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Church \ Church in Asia

Korean bishops urge faithful to pray for peace ‎

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral on August 18, 2014, for peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula.  - AFP

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral on August 18, 2014, for peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. - AFP

10/08/2017 11:30

Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

Rosary a spiritual weapone

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  "The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world," said Cardinal Yeom. "The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace," he said. 

Mary and Korean history

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a "gift from Mary."

Bishops and war threats

"For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons," said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile programmes.

North Korea said Aug. 9 that it is "carefully examining" plans for a missile attack on the U.S. territory of Guam, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang that any threat to America would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".  

In his message for the Marian feast, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon said: "The Church should promote the culture of peace and life against the culture of death that is mounting on the Korean peninsula. We should defend our peace by praying for mercy and peace."

Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijeongbu called for a peace accord between the two Koreas. The bishop also asked world leaders to work together to settle tensions on the peninsula.

Bishop John Chrysostom Kwon Hyeok-ju of Andong asked Catholics in Korea to be workers for the peace.  "Let's achieve peace in this land by doing works for peace in our daily lives," he said.

National Liberation Day of both Koreas

The National Liberation Day of Korea, is celebrated annually on August 15 in both North and South Korea.  It commemorates the Victory over Japan Day on Aug. 15, 1945, that marked Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II and the end of its colonial rule in Korea. 

The United States and the Soviet Union that brought about Japan’s defeat , agreed to temporarily occupy the country as trusteeship, with the Soviet Union holding sway in the north and the US in the south.  But when China, Great Britain and the US recommended a plan to reunify the country in 1947, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate.

Soon, with tension building between the divided peninsula, the north invaded the south 1950, an aggression that the United Nations supported by the allies fought back.  China and and the Soviet Union supported the north.  The war ended in 1953 with a truce, which technically did not end the conflict – even today.    

Pope Francis - Korea

Pope Francis, who visited South Korea in August 2014, for the 6th Asian Youth Day in Daejeon, offered a Mass in Seoul Cathedral on Aug. 18, for peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. (Source:  UCANEWS)

10/08/2017 11:30