Seoul (Agenzia Fides ) - "Take account neither of the prestige that the Church enjoys in your Country, nor of the statistics about which we may read. There is much more to do and there is need for intelligence and missionary bravery." This is the recommendation that Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, addressed this morning, October 2, to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Korea (CBCK) who he met in Seoul during his pastoral visit in the Asian country on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Suwon (see Fides 28/09/2013).
In his speech, the Prefect recalled the origins of the local Church, which has been able to develop in spite of "the various anti-Christian persecutions and laws", so that " today the Catholic Church in Korea is a beautiful reality, full of priests, of men and women religious, seminarians and lay associations, as well as historical figures", like that of Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan .
Cardinal Filoni then focused on the role and mission of the Bishops, recalling Pope Francis’ advice to the Bishops of CELAM in Rio de Janeiro and recommended in particular parish visitations, vigilance in administrative transparency and greater attention to the lay faithful. "At the same time - he continued - I want to show my deepest appreciation for the missionary spirit of the Church in Korea, not only ad intra, but also ad extra, it is a fact that there are hundred missionaries present in 80 countries worldwide who respond generously to their yearning for the evangelization of the world!"
Speaking of the relationship with priests, the Cardinal then urged the Bishops to "maintain relationships with them that are positive as well as paternal, and when necessary, firm, having always at heart their spiritual, cultural and pastoral formation". He then highlighted the need to often visit Seminars and "to develop personal relationships with each of the students of the Diocese, because it is the first responsibility of the Bishop to admit to priesthood young men who are suitable and worthy". He encouraged an attitude of dialogue and collaboration at every level and of respect for men and women religious, as "their role and their mission in the Church is not secondary, and the Church has need of their charisms". Finally he highlighted the fostering of the laity, "an invaluable reservoir of strength to be inserted into the social, political, economic and cultural reality, knowing that it was the laity that introduced the Gospel to this Country and created the first indications of the Church in Korea".
In the concluding part of his speech, Cardinal Filoni expressed his appreciation to the Korean Bishops for their generous pastoral care, for their communion with the Holy Father, and for all the good that they do at the universal level to support the missions throughout the world, then concluded: "Thank you also for the positive attitude with which you have met with the faithful of North Korea, who are, at this very moment, in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks as well for the attention you have given to the Church in China. In regard to this, given the delicate situation through which they have passed, a better collaboration with our Congregation is extremely desirable". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 02/10/2013 )