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Late Pope Contributed Greatly to Reconciliation Among Religions

Late Pope Contributed Greatly to Reconciliation Among Religions

Posted April. 04, 2005 00:02,   


On April 3, after learning of the repose of Pope John Paul II`s soul, Catholics in Korea mourned the death of the pontiff. Followers streamed toward Catholic churches, including Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul, to mourn the passing of their spiritual leader.

In a joint press conference, Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan and Andreas Choi Chang-mou, president of the Catholic Bishops` Conference of Korea (CBCK), announced a plan to send a condolence mission to the Vatican and recalled their personal relations with the deceased pope.

Wave of Mourning–

The nation’s 18 Catholic dioceses held special masses to mourn the pope’s death and began receiving condolences from mourners.

Myongdong Cathedral opened a mourning altar in its underground church to pray for the passing of the pontiff in the morning, and performed 10 masses to mourn the deceased leader. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Catholic archbishop of Seoul, presided over the noon mass which was attended by more than 2,000 mourners. The archbishop expressed his sadness by saying, “We lost a spiritual leader of world humanity who greatly contributed to world peace.”

Hwang Se-jin (25), who attended the mourning service at Myongdong Cathedral said, “His message of peace will last in the minds of Catholics and all humanity forever.”

Cardinal Kim Jin Wol, the representative of the United Religion Initiative of Korea, Rep. Moon Hee-sang of the Uri Party, and Rep. Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the main opposition Grand National Party, visited the mourning altar at Myongdong Cathedral. Thousands of mourners visited the mourning altar, and some mourners burst into tears with sadness.


Cardinal Kim’s reminiscences–

Cardinal Kim recalled when the pope visited Korea, saying, “While he was visiting Korea, there were several moving moments. On his flight to Taegu, the pope started praying after a few words. When the attendants saw him after a while, he was still praying.”

In 1992, when Cardinal Kim became 70 years old, he sent a long letter saying that he wanted to retire from his position as Archbishop of Seoul to the pope. The pope replied in a long letter, saying, “I understand you, but please stay in the post for the diocese. Look at me. Though I am two years older than you, I am still working hard.”

Bishop Chang Yik’s reminiscences-

While studying in Rome, he taught the pope, who was about to visit Korea, the Korean language. “He was a very busy man. So I could not teach him regularly, but I visited him about 40 times to teach Korean. Despite his busy schedule, he was never late and was surprisingly serious in learning the language.” He said, “When I started teaching, the pope said that he would speak only Korean in Korea. Being surprised, I said that was almost impossible. ‘Impossible it may be, I will do my best. It is not right to speak another language in Korea,’ he replied.”

Reactions from other religions-

The leaders of other religions issued mourning messages. Beop Jang, master Buddhist priest in the Jogye-jong of Korean Buddhism, said, “The late pope was a spiritual leader who championed peace, equality, and freedom in a world filled with conflict and enmity.” Jeon Un-Deok, a master Buddhist priest in the Cheontae-jong of Korean Buddhism, said, “We hope that he rests in permanent peace.”

The Christian Council of Korea (CCK) said, “We mourn the passing of the great spiritual leader with the rest of the world.” The Korean National Council of Churches (KNCC) of the Protestant Church announced, “The late pope greatly contributed to world peace and reconciliation among different religions.”

Mun-Myung Huh Soo-Jung Shin angelhuh@donga.com crystal@donga.com