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Thousands pay tribute to South Korean cardinal

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong jin-suk died last week at the age of 89

UCA News reporter, Seoul

UCA News reporter, Seoul

Published: May 03, 2021 07:18 AM GMT

Updated: May 03, 2021 09:29 AM GMT

Thousands pay tribute to South Korean cardinal

People visit Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul to pay their last respects to Cardinal Nicholas Cheong jin-suk, the former archbishop of Seoul Archdiocese during the five-day mourning period. (Photo: Archdiocese of Seoul)

More than 50,000 South Koreans from various religions and walks of life visited Myeongdong Cathedral in the capital Seoul to pay their last respects to the late Cardinal Nicholas Cheong jin-suk.

Cardinal Cheong, the second South Korean cardinal and former archbishop of Seoul, died on April 27 at St. Mary’s Hospital at the age of 89. He had been receiving treatment for various age-related ailments since February.

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, declared a five-day mourning period for the death of his predecessor while the body of Cardinal Cheong was kept in Myeongdong Cathedral for public viewing.

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Thousands of people from different faiths visited the cathedral from April 27 to May 1 to pay tribute to the late church leader and strictly followed Covid-19 protocols, according to the official press release from the Archdiocese of Seoul.

The funeral Mass for Cardinal Cheong was concelebrated by Cardinal Yeom and bishops of South Korea at the cathedral on May 1. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only 250 participants attended the Mass.

Cardinal Cheong was buried at the Catholic cemetery in Yongin, on the southern outskirts of Seoul, which is also the final resting place for celebrated priests including Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, the first cardinal from South Korea.

The prelate appears serious and strong but, beneath that appearance, he was a soft and gentle person with a broad mind and full of love

In his homily, Cardinal Yeom thanked God for the long life of service of his predecessor. He recalled the late prelate as a mother “who is warm-hearted, considerate and caring, while the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan was like a father.”

“The prelate appears serious and strong but, beneath that appearance, he was a soft and gentle person with a broad mind and full of love. Under his motto, Omnibus Omnia (All things to everybody), he gave everything that he had to churches and the poor. He donated his organs to devote himself to helping the weak."

Cardinal Yeom also reminded the faithful about the last words of Cardinal Cheong: “Thank you. Let us live happily in His will for our lives. Let us live happily while helping others live a happy life.”

At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea, read condolence messages from Pope Francis, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Cardinal Luis Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

“United with you in thanksgiving for Cardinal Jin-suk’s many years of service to the Church in Korea and to the Holy See, I join all assembled for the solemn funeral Mass in commending his noble soul to the compassionate love of Christ the Good Shepherd. To all who mourn the late cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the resurrection I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Risen Lord,” Pope Francis said in his message.

"Cardinal Cheong always said that he wanted to be a little star in the night sky, and now he’s become a big one. We too shall try to become a little star by loving our neighbor as ourselves,” said Bishop Benedictus Son Hee-song, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Seoul.

Cardinal Cheong was born in Seoul in 1931. He was ordained a priest on March 18, 1961. He studied canon law at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and at the age of 39 he was appointed bishop of Cheongju in 1970. From 1998 to 2012, he was the archbishop of Seoul. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal in 2006.

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