Card Soo-jung Yeom celebrated the Eucharist in Myeongdong Cathedral marking 70 years since the start of the Korean War. The prelate remembered the victims of persecution, and called for the reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – With a 10 am Mass celebrated at the Myeongdong Cathedral, the Archdiocese of Seoul yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, which started on 25 June 1950 when North Korea launched its invasion of the south.
Archbishop Card Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, who is also Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, led the service. During the celebration, he declared his intention to dedicate the Diocese of Pyongyang to Our Lady of Fatima.
Four auxiliary bishops co-celebrated the liturgy: Vicar General Benedict Son Hee-Song, Timothy Yu Gyoung-chon, Peter Chung Soon-taek, and Job Koo Yobi, along with several priests from Seoul, including Mgr Matthew Hwang In-kuk, Vicar of the Diocese of Pyongyang, Fr Achilles Chung Se-Teok, and Fr Luke Lee, president and vice president of the National Reconciliation Committee, which organised the event.
Also present were Mgr Mario Codamo, chargé d'affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, and the ambassadors of Mexico, El Salvador, Timor Leste, and the Philippines.
Lay worshippers and members of the clergy filled the cathedral within the limits set by anti-coronavirus health and safety regulations.
At the entrance, temperatures were taken. Inside the church, people were required to wear a mask and sit at least a metre apart. The organ played music, and there was no singing.
Some seventy members from different countries of the Neocatechumenal Way, including seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Seoul, sat among the worshippers
As one of the few bishops who lived through the Korean War, Card Yeom (born in 1943) could not hide his emotions. In his homily, he mentioned the soldiers and civilians who died on both sides (almost 2 million in all), as well as the tragic fate of the refugees and the persecution of Christians.
“As one who directly lived the June 25th War,” said the prelate, “the reason I am looking back on our history of 70 years ago” is to “to ask you to unite all your energy and hearts in order to serve in some way the construction in our Korean Peninsula of a society in which all the people, of the South and the North alike, freed from the shackles of the past through the purification of memory, live a truly human life in a ‘true peace that the Lord gives us,’ (cf Jn 14:27).”
Last year, at the autumn plenary assembly, the Bishops of Korea decided to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War on 25 June 2020 at the diocesan rather the episcopal level. For this reason, the Archdiocese of Seoul held a solemn yet simple Mass, focused on international solidarity.
By God's grace, people were able to mark this truly historic day in Korea. With his homily and dedication of the Diocese of Pyongyang to Our Lady, persecuted amid the shadows, the cardinal tried to encourage the faithful to undergo spiritual renewal and engage in the new evangelisation of the Korean Peninsula.