Mgr Chung Soon-taek is the new archbishop of Seoul
Pope Francis chose one of the current auxiliary bishops as the successor to Cardinal Yeom. A Discalced Carmelite, the new archbishop, 60, will also serve as apostolic administrator of Pyongyang. Known for his commitment to the youth ministry, he asked the faithful to pray “so that I can follow in the footsteps of my extraordinary predecessors”.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has appointed Mgr Peter Chung Soon-taek, 60, as the new archbishop of Seoul.
A member of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, he was one of the current auxiliary bishops of the South Korean capital.
He takes over from Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, 77, who has led the Church in Seoul since 2012 and leaves the post due to age limit.
In making his choice, the pontiff opted for a young pastor to lead the most important diocese in one of the Asian countries where Catholicism has shown greater vitality in recent years.
Significantly, this appointment comes precisely in the year the Church of Korea is celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of its first priest, the martyr Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon.
As the new Archbishop of Seoul, Mgr Peter Chung Soon-taek will also become the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Pyongyang, North Korea, especially tasked with promoting peace in the peninsula.
At the same time as the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Seoul released a statement in which Archbishop Chung Soon-taek spoke about the task entrusted to him by the pope.
“God always goes further. We can never imagine his plans in advance, because he always goes far beyond our thoughts. I am frightened and I ask everyone for their prayers so that I can follow in the footsteps of my extraordinary predecessors.”
Archbishop Chung Soon-taek was born in Daegu on 5 August 1961. He studied chemical engineering at Seoul University, before embracing the religious life. In 1992 he took his vows as a Discalced Carmelite and was ordained a priest.
After holding the post of master of novices in his home country, he studied for some years Sacred Scriptures in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
In 2005 he became provincial superior of his order in Korea, only to be called back to Rome in 2009 in charge of the Far East and Oceania section in the General Curia of the Discalced Carmelites.
On 30 December 2013, Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop of Seoul. In recent years, together with Cardinal Yeom, he was particularly involved with the youth ministry.
A few years ago, he told young people that “The real stars of the youth ministry are not the priests in charge, but you young people. [. . .] it is up to you to deepen your faith, so as to better serve your community.”
In announcing his successor’s appointment, Cardinal Yeom called it a “great joy and blessing" that will lead the Archdiocese of Seoul "into a new era".
“Let us pray that Mgr May Chung Soon-taek be a pastor who bears good fruit in the eyes of God, in our country and in the whole Church.”