Pope calls on Koreans to give missionaries like Andrea Kim to the world
Some 300 Korean pilgrims visited the Vatican on the day of the blessing of a statue of the first priest and martyr of the Korean Church, now placed in a niche outside St Peter's Basilica. “Let us entrust to Saint Andrew Kim the dream of peace of the Korean Peninsula, which is always in my thoughts and prayers,” Francis said. The pope also urged young people to prepare for WYD in Seoul in 2027. They should be heard to prevent them from being “seduced by the false myths” when in fact their hearts “seek something else.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis this morning met a large delegation of Korean pilgrims in audience at the Vatican on the anniversary of the death of their first priest and martyr, Saint Andrew Kim Taegon (1821-1846).
In his address, the pontiff said, “I would like to emphasize one thing: you have the grace of so many priestly vocations; please, ‘chase them away’, send them to the missions, because if not, there will be more priests than people, and it this will not do: let them be missionaries elsewhere.”
The meeting was held ahead of the blessing this afternoon of a marble statue of the great evangeliser installed in a niche outside St Peter's Basilica.
Backed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, this represents the final stage in the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the saint’s birth, which brought more than 300 Korean Catholics on pilgrimage to Rome, accompanied by Kang Seung-kyoo, senior presidential secretary for civil society.
South Korean sculptor Han Jin-Sub created the six-tonne, four-metre-high statue in Carrara marble, which shows Saint Andrew Kim with open arms, in traditional Korean robes.
When he met the pilgrims – accompanied by Card Lazarus You Heung-sik, former bishop of Daejeon, now prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, and Bishop Mathias Ri Iong-hoon, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, Francis mentioned his 2014 visit to the Shrine of Solmoe, near the house where Saint Andrew Kim was born and spent his childhood.
“There I prayed in silence, especially for Korea and for young people,” he said. The saint “invites us to discover the vocation entrusted to the Korean Church, to all of you: you are called to a young faith, to an ardent faith that, animated by love of God and neighbour, becomes a gift.”
“In this sense, with the prophecy of martyrdom, the Korean Church reminds us that one cannot follow Jesus without embracing his cross and that one cannot proclaim oneself a Christian without being willing to follow the way of love to the end.”
Saint Andrew “dedicated himself to the proclamation of Jesus with nobility of spirit, without flinching in the face of dangers and despite many sufferings: suffice it to say that his grandfather and father were also martyred and his mother was forced to live as a beggar.”
“Looking at him, how can we not feel exhorted to cultivate apostolic zeal in our hearts, to be a sign of a Church that goes out of itself to joyfully sow the seed of the Gospel, also through a life spent for others, in peace and love?”
This task is not limited to Korean priests; indeed, “it is important to broaden the space of pastoral collaboration, to carry forward the proclamation of the Gospel together; priests, men and women religious, and all the laity: without divisions.”
Aware that Andrew Kim saw the horrors of the Opium War in Macau, the Holy Father urged Koreans to rediscover the vocation of peace, to be “apostles of peace”.
Such a “stimulus to become companions on the road and witnesses of reconciliation [. . .] is the credible testimony that the future is built not with the violent force of weapons, but with the gentle one of proximity. Let us entrust to Saint Andrew Kim the dream of peace of the Korean Peninsula, which is always in my thoughts and prayers.”
In concluding, the pontiff mentioned World Youth Day 2027, which will be held in Seoul.
“I would like to entrust the Korean Church precisely to young people. Despite your marvellous history of faith and the great pastoral work that you carry out with enthusiasm, many young people, including your own, allow themselves to be seduced by the false myths of efficiency and consumerism, and fascinated by the illusion of hedonism.
“But the hearts of young people seek something else, they are made for much broader horizons: take care of them, seek them out, approach them, listen to them, proclaim to them the beauty of the Gospel so that, inwardly free, they may become joyful witnesses of truth and fraternity.