South Korea and Mongolia: Beacons of Hope in Asia

Cardinal Sepe Gives Impressions from His Trip

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ROME, JULY 30, 2002 ( The Church in South Korea will play a key role in the evangelization of Asia, a project that is already producing fruits in Mongolia, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, notes that the relatively young (200-year-old) Church in Korea is among the most active in mission countries.

«There is an extremely mature and active laity in Korea, and this is part of the history of the Church in the country,» the cardinal said in an article published in L’Osservatore Romano. He recently visited South Korea and Mongolia.

«Indeed, the Church was founded by lay martyrs,» the cardinal added. «The visit that I made to the tomb of the martyrs, one of the most significant places of the city of Seoul,» was to draw attention to «that spilt blood that continues to generate new conversions, grace and salvation.»

The martyrs shrine, containing the tombs of 103 martyrs, including 90 lay people, are visited by millions every year.

The Church in South Korea has become «missionary» in these years, and sends priests to Ecuador, Guatemala and Mongolia, Cardinal Sepe noted.

The cardinal referred to his trip to Mongolia saying: «I found a more living Church than I ever could have imagined.»

«I was able to touch with my hands the birth of this Church that today faces an area that is already giving the first fruits,» he commented.

During Cardinal Sepe’s pastoral trip, the Pope raised the mission «sui iuris» (in its own right) of Urga, Ulan Bator, to the rank of apostolic prefecture, with the new name Ulan Bator. Father Wenceslaw Padilla, a Scheut missionary from the Philippines, was named first apostolic prefect of Ulan Bator.

Cardinal Sepe ordained two priests and a deacon from Cameroon, and visited all the missionaries, house by house.

«The life of missionaries becomes a convincing witness,» the cardinal stated. The country has three missionary orders: Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the Salesians and the Scheut missionaries.

Construction of the first church, which will function as a cathedral, is due to be completed before Easter. A second church will be built on the Chinese border, where Mother Teresa’s religious and the Salesians will go. A third church will be built on the Russian border.

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