Holy Father.

Now, the forthcoming South-North summit to be held in three days must be a historic opportunity on which the fate of our nation is at stake. The Authorities should focus on nothing else than coming to an agreement to promote together the common good of our people and on putting it into practice, disregarding their own political and party interests. They should above all bear in mind that peace, so desired by the entire people, “is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies.” (Gaudium et Spes, 78) Therefore, peace in the Korean Peninsula cannot be maintained by the nuclear armament at all. It can only be realized by assuring that all people live a life truly worthy of a human being, trusting one another, on the basis of love and justice.

Through this South-North summit, to be held as the third of its kind since the nation was divided 73 years ago, directly responsible Authorities must act with wisdom and discernment to plant the roots of true peace deeply in the Korean Peninsula. This amounts to building relationships of trust for our nation within the international community. (Cf. Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter, 1 April 2018) and promoting the peace in Asia and in the world. Undoubtedly we do not expect that this will be realized in a day. It is necessary to keep the dialogue going with patience.

I sincerely thank all those authorities who have made painstaking efforts to realize this historic meeting and dialogue of the top leaders of the South and the North. In addition, I wish that God may bless and guide all those who will be engaged in eliminating nuclear weapons and establishing true peace in this land, thereby promoting the peace in the world.

In this undertaking, before anyone else, we, Christians, each and every one of us, should be an instrument of peace, which brings love, where there is hatred; pardon, where there is offense; union, where there is discord; truth, where there is error; faith, where there is doubt; hope, where there is despair; light, where there is darkness; joy, where there is sadness.” (St. Francis, Prayer of Peace)

Peace is above anything else a gift of God. Let us assure our Lord that we first will be “the peacemakers”(Matt 5:9) and together implore God through this Holy Mass so that this South-North summit may bring forth real and permanent fruits for true peace and authentic development of our people.

And let us entrust such desire we have long cherished in our hearts to Holy Mary Immaculate, Patron of our Diocese, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, our benevolent Mother who loves our people.

As Pope Francis said last January at the Basilica di Saint Mary Major:

“How often our heart is a stormy sea, where the waves of our problems pile up and the winds of our troubles do not stop blowing! Mary is our secure ark in the midst of the flood. It will not be ideas or technology that will give us comfort and hope, but our Mother’s face, her hands that caress  our life, her mantle that gives us shelter. Let us learn how to find refuge, going each day to our Mother.” (Homily, Mass at Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome, 28 Jan. 2018)

Beneath your protection, we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God;

do not despise our petitions in our necessities,

but deliver us always from all dangers,

O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.


Holy Mary Immaculate, Patroness of our Diocese, thank you for always guiding us on the path of evangelization. You who are a beacon of hope and consolation for our people divided between the South and the North, look upon your children who suffer injustice and oppression. Grant us through your Son, Jesus Christ, wisdom and fortitude so that, as His faithful disciples, we can be tireless builders of reconciliation, unity and peace. Amen. Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us. Mary Queen of Peace, pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula


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