ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
solemn Mass Msgr. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung became the 14th Metropolitan of the
Korean capital. Friday he will receive the pallium from Benedict XVI. The new
shepherd asked the faithful "for help to carry on the great challenges that the
Church has before her: we will always fight for human life and for the
reunification of Korea." The prelate also wants to transform into a site of
pilgrimage the place where the first Korean martyrs were killed, including some
of his direct ancestors.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - Thousands of faithful, priests and consecrated people
gathered around the new archbishop of Seoul, Msgr. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who
with a solemn Mass has become the 14th Metropolitan of the Korean capital. The
new archbishop takes the place of Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, who next
June 29 will say farewell to the Catholic community with a solemn Mass in the
cathedral of Myeongdong. Immediately after the celebration, Msgr. Yeom left for
Rome, where, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, he will receive the pallium
from Benedict XVI.
During his homily, the new pastor said he "felt all the responsibility of
this position, to lead the country's largest diocese. I ask you all for help to
carry on this mission." Afterwards he wanted to clarify what are the biggest
challenges of his job: "We must keep human life foremost in society. The Church
will fight for this without any compromise."
But after human life, for a Korean bishop, comes the unity of his country.
Archbishop Yeom wanted his installation Mass to be celebrated on June 25 - the
62nd anniversary of the Korean War - and asked everyone to "pray for the
reunification of the two Koreas, a goal shared by both peoples". In the Catholic
hierarchy, the Archbishop of Seoul is also Apostolic Administrator of
The Mass was attended by Cardinal Cheong, the Korean Minister of Culture Choe
Kwang-shik, Msgr. Osvaldo Padilla and several political leaders including Sohn
Hak-kyu, Kang Ki-gap and the Governor of Gyeonggi, Kim Moon-soo. 27% of the
population of Seoul is Catholic, and the press and politicians are increasingly
interested in the world of the Church: in South Korea, 10.3% of the population
(more than 5 million individuals) is Catholic and the country confirms itself
each year as one of the most active in the fields of the apostolate and the
social commitment of its faithful.
Msgr. Yeom, 68, chose as his episcopal motto: "Amen, Veni Domine Jesu"(Amen,
come Lord Jesus) to emphasize his "total submission to the decisions of the
Lord." The prelate is known for his proximity to the young priests: he launched
"Kakao Talk", a diocesan program in which older priests are paired with the
newly ordained to sustain them on their way, and play tennis with them once a
The archbishop, who comes from a family of Catholics from the early days of
Catholicism in Korea, is engaged in a particular way in getting the government
to grant the Seosomun area in downtown Seoul, which should soon become a place
of pilgrimage. Here, in the late Joseon era (ca. 1800), various Catholics were
martyred: among them were also two direct ancestors of Msgr. Yeom - Yeom
Seok-tae and his wife Maria Kim - who were arrested and sentenced to death in
1850. The new pastor of the capital intends to preserve the memory of the
martyrs and relaunch devotion to them.
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