Mi?rcoles, 02 de octubre de 2013

Todavía queda mucho por hacer y hay que tener la inteligencia y la audacia misionera”. Es la recomendación que el Cardenal Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, ha dirigido en la mañana del miércoles , 2 de octubre, a los obispos de la Conferencia Episcopal de Corea (CBCK) con los que se han reunido en Seúl durante su visita pastoral en el país asiático, con motivo del 50º aniversario de la creación de la diócesis de Suwon (véase Fides 28/9/2013). (Fides)

MEETING of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples with the Bishops of the CBCK

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 – 10:30am 

It is the first time, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, that I have the chance to meet with all of you together, and with some of you for the very first time.  On the number occasions that I have found myself invited to come to Korea, I always tried to find an opportune moment.  I am grateful to the Bishop of Suwon, who has provided me with such an opportunity on this happy celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the creation of his Diocese, as well as to the Archbishop of Seoul, who also kindly invited me to come, and to whom I equally give thanks.

To be here is a cause of profound joy. For this reason, I wanted to stay for in entire week, so that I could meet with all of the various groups that fully take part in the Church in Korea - the Bishops, priests, religious men and women, seminarians, lay faithful - and at the same time to meet with the People of God in a few moments of celebration and for liturgies.  It would be important also for a moment in which I could pray in the place where the proto-community of Christians in Korea had its first beginning; there where one finds with great pride the origins of this Church, from which, as from a spring, one can fully draw water that is fresh and clear.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who has at heart this Ecclesiastical Territory, I cannot help but with great pleasure assure you of the special attention of our Dicastery for the proclamation of the Gospel that you have advanced forward, and for the Church in this “land of placid dawn and morning splendors”: an attention that, with varied success, is tied to the earliest efforts of the Church in China, yet became fully its own and continued only since 1831 with the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Korea and the arrival of Bishop Laurent Imbert, M.E.P., in 1837, while admiration grew from day to day for the exemplary witness of those first Christians, such as John Baptist YI Byeok and his Companions, and of all of those who went out after them for nearly 56 years. 

The various persecutions and anti-Christian laws, as well as the deeply-rooted culture and prevalent way of thinking did not impede the Church in Koreafrom developing, which is comprised currently of three Metropolitan Regions, with 15 Dioceses and one Military Ordinariate – and I would be remiss if I failed to remember the two Dioceses and the Territorial Abbey in the North. Today, the Catholic Church in Korea is a very beautiful reality, rich with priests, men and women religious, seminarians, and lay associations, along with many historical figures. How could we not make mention, for example, of Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, who is well known throughout the world?

Besides this, allow me, rather quickly, to briefly note the ecclesiastical statistics of this Country, since one could not help but be struck by the growth of your particular Churches, of which the Lord has placed you in charge.  In 1949, the Catholic population of Korea was calculated to be about 1.1% with just 81 priests and 46 parishes; immediately after the Second Vatican Council, it was at 2.5%. Fifty years after this, Catholics number 10.3%, with more than 4,600 priests and more than 10,000 men and women religious. It can also be said that “the unity of faith… having in its power to assimilate everything that it meets in the various settings in which it becomes present and in the diverse cultures which it encounters, purifying all things and bringing them to their finest expression” (cf. Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei, 2013, n. 48), has found here in Korea almost an inherent dimension for its growth, benefitting from so many values already present, as well as bringing them to a higher fulfillment and perfection.  I am thinking of the relationships between families, relationships between the generations, of the social relationships that in Catholic doctrine have as leaven the communion in all of the theological and anthropological richness of its significance, and of the supernatural dimension regarding life, marriage, and death, not to mention the typically more ecclesial virtues, such as poverty, obedience, chastity and charity.

“The light of faith” – furthermore – “is concretely placed at the service of justice, law and peace”, appreciating “the richness of human relations, their ability to endure, to be trustworthy, to enrich our life together. Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time” (Lumen Fidei, n. 51).  With reference to these words, I wish to underline the role that you, my dear Bishops, have in this society that is Korea, a Land of high economic, social, and cultural development and in a phase of great transformation.  I think of the questions regarding workers, civil liberties, a clearly taken position in defense of human life in all of its stages, the welcoming and care of migrants, special sensitivity toward refugees in providing centers for their pastoral and personal humanitarian needs, generous help for the poor, and the great responsibility of educating the young offered in so many elementary and high schools that depend on the ecclesiastical authorities.  In saying all of this, it occurs to me how much we normally must do in caring for our health.  The doctors advise as to what to do each time one goes in for a check-up; the same is true if we might know more profoundly and completely the state of our own health.  And this is what you already do whenever, as an Episcopal Conference, you review the life of your Church and take the proper measures that integrate the pastoral action which, by divine law, each Bishop exercises in his particular Church. Here in this moment, if you will permit me, I would like to touch upon a few of the more significant aspects concerning the pastoral life we have together.

Most importantly, we consider the role and the mission of Bishops.  Pope Francis, speaking to the Bishops of CELAM in Rio de Janeiro (July 28, 2013), advised them with these words: “Please take seriously our vocation as the servants of the Holy People of God”.  From these words, he said further: “I wish to add here a few lines on the profile of a Bishop…Bishops must be Pastors, close to the people, fathers and brothers, with much gentleness; patient and merciful.  Men who love poverty, as interior poverty as freedom before the Lord, as exterior poverty as simplicity and austerity of life.  Men who…are husbands of a Church without waiting for another.  Men able to keep watch over the flock entrusted to them and to their care…who have brightness and light in their hearts.”  He further commented: “The place of the Bishop in standing with his people is tri-fold: in front of them to indicate the path; in their midst to maintain unity among them; and behind them to be sure that no one is left behind” (L’Osservatore Romano, July 29-30, 2013).  In line with these words, allow me to recommend parish visitations, and not just on the occasion of liturgical and sacramental celebrations, vigilance in administrative transparency for the Diocese and in parishes, and greater attention to the lay faithful.  At the same time, 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 hundreds of missionaries present in 80 countries who respond generously to their yearning for the evangelization of the world.  Thank you, dear Brothers!

Relationships with the Priests.  As we all know well, the Apostolic Constitution Lumen Gentium, concerns, in Chapter III, the hierarchical constitution of the Church, and n. 28 in particular, speaks of the relationships with Christ, with the Bishops, and with the Christian People.  There, we also find the theological-pastoral basis for our rapport with our priests, who are defined by the Council as “prudent (providi) cooperators with the Episcopal Order…constitute one Priesthood with their Bishop”. As such “collaborators”, they enjoy, therefore, the right to fully participate in the pastoral ministry of the Bishop, not only through the Diocesan bodies (the various councils), but also as pastors of parishes and holders of other Diocesan offices.  The Council also used in their description a qualifying adjective that is very important to choosing them: “prudent” (providi). It is therefore necessary to consider their wisdom, maintaining relationships with them that are positive as well as paternal, and when necessary, firm, having always at heart their ongoing spiritual, cultural, pastoral formation.  I know that they are zealous in evangelization and in the care of their own faithful.  Although I will get to see a few of them in these days, I nevertheless ask you to convey my encouragement and esteem to all of your “collaborators”. 

Relationships with Seminarians.  Optatum Totius, the Conciliar Decree on priestly formation, says that the Seminary is “as the heart of the Diocese” (n. 5).  It is therefore correct every so often to make a check-up to see how the heart of the Diocese, or of the Dioceses - considering the two Inter-Diocesan and the five Diocesan Major Seminaries - is doing.  I urge you to visit them often 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 the Priesthood young men who are suitable and worthy, who have matured in their proper choice of life with a clear “sensus Ecclesiae”, having a love for prayer, for obedience, and for the achievement of authentic affective maturity in the choice of celibacy and mastery of self, as well as having a clear orientation in favor of the poor, as noted well in Optatum Totius (cf. nn. 9-11).  Whenever you have doubts, it is not good to proceed to Ordination, for we cannot be in a hurry; it is better to wait and to first resolve every uncertainty. 

Allow me one last word concerning relationships with men and women religious and with the lay faithful.  With regard to religious, I encourage an attitude of dialogue and collaboration at every level and of respect in your exchanges with them.  At times, the impression is given that we do not need them; but their role and their mission in the Church is not secondary, and the Church has need of their charisms. Within the Church, the principle of subsidiarity allows everyone to find their proper place and to contribute to the common good.  It must be our care that, especially where there are Religious Sisters (and in Korea there are many), they should have the pastoral attention of good priests and be respected for the service they render to God, to the Church, and to their Congregations.  A positive attitude is so much more beneficial and should be preferred.  No less important is the fostering of the laity, a great treasure in the Church today: how many associations, initiatives, testimonies; and how much fervor the lay faithful – men, women, families, and young people – are able to instill and generate within the Church!  It falls to us to protect the value of these promising and efficacious forces that the Holy Spirit has placed at our disposition.  This applies all the more in this period of rapid secularization that represents an extremely intense challenge for the Church in Korea, and where ecclesiastical commitments are  already abundantly absorbed with innumerable pastoral tasks for our faithful.  The laity, therefore, represent an invaluable reservoir of strength to be inserted into the social, political, economic, and cultural reality, and we are well aware that it was the laity that introduced the Gospel to this Country and created the first indications of the Church in Korea.  It must never be forgotten, then, that the authentic form of the visible faith is that which is ecclesial.  As the Holy Father wrote in Lumen Fidei: “it is professed from within the body of Christ as a concrete communion of believers. It is against this ecclesial backdrop that faith opens the individual Christian towards all others”. As a consequence, “Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed” (n. 22).

As Pastors of your Churches in Korea, you are called to be salt and light in this society (cf. Matthew 5:13-15). St. John Chrysostom, in his Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, wrote that “It is not for your own sake, but for the world’s sake that the ministry of the Word is entrusted to you.”  He added: “Do not think that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks… Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what the Apostles did”. Also, in reference to the light, he comments that we are not the light “for only two cities or ten to twenty, nor to a single nation… but across land and sea, to the whole world” (Hom. 15, 6-7; PG 57, 231-232).   Therefore, 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 a need for intelligence and missionary bravery.  Again, the Pope writes in the Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei: “There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (n. 4).

 Before we conclude, I would like to say to all of you, dear Brothers, a final word of appreciation for your generous pastoral care, for your communion with the Holy Father, and for all of the good that you do at the universal level to support the missions throughout the world.  Thank you for your 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.

May Christ, our Master and Lord, bless you, and, as He asked the Father to safeguard the faith of Peter, may the Father grant that the Episcopal Ministry entrusted to you be both fruitful and generous.  May Mary, Queen of the Land of placid dawn and morning splendors, accompany you with her maternal protection.


October 2, 2013                                                  

+Cardinal Fernando Filoni

 Prefect of the Congregation for

The Evangelization of Peoples


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