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New Vatican Bible commission member accepts ´heavy responsibility´

Updated: February 06, 2009 12:11 PM GMT
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A Catholic university president views his appointment to the Pontifical Biblical Commission as both a "great honor" and a "heavy responsibility." The Pope appointed Father Johan Pahk Yeong-sik, along with seven other Bible experts to the commission on Jan. 31, according to a Feb. 3 report on the website of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Korea. Father Pahk, ordained for Seoul archdiocese in 1982, later studied in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, from which he earned a master´s degree in 1991 and a doctorate in 1996. He has taught biblical studies at the Catholic University of Korea since 1997 and was elected its president in January 2009. He also taught Old Testament studies as a visiting professor at Pontifical Urban University from 1998 to 2000. Father Pahk told UCA News via e-mail on Feb. 6: "I understand I am the first Korean who is appointed a member of the commission. It is my great honor and I feel a heavy responsibility at the same time." The 55-year old priest added that he sees the appointment as recognition not of his scholarly achievements or capability but of the Korean Church´s development, based on the passionate faith of Korean Catholics, especially the martyrs. "Since the great task is given to me, I will try my best to properly interpret, preserve and spread the word of God, upholding the will of the Pope and our bishops," he added. Father Damian Kim Young-nam, a New Testament scholar who has taught at Seoul archdiocese´s major seminary, considers the appointment both a personal honor for Father Pahk and good news for the local Church. He described Father Pahk is a "diligent, passionate and outstanding" scholar. "He has written and translated many books related to the Old Testament, which no one else in the country has done," Father Kim elaborated. Father Pahk has written or translated 60 books on biblical studies, covering both the Old and New Testaments. He has also written 28 articles, not just in Korean but in English, German and Italian. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Leo XIII created the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1902. Pope Paul VI restructured it in 1971, following the Second Vatican Council, to make the word of God more easily accessible to the faithful and in light of modern scholarship raising questions not easily solved. END

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