11/29/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA
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More than 90% of Catholics in the south want reunification with North Korea soon

The survey was organised by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) to form the basis of a new evangelization of the peninsula.

Daejeon (AsiaNews/CBCK) – Members of the Korean Catholic Church "do not receive news about the north regularly" but nonetheless more than 90% are "fully convinced that the peninsula must be reunified soon". These were the key findings of a survey – along the theme "The Catholic Church preparing for reunification"- which were presented during the eighth Catholic network for the reunification of the Korean people in Daejeon.

The debate was organised by the Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People and it was held at the St Jung Hasang educational centre.

The total number of survey respondents was 4,475, including 1,038 priests and seminarians, 1,408 religious, 1,929 lay Catholics and 100 North Korean refugees. Their answers revealed that only 28.7% of priests and 16% of religious received regular news about the north, however 94.7% of priests and 91.2% of religious were convinced of the necessity of reunification of the peninsula.

During the meeting, the North Korean refugees described efforts of the Catholic Church in this part of the country as "insufficient". But Lim Gang-taek, the researcher who presented the survey results to the symposium, said "the efforts made thus far for the exchange and cooperation between Pyongyang and the Church, have been stretched to the limit". North Korea does not allow freedom of worship and in the past it allowed only certain special celebrations to be held in the presence of guests from the south. The means to increase the Catholic presence among those who live under the Stalinist regime, according to the researcher, was the "creation of a non-governmental organisation which works separately from, but alongside, the Church. The Catholic Church must reason along these lines if it wants to bring back evangelization in the north."

Fr Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, a member of the Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the CBCK, said: "All opinions articulated in this symposium will be the cornerstone for the evangelization of North Korea. The number of people armed with a sense of calling for evangelization and love must increase, so that we will see the rebirth of the fruits of reconciliation and unity."

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