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Bishop Warns Catholics On Activities Related To Naju Marian Shrine

Updated: July 16, 2007 05:00 PM GMT
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A Korean bishop has warned Catholics not to join activities organized by devotees of a controversial Marian shrine, and he urged priests to educate parishioners on the matter.

Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san of Incheon on June 29 released a pastoral directive forbidding Catholics from joining Naju shrine devotees who held a Mass in his diocesan territory, just west of Seoul. The Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Korea in 1998 rejected the alleged miracles associated with the shrine, which began more than two decades ago in Naju, 285 kilometers south of the capital.

The bishop also released a 14-page letter titled "Theological and Pastoral Reflection and Directive Related to Julia Youn of Naju." In it he urges priests to use homilies to educate parishioners on the matter as well as on proper Marian devotion.

Despite earlier warnings, Bishop Choi said in his pastoral directive, "some 700 followers of Julia Youn Hong-sun of Naju joined a liturgical event in Bucheon celebrated by a Korean priest from Atlanta diocese, in the United States."

They held a night vigil on June 16 at a wedding hall in Bucheon. An unidentified ethnic Korean priest from the United States celebrated a Mass for them, according to the shrine´s website (www.najumary.or.kr). They also held a prayer rally and listened to Youn preach.

Father Andrew Pak Hui-jung, canon law professor at Incheon Catholic University, told UCA News on July 16 that even if Youn and her followers firmly believe in their cause, it is not good to go against Church guidance.

"Nobody knows what the Blessed Mother´s will is. Church recognition of her revelations cannot be done in a short time. The devotees need to wait and see what happens next, while obeying the bishops´ directives," he said.

The Korean Church needs to be more active in banning the activities of Youn and her followers, he continued. "Priests from Indonesia and the Philippines have come to Naju and celebrated Masses with the followers."

Youn insists she has received private revelations through her Marian statue in Naju since it "started weeping" in 1985. Some Catholics have visited the statue since then, even though Korean bishops in March 1998 agreed to respect and observe Kwangju archdiocese´s bans on private liturgy and the dissemination of materials related to the revelations.

The woman insists her statue has shed tears of blood and fragrant oil, and given her revelations. Another claim is that the Eucharist fell "from heaven" at times when visiting bishops and her group had Mass in her private chapel.

Youn and her group further claim the Eucharist changed into a lump of bloody flesh in her mouth several times, including once in 1995 when Pope John Paul II gave her Communion at the Vatican. The Naju website maintains the late pope saw this but said nothing.

In 1998, however, Archbishop Victorinus Youn Kong-hi declared there was "no evidence that proves" the alleged visions and strange phenomena concerning Youn and the Marian statue are "truly supernatural and thus from God." At the time, the now retired prelate headed Kwangju archdiocese, which covers Naju.

His successor, Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou, issued two pastoral directives on the matter, in 2001 and 2005. They warn that all who fail to follow the directives are to be considered as willfully opposing the magisterium, the Catholic Church´s divinely guided authority to teach true doctrine.


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