Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - On July 5 at the offices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea in Seoul the beatification cause for the Servant of God Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 companions was officially opened. July 5 was chosen as the date because it is the feast day of St. Andrea Kim Tae-gon, Korea’s first native Catholic priest and patron of the local clergy.
The beatification process is led by Bishop Michael Pak Jeong, assisted by episcopal delegate Father Joseph Rhee Chan-woo and two other priests who will act as notaries.
The opening ceremony included the reading out loud of the letter of petition , statements from the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the list of the witnesses who will be called to testify.
Every fourth Friday of the month there will be an inquiry on the life and holiness of the 124 martyrs. Remarking on the enthusiasm of the local Catholics Bishop Pak said that this is the first step in a process which will have a local stage and then continue in Rome at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
In 2002 the Church in Korea sent the documentation on the 124 martyrs to the Congregation in Rome for examination and in December 2003 the Holy See gave permission for the diocesan stage of the beatification to commence.
Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions were tortured and killed because of their Christian faith in 1791, when Christianity had only just reached Korea.
The Korean Church already has 103 martyrs canonised in 1984 in Seoul by Pope John Paul II in the first canonisation ever to be held outside the Vatican.
It was a memorable event for the Church in Korea and the universal Church.
The Holy See has also authorised the beatification cause of Father Thomas Choe Yang-eop,. 19th , not a martyr and the second Korean born Catholic priest, after St Andrew Kim Tae-gon.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/7/2004 lines 33 words 345)