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First Korean saint finds his place in St. Peter's Basilica

Korean martyr Andrew Kim Tae-gon became the first Asian saint to have his statue installed on the wall of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

Published: September 22, 2023 10:57 AM GMT

Updated: September 22, 2023 10:58 AM GMT

Hundreds of Catholics cheered last Saturday when the statue of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean Catholic priest, martyr and saint, was unveiled on the outer wall of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

The installation of the 3.8-meter-high marble statue coincided with the saint’s 177th martyrdom anniversary. It also came as the Vatican and South Korea mark 60 years of diplomatic relations. The installation Mass was attended by a 300-member strong Korean Church delegation and Kang Seung-kyoo, a special envoy of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Andrew Kim was born to Buddhist parents in 1821. He and his family were converted to Catholicism by a French missionary priest. He became a priest and helped missionaries evangelize despite persecution of Christians by Korea’s Buddhist rulers.

He was arrested, imprisoned and beheaded for refusing to recant his faith at the age of 25. Pope John Paul II canonized Kim and 102 martyrs during his visit to South Korea in 1984.

The statue of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon was unveiled on the outer wall of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sept. 16

The statue of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon was unveiled on the outer wall of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sept. 16. (Photo: Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea)

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Catholic leaders in India have rejected a move by a central Indian state to award one million rupees or about 12,040 US dollars as compensation for mob lynching victims.

Last week, the Madhya Pradesh government announced the financial compensation scheme for families of individuals, who are killed in mob lynching incidents. It also awards compensation to those who sustain injuries.

Indian Muslims hold candles and posters as they protest against the mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari in the eastern Jharkhand state, in Ahmedabad city on June 27, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Christian leaders said it is more important to protect people from such crimes and claimed the move exposes the failure of the administration. They called for tightening of laws so that no one dares to commit such a crime.

Since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014, India has seen a sharp rise in mob lynching of marginalized Dalits and minority Muslims by Hindu hardliners in the guise of protecting the cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism. Between 2012 and 2022, some 82 cases of violence by cow vigilante groups left 45 killed and 145 injured.


The Presbyterian Church in Pakistan has terminated a pastor who shot at his hand to fake an assassination attempt on him over blasphemy allegations in Punjab province.

The suspended Pastor Eleazar Sidhu voluntarily confessed to colleagues and friends that the injury was self-inflicted, the Presbyterian Church said in a statement. The fake shooting came weeks after Muslim mobs attacked 21 churches and 400 Christian houses in the Christian neighborhood of Jaranwala.

Civil society activists and members of the Christian community hold placards as they take part in a protest to condemn the attacks on churches in Pakistan, in Karachi on Aug. 18. (Photo by Asif HASSAN / AFP)

Sidhu earlier complained to police that he was shot by a “bearded person.” Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan warranting life and death sentences. Both Muslims and minorities such as Christians have been targeted by hardline Muslims for alleged blasphemous acts.

Hardliners have accused Christians of exploiting blasphemy cases to find asylum abroad. Christian leaders say that hundreds of Pakistani Christians have fled the country and is seeking relocation to Western countries due to “threats, persecution and lack of security.”

Amid a heated political climate and intensifying government crackdown ahead of the national elections, a Bangladesh court on Thursday sentenced two leading human rights activists to two years in jail. Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan have led the Odhikar organization for decades.

They have documented thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of opposition activists, and police brutalities. The two were charged for a fact-finding report they compiled 10 years ago on extrajudicial killings.

Adilur Rahman Khan, a leader of the Odhikar organization, looks on from a police vehicle, outside a court in Dhaka on Sept. 14. (Photo: AFP)

Western governments and human rights groups have strongly criticized the ruling Awami League government for the clampdown on the opposition, free speech and rights activists. Some 72 rights groups condemned the sentencing of Khan and Ellan.

Odhikar has defended human rights in Bangladesh since 1994 and worked closely with United Nations bodies and global human rights groups. Last year, the government revoked its operating license after accusing it of tarnishing Bangladesh's image.


The Vatican has dismissed a Filipino Catholic priest for sexual abuse involving minors. In a circular last Sunday, Diocese of Borongan said Pio Cultura Aclon is "no longer a cleric and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church.”

Diocesan chancellor his laicization followed due process and all parties were given the opportunity to defend themselves. The diocese and the Philippine bishops’ conference did not give details of Aclon’s crimes.

Pio Cultura Aclon is seen in this file image. The Vatican defrocked him from priesthood for alleged sexual abuse of minors. (Photo: Facebook)

Aclon, however, denied that due process was followed and alleged the diocese failed to provide him a copy of the Vatican letter. He claimed he was a victim of “politics in the Church” because he has been a staunch defender of the controversial 1948 apparition of Mary the Mediatrix of All Grace, which the Vatican refused to recognize.

His lawyer issued a legal notice demanding the Vatican letter from the diocese.


A court in communist China has convicted a Catholic priest for “fraud” after allegedly refusing to join state-run organizations including the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.  The court imposed administrative penalties on Father Joseph Yang Xiaoming for “impersonating religious personnel.”

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Yang was ordered to cease his priestly activities, while being subjected to confiscation of 3,913 US dollars as illegal proceeds, besides a fine of 210 US dollars. Rights groups have condemned his sentencing as “political persecution” aimed at choking religious freedom.

Chinese Catholic clergy attend a Mass on Christmas Eve at a Catholic church in Beijing in 2018. (Photo: AFP)

The Religious Affairs Office of Longwan district in Wenzhou of eastern China leveled the charges against Yang shortly after his priestly ordination by Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin in 2021. Bishop Shao is a Vatican-approved bishop who was arrested several times by the communist authorities for refusing to join state-run church bodies.

China’s Constitution allows freedom of religion or belief. However, the Chinese Communist Party is accused of violating the rights of religious groups for decades.


China’s envoy in Hong Kong attended a police graduation ceremony for the first time and issued special instructions to security forces warning about “hostile foreign forces.” Zheng Yanxiong, head of the Hong Kong Liaison Office of the Chinese Communist Party, attended the graduation ceremony last Saturday. 

Activists say Zheng’s actions highlight Beijing’s increasing influence on security affairs in the politically troubled city. Zheng urged the police graduates to “safeguard national security” while “strictly implementing” the National Security Law and local laws.

Zheng Yanxiong, Director of the Liaison Office of China’s Central Government in Hong Kong reviews the marching ranks of fresh graduates at the graduation ceremony at Hong Kong Police College on Sept. 16. (Photo: Hong Kong Government News Network via RFA)

A former policeman, Zheng received applause from the Communist leadership in 2011 after the heavy crackdown on rebels in a village of Guangdong province amid a bitter land dispute.

Once known as one of Asia’s freest cities, Hong Kong has been in turmoil since 2019 when the massive pro-democracy protests erupted. Police crushed the movement brutally and Beijing imposed the draconian security law to snuff out all forms of dissent.


Police in Indonesia’s Christian-majority East Nusa Tenggara province have charged a Catholic man under the controversial Information and Electronic Transactions law for defaming a government official.

Saverius Suryanto, a resident of Macang Tanggar village, was charged on Monday. He is accused of circulating edited photos of West Manggarai Regency head Edistasius Endi on Facebook in May. The photos showed Endi with a superimposed foot and horns on his head. Suryanto said he criticized the official for denying land title deeds to 200 villagers including himself.

This image uploaded by Catholic man, Saverius Suryanto, earned him the wrath of the West Manggarai regent who had him charged under Indonesia's controversial Information and Electronic Transactions law. (Photo: Supplied)

The residents are migrants living on government land in the village without title deeds since 2009. Rights activists have condemned the charge, saying it is another example of the use of the sweeping cyber law to silence critics.

The law imposes a maximum punishment of four years in jail and a fine equivalent of 48,700 dollars. Between 2013 and 2023, some 490 cases have been filed under the law.


Armenian Catholic bishop Mikael A. Mouradian said he hopes that "history will not repeat itself" following a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan's troops and local forces on Wednesday. The military on Tuesday started an offensive in the Armenian enclave located in southwestern Azerbaijan and internationally recognized as part of that nation.

The fighting left at least 32 killed including seven civilians and wounded another 200. The ceasefire is brokered by Russia. Bishop Mouradian hopes that Russia and Azerbaijan will keep the promise and allow Armenians to live in peace on their ancestral lands with the full rights of free citizens.

Protestors block a street in downtown Yerevan on Sept. 20 as separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan's authorities announced they would cease hostilities, signaling the end of an 'anti-terror' operation launched just one day earlier by Azerbaijan's forces in the breakaway region. (Photo: AFP)

Christian Armenians and Turkic Azeris lived for centuries in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which became part of the Russian Empire during the 19th century. After World War I, the region became an autonomous part of Azerbaijan.

The declaration of independence by Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991 triggered a series of conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leaving tens of thousands killed and millions displaced.

The latest conflict in 2020 resulted in deaths of 3,000 Azerbaijani soldiers and 4,000 Armenian soldiers.

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