09/15/2010, 00.00
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The new horizons of Korean Catholics after the Seoul Congress

by Matteo Choi Seok Kyoon
Moved by the testimonies of persecuted Christians in Asia, the Korean Catholics reflect on their missionary role in Asia, particularly to North Korea. The proposal for a national meeting to promote solidarity among the lay movements and not to lose the fruits of the Congress.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A chance to know other Christian realities of Asia and understand the importance of solidarity and unity among the various lay movements in Korea. These are some fruits of the Congress of lay Catholics, that was attended by 400 lay delegates from all of the Catholic communities of Asia, from 31 August to 5 September. Two weeks on from its conclusion the laity of Korea tell AsiaNews about their impressions of the Congress and ask how they can implement it in their daily lives and spread the message of the event to all Catholics in Korea and Asia.

Lucy Lee Yoon ja, director of Seoul archdiocese's Catholic newspaper, says: "I was very impressed by the various testimonies of believers from other countries, who because of their faith live in poverty and face discrimination and persecution in some cases. "Through this Congress – she continues – I found out, for the first time, that out of over 5 million inhabitants in Turkmenistan there are only 95 Catholics and two priests. This immediately made me remember the little flock of Christians in the early days of the Church in Korea, about 200 years ago, and all the difficulties that our ancestors had to suffer for their Christian faith including violent persecution. " "I was moved - she adds – by the plight of these, previously unknown, brothers and sisters." The woman adds that "today Koreans enjoy religious freedom thanks to the sacrifice of martyrs, but remain ignorant of the reality of other persecuted Christians in Asia." "For Korean faithful – she concludes- the Congress has allowed us to return to the pure and ardent heart of the early days of our Church and must be a beginning of an active communion with the Churches of other Asian countries who are in difficulty".  

Fabiano Hong Joon Choi President of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, states: "Personally, I was very touched by the persecution suffered by Christians in many Asian countries. We Catholics in South Korea enjoy freedom of worship, but many other brothers and sisters of Asia continue to suffer discrimination and violence. " "We must remember these Christians in our prayers – he continues - and look for concrete ways to express our solidarity." Fabiano Choi stresses that one of the persecuted churches is precisely that of North Korea. He believes the Catholics of the south have a responsibility to think of their starving brothers across the border, especially in recent months in which the dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul are stalled due to political reasons.

"So far - he says - in the Korean Catholic Church, the movements have given their valuable contribution in various sectors of society, each according to its own spiritual charisma, but there was never a real solidarity between them". Citing the World Meeting of movements and ecclesial communities with Pope John Paul II in 1998, Fabiano Choi points out that even then the Holy Father highlighted the importance and usefulness of the collaboration between these communities. He suggests a national Congress of Korean Catholic laity next year to create a real partnership between the movements, especially in apostolate.

Even Tomas Cho, Eun Sang, member of the research team for social apostolate of the Lay Council of Korea, feels the urgency of a post-Congress meeting to share the fruits with all lay Korean Catholics. "The ability to maintain what has emerged from the Congress – he says - depends on us, lay Koreans, our attitude. It takes time and research to make known and nurture the fruits and the sense of this Congress. "


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