Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
N. Korea sentences US man to 15 years hard labor
Kenneth Bae seen as pawn in standoff with USAKenneth Bae, center, was sentenced to 15 years hard labor
- Stephen Hong, Seoul
- May 2, 2013
A court in North Korea has sentenced US tour operator Kenneth Bae to 15 years hard labor after finding him guilty of unspecified crimes against the state.
The state-run Korea Central News Agency made the announcement without specifying the crimes when the verdict was handed down on Tuesday, although it stated on April 27 that “he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple North Korea.” The charge can carry the death penalty.
Bae, a Christian ethnic Korean tour operator, was travelling in the special economic zone of Rason close to the border with China and Russia in November when he was reportedly arrested after taking photos of starving children and public executions of opponents of the regime.
The US State Department said in a statement last week that it was working through the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang in a bid to secure Bae’s release.
Lee Jang-hi, professor of international law at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said that Bae’s imprisonment would be used as a way to try “to bring the US to talks as it considers him a bargaining chip for dialogue with the US.”
In 2009, the North secured what it described as "a groveling visit" by former US president Bill Clinton after two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were captured after North Korea said they had entered the country illegally from across the Chinese border.
North Korea has in recent weeks threatened nuclear strikes against the US and South Korea, shut down its hotline with the South and closed the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex just north of the DMZ, the only other formal means of daily communication between the two Koreas.
Last month, the North Korean government requested acknowledgment as a nuclear power which was denied by the international community led by the US.