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2013-04-27

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - The "new Korean martyrs": an example in the Year of Faith

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - "Faith is even martyrdom. We wanted to express our spiritual closeness to all the faithful who bore witness to their faith in the distant past, in recent decades, and many still keep alight the flame of faith in North Korea."
With these words, expressed in an interview with Fides, His Exc. Mgr.Peter Kang, Bishop of Cheju and President of the Episcopal Conference of Korea, said that the Korean episcopate has officially decided to ask the Holy See to open the process of beatification of about 80 faithful, including Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho , Bishop of Pyongang, who died during the Korean War. "These are two different groups - specifies the President - some martyred during the last two centuries, under the Chosun Dynasty; and others in the years of the Korean War and under the Communist occupation."
The President reported to Fides that the Bishops have taken the decision as an "initiative linked to'' the Year of Faith, in which we want to renew our faith and rediscover the roots and the motivations of our faith." And notes: "This is not a sentence or a hostile act towards North Korea - in a phase of high tension between the two Koreas - but a recognition of our brothers and sisters who gave their lives for their faith."
Mgr. Kang continues: "We want the faithful who are now in North Korea to feel our affection and our closeness. We do not know how many there are today, it is impossible to estimate. When some priests went to Pyogyang in the past and had the permission to celebrate Mass in the only Catholic Church that exists, about 30-40 faithful attended. But we do not know how many of them are genuine and how many are controlled by the government," concludes the bishop. Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho was born in 1906 and was reported missing in the 50s, during the Korean War. The Church in South Korea confirms that "he has certainly died." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/04/2013)

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