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Catholic delegation gathers in Seoul

Ecumenical experts convene for World Council of Churches meeting

Catholic delegation gathers in Seoul

Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, greets the delegation.

Philippa Hitchen, Seoul

October 28, 2013

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A large Catholic delegation of ecumenical experts arrived in Seoul, South Korea at the weekend, en route for the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches to be held in Busan from October 30th to November 8th.

In the run-up to the event, the group is spending two days visiting the local Catholic community and meeting with leaders of other churches and non-Christian religions.

After being welcomed on Saturday by the nuncio to Korea, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, members of the delegation took part in the midday Mass on Sunday at Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral, where they met with Archbishop Yeom Soo-jung and prayed in the crypt housing the relics of some of the first French missionaries, who were martyred in one of the many persecutions of the mid-19th century.

Later they visited the seminary in Seoul where some 270 young men are currently training for the priesthood and where they were greeted by the former archbishop of the city, Cardinal Cheong Jinsuk, who shared stories about his years in the seminary from 1954 to 1961. Recalling the extreme poverty of most Koreans at that time, the cardinal explained how the Church has had to adapt to the extraordinary development of the ‘60s and ‘70s that made his country into one of the fastest developing economies in the world.

He also spoke about the good relations the Catholic Church enjoys with the different Protestant Churches that make up around 18 percent of Korea’s population, noting proudly that in 1977 Korea became the first country to publish an ecumenical translation of the Bible in his native language.

Seminarians then showed the delegation around the library and chapel which holds the relics of the country’s first indigenous priest, Fr Kim Tae-gon who was persecuted and killed for his faith in 1846, aged just 26 years old. 

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