Seoul (Fides Service) - The respective Commissions for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples of the Korean Bishops’ Conference and the American Bishops’ Conference have agreed on the status and life of Korean fidei donumI priests sent to America to take charge of communities of overseas Korean Catholics. The agreement was signed by the heads of the respective commissions Bishop Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju, and Bishop Thomas G. Wenski.
According to the agreement before sending a fidei donum priest to the United States the sending diocese must reach an agreement with the hosting diocese which will provide the necessary papers cover expenses for the fidei donum priest who will be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the diocese where he is to work and will abide by the regulations issued to local clergy.
The Commissions also agreed that requests for annulments of marriages by Korean Catholic emigrants married in the United States are not the competence of Church Courts in Korea. Instead they should be examined by the diocesan tribunal of the respective local Catholic Church in America which will appoint a Korean priest to follow the cases and offer the necessary pastoral attention.
According to statistics sent to Fides by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea at the end of 2003 there were 133,853, overseas Catholics gathered in 151 different parishes in 60 different countries. For their assistance there are 172 priests, 121 women Religious and 2 Brothers. More than half of these Catholic emigrants live in North America: 81,999 in the USA and 14,480 in Canada; the others are distributed as follows: 10,310 in Australia and 4,567 in New Zealand;. 3,600 in Brazil and 3, 385 in Germany.
These overseas communities are lively and mature with great evangelising capacity. The Church in Korea has traditionally been based on the active participation of the laity in church life and in pastoral and social services.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/5/2004 lines 35 words 370)