The bishop of Daejeon chosen to lead the Congregation for the clergy: "The Pope told me that it is very important for the universal Church to have a second head-dicastery from Asia in the Curia.” On a visit to North Korea, “I will do my best. "
Daejeon (AsiaNews) - "As a descendant of the witness of our martyrs, I will serve the universal Church with passion alongside the successor of Peter". With these words, Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik commented to the faithful of his diocese of Daejeon on his appointment to the Vatican as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
The appointment was announced by the Pope on June 11 to coincide with the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is a historic event for the Church of Korea, which is marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Andrew Kim, its first martyr, as You is the first bishop from Korea called to lead a Vatican dicastery.
Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik has been elevated by the pontiff to the dignity of archbishop and will take the place of Card. Beniamino Stella in the congregation which has responsibility for 400 thousand priests and deacons, and for seminaries.
The 69-year-old new prefect is originally from Nonsan, in the same diocese of Daejeon, where he was also ordained a priest in 1979. At the helm of his diocese since 2005, in 2014 he welcomed Pope Francis during his apostolic journey to South Korea on the occasion of the sixth Asian Youth Day.
In his ministry, Msgr. You visited North Korea several times as part of the initiatives for solicitude and peace of the Korean Bishops Conference and just last April - after his meeting in Rome with the Pope - he reiterated Francis' desire to visit Pyongyang.
Questioned on the subject, he said that if in the Vatican "If I am given a role to arrange his visit to North Korea, I'll do my best to carry out my mission."
Writing to the diocesan community, the bishop of Daejeong described how the Pontiff proposed his new appointment during their meeting last April. Msgr. You described how he did not feel capable for such a role coming from a small diocese in Asia and not knowing many languages.
However, the Pope - writes the new prefect of the Congregation for the clergy - replied that the Vatican needs a smiling person, capable of creating communion with others.
Furthermore - continues the prelate referring the words of Francis - there is only one head of the dicastery from Asia in the Vatican Curia and choosing Msgr. You being from this continent is very important for the universal Church. The other Asian already at the head of a Vatican dicastery is Card. Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The prelate says he was shaken by this request, but he let himself be guided by obedience. “Taking on this important and difficult task - writes Msgr. You - linked to the formation and life of the clergy in the Catholic Church is the new will of God for me. We will move forward with priests around the world in reform of the priesthood. Knowing that the saying that without the renewal of the clergy there is no renewal of the Church is always valid”.
Finally, the archbishop asks the faithful of Daejeon to pray that, once this ministry is over, he can return to his diocese as a simple Christian, making his own the words of the letter to Timothy: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."(2 Tim 4,7).
South Korean President Moon Jae-in also wanted to underline the importance of the appointment of Msgr. You with a telegram sent to the archbishop from Great Britain, where he was for the G7 summit.
“I am sure - wrote Moon - that, as your episcopal motto Lux Mundi says, you will be a light for a world without discrimination where the poor are comforted. And you also have great expectations, knowing your extraordinary effort for peace on the Korean peninsula”.