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Korean Church aims revival of faith, ecological conversion

Catholic leaders urge the faithful to regain faith that was battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the new year
The 99th Pungsuwon Blessed Sacrament Exaltation Contest was jointly held by the Diocese of Wonju and the Diocese of Chuncheon on June 16 last year at the Pungsuwon Catholic Church in Hoengseong, Wonju Diocese of South Korea

The 99th Pungsuwon Blessed Sacrament Exaltation Contest was jointly held by the Diocese of Wonju and the Diocese of Chuncheon on June 16 last year at the Pungsuwon Catholic Church in Hoengseong, Wonju Diocese of South Korea. (Photo: Diocese of Chuncheon)

Published: January 31, 2023 12:35 PM GMT

Catholic leaders in South Korea called on the Catholic faithful to make strong efforts for a revival of faith that was battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards ecological conversion based on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si.

In his New Year message, Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek of Seoul urged Catholics in the archdiocese to re-equip themselves “with a missionary spirit and start anew” as they emerge from the pandemic and return to normalcy, the Catholic Times reported on Jan. 1.

“In 2023, to live as a 'newly starting church' is to cultivate spiritual strength in the Holy Mass, the source of religious life, and to rekindle the life of faith that has shrunk through various devotional activities,” Archbishop Chung said.

The prelate urged the faithful to engage in activities such as adoration of the Eucharist, Holy Hour, participation in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the exaltation of martyrs, and pilgrimage to holy places.

The other dioceses in South Korea also set forth the year 2023 towards ‘ecological conversion’ by taking cues from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si which urges everyone to "repent and modify [their] lifestyles and destructive systems."

Bishop Simon Kim Ju-young of Chuncheon in his pastoral letter 'Living the Word and the 7-year journey of Laudato Si’ emphasized the need to harmoniously merge the objectives of the encyclical and living the Christian life.

“Living 'Laudato Si' and living the word of God must go hand in hand and ultimately… it should be in a single direction,” the letter read.

The prelate stated that the diocese would start operating a “Laudato Si School” this year “to create an environment where parishioners can more actively participate in living the Word and 'Laudato Si'.”

He also pointed out that the recently launched ‘Online Youth Ecological Apostolic Meeting' will be expanded to face-to-face meeting events.

The Archdiocese of Daegu which is due to celebrate its 120th founding anniversary in 2031 has set the year 2023-2024 as the “Year of Communion.”

The diocese aims to create harmony “with God, with neighbors, and with creation” during this period.

The Diocese of Andong labeled its pastoral plan for 2023 as 'Treasuring life - Toward an integrated ecological church that values life' which is to fulfill its responsibility to return livable earth to the future generation.

The Daejeon diocese however has decided to keep pursuing the goals set forth during the “2040 Carbon Neutral Declaration Mass” on Sept. 26, 2022.

The declaration aims to implement ‘energy diagnosis’ in all of Daejeon diocese’s parishes and institutions by the end of 2040. The diocese will also seek to install renewable energy sources across its territory to achieve carbon neutrality.

Considering the ongoing Synod on Synodality, the Daejeon diocese has formulated a plan to harmonize the various charisms of the parishioners in pastoral councils so that various members can participate in achieving the evangelization of the church.

The Archdiocese of Gwangju and the Diocese of Jeonju have also released their plans to work towards ecological conversion and care for the environment around them.

Apart from the pastoral plans laid out for the year, 2023 also brings across jubilees that have historical relevance for the nation.

2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the Maryknoll Foreign Missions Society's entry into Korea, the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the Vatican.

Reportedly, plans are underway to organize various events to commemorate these jubilees that hold historical importance for the Church in South Korea.

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