02/19/2009, 00.00
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Cardinal Kim’s first miracle: pledged organ donations increase threefold

by Teresa Kim Hwa-young
Today the ceremony of dressing the body will take place. The funeral is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow. Every day about 100,000 people, Catholics and non-Catholics, are filing by the cardinal’s casket in Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral to say their final farewell. Daejong bishop reminisces.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – Organ donations have increased threefold in South Korea in the last few days as people decide to follow the late Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan’s example to donate his eyes, a decision he reiterated shortly before his death. Meanwhile at Seoul’s Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral people continue to file by the cardinal’s body.

At 5.30 this morning, when the doors to the cathedral opened, the line was already two-kilometre long as South Koreans patiently waited to pay their respect to the ‘father of the nation’. This way people of every social background, Catholics and non-Catholics, continue to show their affection for the late cardinal, patiently waiting to enter the cathedral to say a last good-bye. Every day about 100,000 of them have prayed in front of the glass case where Cardinal Kim’s body is lying.

The ceremony of the dressing of the body was held at 17 pm today (local time). The funeral will be take place tomorrow at 10 am, celebrated by the current Bishop of Seoul, Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, who will act as pontifical delegate. After that the cardinal will be laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery for priests in Yongin (Gyeonggi).

Cardinal Kim’s death has already produced a first “miracle”. The ‘One-Body One-Spirit Movement,’ a non-profit organisation created to promote organ donation, reported a threefold increase in organ donation pledges. On Tuesday alone at least 100 people promised to donate their organs in case of death against an average of 30. Many more called in asking how they could take part in the programme.

In 1989 during the International Eucharistic Congress the cardinal had spearheaded an organ donation drive among Catholics, as a way to emulate Christ’s love

On that occasion he included in his will a signed statement in which he pledged his eyes as gift to others, a promise he renewed in his last stay at St Mary’s Catholic Hospital.

“The daily figure of people who have confirmed organ donations in the past few days has jumped by three to four times the usual number and this phenomenon is occurring in other organisations established for a similar cause,” said an official at the Korean Organ Donor Programme.

In the meantime messages expressing high regard and affection for the cardinal have been flooding in; among them that of Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon.

For Bishop You, the cardinal was a “great spiritual leader to all Korean people. We are deeply sad for the loss” but “he will pray for us before God from Heaven.”

His life was a source of “love” and “hope,” Monsignor You noted. Following the “example of Jesus, Cardinal Kim lived and dedicated himself for us and for all.”

The prelate recalled the last time he met the cardinal, three days ago. When the cardinal saw us “he nodded, and said thank you.”

“We have to follow in his footsteps of faith and life, and try to improve the Church and society where all people can live together in love and harmony,” the bishop said.

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